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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.

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Over half the teenagers in a recent poll admitted seeing their parents check mobile devices while driving. In another survey of adults, 95% of the adults who admitted driving while distracted also admitted they do so in front of their children. These are disturbing statistics. As parents, we set a powerful example for our children. Our children watch and learn from our actions.

A recent CNN story titled Distracted While Driving:  Parents do it, too discusses some of the statistics about adults driving while distracted in front of their children. The CNN article tells the story of a mother who caused a fatal collision when she picked up her phone to see a text. The story is difficult to read. It’s difficult to read about the death of another person. But, the article is difficult to read not just because of the death involved. It’s difficult to read because the mother who caused that death cares deeply about her children and community. It’s a tragic story of the deep and lasting effect upon the person at fault. The mother in the story did something she knew to be unsafe – reading a text while driving. Now, she suffers daily knowing the results of her lapse in judgment.

I’ve included a section on my firm website discussing distracted driving. I’ve also written a number of blog posts on the topic. In recent blog posts I’ve discussed the first criminal case in Alabama against a distracted driver. Distracted driving is a deadly problem throughout the United States. Education and technology are both important in reducing the rate of distracted driving. Our public safety officials have worked hard to educate young drivers on this issue. However, education of our young drivers is much less effective if we don’t lead by example. It is difficult in a busy world to not be distracted while driving. Yet, we must work hard to practice safe habits that our children will see and absorb.

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We are currently investigating claims of permanent hair loss following the use of Taxotere, a chemotherapy drug. Taxotere is one of the most widely used drugs for breast cancer in the United States. For more information on the drug, you can read a detailed report on the Blackwell Law Firm website.

While cancer patients may expect temporary hair loss during chemotherapy treatment, they also expect their hair to regrow once treatment ends. For many patients, hair regrowth is a visible sign of victory over the disease. And, if hair regrowth does not occur, the physical and emotional impacts can be devastating.

Although expected to be temporary, many patients treated by Taxotere suffer permanent hair loss. These women had alternatives to Taxotere treatment. Other drugs provide similar success results. Yet, those other drugs do not leave many patients with permanent alopecia or baldness. For years, Taxotere’s manufacturer failed to warn doctors or patients in the United States of this harm. Patients had no knowledge of the risk and could not make an informed choice between available drugs. Although the manufacturer failed to warn patients, it knew the significant risk of injury. And, it continued to profit from sales to unsuspecting patients.

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A recent Al.com article started with the title – Why Driving in Alabama is a Frightening Proposition. Naturally, I took the bait and clicked on the article. Maybe the article would tell us “why” Alabama has a high rate of accidents compared to other states? I hoped it would. But, the article did not live up to its title. While the article did use data to claim Alabama is the 5th most dangerous state for drivers, it did not tell the reader “why” our roads are especially dangerous. The article provided no insight as to why we have a high rate of traffic-related injuries and deaths. Yet, the reasons for these injuries and deaths are exactly what we should be discussing and correcting.

Let’s look at some of the major causes of driver injury. Distracted driving is a major safety issue on our roadways. We see distracted driving injuries every day at our law firm. Is distracted driving an issue that makes Alabama more dangerous than other states? Probably not. While distracted driving causes many traffic injuries and deaths, it is an issue both in Alabama and elsewhere. Impaired driving is a major safety issue on our roadways. Is impaired driving an issue that makes Alabama more dangerous than other states? Probably not. Communities throughout the United States struggle with similar substance abuse and addiction issues. So, what makes our roads more dangerous for drivers? Why is Alabama more dangerous than other states? I wish the Al.com reporter had explored the issue.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post titled Alabama’s Highway of Death. The post discusses the inclusion of Highway 431 through Alabama on a list of the most dangerous roads in the world. That’s right, our stretch of Highway 431 is included in a list of dangerous roads that scale mountains, run along canyons and are regularly covered in a sheet of ice. Clearly, the other roads have much more dramatic dangers. Why was Highway 431 considered such a dangerous road? In my prior post, I provided five reasons why Highway 431 is dangerous for drivers. These five reasons also play a large role in the high rate of automobile accidents throughout Alabama. They are:

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A recent criminal case may be a first for our State. According to prosecutors, it may be “the first time Alabama’s texting and driving statute has been applied in a manslaughter case.” We previously discussed a commercial truck case in Georgia on this blog where both a driver and his trucking company were criminally indicted.

