Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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photo by Montgomery County Planning Commission
The Problem Of Distracted Driving

Distracted drivers cause many deadly car accidents on Alabama highways. Despite efforts to educate the public (and especially young drivers), accident statistics continue to show a growing problem. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) reported:

a 14 percent increase in traffic fatalities over the past two years — the largest two year increase in more than 50 years.

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Blackwell Law Firm
You were hurt on the job. You received workers’ compensation benefits. But, a third-party (someone outside your work) caused the accident. You want to pursue a personal injury claim against that third-party.

The workers’ compensation carrier has a lien against your personal injury case. Under Alabama law, your employer (and its insurance carrier) have certain rights to get their money back if you win your personal injury case. At our firm, we routinely represent clients in both workers’ compensation and other personal injury cases. We understand how these areas of the law interact.

What happens when your employer or its insurance carrier file a lien against the third-party negligence case? The issues can be complicated. How you (or your lawyer) handle these issues can tremendously impact your bottom line. I could discuss these issues in significant detail. But, here are four quick tips to consider when handling this type of case:

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INVOKANA USE MAY LEAD TO FOOT AND LEG AMPUTATIONS

On May 16, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new warning about the diabetes drug Invokana. Now, the FDA “has concluded” based on tests that the drug presents an increased risk of foot and leg amputations. Specifically, the FDA safety alert says:

Based on new data from two large clinical trials, the FDA has concluded that the type 2 diabetes medicine canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet, Invokamet XR) causes an increased risk of leg and foot amputations. FDA is requiring new warnings, including the most prominent Boxed Warning, to be added to the canagliflozin drug labels to describe this risk.

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Motorcycle Injury -- Blackwell Law Firm
A Huntsville lawyer recently reposted to LinkedIn an article by someone else titled 10 Common Motorcycle Accidents And How To Avoid Them. The attorney’s LinkedIn post simply contained the article with no additional insight.

The article is interesting. Yet, how many motorcycle riders are going to consult a network of business professionals like LinkedIn before going on a ride? Not many (if any). If people are looking for tips on how to operate their bikes on the highway, they may consult a motorcycle professional or motorcycle publication. If the person consults LinkedIn’s business network it is probably after an accident — for professional advice on handling the injury claims process.

At the Blackwell Law Firm, we have handled many motorcycle accident injury claims. Our law firm has a perspective that separates us from many other lawyers who advertise for personal injury claims. Our unique perspective helps us build these cases. What is our perspective that many other attorneys lack? We have real experience in the actual trial of motorcycle wreck cases. That gives us a unique perspective in a time when most lawyers who claim to handle personal injury work rarely, if ever, go to court for their clients. We have tried a number of these cases over the years (including this year) and have some thoughts based on our experience.

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Blackwell Law Firm
As a trial lawyer, my job involves advocating for injured clients. Much of that advocacy revolves around the written word. So, I ask — Who writes for your lawyer?

Maybe the better question should be — Why hire a lawyer who cannot (or does not) write his own blog posts, his own marketing materials or even his own legal briefs? Yes, I do know several lawyers who claim to be personal injury attorneys but cannot even write their own briefs or motions. Are you just hiring a marketer who wants to sign up cases for other lawyers to work? Are you just hiring a marketer who wants cases he or she can quickly negotiate for a small settlement? If you are just hiring a marketer, skip that lawyer. Go directly to an attorney who can fully advocate for you. It can make a huge difference in your ultimate settlement.

As I’ve stated in the past, any lawyer can advertise on a billboard, television or radio. In Huntsville, we have one group of lawyers who previously handled DUI cases. Suddenly, these lawyers decided to post billboards seeking personal injury cases, immigration matters and elder law issues. Wow! Their website tells the truth in the fine print disclaimer — they are signing the personal injury cases to refer them elsewhere for part of the fee. That’s shameful. I believe it is also unethical. Clients deserve better – They deserve lawyers who really know and really practice their specialty. For over two decades, I’ve heard the stories of people genuinely hurt in car accidents and work-related injuries. These injured people need a specialist.

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Distracted Driving Accident
Is there a nationwide push to increase speed limits on Interstate highways? In 2015, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming all increased Interstate speed limits to 80 miles per hour. Washington increased its speed limit on certain highways to 75 miles per hour.

