COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients.

Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Huntsville Accident LawyersYou are driving down the road. Maybe you’re heading down I-565 to work in Huntsville. You are thinking about work (or maybe thinking about the upcoming weekend). Bam! Suddenly, another car crashes into you. You’ve probably sat in rush hour traffic on I-565 many times for accidents involving other drivers. But, now it’s you.

What happens after a sudden car crash. Usually, people call 911. Sometimes, multiple people call 911. Police arrive and investigate. Paramedics may arrive and check for injuries. What if the police suddenly decide to stop investigating some car accidents? What if the police in Huntsville, Madison, or another northern Alabama city, suddenly decide to stop working car accident scenes? If I had asked the question a year ago, you would probably laugh. After all, we expect law enforcement to investigate and report car accidents. With current coronavirus risks, one huge police department is now making the decision not to investigate some crashes. That police department — Atlanta.

A few days ago, an Atlanta news channel reported the Atlanta police department would stop responding to some car crashes due to Covid-19 concerns. How will this law enforcement agency choose when to respond and when not to respond? According to the report, Atlanta police will stop responding to “non-injury” accidents during the coronavirus pandemic. When Atlanta area drivers call the police for a car accident, the dispatcher will ask if they are injured. The response to this question determines whether or not local police will respond.

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Huntsville Accident And Injury LawyersAs I write, firm attorney Jennifer McKown is attending a court hearing by Zoom. Rather than appear at the courthouse, she is sitting in front of her laptop in the conference room. During the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom hearings have become a necessity. Teleconferencing has become necessary for many businesses. Think also of our schools. In our home (like so many other families), we’ve grappled with the reality of remote learning during the pandemic. Like other businesses and schools, the legal profession must also grapple with questions of what activities can be handled remotely versus in-person.

Since March, I’ve attended numerous hearings by teleconference (through Zoom). I’ve also attended some in-person hearings in full mask. Just a couple weeks ago, I argued a lengthy post-trial motion in-person in a Marshall County workers’ compensation case. Maybe that hearing could have been handled remotely but it would have been much more difficult. We won a work comp trial right before the coronavirus shutdown and the defense lawyer filed post-trial motions. The arguments involved discussions of numerous cases and pieces of evidence. Everyone present in the same room made it much easier. Maybe I’ll write more about in-person pandemic hearings later. But, right now, I’ll talk about tele-hearings.

We all hope for a quick return to life without the coronavirus. We all face the current uncertainties together. What happens after the pandemic? What parts of life return to pre-corona normal? What parts of life permanently change? Can we learn from this shared experience? Can we benefit by lessons learned during this time?

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Blackwell-Law-Firm-Alabama-Accident-Injury-Attorneys-256-261-1315-300x169I still remember the call. A local Huntsville attorney was struck by a truck while riding his bike. He suffered serious injuries, including two ruptured discs in his neck. He wanted me to handle his accident case. We eventually tried the case and recovered damages for his injuries. My attorney friend was an avid bike rider, often riding around downtown Huntsville. He was a safe, experienced biker. How can our communities plan for bicycle safety? How can our communities plan for growing numbers of cyclists and pedestrians? How can our communities prevent other serious bike accidents and injuries?

Recent Federal Study Addresses Increasing Bicyclist Accident Deaths

Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a new study on bicyclist safety. Although cyclists commonly share our roads with cars and trucks, it had been over 45 years since the NTSB last studied the issue. We’ve seen a lot of traffic changes during those decades! This study was long over-due.

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Slip1-300x300We receive many calls from people injured after a fall in Alabama. Many people believe (wrongly) that a local business is always responsible for any fall-related injury on its premises. This belief is wrong. In truth, we turndown almost all potential slip and fall cases. Alabama slip and fall cases are very difficult to win.

Alabama Supreme Court Issues New Decision Which Discusses Problems With Slip And Fall Cases

In January 2020, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a decision discussing one of the biggest defenses in slip and fall cases — The Open And Obvious Defense. You can read my prior blog article discussing this case at:

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Last month, I wrote a lengthy post on road rage in Alabama. We live in angry and difficult times. Some drivers allow their anger to put others at risk on our highways.

Although recent months have seen fewer cars on Alabama roads due to the coronavirus, we still see almost weekly headlines reporting a road rage incident. Just in 2020, headlines have even reported road rage related stabbings and shootings in Alabama.

