COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients.
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Huntsville Work Comp AttorneysIt’s an interesting question. Covid-19 vaccination is a big issue. I suspect many employers will require workers to receive the vaccination. In a recent blog post, one Birmingham law firm writes about an opinion of the Alabama Attorney General from 2003 discussing employer-provided vaccinations.

I’m not writing to discuss whether or not an employer can require vaccinations. Rather, my law practice focuses on helping those injured. So, that is also the focus of this post. My issue — Are injuries from employer-provided vaccinations compensable under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act?

Before I begin, let me say I think vaccinations are essential to public health. Like any medical treatment or procedure, a tiny risk always exists. Have you ever pulled a back muscle? If so, physical therapy may be very helpful in your recovery. Yet, you face a risk of being injured in a car accident on the way to therapy as well as a risk of injury from the therapist’s equipment. But, the benefits of therapy far, far outweigh these very remote and unlikely risks. The same is true for almost any medication or medical treatment. Any medical treatment comes with small risks. With vaccines, the benefits to you, your family and society, far outweigh any minuscule risk. Hopefully, widespread vaccination will save many lives from this terrible virus.

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Untitled-design-5-300x300Credibility. It’s one of the biggest failures in the legal field. What is a leading cause of this credibility problem? Bad lawyer advertising! Lawyer ads are everywhere. They are overwhelming. They are almost all terrible.

Instead of authenticity, too many lawyers will say or publish anything to sign clients. From fast cash promises to fake blogs to ghostwritten content, lawyer marketing is terrible. Some lawyers even chase clients and cases in legal areas they really do not handle. That’s a terrible practice and terrible insult to the legal profession. Our friends and neighbors deserve better.

If you’ve watched any television, you’ve seen the onslaught of bad lawyer commercials. Have you taken this drug? Call me! Have you been in a car wreck? Call me! Many of these advertising lawyers have never even seen the inside of a courtroom. They do not try cases. They are not going to work your case for maximum value. Some of these advertising lawyers do not even have an office in Alabama.

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Injured-by-a-dangerous-drug-or-defective-medical-device-200x300On December 22, the 11th Circuit issued a new opinion dealing with the Learned Intermediary Doctrine under Georgia law. Many states, including Alabama, follow the same or similar versions of this doctrine. The Learned Intermediary Doctrine is a key issue in personal injury cases involving dangerous or defective prescription medications. If you suffered a serious injury from a bad drug, this legal doctrine may decide whether or not you can recover damages for your injuries.

What Is The LEARNED INTERMEDIARY DOCTRINE? How The Doctrine Impacts Bad Medication Cases.

So, what is the learned intermediary doctrine? Let’s start with the new 11th Circuit case, Hubbard v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals. The case involved a Georgia lady who suffered a catastrophic stroke while taking the prescription contraceptive Beyaz. Later, she sued Bayer claiming the company failed to warn adequately of the stroke risk.

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Protect Alabama Workers From Occupational InjuryA flash of light. A clap of thunder. Lightning strikes a construction worker in Athens. While the worker lived, he is now disabled. He can no longer work or support his family. Can he recover Alabama workers’ compensation benefits for his disabling injury?

This is the issue faced by a recent client of mine. The worker survived only because two co-workers performed CPR until paramedics arrived. His physical injuries and rehabilitation were only part of the nightmare. When hospital personnel contacted the work comp insurance company, the adjuster immediately denied the claim on the basis it was an “act of God.” Think about the worker’s family. They stayed at his bedside for weeks not knowing whether he would live or how they would pay for his care. But, this injury SHOULD have been covered by work comp in this case.

Is lightning a work-related hazard? The short answer is that in the case of this outdoor construction worker struck while helping build the new Athens High School, it was. We were able to get work comp benefits for him. But, it took a fight to get him the workers’ compensation benefits he deserved. In most cases, the answer depends on the job.

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Huntsville Accident & Injury Attorneys / Blackwell Law FirmWhat is uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage? This coverage is commonly called UIM. This valuable coverage is provided through your automobile insurance policy. And, it provides compensation for your injuries when the at-fault driver does not have adequate liability insurance coverage. In Alabama, insurance companies must provide UIM coverage (at least in the minimum amount) on your policy unless you specifically waive it. You should never do that! In fact, you should talk with your agent about purchasing more than the minimum required limits.

Uninsured / Underinsured Coverage Protects Alabama Families Seriously Injured By A Negligent Driver

You are driving to work. Suddenly, another driver runs a red light and crashes into you. You are hurt. You start receiving medical bills. And, you are unable to work. When you make a claim against the at-fault driver you learn he had NO car insurance. I know – this is illegal. Even if he had the minimum coverage (currently $25,000), it would only cover a fraction of your damages. What should you do? If you have UIM coverage on your policy, then you can recover additional money to help with your damages.

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overweight-trucks-a-danger-to-alabama-drivers-1-638-300x169I’ve written a couple times about the danger of overweight commercial trucks. In recent years, the number of fatal highway accidents has declined. Cars are safer. The one area where the number of fatal accidents has increased — crashes involving large commercial trucks. In numerous posts, I’ve discussed the issues contributing to this increase. They include distracted driving, truck driver health and truck equipment. So, I thought it a good time to revisit the issue of overweight trucks.

