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Our office has closely followed developments related to the diabetes drug Invokana. For more details on the medication and how it works, you can read a report under the Hot Topics section of our firm website. As we discuss on our website, Invokana is a relatively new diabetes drug manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. Yet, in just a few years on the market, the FDA has issued numerous safety communications about the drug.

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Kidney damage.
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May 3rd, 2011

Photo by C. Waits

School Bus Safety. Each morning buses throughout Alabama carry our children safely to school. Every afternoon those same buses deliver our children safely home. School bus travel is relatively safe. Most often, it’s not the school bus or its driver that creates the danger of injury. Instead, it’s the automobile drivers around the bus who neglect safety and create risks of injury.

The most dangerous part of school bus travel often involves the actual stops where children board or exit the bus. Why are school bus stops so dangerous? They are dangerous because other drivers choose to pass or speed around the bus while children are present. While I’m not aware of any Alabama safety studies related to drivers who pass stopped school buses, the state of North Carolina did conduct a study. And, the results of their study demonstrate the tremendous risks of personal injury or death at school bus stops. According to North Carolina state transportation official Derek Graham:

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Did you know pituitary gland damage is common in traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases? According to a recent article discussing pituitary gland damage in TBI cases:

Many studies have shown that a high percentage of patients who suffer mild, moderate, or severe TBIs may have some form of pituitary dysfunction in the first three months following the injury. While most of these patients’ symptoms go away over the following nine months or so, many still have pituitary hormone dysfunction by the end of a year.

Recent medical research shows a significant number of TBI patients actually continue to suffer chronic, or long-term, pituitary gland injury:

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A Canadian newspaper recently reported serious accusations — workers’ compensation doctors were pressured to provide opinions so claims could be denied. The Canadian paper printed the story as if it were unusual. It’s not. We see it every day. It’s the sad reality of a compensation system full of claim managers with a goal other than helping injured workers recover. These claim managers know how to find biased doctors who will help with their goal.

Most injured workers hope to recover quickly. They want to return to their jobs and their normal lives. Instead, they often face unnecessary delays in treatment as well as biased caregivers. Their calls to the insurance adjuster go unanswered and unreturned. Imagine needing medical care and having your calls ignored for weeks. That’s the reality faced by many injured workers. These problems have become an epidemic for our system.

In the workers’ compensation system, medical providers face tremendous pressure from insurance companies. It’s unjust. And, it’s at every level of medical care.

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Earlier this summer an administrative law judge at the Department of Labor ruled for a truck driver who was fired when he refused to violate federal safety rules limiting driver hours. The judge awarded the trucker back pay plus compensatory and punitive damages.

The article about the incident tells a story that is far too common — a trucking company pushes its driver to exceed safety rules which protect us on the highway. In this story, the trucker refused to break the rules. And, the company fired him. In an effort to excuse the firing, the trucking company later argued the driver had refused other loads, was late to a meeting and ignored calls from the company dispatcher. Yet, the documents and other evidence did not support these “claimed” reasons for the termination. These other reasons were simply not true.

Too many truck drivers face pressure to break the rules. Pressure to violate service hour limits. Pressure to drive trucks exceeding weight limits. Pressure to continue driving trucks with faulty equipment. Pressure to act in a way that puts the rest of us in danger. Many needless personal injuries and deaths are the result. It’s good to read this story of a trucker who put safety first and was supported by the administrative law judge.

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At the Blackwell Law Firm we frequently get calls from injured workers with questions about maximum medical improvement (or MMI). We routinely handle workers’ compensation claims for Alabama workers.

What is MMI? How does MMI impact your case? These are important questions. Maximum medical improvement is an important issue in workers’ compensation cases.

1.  What is the significance of Maximum Medical Improvement?

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Earlier this week, I wrote a post discussing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) push to install speed limiting devices in heavy commercial trucks. You can read that post at — Proposed Rule Would Stop Speeding Truckers. I think the proposal is an important safety step. At our firm, we have seen far too many families destroyed by a tragic highway crash involving an eighteen wheeler truck.

Much of the trucking industry supports the proposal for speed limiting devices. However, some drivers oppose the new rule. Some of the negative commentary is disappointing and troubling — such as threats to block lanes, generalized complaints against all regulation, claims that regular drivers cause all problems and protests that truckers should be allowed to drive as fast as they want. Such protests should not be a part of this important safety discussion.

However, we do understand valid concerns by some truck drivers that highway conditions or traffic flows might require a temporary change in speed. The DOT has proposed a period of discussion to determine the maximum speed setting for the new devices. While a slight increase may be understandable to account for these temporary conditions, does any fully loaded eighteen wheeler need to barrel down the highway as fast as its engine will allow? Certainly not. A reasonable limit exists and should be applied. A reasonable limit would protect lives.

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You are driving down the highway at a safe speed. You check your rear-view mirror. You see an eighteen wheeler rapidly approaching the back of your vehicle. Before you know it, the large truck is right on your bumper. The truck is not slowing. You quickly move out of the way and the truck roars by you. Most highway drivers know the fear of being around a speeding truck that cannot stop. In our firm, we regularly help families hurt by a negligent commercial truck driver. We know these crashes can cause life-ending and life-changing harm for drivers on our roads.

Speeding big rigs are dangerous for all of us on the highway. Speeding trucks cannot stop in time to avoid accidents, are more likely to jackknife, can topple easily and are difficult to control. Because of these tremendous dangers, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing a new regulation requiring all large trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiting device. This is a device that would simply be installed by the truck manufacturer.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx strongly supports the new safety proposal. According to Secretary Foxx:

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In a world of billboards and commercials, how do you choose a good personal injury attorney? How do you separate truth from hype? How do you find an attorney who will prepare your case? Here, in north Alabama we have an attorney advertising on television who has probably never tried a significant injury case. A few years ago, a Florida reporter exposed an advertising law firm’s promises as “all for show.” When you or a family member is hurt, picking a good attorney is a very important decision. So, how do you make that choice? Here are a few tips:

  1. Consider Your Needs – What type of case do you have? A small car accident with a minor injury is very different from a case involving serious injuries. In either case, you need a lawyer who specializes in personal injury matters. But, in a minor injury case, you have a wider range of lawyers who can handle the matter. When your case involves serious injuries you really need an experienced lawyer with a proven track record. You need a lawyer who can go to trial. You need a lawyer who understands the medical issues. Keep in mind insurance companies know your attorney’s reputation. And, insurance companies often consider that reputation in serious cases before deciding what to offer.
  2. Don’t Buy Lawyer Promises – Some lawyers make promises in their advertising. And, some lawyers even make promises during initial client meetings. Beware of advertising claims. Beware of lawyers who promise results to new clients. Nobody can guarantee results.
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A young husband received the call nobody wants. His wife was a dedicated paramedic. She was stopped along the Interstate helping the victim of an earlier automobile accident. A speeding driver suddenly approached, never slowed for the emergency scene, and lost control of his vehicle. He slid from the roadway and struck the young paramedic as she was performing her job duties. She lost her life while performing her job helping others.

This tragedy should never have occurred. The ambulance was stopped on the shoulder with lights flashing. A police car was also at the scene with lights flashing. That’s two emergency vehicles with lights flashing and visible far down the highway. Why did the approaching driver NOT slow down? Why did the approaching driver NOT move over to the lane away from the parked emergency vehicles? After the driver’s arrest, the truth was revealed — he cared more about getting home quickly than he did the emergency responders in his path.