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Huntsville Personal Injury Attorneys: Blackwell Law FirmI like to answer consumer questions in a couple different legal forums. The more information we can provide our neighbors to help them with legal decisions — the better. Someone recently asked me if I knew people who had suffered due to uninsured / underinsured drivers. The answer is, YES.

I know many people in Alabama who have needlessly suffered due to a lack of insurance for their injuries. In the last year, I’ve had to talk with two different families in this exact situation where the medical bills, alone, exceeded a million dollars. Yet, in each situation, the at-fault driver carried only minimal automobile insurance. These are difficult conversations to have with hurting or grieving families. It is difficult to tell a hurting family that they cannot recover even a real fraction of their losses.

Alabama law only requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. Right now, that minimum amount is $25,000. Let’s put that into perspective. If you are badly hurt in a wreck, a helicopter ride to the hospital, by itself, will likely consume this entire amount. Yes, I’ve had this situation in several different cases. The bills from a regular ambulance ride and emergency room visit will consume a significant portion of the minimum limits. In any case involving a serious injury, the minimum limit of $25,000 is far, far too low. Your damages in any serious personal injury will exceed that amount.

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Alabama Injured Worker HelpI talk to injured Alabama workers every week. The moments and days after an accident can be uncertain and difficult. You may be hurting and unsure what to do. You may have many worries and questions. Will I be able to continue working? Will my employer fire me? How will I get medical treatment? Will I be able to pay my bills? Who can I trust?

The truth — Alabama’s work comp laws favor employers. Too often injured workers suffer needles pain and disability while navigating a hostile system. Insurance company denials. Treatment delays. Biased caregivers. Hostile employers. All of these are commonplace.

Your choices and actions right after a work-related accident and injury can prevent you from getting the medical care and benefits you deserve. Here are five common mistakes workers make following a work-related accident and injury.

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Huntsville Personal Injury AttorneysWe’ve all seen and heard the ads. If an advertising company put a billboard in the middle of the ocean, a settlement mill attorney would buy it! Usually, it’s a smiling face, phone number and short catch-phrase like:

Call Me [Insert City or State]!

In Huntsville, one local group of DUI lawyers decided to raise billboards and sign all manner of clients. Those same DUI lawyers sign the cases simply to refer the serious ones for a fee. That’s wrong.

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Huntsville Personal Injury LawyersWhere Are The Most Dangerous Huntsville Intersections?

What intersections are the most dangerous? Do a quick Google search and you will find research from 2012. The 2012 data is interesting. But, it’s old data. In the seven years since, Huntsville has grown tremendously. Development has created new accident dangers. Traffic patterns have expanded. Many intersections have been modified. In short, much has changed in the last seven years. The most dangerous intersections in 2012 may not be the most dangerous intersections today. What intersections were listed as most dangerous in 2012? Here they are:

  • Old Madison Pike at Research Park Boulevard
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We live in a fast-paced world where many drivers rush from activity to activity. Work. School. Social Events. We are always in a hurry.

As our Alabama communities grow, local roads become more crowded. Traffic and stop lights increase. Accident statistics show that more drivers are running red lights. The choice to run a red light puts everyone on the road at risk of a serious crash. I’ve written about red light accidents and intersection safety on many prior occasions. In some of my past articles, I tried to provide research from traffic studies. My posts discuss accident data as well as proposals to make our Alabama roads safer.

I recently created this short slideshow discussing several reasons why red light running may be increasing. For a deeper dive into the research, look at some of my past posts. Here is my quick slideshow for a ready reference —

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Huntsville Personal Injury LawyersThe first time this happened, I was shocked. Although I have now heard the same story many times, I am still a little shocked (and a lot disgusted) each time. What is the story? It goes something like this —

The office phone rings. The caller wants to discuss his car accident and see if we can help. However, he already has a lawyer. It’s a billboard law firm! He’s really unhappy with that law firm. When I hear that someone is unhappy with a local lawyer who works hard for his or her clients, I counsel the caller to sit down and talk with the lawyer. Often, it’s just an issue of communication. But, this is different. Sitting down with the billboard lawyer may be difficult or impossible. Why?

