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Blackwell Law FirmDistracted driving is a huge problem on Alabama highways — much worse than reported. In a prior post, I discussed a study that analyzed distractions due solely to cell phones. That study, limited just to cell phone distraction, revealed distracted driving causes far more crashes than reported by government data. Of course, cell phones are not the only distraction causing crashes on our highways. Drivers face numerous other distractions. We discuss these distractions on our law firm website and in many of our blog posts.

How can we reduce distracted driving injuries? Outside the courtroom, our firm is committed to advocating for highway safety. Safety advocates have largely focused on three areas to combat distracted driving — education, law enforcement and technology.  When it comes to technology, you would expect car manufacturers to lead the charge for safety. Do they? Not always. General Motors (GM) is actually introducing an App called Marketplace that creates more risks of distracted driving crashes. A number of safety advocates share my concern with GM’s actions.

What is GM doing? GM has created a touchscreen App that will be included in new car models and will allow drivers to shop while driving. Here is what USA Today reported about the new touchscreen App:

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Blackwell Law Firm - HuntsvilleYou suffered a severe personal injury and need a lawyer. How do you find the right lawyer? It’s a topic I’ve discussed in past posts. One piece of advice — Avoid the many attorneys you see smiling from billboards. Here are a few of my past posts on the topic of finding a personal injury lawyer:

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Blackwell Law Firm - Personal InjuryThe holiday season can be very busy. For many of us, our work year is coming to a close. Our children may have many holiday-related programs at school. Add to that already busy schedule — shopping for Christmas gifts, holiday parties, travel for family gatherings. It equals a very busy time. We spend much of that time in our cars on the road.

With all the extra activity, do drivers face an increased risk of accidents and injuries? That’s the question highway researchers asked. Researchers from The University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety examined the data. The University of Alabama study analyzed 10 years of Alabama car crash data during the days surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

After collecting and analyzing the data, computer science professor Dr. David Brown noted “the shopping days before Christmas are perilous.” That’s quite a statement. Although just my personal observation, I also think the days right before Christmas are the worst traffic days in Huntsville. Now that I have a teen driver in my house, I have discussed with him the expected holiday traffic around Huntsville.

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Blackwell Law Firm - HuntsvilleWhat are the most common risks of personal injury for workers? Each year, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reveals its data on the top 10 workplace safety violations. OSHA lists the most commonly cited violations for the year.

Because I frequently represent workers hurt on large industrial or construction worksites, I study the annual reports. Two issues are clear to me:

  1. The same safety hazards typically dominate the list every single year.
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16687020074_db03aa8ce2_z-300x171Alabama has a significant problem with uninsured drivers. At our firm, we help families suffering because of a personal injury. Car accidents and commercial truck crashes cause many of the injuries we see. Imagine suffering a severe injury only to learn the responsible person has no insurance to help with your damages. That is the scenario many hurt individuals face. Too often, negligent drivers causing injuries on our highways are uninsured. That’s why our firm has long advocated that you purchase sufficient uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage to protect yourself and your family.

Want to know more about why you need sufficient uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage? You can read an article we wrote earlier this year titled Alabama Drivers Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage. You need adequate uninsured/underinsured coverage (also frequently called UIM coverage) to protect your family against both uninsured and underinsured drivers. Too many insured drivers carry the minimum amount possible which is unlikely to compensate you fully for any serious injury.

How bad is the problem of uninsured drivers in Alabama? The Insurance Information Institute has compiled some startling statistics. According to their statistics, Alabama ranks in the top 10 for the most uninsured drivers on the road. That’s certainly not a good category in which to rank within the top 10. In 2015, approximately 18.4% of the drivers in Alabama were uninsured. That’s a huge percentage of people driving cars all around you each day.

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Commercial Truck InjuryTruck driver health is a significant safety issue on Alabama highways. Federal regulations require commercial truck drivers to obtain a medical certification regarding their health. Recent events lead to the question — Are some trucker medical certifications bogus?

Last year, I wrote an article discussing truck driver health and its impact on highway safety. That article is titled “Are Truck Driver Health Issues Causing Accidents?” According to National Institute of Health (NIH) statistics, truck drivers suffer rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea at rates far higher than the general public. When left untreated, these conditions can create huge risks of highway accidents. With proper medical examinations and certifications, many unhealthy and unsafe drivers have the opportunity to get the medical care they need. This protects all of us from needless personal injury on the highway. And, it protects drivers by giving them the opportunity to restore their own health.

