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Would speed limiting devices in commercial trucks save lives? Yes. We believe these devices would prevent many needless personal injuries and deaths on our highways. At our firm, we have helped many families hurt in commercial truck crashes. We have seen the tragic results of collisions involving huge commercial vehicles.

We believe speed limiting devices in commercial trucks are a good idea. Most trucking industry professionals also recognize the benefit of these devices. What do others think? A recent article in the Insurance Journal starts with the following:

Years of pleas from parents whose son was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer, buy-in from some truckers and the promise of fewer highway deaths convinced U.S. officials in September to propose requiring speed-limiting devices on all large rigs.

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Workers Compensation - Blackwell Law Firm
Who enjoys doctor’s visits? Almost nobody. Most people view doctor’s appointments as times of stress, anxiety and confusion. Yet, these appointments are essential to your health and healing following a personal injury.

You need to make the most of your doctor visits. Appointments can be hard to schedule. And, you may only get a few minutes with the doctor before his/her next appointment. So, here are six tips to help with your doctor visits.

1. Be Friendly. I know — this is obvious. It “goes without saying.” But, sometimes being friendly is not easy. If you are hurt on the job in Alabama and getting workers’ compensation, then your employer (or its insurance carrier) picks the doctor. Often, these insurance carriers schedule and cancel your appointments with very little concern for you. That process can be extremely frustrating. In other personal injury cases, like car accidents, you get to pick your doctor. Yet, scheduling and waiting for appointments can still be frustrating. How many people can still easily smile after sitting a couple hours in a patient waiting room? How many people can still smile after repeating their story to, yet, another person in another medical office. Any number of issues and inconveniences can sour your mood before you ever see the actual doctor. Don’t let outside issues cause you to be unfriendly or confrontational with the doctor. Trust me — It will not help your treatment or your case.

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Personal Injury
The process was intended to be simple. The steps meant to be clear. You suffer a work-related accident and injury. You notify your boss of that injury. Your employer then communicates the accident or injury information to its insurance carrier. And, the insurance carrier arranges for you to see a doctor. Simple? While it should be simple, it often is not. Many injured workers face hurdles getting necessary medical care. In some cases, it is the employer creating hurdles. In others, it is the insurance carrier.

I recently prepared for the deposition of a plant nurse in a case where the employer created several hurdles to medical care. Why would an employer delay or refuse to start the medical treatment process for its injured employee? An employer may have several reasons to delay care or ignore injury problems. Some employers have insurance policies with high deductibles. A few large employers in Alabama qualify as self-insured. In both situations, an employer may be looking at its out-of-pocket costs. Other employers simply don’t want to file a claim and risk a premium increase. Regardless of the reason, employer delays in medical care harm you the most.

An article in the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) journal detailed the story of one company cited by OSHA for “medical mismanagement” because of these issues. The article is titled OSHA Cites Pilgrim’s Pride for Medical Mismanagement and Other Safety Hazards. An OSHA area director was quoted in the article:

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photo by U.S. Air Force
Is the ban on texting and driving in Alabama effective? In a recent post, I discussed two shortcomings with Alabama’s current distracted driving law.

  • Our current law is limited in application. Our current law applies to portable devices removable from the car. And, it applies simply to texting or typing activities. As I discussed in my prior post, the use of electronic devices has expanded far beyond simple texting or typing activities. In our practice, we’ve seen accidents caused by drivers actually surfing the internet while driving. We even had one client hurt by a driver who was watching a movie on a portable device while operating a car. Our law should be written to encompass unreasonably dangerous distractions beyond the simple act of texting. I understand – we cannot anticipate every bad act. But, we can keep the law up to date with advances in how people use portable devices.
  • Our current law contains minimal penalties. What is the first-time offender penalty for a texting and driving citation? It’s $25. The penalty for texting and driving in Alabama provides almost no deterrent to drivers.
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Recent research shows a dangerous problem with many newly approved drugs. Life-threatening side effects are common in the years following FDA approval. An article titled “Study: Side effects emerge after approval for many US drugs” details the new research. The article’s opening paragraph sums it up:

Almost one-third of new drugs approved by U.S. regulators over a decade ended up years later with warnings about unexpected, sometimes life-threatening side effects or complications . . .

