Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Cellphone DistractionDistracted driving is a frequent topic on my blog. This month is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. So, it’s a perfect time to discuss proposals currently pending in the Alabama Legislature to prevent drivers from holding their cellphone while driving.

Last year, Georgia enacted a hands-free law for drivers. Will Alabama pass similar legislation? As I write this post, I checked the Alabama Legislature information website concerning pending bills. The website lists two hands-free bills currently making their way through the legislative process. I read both bills and they are almost identical. These two pending bills are: HB6 and HB404. You can access the legislative information website HERE.

I’ll focus here on HB6 which was introduced by Representative Allen Farley. If passed, it will be known as Cici’s Law. Local channel WHNT posted an article telling Cici’s story. Cici was 17 and just months shy of graduating from high school. On February 28, 2018, she was driving home from work down Interstate 65. She had a bright future and a loving family. While driving home, she was recording a message on her phone — a Happy Birthday message to a friend. She briefly looked down. When she looked back up, it was too late. She was not speeding. Still, she had no time to stop and went underneath an 18 wheeler stopped in front of her.

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Distracted driving is a frequent topic on my blog. In the last few years, I’ve written numerous articles on the issue. In some articles, I’ve discussed the basic types of distracted driving and how we can work together to reduce this highway danger in Alabama. In other articles, I’ve written more specifically about distracted driving as it relates to commercial drivers or teenage drivers. At the Blackwell Law Firm, we will continue to discuss this important safety topic in future posts.

Because it is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we have created a short slideshow on the issue. We hope you find it educational. Like many of our articles, we discuss several ways to combat this problem. As with any post, we welcome constructive commentary!

https://www.slideshare.net/JeffBlackwell16/distracted-driving-awareness-month-139875671

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Several weeks ago, I wrote an extended post on Five Bad Rules That Can Harm Your Alabama Car Accident Claim. We frequently deal with these rules in auto accident injury cases we prepare. These rules can ruin your claim or severely decrease its value.

If you suffered a serious injury, it is important to seek legal counsel experienced in handling these issues in court. A simple fact or argument can often determine whether or not one of these rules applies. Unfortunately, most of the settlement mill lawyers advertising on billboards fail their clients in these cases.

If you want more details, take a look at our longer article. If you have questions about a case or claim, we are happy to answer them. I’ve attached a slideshow which is shorter than our previous article and hits the key issues in each of these Alabama rules. I thought the slideshow could serve as a quick reference or download on these issues. Here it is:

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Huntsville Accident & Injury LawyersYou suffer injuries in a car accident. Paramedics arrive at the scene and carry you to the local hospital. When you arrive at the hospital, you provide your health insurance or Medicare information. You assume the bill is covered. Wrong. A few weeks later you receive a “hospital lien” in the mail. What?

Why is the hospital filing a lien against you and your car wreck claim? Why did the hospital refuse to bill your health insurance or Medicare? After all, you paid premiums (probably for years) for your health coverage. You paid premiums so you would have coverage when needed. I’ll tell you why the hospital refused to bill your insurance and filed a lien. Greed.

When you seek hospital treatment, the charges are inflated. Sometimes, they are greatly inflated. The hospital charges you inflated amounts knowing it will accept less (a reasonable amount) from health insurance. Look closely at your hospital lien paperwork! The hospital did NOT file a lien for the reasonable amount it always accepts from insurers or Medicare. No. The hospital filed a lien for the full, inflated charges. When you have an accident claim, Alabama law allows hospitals to file liens against your eventual settlement or recovery. Under existing Alabama law, the hospital has a right to collect those inflated amounts from any settlement of your car accident claim. So, hospitals often choose to file a lien rather than submit the bills to your health insurer.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Helping Injured People Across AlabamaI watched as the other driver sped through a red light in downtown Huntsville. He ran the light without causing a crash. Others are not so fortunate. Running a red light is one of the most reckless and risky acts of driving. Are more drivers running red lights? Research indicates they are. From 2012 – 2016 (the latest data), deaths in red light running crashes increased annually. Overall, red light deaths increased 17% during this time. In 2016, over 800 people died in the United States from crashes caused by drivers running a red light.

If more drivers are running red lights, the question is why. Why are more drivers running red lights? What can be done to reduce this danger? Traffic researchers believe several factors contribute to the growing problem. These factors include:

I.      DISTRACTED DRIVERS

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Alabama Car Accident LawyersHurt in a car wreck? Have a claim for your injuries? For most people, the rules and procedures are unfamiliar territory. Hopefully, a car crash injury is something you will never experience.