Many times, the caller has never even spoken with his lawyer. This is the part that shocks me! (Think on that for just a minute. The person has a lawyer he has never even met.). After his car accident, investigators simply came to his hospital room or home. In some cases, the “investigators” were simply “case runners” who showed up without invitation. In other cases, the process started when the person called the number from a billboard or television commercial. Regardless, the “investigators” promise a lawyer will take care of him, present papers, and get his signature. Yet, when he calls the lawyer’s office some weeks or months later asking about his case, he gets no answers. Maybe he talks with a legal assistant. Maybe. Usually, he only speaks with a receptionist who knows nothing about his specific case. I doubt the settlement mill lawyer (or even the paralegal) will call him back until the case is settled. What’s clear is that:

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BLACKWELL-LAW-FIRM-Alabama-Accident-and-Injury-Lawyers-256-261-1315-300x300Truck Driving Is A Solitary Profession

We spend much of our lives at work. For many of us that means going to the office, factory or construction site. We see and speak with other people throughout the day.

Truck driving is different. Truckers may spend long, solitary hours on the road. Miles and miles of highway pass as the hours turn from day to night. In past articles, I’ve written about some of the health problems commonly seen in truckers. Many of those health problems are tied to long, sedentary work days.

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Blackwell Law Firm: Huntsville Personal Injury LawyersI read an interesting article last week in a work comp blog where the author asks the question:  What’s Next for Pain — Pharma? The author then discusses available medications he believes could serve as alternatives to prescription opioids. Opioid abuse is a major issue nationwide.

The article’s author is an executive at a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) in the work comp industry. I started the article with a little bias and hesitation. If you work for a PBM, your main concern centers on prescriptions — reimbursement and cost. After suing a different PBM several years ago, I developed a healthy degree of skepticism as to whether drug payers are really interested in patients. I don’t say that to judge the author or his company.

I will say this author begins with the right issue. He points out that as opioid prescriptions decline, providers and payers have not embraced other treatment modalities. That is an important issue for injured people suffering chronic pain. We must address and treat hurting people. The author then discusses several alternative medication therapies. I represent many injured workers facing chronic pain. So, the discussion of alternative treatments peaked my interest.

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Helping The Injured In AlabamaIt’s been quite a year for the Alabama Legislature. Lost in the nationwide attention generated by other controversial legislation — Two proposals that directly impact Alabama personal injury cases. These include (1) proposed distracted driving hands-free legislation; and, (2) proposed hospital lien legislation. I’ve discussed both proposals in prior blog articles.

Hospital liens are a huge issue in Alabama personal injury cases. Many local hospitals (including Huntsville Hospital near my office) routinely slap liens on patients who might have a personal injury claim. If you have private health insurance, like Blue Cross, this can be very frustrating. When you go to the hospital or doctor, you expect your health insurance to cover the charges. After all, you probably paid premiums for that health coverage.

Yet, hospitals routinely ignore health insurance coverage in favor of asserting liens. For that matter, other medical providers (like chiropractors and physical therapists) try to work around health insurance whenever possible in personal injury cases as well. Although these other providers don’t have a protective statute like our hospital lien statute, they will routinely refuse to bill Blue Cross and instead try to get the patient to sign some direct agreement giving them a lien. We routinely hear how injury victims were manipulated by providers into agreements allowing inflated medical charges to be taken from their proceeds.

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Blackwell Law Firm Fights Insurance Company DenialsYou suffered a work-related accident. You properly reported the accident to your company. You did everything correctly. Now, you expect work comp to provide medical care. After all, that’s how workers’ compensation should work. If you are like most people, all you really want is to heal as quickly as possible.

What happens next? Many companies have an occupational doctor or medical clinic to treat injured employees. Some people call them “gatekeepers.” Some of these “gatekeepers” wrongly and unjustly try to lock the gate to real medical care. In northern Alabama, we have just a couple clinics that handle almost all initial workplace accidents and injuries. These occupational clinics are supposed to treat injuries. Their doctors are supposed to help you. Don’t doctors take an oath to help their patients?

Most doctors take their responsibility seriously. Most doctors care deeply for their patients. I know many doctors who do. Yet, these few gatekeeper occupational clinics are NOT like most doctors. These clinics work for industry for a reason — Cost Savings. Fewer recorded injuries means cost savings. Less medical treatment means cost savings.