Last year, Federal authorities arrested an Atlanta-area medical examiner for issuing fake medical certifications. That examiner actually operated out of a truck stop. According to Department of Transportation (DOT) investigators, that examiner was issuing over 350 truck driver medical certifications a month. The DOT estimated more than 6,000 drivers from 48 states were impacted by these certifications. After reading the articles about that Atlanta-area medical examiner, I wrote a post asking “Are Medical Examiners Certifying Unsafe Truck Drivers?” In that post, I suggested discussion topics to improve the credibility of the certification process. These suggestions included:

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diabetes-2058045_1920-300x173A new research article asks if physicians are starting to move patients away from Invokana use? It’s a good question. On this blog, I’ve written about Invokana numerous times. For a detailed history of the drug, you can read some of my past articles which are cited at the end of this post.

What is Invokana? The drug is in a class of medications known as sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. Other drugs in this class include Farxiga, Jardiance, Glyxambi, and Xigduo XR. SGLT2 inhibitors work by altering kidney function to stop reabsorption of glucose into the blood stream.

Diabetes is a huge health problem in the United States. Here, in Alabama, we suffer one of the highest rates of diabetes. Diabetic patients need good medical care. What they do not need are pills that carry more risk than benefit. While we need medications, we need those medications to be tested and safe for use. That’s why the growing list of serious injuries associated with Invokana is an important issue to Alabama patients (and a frequent topic of this blog).

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Personal Injury -- Blackwell Law FirmA recent study estimated a significant percentage of medical studies are ghostwritten. The really troubling detail — Up to half of all medical studies may be ghostwritten by companies with a financial interest in the research.

Next time you see or read a medical article listing a researcher or physician as the author, take a step back. Did the listed author really write the article? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe a drug company or medical device company funded and really authored the article.

Consider the revealing article published by former ghostwriter Linda Logdberg. The article is titled Being the Ghost in the Machine:  A Medical Ghostwriter’s Personal View. How does Ms. Logdberg now feel about her former career?

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Drawing from Beinecke Library (License link: CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Insurance Journal recently reported the story of a client solicitation and kickback scheme involving several Florida attorneys. The arrested Florida attorneys were charged with paying solicitors for clients and then arranging kickbacks from medical providers. It’s an awful scheme that harms people who are genuinely hurt and need counsel. And, it’s a black eye to both the legal and medical professions.

Every day, I hear the stories of people who are genuinely hurt and need help. Injured people already face struggles — problems with medical care, sudden expenses, potential job loss, the loss of their vehicle, and sometimes, long-term pain or disability. It’s a big list of real worries. Injured people already face an uphill battle against insurance companies who sow the seeds of false doubt at every stage.

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Last Friday, I spoke at a workers’ compensation seminar in Birmingham. If you have read this blog in the past, then you know my strong feelings that lawyers should be life-long students of their legal specialty. That’s why our firm members routinely teach at seminars on topics involving personal injury, workers’ compensation, defective products, experts and trials. I’ve also been candid in my past blog posts that lawyers who populate billboard and television advertisements diminish the legal profession and too often harm clients. We even have a law firm in Huntsville now advertising on billboards for injury clients it secretly intends to refer for profit to another firm. In my opinion, that is dishonest and unethical. But, let me get back to the topic of this post — last week’s workers’ compensation seminar.

I believe this recent workers’ compensation seminar was one of the best yet. The credit for planning the seminar goes to attorney David Nomberg of the Nomberg Law Firm in Birmingham. I’ve known David and his brother Bernard for years. They are among the best workers’ compensation attorneys in Alabama. Bernard and I began our careers (over two decades ago) at the same Birmingham trial law firm handling cases throughout Alabama. I’m thankful David invited me to speak at this seminar.

David asked me to speak on workers’ compensation trial strategies. I have tried these cases in counties throughout Alabama. I have a specific philosophy about workers’ compensation cases. My philosophy about workers’ compensation and general personal injury cases is simple — Clients deserve a lawyer who will prepare their case for trial. Many lawyers will not do that. Better preparation leads to better trials and better settlements.