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In 2016, I wrote a post titled Distracted Driving: Parents Must Lead By Example. In my prior post, I noted that 95% of the parents who admitted to distracted driving also admitted they did so in front of their children. If we expect our children to drive safely, we must lead by example! That means practicing what we preach about distracted driving.

I frequently write about distracted driving on this blog. Why? I write about the topic because it is a key factor in so many serious car crashes we investigate at our law firm. The cell phone is the primary device distracting drivers. Yet, it is not the only form of distraction. We have seen many others.

Education and technology. Many of our articles discuss these two issues which can reduce deadly distracted driving. Yet, education will fall short if parents do not show safe and healthy behavior.

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Blackwell Law Firm: Huntsville Personal Injury AttorneysI remember listening as the doctor testified about his trips to Las Vegas. That’s where the medical device company took him to “discuss” its product. After these trips to Las Vegas, the doctor returned home and began implanting the product into countless Alabama patients.

At the time, I was surprised. Shocked. But, that was also the first time I had deposed an implanting doctor in one of these cases. In the years since, I have seen far too many instances of drug and device companies trying to tempt physicians into prescribing or implanting certain products.

In some cases, the physician may not even be fully trained in the potential issues of the drug or product at issue. I think this is an issue with transvaginal mesh implants. These products were heavily marketed to local physicians and regularly implanted in women. Yet, the potential problems from mesh implants can be tremendous. When problems occur, the same implanting physicians are often unable to help. I recently deposed a surgeon at a major research hospital who has tried to help one of my clients suffering from implanted mesh. Here is what that specialist said:

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Blackwell Law Firm - Huntsville Car Accident LawyersYou are driving down the road. It’s a beautiful day. Bam! Suddenly, another car crashes into you. Another driver ran a stop sign and caused the crash.

Clearly, you have a negligence claim against the other driver. He failed to follow the Rules of the Road. He ran a stop sign. Then, you learn more. You learn this other driver also uses illegal drugs. Illegal drug use. That’s powerful evidence. It’s powerful evidence if the judge allows it’s use at trial! That brings us to the key question:  Is the other driver’s drug use admissible at trial? Can you use this evidence to help your case?

The answer is, maybe. I know, that’s not the concrete answer you wanted. Evidentiary questions rarely have absolute answers. That’s why a good lawyer with real trial experience is so important to your case. You need an experienced trial lawyer who understands the evidence rules and how to apply them. You certainly will NOT get such a lawyer from the billboards and television advertisements showing smiling attorneys begging for cases.

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Alabama Lawyers For Serious Injury And Damage CasesIs the number of contested Trust and Estate cases increasing? Some Estate lawyers asked that question on their blog. Their post, titled The Rising Tide of Trust and Estate Litigation, is an interesting read. It contains some valuable insight.

Now, I’m no Estate lawyer. I certainly do not write Wills or Trusts. Let me repeat that — I do not write Wills or Trusts. My opinion on that topic is simple — You should seek an expert in Estate planning on those issues.

I focus on trial work — Specifically cases for personal injury and damage. That’s where my experience enters the picture. I have prepared Will and Trust contests by heirs for trial. That is, I have been hired to pursue cases in court where heirs and beneficiaries have been damaged by misconduct. While I do not engage in Estate planning, I do engage in representing heirs and beneficiaries damaged by the wrongful conduct of others. I am one of the few trial lawyers I know in my area who has actually tried a Will contest to a jury.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Huntsville Personal Injury AttorneysIs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) failing American workers? Are workplace safety standards actually decreasing? Are more workers suffering personal injury or death due to fewer inspections? These are important questions.

Recently, A Congressman wrote the Secretary of Labor to address his concerns with declining workplace safety. Here are a couple facts about the rising rates of serious injury that concerned the Congressman:

  • Over 5,000 people died from workplace injuries in 2016, a 7% increase from the prior year.
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Huntsville Personal Injury Lawyers - Blackwell Law FirmIn May 2017, I wrote an article that asked — Who Writes For Your Injury Lawyer? It’s an important question. It’s a question of authenticity and trust.

After all, you are hiring a person who will soon know your most personal information. Medical information. Financial details. Family issues. Criminal background. Your lawyer will know your background. You are trusting a person with your information. That begs the question — If a lawyer cannot even honestly write for himself, how can you trust him or her with your personal details?