In 2017, Michigan followed with an increase to 75 miles per hour on certain highways. And, a bill increasing the speed limit in Arkansas is nearing passage.

A couple years ago, Al.com published a survey discussing the possibility of raising the speed limit on Interstate highways in Alabama from 70 to 75. The article is titled:

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Photo by Bill JacobusIn many personal injury cases, wage losses are an important part of the damages. In many workers’ compensation claims, vocational disability (either partial or total) is the essential issue. How do we prepare our clients’ wage or vocational claims? We often use vocational experts. What is a vocational rehabilitation expert? Vocational experts possess special training related to the labor market and the jobs which may be available given a person’s limitations or restrictions.

Over the last two decades, I’ve questioned many vocational experts at trial. Too many lawyers attempt to cross-examine vocational experts using an argumentative style that gets nowhere. Big mistake. A lawyer who handles personal injury and workers’ compensation claims needs to understand the basics of vocational evaluations. This knowledge makes a huge difference in how much an injured client recovers by settlement or trial. If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer, make sure you ask if he or she has real trial experience using and questioning these experts.

A skilled lawyer can often expose deceptive defense experts. This requires an understanding of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). And, it requires a knowledge of how restrictions can impact a person’s ability to work. What are five common tricks used by defense  vocational experts to harm your personal injury claim?

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Law library books by Janet LindenmuthI’m disappointed by lawyers who claim to be specialists in ALL legal fields. It’s an impossible claim. It’s a claim that diminishes the legal profession. It’s a claim that will harm clients. If you hear a lawyer advertise as a specialist in all legal matters, my advice is to call someone else.

We actually have lawyers in Huntsville with billboards and videos marketing themselves as specialists in all legal fields. They want your case. Tax issue? Sign up. Estate issue? Sign up. Family law problem? Sign up. DUI? Sign up. Personal injury claim? Sign up. That kind of advertising makes the legal profession look bad. Why? In truth, if your case is complicated, these lawyers would quickly be in way over their heads.

Would you ask a foot specialist to treat you for an infectious disease? Would you ask a foot specialist to treat you for a traumatic brain injury? Of course not. In the legal field, why hire a DUI lawyer for your personal injury claim? If anybody loses in these scenarios, it is you as the consumer.

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Photo by KSAT 12
In recent days, we again saw the deadly toll of distracted driving on our highways. A church choir in Texas was returning from its annual retreat when the unthinkable happened. A pickup truck suddenly veered from its lane and into the path of their bus. The two vehicles collided head-on. According to news reports, thirteen senior citizens from the same church died in the crash. One church member survived the crash itself but currently remains in critical condition from her injuries.

The photographs and video of the crash scene are difficult to view. The vehicles look like mangled pieces of steel destroyed by the impact. But, this was not an accident. It was avoidable. The pickup truck driver chose to disregard completely the safety of others and caused the deadly crash. What choice did this driver make? He chose to drive distracted for miles down the highway putting many lives in danger. He chose to put his attention on texting instead of the roadway.

Distracted driving leaves a path of destruction across the highways of Alabama and all other states. In Alabama, we recently saw a driver receive jail time for a deadly distracted driving crash. In Georgia, a commercial truck driver plowed into a car of nursing students causing another deadly crash.

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Many lawyers advertise for personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. One group of Huntsville DUI lawyers recently put their names on billboards and began claiming specialties as varied as personal injury and elder law. Anyone can advertise. Any attorney can say they handle personal injury cases. While many lawyers advertise, few have real expertise in court.

It’s different with defense attorneys. Insurance companies hire good attorneys with trial skills. Insurance company lawyers regularly handle cases through trial and appeal. Does your injury attorney have similar skills? If you hire a billboard lawyer, you may get a lawyer who is quickly in over his head. And, you will suffer as a result.

A local advertising lawyer (who has a billboard) recently called me and started asking questions about distracted driving. A person hurt in a car accident had hired him. He did not know how to handle the case. While answering his questions, I kept thinking about the person hurt in the wreck. Was this person getting an attorney with experience handling these serious claims? No. This advertising lawyer marketed himself as a personal injury attorney but did not know how to handle a basic claim. And, this advertising lawyer had no intention of fighting for his client at trial if needed. He just wanted information needed to speak intelligently with the insurance adjuster.