Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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In 2016, I wrote a post titled Distracted Driving: Parents Must Lead By Example. In my prior post, I noted that 95% of the parents who admitted to distracted driving also admitted they did so in front of their children. If we expect our children to drive safely, we must lead by example! That means practicing what we preach about distracted driving.

I frequently write about distracted driving on this blog. Why? I write about the topic because it is a key factor in so many serious car crashes we investigate at our law firm. The cell phone is the primary device distracting drivers. Yet, it is not the only form of distraction. We have seen many others.

Education and technology. Many of our articles discuss these two issues which can reduce deadly distracted driving. Yet, education will fall short if parents do not show safe and healthy behavior.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Huntsville Car Accident LawyersYou are driving down the road. It’s a beautiful day. Bam! Suddenly, another car crashes into you. Another driver ran a stop sign and caused the crash.

Clearly, you have a negligence claim against the other driver. He failed to follow the Rules of the Road. He ran a stop sign. Then, you learn more. You learn this other driver also uses illegal drugs. Illegal drug use. That’s powerful evidence. It’s powerful evidence if the judge allows it’s use at trial! That brings us to the key question:  Is the other driver’s drug use admissible at trial? Can you use this evidence to help your case?

The answer is, maybe. I know, that’s not the concrete answer you wanted. Evidentiary questions rarely have absolute answers. That’s why a good lawyer with real trial experience is so important to your case. You need an experienced trial lawyer who understands the evidence rules and how to apply them. You certainly will NOT get such a lawyer from the billboards and television advertisements showing smiling attorneys begging for cases.

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Alabama Lawyers For Serious Injury And Damage CasesIs the number of contested Trust and Estate cases increasing? Some Estate lawyers asked that question on their blog. Their post, titled The Rising Tide of Trust and Estate Litigation, is an interesting read. It contains some valuable insight.

Now, I’m no Estate lawyer. I certainly do not write Wills or Trusts. Let me repeat that — I do not write Wills or Trusts. My opinion on that topic is simple — You should seek an expert in Estate planning on those issues.

I focus on trial work — Specifically cases for personal injury and damage. That’s where my experience enters the picture. I have prepared Will and Trust contests by heirs for trial. That is, I have been hired to pursue cases in court where heirs and beneficiaries have been damaged by misconduct. While I do not engage in Estate planning, I do engage in representing heirs and beneficiaries damaged by the wrongful conduct of others. I am one of the few trial lawyers I know in my area who has actually tried a Will contest to a jury.

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Huntsville Personal Injury Lawyers - Blackwell Law FirmIn May 2017, I wrote an article that asked — Who Writes For Your Injury Lawyer? It’s an important question. It’s a question of authenticity and trust.

After all, you are hiring a person who will soon know your most personal information. Medical information. Financial details. Family issues. Criminal background. Your lawyer will know your background. You are trusting a person with your information. That begs the question — If a lawyer cannot even honestly write for himself, how can you trust him or her with your personal details?

Based on what passes for lawyer advertising and lawyer website content, I must be in the minority. For many advertising lawyers the formula is simple — Pay a marketer to generate content. Write check. Smile for photos when requested. Repeat some catch phrase like “we got this” or “call me.” This lack of authenticity is precisely why lawyers do not build trust in their community.

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billboard-37080_1280-300x227I look up. In big letters, I see it:

INJURED?

Next to the large word, I see the smiling faces and telephone number. It’s a new billboard. I drive down the road. Less than half a mile down the road, I see these words on another billboard:

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Blackwell Law Firm - Personal Injury Lawyers In HuntsvilleAnother Huntsville personal injury law firm recently published its list of “expectations” for new client consultations. Their list is a good technical list. Potential clients need to know that good personal injury attorneys typically offer free and confidential consultations. And, potential clients need to know what to expect at these meetings. So, I’ll start by repeating the other firm’s list, but, in my own words. Then, I’ll tell you what I really consider the main purpose of our new client interviews. Here is my interpretation of what you can expect at a new client consultation:

  • Who Are You? The other law firm lists this as the “collection of demographic / biographical” information. That’s true. But, it’s broader than that. If you are a potential new client, I want to get to know you better. You are more than simply your age and address. Your lawyer needs to know you better in order to advocate for you. I prefer to call this the “get to know you” part of the interview. At the end of this post, you will learn why it is important for me to know more about you.
  • What Happened? The other firm lists this as “recounting the incident.” The essence is to find out what happened to you. Yes, I want you to “recount” the facts of the accident. But, I also want to know your thoughts and perceptions of the events. For example, I’ve personally experienced a wreck. The strongest memory for me is the smell of the airbag right after it exploded. Years later, I can still describe it in detail.
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Huntsville Personal Injury Attorneys - Blackwell Law FirmTexting while driving puts all of us at risk. How can we expect our children to be safe drivers if we do not lead by example? We must lead by example. Because of that, I’ve written several posts discussing distracted driving among both parents and professional drivers. You can read a few of those posts here:

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Blackwell Law Firm - Huntsville Personal Injury LawyersLook at the drivers around you. Do you see many of them staring at their phones instead of the road? I do. I also talk daily with clients who suffered serious personal injuries in car crashes caused by these distracted drivers.

Distracted driving is a frequent topic for us. We have long-advocated an approach to the problem that involves safety laws, education and technology. All three approaches are needed. Safety laws help but they do not solve the problem by themselves. That’s our opinion.

A new study by a California company, Zendrive, supports our belief that safety laws alone cannot solve the problem of distracted driving. You can read about the recent Zendrive study at the website for the Claims Journal an insurance industry periodical. You can also read about the study in a recent Bloomberg article. Each separate article provides interesting insights into the study. According to reports, Zendrive monitored several million drivers. Before I discuss some of the actual results, the Claims Journal article notes Zendrive “is likely discounting the danger” since it only records phone use when the device is actually moving around inside a car. In other words, if your phone is mounted to the dash, your use may not have been recorded. What are a couple of the interesting facts reported by the Claims Journal and Bloomberg articles? Here are a couple:

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Blackwell Law Firm - Personal Injury Lawyers For AlabamaDuring the last few weeks, we have really been focused on preparing for a few upcoming trials. First up on the docket was a truck crash jury trial in Guntersville. At our office, Jennifer McKown was the primary attorney on this one. It has been her sole focus the past couple weeks.

As we prepared for these trials, I’m reminded that good trial preparation requires you to maintain your focus. You must always remember your goal and don’t get sidetracked. Winston Churchill once said:

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Huntsville Personal Injury LawyersSeveral years ago, I had the honor of representing another Huntsville personal injury attorney who was hit by an SUV while riding his bicycle. After the crash, the SUV driver paused just briefly to see that the bicyclist had lived. Then, he fled the scene. He was never identified. The bicyclist suffered a severe neck injury. I was honored that he asked me to handle his case. This injured attorney had been practicing trial work for years and knew lawyers across northern Alabama. Because law enforcement was never able to identify the driver who caused the crash, we pursued claims against the bicyclist’s insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits (UIM). Let this be a lesson to everyone — It is very important for you to have UIM coverage on your policy. You can read more about that issue in a special section of our law firm website.

In the lawyer bicyclist case, we worked with the medical professionals to present the evidence of his serious injury. When the insurance company refused to fairly evaluate the matter, we went to trial. We successfully won a verdict compensating him for his full damages.

I think of that case every time I read about hit and run incidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists. I also think about the Pokemon fad. I can remember leaving my Huntsville office at night during that ridiculous fad. As I drove through downtown, I would see people staring into their cellphones while walking. Often, these people would cross streets with zero awareness of the traffic around them. How dangerous.