While incidents with weapons grab headlines, we face a larger problem. It’s a daily problem of impatience and anger that impacts driver behavior. At its extreme, an angry driver may recklessly or intentionally harm someone. When not at its extreme, driver anger and frustration still cause reckless and risky behavior. Road rage is a problem that leads to injury on our roads.

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Huntsville Personal Injury AttorneysYou suffered a car accident. In the days and weeks following the accident, you realize your injuries are serious. If you are like many of our clients, you may even need back or neck surgery because of the injuries to your spine. Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court addressed a car accident case with those common facts. The case was Hicks v. Allstate Insurance Company.

What was the issue in that case? The injured party wanted to introduce a mortality table into evidence and then argue for damages over the course of their expected lifetime. If you suffer a permanent injury, you get one day in court. You get one chance to argue and recover compensation for a lifetime of damages. You need to present the full story of your injuries and how they will impact you in the future. Alabama publishes mortality tables listing the remaining life expectancy for both men and women based on their current age. I know, it sounds a little morbid to think that a chart says you will live a specific number of years. While we all differ, the charts are based on expectations using vital health statistics. If the jury is going to decide damages for a permanent injury, it’s helpful to know how many years are expected.

What happened at trial in that case? At trial, the injured person’s surgeon testified by video deposition. The surgeon described his surgery in detail. He described how the procedure involved implanting hardware that would remain in the injured person’s body. He described how the procedure helped the person’s pain but still resulted in a loss of mobility and movement.

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https://www.alabamainjurylawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/122/2020/06/Buyer-Beware-Read-The-Contract.-300x300.pngThrough the years, we have handled many Alabama personal injury claims where the client initially hired another lawyer. Many of the lawyers smiling from billboards and television will NOT work on their cases. Many of these advertising lawyers will NOT go to trial. So, it’s not unusual for people to hire a billboard lawyer and later need another attorney. Many of the dedicated trial lawyers I know will tell you the same thing — They frequently review cases mishandled by billboard lawyers.

We recently reviewed a workers’ compensation case in Athens where the injured person started with one of these advertising lawyers. She hired the lawyers. When they realized her case might require some actual courtroom work, they let her go. I guess I should more accurately say they tried to talk her into settling for peanuts then let her go when she refused. We reviewed her file. When we looked at her contingent fee contract with these billboard lawyers, we saw that it contained a $500 administrative fee. What? That’s outrageous.

Why were these billboard lawyers charging an administrative fee? The contract did not say. The truth — It was simply another way to gouge their client without giving good service. Do you really think the firm was going to incur $500 of telephone and postage costs in a local work comp case? Maybe they were trying to recoup the costs of their billboards? Regardless, they were already charging the customary contingency fee for handling these cases.

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Insurance Claims

Is The Insurance Company Pulling The Strings?

I’ve been reading Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy. Recent events across our country highlight the injustices described in this book and add to the immediate urgency for a more just system. It’s especially difficult to read Just Mercy when you are familiar with many of the cities and counties where the injustices in the book occurred. It’s also especially difficult to read the book when recent events across our nation remind (everyone) that systematic injustice and racism remain current events. Changes are needed.

When I started this blog several years ago, I committed to discussing solely personal injury issues. For the most part, I’ve kept that commitment. This week, it is especially difficult to do so. But, I’m going to try.

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Untitled-design-3-300x300In recent weeks, far fewer cars traveled Alabama roads and highways. With the coronavirus, many people temporarily sheltered at home. Less traffic means less driver frustration and anger on our roads. Yet, we still face road rage incidents. Those events are likely to increase as people resume the hustle and bustle of work and life.

While reading a recent local headline, I decided to write on the topic. The headline read:

Huntsville Woman Arrested After Running Over Man With Car

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Untitled-design-3-copy-2-1-300x300Huntsville Growth Means Lots Of Road Construction

Over the last decade, the Huntsville area has seen tremendous development. The surrounding area is rapidly growing. In downtown Huntsville, multiple hotels and offices are under construction. In the medical district, Huntsville Hospital and other medical offices continue expanding. Along Highway 72, you see stores and offices stretching from Huntsville to Athens. Throughout Madison, Limestone and Morgan Counties, new neighborhoods are under development. With new development, comes new road construction. And, authorities must maintain existing roads as well. If you live around Huntsville, it’s likely you regularly deal with road construction somewhere on your daily route!

Road Construction Workers Are At Risk For Serious Injury Or Death

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