Alabama is criss-crossed by Interstate highways. We’re all familiar with the big trucks on Interstate 65, Interstate 20 / 59 and Interstate 10. But, this is not just an issue for our Interstates and major highways. In some rural areas of our State, logging trucks are a frequent sight. These trucks are often overweight. If you drive the rural roads of Alabama, you’ve likely seen plenty of overloaded log trucks. They are a huge danger to other drivers.

I’ve prepared a slideshow which discusses the primary dangers of overweight trucks on our roads and highways. How does the extra weight put us at risk? What are the dangers? Here are four dangers of overweight trucks:

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Huntsville Injury LawyersWith poultry giant Tyson, the safety hits just keep coming! Last week, I wrote about Tyson managers actually gambling on worker safety. That is, managers abandoned their workers in the midst of a pandemic and then gambled on how many would get sick. That’s horrible. You can read my article titled When Management Bets Against Worker Safety on this blog.

The day after I published my latest article, I read about more poultry industry mis-conduct that puts worker lives at risk. According to a new article, Tyson managers actually directed language interpreters to misrepresent safety conditions to the company’s hispanic workers. You can read that article titled Tyson Accused of Misleading Interpreters at Virus-Hit Plant at the Claims Journal website.

Really? When Covid strikes its workforce, management abandons the plant floor. Management stops safety meetings. Management leaves the workers to fend for themselves. Then, management gambles on how many will get sick? Coronavirus has run rampant through poultry plants in Alabama and across the United States.

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Protect Worker Safety! Prevent Injury!The news is difficult to believe. When COVID-19 infections ravaged a Tyson poultry plant in Iowa, the company could have taken steps to protect workers. Yet, it did not. Instead, supervisors cancelled safety meetings, stopped going to the plant floor and decided to deny the exploding problem. Management protected itself and left workers to suffer. But, the story gets even worse. Supervisors started betting on how many workers would get sick with coronavirus. That’s right – Supervisors actually gambled on worker lives.

You can read more in CNN’s article, Managers at Tyson Meat Plant Had Betting Pool On How Many Workers Would Get Covid. How could supervisors gamble on human suffering? How could management so completely turn its back on worker safety?

While difficult to understand the depth of such depravity, the problem is larger than a few bad managers. Our system ignores systemic workplace safety violations. In the last year, I’ve written several articles about poultry plants in Alabama that have long histories of worker injuries and deaths. Despite their long histories of injuries and deaths, these plants have suffered almost no consequences. Here are a couple of my prior 2020 articles:

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Add-a-little-bit-of-body-text-200x300 Earlier this week, I was reading an article about a horrible Interstate crash involving a distracted trucker. The article packs several issues — Distracted driving. Bad driving record. Commercial truck crash. Potential punitive damages.

What happened? A car became disabled on the Interstate. Its driver put on her hazard lights, called authorities and waited patiently for help. While waiting, many other vehicles saw the disabled car, slowed and safely passed. The disabled car was clearly visible. Several minutes later, our trucker came down the Interstate. The trucker hit the disabled car without slowing at all. The trucker never even saw the car with its flashers right in plain view. He was not paying attention.

The crash caused terrible injuries. You can only imagine the impact of a full speed eighteen wheeler on a small, stationary car. At our office, we see many distracted driving crashes here in northern Alabama as well. Yet, there’s more to this truck crash. The truck driver in the article had a bad driving record. Why was he allowed to continue driving? The trucker had several prior accidents, including one where he even hit an overpass. And, he had also been cited multiple times for exceeding allowed driving hours. He had a history of being a careless and reckless driver. The trucking company clearly should NOT have allowed him to continue driving its trucks. But, it did. That company knew his record. Because the company knowingly allowed a dangerous driver to continue operating its trucks, it faces potential punitive damages.

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Huntsville Injury AttorneysWe share the road with big trucks. Most truckers are trained, safety-conscious drivers. Most truckers work hard to reach their destinations safely.

In past articles, I’ve discussed the health and safety issues truck drivers face. Truck driver health is a concern. Sitting long hours for your job. Sleeping away from home. Eating on the road. It is difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many drivers face health issues. Diabetes. Obesity. Sleep apnea. Some of these health issues create safety risks on the roadway. The large companies employing truck drivers need to do a better job keeping their workforce healthy. You can read some of my past truck driver health and safety articles on this blog. In several of my past articles, I discuss important health issues facing truckers. On several occasions I’ve also written about problems and fraud in the medical certification system. Here, in Alabama, we’ve seen fraudulent medical certifiers put dangerous drivers on our roadways.

I’m not writing today about truck drivers. I’m writing about the trucks they driver. Are the commercial trucks on our roads and highways safe? Are trucking companies putting drivers on the road with dangerous equipment? We drive next to big trucks every day assuming they are safe. We assume those trucks have been maintained, serviced and properly equipped. But, recent studies indicate too many trucking companies put dangerous trucks on our highways.

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