Each state has its own laws and rules related to car accidents. While most rules serve an important purpose, a few are unfair and unjust. Some of these unjust rules can unfairly harm your potential claim. Many of these unfair rules should have been changed long ago. Here are five bad rules that can unjustly harm your Alabama car crash claim:

I.      Alabama Guest Passenger Statute

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Blackwell Law Firm: Helping Alabama FamiliesWhat is Alabama’s Survival Statute? Ask yourself, what potential claims survive death and can be filed by an Estate? In our office, we specialize in Alabama personal injury claims. If an injury victim dies BEFORE he can file a personal injury case, will his Estate or heirs be able to file the claim? Alabama’s Survival Statute sets those rules. And, UN-filed personal injury claims do not survive the death of the victim in Alabama.

This can be a big deal. A really big deal. Here is an example — Your neighbor suffers devastating injuries when struck head-on by an intoxicated driver. He is rushed to the hospital. He spends months receiving costly, specialized medical care. His bills grow and grow. Because he cannot return promptly to work, he loses his job. His damages are huge. He is not the only one suffering. His family suffers as well. If your neighbor files a personal injury case, he can try to recover all his damages and losses. What if your neighbor dies? If he filed his case, then his Estate can continue to pursue the claims. What if your neighbor dies before he could file his case? Then, his UN-filed personal injury claim dies with him. His Estate cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. His Estate will face huge claims by the medical providers with no ability to recover money to pay those claims. Is this scenario fair? Is it fair that an Estate can maintain a personal injury claim in one scenario but not the other? Certainly not.

Wait. Doesn’t Alabama allow wrongful death claims? Yes. If the personal injury victim dies FROM his injuries, then his heirs can pursue a wrongful death claim. Yet, this scenario remains unfair for two reasons. First, this provides NO help for the Estate where the personal injury victim died of an unrelated cause. No wrongful death cases exists if the death is unrelated to the injuries. Second, under unique Alabama law, you cannot recover compensatory damages in a wrongful death claim. In Alabama, only punitive damages are recoverable in wrongful death claims. So, the Estate is still left unable to recover for huge medical expenses, lost wages and other specific injury-related costs.

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Blackwell Law Firm: Helping Personal Injury Victims In AlabamaLast week, I began discussing eight mistakes personal injury victims make during medical visits. You can read the first four mistakes with my advice, here. Today, I’m going to finish this topic with a discussion of four more mistakes. My hope is that you make the most of your visits and the treatment offered you. Your health and healing should be your top priority. With that in mind, here are four additional mistakes with my commentary about each:

     V.  Stopping Treatment Before Completion

This issue frustrates doctors. The doctor recommended a course of treatment because he or she felt it necessary to treat your injury. You should complete treatment. If you do not want to complete a specific course of treatment, you should talk with your doctor. Do not simply quit.

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Blackwell Law Firm Helps Alabama Injury VictimsDoctor visits can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. You worry about treatment, recovery and cost. You worry about missing work or other activities. You wait for an appointment (maybe a long time). When you finally see the doctor, he or she is very busy. You are rushed to an examination room and have just moments to discuss your injury. The whole process is stressful.

I spend a lot of time reading about doctor visits from the medical records. In personal injury cases, the medical records are critical. Documentation is key. If you have a workers’ compensation claim, the insurance carrier will only approve prescribed treatment if the medical documentation supports it. If you have any type of personal injury case (whether car accident, workers’ compensation or anything else), the insurance company will only factor issues into its settlement offers if the documentation justifies them. If your claim eventually goes to trial, you will need the doctor’s testimony. When the doctor testifies, he will likely stick to the facts and issues documented in the medical records. Documentation is essential at every stage — Treatment, Negotiation and Trial.

At every visit, the doctor documents your history, treatment and condition. Because of that, an open and honest dialogue is essential. You need to pick a skilled and caring physician. Then, you also need to communicate properly regarding the injuries and treatment.

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money-2033591_1920-300x300From “good hands” to “good neighbor,” major insurance companies market themselves as caring for the consumer. Do they? We’ve all seen the countless advertisements. Do you really believe the insurance company has your interest at heart?

What happens when you are hurt and really need the insurance? Insurance companies work hard to avoid paying the true value of claims involving injuries. In car wreck claims, savvy adjusters immediately start looking for ways to deny or dispute valid claims. What are some immediate actions designed to reduce or deny your injury claim? Adjusters start by recording you on the telephone. We have even seen adjusters try to obtain damaging recordings from people who are on pain medications immediately after an accident. Adjusters start by sending you forms to sign — which the company can use to dig through your history and records. Adjusters promise to pay your medical bills, encouraging you to send them. Yet, that’s not how it really works.

Adjusters have huge advantages over you. They know the system. They know how it works. On the other hand, you are probably unfamiliar with the system. You are relying on fairness and honesty to get through a stressful process. While a car accident upends your life, it’s just a normal day for the insurance company.