At the Blackwell Law Firm, we frequently help individuals injured by a distracted driver. While we don’t handle criminal cases, we do work hard to hold negligent and reckless drivers accountable for the personal injury damages they cause. We work hard to get compensation for our injured clients. Texting. Checking emails. Using social media. Looking for objects in the car. These are all normal activities but NOT when driving. They are all forms of distracted driving that have injured our clients in recent years.

It’s rare for a car crash to result in a criminal charge. But, sometimes the conduct is so extreme it is warranted. What happened in this case to warrant a criminal charge of manslaughter? It was an April morning. A young girl was struck head-on and killed. The driver who caused the wreck told police he looked down “momentarily” and when he looked up it was too late to stop for the car in front of him. So, he swerved into oncoming traffic and struck the young girl head-on. That was the driver’s story at the scene. If true, he was certainly negligent in his driving. Yet, the truth was much worse.

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I’ve written on several occasions about Alabama’s unique wrongful death law. Wrongful death claims in Alabama are very different. Chief among the issues that make Alabama wrongful death law different — only punitive damages are recoverable. You cannot recover compensatory damages for actual losses like medical costs.

Many lawyers advertise for wrongful death claims. Yet, they fail to understand fully the impact of Alabama’s unique law. And, this lack of understanding can have a tremendously negative impact on the overall recovery for clients.

An attorney’s entire preparation and trial strategy should be designed for the unique damages recoverable in Alabama. Yet, many attorneys prepare these cases as all other cases. That’s a mistake. It is short-sighted and costly for clients.

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At the Blackwell Law Firm, we talk with many people who have been hurt at work. Some types of accidents occur much more frequently than others. A recent study by Travelers Insurance indicated the most frequent causes of workplace injuries. These causes include:

  • Material handling
  • Slips, trips and falls
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Our office has closely followed developments with the diabetes drug Invokana. Invokana is in a class of drugs known as sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. This is a relatively new class of drugs also including Farxiga, Jardiance, Glyxambi, and Xigduo XR. These drugs treat diabetes by altering kidney function to stop reabsorption of glucose into the patient’s blood stream. We have a page on our firm website discussing these drugs, how they work and their link to diabetic ketoacidosis. Despite being a new drug at the time we published our initial page, Invokana had already been linked to numerous adverse health reports. Since then, even more potential injury risks have emerged. You can read about these developments in several posts on this blog.

In its recent QuarterWatch report, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) calls Invokana a “dangerous gamble.” The ISMP report opens with the following paragraph:

The nation’s gamble in embracing new drugs for long-term use with only short-term clinical testing was most apparent in the rapid acceptance into clinical practice of a new class of oral diabetes drugs called sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. There are now three such agents, canagliflozin (INVOKANA), dapagliflozin (FARXIGA), and empagliflozin (JARDIANCE). Since approval, evidence of multiple safety problems has emerged.
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In the article “Getting Back on the Bike:  My Insurance-Driven Recovery,” a brain injury patient tells his recovery story. The patient, David, was riding his bicycle when a car struck him. In the years following his accident, David has healed from his physical injuries. Yet, he continues to suffer problems from his brain injury.

David’s story involves a life forever changed following a traumatic brain injury. It’s a story other head injury patients will understand.

Traumatic brain injuries affect many families. Many families have a loved one who suffers head injury problems from an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident or workplace accident. David’s story of healing reveals several common truths for brain injury patients. What are these common truths? They are:

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At some point, you just have to ask — What’s next? That’s a good question for the diabetes drug Invokana. At the Blackwell Law Firm we began investigating Invokana when the drug was initially linked to ketoacidosis. If you want to learn the basics about Invokana and its development as a diabetes drug, we have a section devoted to the topic on our firm website. As discussed in that section, ketoacidosis is a serious and potentially fatal build-up of acid in the blood. Symptoms of ketoacidosis can include:

  • Confusion
  • Abdominal Pain