This new study followed all prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2001 through 2010. The drugs flagged because of serious post-approval problems included medications for common medical problems such as arthritis, infections, blood clots and depression. The study’s lead author (an associate professor at Yale University) said “the large percentage of problems was a surprise.” As for me — I’m not surprised.

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photo by Montgomery County Planning Commission
The Problem Of Distracted Driving

Distracted drivers cause many deadly car accidents on Alabama highways. Despite efforts to educate the public (and especially young drivers), accident statistics continue to show a growing problem. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) reported:

a 14 percent increase in traffic fatalities over the past two years — the largest two year increase in more than 50 years.

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Blackwell Law Firm - TBI Cases
Many patients with a “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI) continue to suffer problems lasting years beyond their initial injury. Sometimes, the problems are permanent. TBI patients suffering long-term problems know their injuries are anything but mild. They are serious. The word “mild” is a clinical term and it is deceiving. The problems these injury victims suffer are both serious and life-altering. This is what the Brain Injury Association of America says about the term “mild” when applied to a TBI:

The term “mild brain injury” can be misleading. The term “mild” is used in reference to the severity of the initial physical trauma that caused the injury. It does not indicate the severity of the consequences of the injury.

A guide published by the State of Michigan to help TBI victims with their recoveries lists many of the long-term problems these patients suffer. They include:

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Blackwell Law Firm
You were hurt on the job. You received workers’ compensation benefits. But, a third-party (someone outside your work) caused the accident. You want to pursue a personal injury claim against that third-party.

The workers’ compensation carrier has a lien against your personal injury case. Under Alabama law, your employer (and its insurance carrier) have certain rights to get their money back if you win your personal injury case. At our firm, we routinely represent clients in both workers’ compensation and other personal injury cases. We understand how these areas of the law interact.

What happens when your employer or its insurance carrier file a lien against the third-party negligence case? The issues can be complicated. How you (or your lawyer) handle these issues can tremendously impact your bottom line. I could discuss these issues in significant detail. But, here are four quick tips to consider when handling this type of case:

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Distracted Driving Lawyers - Blackwell Law Firm
At the Blackwell Law Firm website, we devote a page to distracted driving. The issue is also a frequent topic of my blog posts. Why do we discuss distracted driving so frequently? We have seen far too many crashes caused by distracted drivers. Too many people suffer injuries resulting in chronic pain or long-term disability due to a distracted driver. Too many families lose loved ones in crashes caused by driver distraction. Because we have seen the toll of distracted driving, it is a subject we discuss frequently.

In past blogs, I’ve discussed my belief — that crashes caused by a distracted driver are under-reported. We believe the reported numbers are too low for several reasons. In the aftermath of some accidents, police do not ask the drivers or witnesses about distraction. In other cases, the at-fault driver denies being distracted and no witnesses can refute the denial. Many times, the true cause of the collision is never reported.

Now, a new study also indicates distracted driving is a factor in a much higher percentage of accidents than reported by government statistics. While I agree with the findings and think they should be discussed, let me first give the study caveat — It was conducted by a company that makes mobile apps. The company Cambridge Mobile Telematics (Cambridge) conducted the study. According to the company’s website, it is “the world’s leading smartphone-centric telematics provider” and makes apps which measure driver behavior.

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INVOKANA USE MAY LEAD TO FOOT AND LEG AMPUTATIONS

On May 16, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new warning about the diabetes drug Invokana. Now, the FDA “has concluded” based on tests that the drug presents an increased risk of foot and leg amputations. Specifically, the FDA safety alert says:

Based on new data from two large clinical trials, the FDA has concluded that the type 2 diabetes medicine canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet, Invokamet XR) causes an increased risk of leg and foot amputations. FDA is requiring new warnings, including the most prominent Boxed Warning, to be added to the canagliflozin drug labels to describe this risk.