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Blackwell Law Firm -- Alabama Personal Injury LawyersWhat is a panel of four? How can it impact your Alabama work comp case? Why am I discussing the issue now? Medical treatment is an important issue to injured Alabama workers. We answer questions for callers on this issue almost every day at our office. Since the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently discussed the issue, I thought it was a good time for me to do so as well.

When you suffer a serious work-related accident, a lot of worries come to mind. Will I receive good medical care? Will I heal and recover? Will I be able to continue working? Our work comp system was created to provide medical and disability benefits. If you suffer a work-related accident, you are entitled to medical treatment. Your employer (through its insurer) is obligated to provide treatment. It should be simple. But, too often it’s not. Too often, employers and their insurance companies delay, deny, or just ignore medical care. When they do, you suffer.

WHO PICKS THE FIRST DOCTOR?

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Several months ago, I wrote a post discussing fire ant attacks in Alabama nursing facilities. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be safe places for our elderly. Yet, over the last decade, fire ants have injured and killed elderly residents in numerous facilities across the southeastern United States.

Recently, three nursing home employees in Alabama were criminally convicted for elder abuse following a vicious fire ant attack on an elderly patient. That attack made the news but so many others go unreported.

A few years ago, we worked on a case involving a vicious fire ant attack at an assisted living facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The injuries were devastating to a sweet elderly patient and her family.

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Accident & Injury Lawyers at Blackwell Law FirmSlip and fall injury? Many lawyers cringe at the phrase. Why? The answer is simple — These are among the most difficult cases. Public perception and legal reality are very different when it comes to slip and fall cases. Many people think, I slipped and fell at Walmart. So, Walmart has to take care of my injuries. Most people think the property owner is simply responsible for a fall. But, that’s not the law. The reality is much different. Walmart is only responsible in certain, specific situations. Sorry (not really) to pick on you, Walmart. But, that’s the price you pay when you are the biggest retail store.

Slip and fall cases are very difficult. The rights and responsibilities vary depending on the reasons why you are present on the property. That’s a discussion for another post. And, these cases are won or lost on specific, detailed facts.

One of the biggest defenses to slip and fall cases — The Open And Obvious Defense. What is this defense? If the danger should have been observed by the injured person, it is considered open and obvious. The question is whether a reasonable person would have noticed the danger. That’s a tough issue in many slip and fall cases. Again, the specific facts are key!

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Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersCommercial Truck Crash Death Rates Continue To Climb!

Commercial truck crash death rates continue to grow in the United States. According to recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, deaths are at their highest level in more than 30 years. In 2019, large truck crash deaths increased for the fourth consecutive year. These are very alarming highway statistics.

The trend is deeply troubling. Consider this — Overall highway safety has improved in recent years. Yet, we are seeing more deadly commercial truck accidents. In other words, big truck crash death rates are increasing while most other accident and injury rates are decreasing. This raises the question of why. Why are commercial truck death rates increasing? Why are commercial truck death rates moving in the opposite direction of overall highway safety?

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Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersWorkers at meat and poultry plants suffer some of the highest rates of occupational injury. In his 1906 book, The Jungle, Upton Sinclair wrote of the occupational dangers within Chicago’s meat processing plants. A hundred years later, food processing plants still function as if human labor and lives are expendable.

Chicago is famous for the meat-packing industry. In Alabama, these plants are typically chicken processing plants. They are places that employ people at low wages and expose them to non-stop processes. You don’t need me to tell you that many of these plants have a shameful history of workplace injuries and deaths. The numerous news stories already tell that history. Too many of these plants view people as cheap and expendable labor. But, that’s NOT how we should value human lives.

Over the last twenty years, I’ve represented numerous workers injured in Alabama poultry plants. Shoulder, arm and hand injuries are rampant. The assembly line moves too fast for any human to work long-term without injury. Yet, it’s more than just rapid assembly line injuries. The lack of safety concern also produces many injuries from falls, forklifts, and heavy lifting without proper equipment.

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Alabama Personal Injury LawyersUnderstanding The Problem

Every day, we drive alongside huge commercial trucks. Large trucks are more difficult to steer and stop. Large trucks are more difficult to maneuver. Large trucks present visibility issues and blind spots for drivers. Commercial trucks require skilled, healthy and alert drivers. I’ve written frequently about trucker safety. In an article last September, I addressed the growing problem of trucker fatigue on Alabama roads and highways. My prior article is titled Truck Driver Fatigue:  Research Reveals A Growing Problem.

In my prior article, I mentioned research showing 41% of transportation workers suffer severe sleep deprivation problems. I actually believe the reality is worse and that current research understates the problem. Regardless of my opinion, a study showing almost half the workers on our roads and highways suffering from serious sleep deficits should concern all of us. After all, our loved ones travel around giant trucks every day in Alabama!

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Th-Intrepid-Adventure-200x300Who really wants to spend their time in a lawyer or doctor office? Most people would prefer to be almost anywhere else. I understand. Other than routine physical exams, we see a lawyer or doctor only when we have a potential problem. For some of us, it has to be a pretty bad problem.

Most of us have seen a doctor at some point in our lives. So, we are familiar with the basics of medical appointments. When it comes to lawyers, it’s a very different story. Maybe you’ve never needed a lawyer. Many people live their entire lives without needing a lawyer. That’s a good thing.

Suddenly, you are hurt in an accident and not sure what to do. You may have many questions and many concerns. How do I handle my medical bills? Who can I call for help? Will I heal? Unfortunately, a lot of billboard and television advertising lawyers feed on uncertainty and fear. They offer a smile with promises that they can make the process easy.

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Huntsville Car Accident Lawyers (Blackwell Law Firm)It’s Christmas season! This weekend, my teenage daughter and I went Christmas shopping. That’s an experience on so many levels. For one, she wanted to drive. She has a Learners’ Permit and is eager to use it. But, the weekend before Christmas is not the best time for a new driver in Huntsville. So, I drove. To curb her disappointment, I promised to take her driving after Christmas when traffic returns to normal.

I’ve written previously about holiday traffic. In a prior post, I asked and answered the question:  Do Car Accidents Increase During The Holiday Season?   A study by the University of Alabama reveals they do. Why? Christmas season brings a special mix of several traffic dangers all at the same time:

  1. Increased Traffic.
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Alabama Workers Compensation HelpWorkers’ compensation benefits are intended to help restore injured workers. At least, that’s the original intent. That’s why medical treatment and vocational rehabilitation should be top priorities. Heal and restore whenever possible.

Yet, over the last couple decades, our system has largely devolved into a mess leaving many injured workers without benefits. Instead of help, too many injured workers are simply shuffled through the system. I’ve written numerous articles about the current work comp medical system and how it fails injured workers.

Another area where our current work comp system fails — Vocational Rehabilitation. What does “vocational rehabilitation” even mean in Alabama? The phrase is never fully defined by our workers’ compensation statute. Most lawyers and most courts really don’t understand the meaning of the phrase. Why not? The answer is that our courts have so limited its practical effect to the point vocational rehabilitation is largely non-existent and never legitimately offered.

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Huntsville Car And Truck Accident AttorneysYou suffered a car accident. In the hours and days after the accident, you start hurting badly. You need medical care. The whole process can be challenging and frustrating. When you are seriously hurt in a car crash, you suddenly have many issues. Scheduling appointments. Missing work. Transportation. Waiting for doctors. These may all be worries. Then, you start receiving bills. Lots of bills. Confusing bills. Bills can be an overwhelming worry.

If you have health insurance, you are very fortunate. You should definitely use your health insurance to pay your medical bills.

Why Should I Use My Health Insurance? Someone Else Caused The Crash.