Based on what passes for lawyer advertising and lawyer website content, I must be in the minority. For many advertising lawyers the formula is simple — Pay a marketer to generate content. Write check. Smile for photos when requested. Repeat some catch phrase like “we got this” or “call me.” This lack of authenticity is precisely why lawyers do not build trust in their community.

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Blackwell Law Firm - North Alabama Workers Compensation AttorneysIt’s a common pattern. A worker at a large factory suffers an on-the-job injury. He tells his supervisor who then sends him to the plant nurse. Many big factories have an on-site nurse or first-aid department. So, the hurting worker goes to first aid. Often, the hurting worker will return to the plant nurse several times over the course of days, weeks and months. Yet, the company does little or nothing to help its employee. Does the company send its hurt worker to a doctor? No. Does the company report the injury to its workers’ compensation carrier? No.

The injured employee continues to try and work. He or she continues to hurt. Eventually, one of two things usually occurs. Some injured workers simply give up. These employees seek outside medical care through private payment or private insurance. Other injured workers keep trying to work until the injury worsens severely. At that point, the injured worker cannot work. Because the plant nurse did not properly report the accident or injury, it may also be too late for workers’ compensation benefits. It’s a bad scenario for the injured worker.

Over the course of two decades, I’ve represented countless workers facing hurdles wrongly and needlessly created by the plant nurse. How does the plant nurse or first-aid department prevent needed medical care and workers’ compensation benefits? Here are a few ways a plant nurse can harm injured workers:

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billboard-37080_1280-300x227I look up. In big letters, I see it:

INJURED?

Next to the large word, I see the smiling faces and telephone number. It’s a new billboard. I drive down the road. Less than half a mile down the road, I see these words on another billboard:

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emergency-room-3323451_1920-copy-300x200Traumatic brain injury (TBI) issues are a frequent topic for us. If you have read any of our past blogs, then you know we have big concerns that TBI victims are not diagnosed, not treated and not understood by both the legal and medical systems. Many issues contribute to the lack of understanding and treatment. Even many medical professionals fail to understand the significance of TBI issues.

A recent research study published in JAMA Network Open asked an important question — Do patients with mild traumatic brain injury receive adequate levels of follow-up care? You can read my entire post for more discussion of this issue. If you want an immediate answer, then it is “no” on follow-up care. According to the study author, a large proportion of TBI patients do not receive follow-up care after a personal injury even when continuing to suffer postconcussive problems.

The study followed patients who had been to the emergency room with a TBI at 11 different hospitals. Each of these hospitals was a level 1 trauma center – A hopital that provides the highest level of care to trauma patients. If you want to know more about the distinction in hospitals, the Alabama Department of Public Health has a map that indicates the Level 1 trauma centers in our state. Sadly, only Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile/Baldwin Counties presently have Level 1 hospitals. A Montgomery channel has even written about the lack of a Level 1 hospital in that part of the State. What does this tell us about the TBI study? It tells us that it followed patients treated at the best trauma hospitals. Keep that in mind as I suspect the percentage of patients with no follow-up is much higher when you consider other hospitals.

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Workplace horseplay is not simply harmless fun. Horseplay can lead to serious accidents and injuries. What if I suffer an injury in a horseplay incident at work? Can I get workers’ compensation benefits if injured in horseplay? In Alabama, horseplay can bar a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. It’s a serious issue that prevents you from recovering needed workers’ compensation benefits. If you were hurt in the workplace and an issue of horseplay exists, you should consult a skilled workers’ compensation attorney who has been through trial in these claims. Your benefits can depend upon it.

Are there situations where you can still recover workers’ compensation benefits if injured by horseplay? Yes. Situations do exist where horseplay injuries may still be compensable. A primary situation involves workers who are the innocent victims of horseplay.

Several years ago, I tried just such a case. What happened in that case? My client drove a truck for a large parcel delivery service. He drove an overnight route across Alabama. His company had a hub in central Alabama where he often stopped for fuel. The company supplied both gas and mechanics at that location. One night he stopped at the hub for fuel. As he sat and waited for his truck to be fueled, a mechanic suddenly jumped on him from behind. My client suffered a torn rotator cuff in the incident. The mechanic who caused the accident did not intend to hurt my client. Rather, this mechanic had a long history of dangerous horseplay in the workplace. Other employees had previously complained. Yet, for some reason, the employer did nothing. After the injury, the employer denied my client’s workers’ compensation claim on the grounds of horseplay. That’s where we became involved. In that case, the client was an innocent victim. We were able to win his benefits in court. If you are truly the innocent victim of horseplay, your claim should be honored.