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Blackwell Law Firm helps Alabama personal injury victimsA large part of my work involves simply interviewing, and talking with, personal injury victims. One theme is clear in my interviews — People suffering a personal injury want to heal and return to their normal life. They want to recover. They are often worried they will not recover. Proper medical care is essential to recovery from serious injuries.

At our office, we spend a lot of time talking with hurting people. And, we spend a lot of time reading medical records. In many cases, communication issues between the doctor and patient delay or hinder medical treatment. In some cases, miscommunication issues get documented and become serious hurdles to medical treatment as well as any injury claims. We try to advise our clients throughout the process to help their treatment and recovery progress.

A recent research article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine deals with the issue of patient-physician communications. The article uses the phrase “patient-centered” medical care. That’s a good phrase. Medical care should be patient-centered. Yet, it is instead too often centered around the insurance company or the flow of the medical facility. According to the research in this article, physicians only elicit the patient’s problems and agenda in 36% of visits. The researchers actually concluded:

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Alabama Work Comp Claims: Blackwell Law FirmHurt on the job in Alabama? Our workers’ compensation laws provide valuable medical and disability benefits. You may need those benefits. You may not realize the importance of those benefits at the time of the accident. Many of our clients in both workers’ compensation claims and car accidents do NOT realize the extent of their injuries at the beginning.

Our workers’ compensation laws require injured workers to provide prompt notice of an accident. If you do not, then you cannot later recover workers’ compensation benefits. Notice seems simple. Yet, it is a frequent issue in many cases.

Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act talks in terms of “written” notice. Yet, our courts allow claims where notice is only oral and not provided in writing. I could give you a long legal lecture on how and why these notice requirements developed. That’s a different discussion for another day. I will say this — Alabama provides a standard accident notice for employers. You can find a copy HERE. If you suffer an accident and injury, make sure it is completed.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Alabama Personal Injury LawyersYou are injured from an accident. You are pursuing a claim for damages or compensation. Suddenly, the insurance carrier wants you to see its doctor for an examination. If your case involves a car accident or work comp claim, you may face this request. Sometimes, the insurance carrier even calls its request an “independent medical exam.” Yet, these exams are neither independent nor fair.

Before I talk about the biased insurance company doctor, let me say that these biased doctors are small in number. Lawyers who frequently prepare and try cases will tell you they see the same few bad ones repeatedly. Doctors are like any other profession. Almost all of them are dedicated to serving their patients. The same rule applies to lawyers, accountants, and any other professional. But, a few bad apples exist.

With lawyers, the bad apples are those settlement mill lawyers making promises while refusing to do the work really needed to help clients. When it comes to automobile accident, workers’ compensation or disability claims, we see a few doctors who seemingly make their living issuing misleading reports so claims can be denied. In both the legal and medical professions, the bad ones want to make money pushing paper instead of getting to the heart of their clients’ stories and losses. One sure sign of biased doctors is that many of them have little or no medical practice outside insurance company evaluations. Good doctors actually treat patients. Good doctors don’t make their living generating claims reports.

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safety-44441_1280-300x150Last year, a flash fire at an Alabama car dealership in Jasper killed one employee and severely injured several others. What caused that fire? Flammable chemicals being stored improperly. After the flash fire, OSHA inspected the dealership and issued several serious citations for improperly storing a flammable chemical in a dangerous location. Plus, OSHA cited the dealership for not even developing a hazard communication program for its dangerous chemicals.

For the families of these dealership employees, no penalty or punishment will ever restore their loved ones. Hopefully, OSHA’s action will spur other local companies to take needed safety steps.

Does your workplace handle chemicals safely? For me, the question is front and center. Why? I’ve spent several days this month in deposition over a Huntsville injury case involving the issue.

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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.