Articles Tagged with automobile accident

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Huntsville Personal Injury Attorneys: Blackwell Law FirmI like to answer consumer questions in a couple different legal forums. The more information we can provide our neighbors to help them with legal decisions — the better. Someone recently asked me if I knew people who had suffered due to uninsured / underinsured drivers. The answer is, YES.

I know many people in Alabama who have needlessly suffered due to a lack of insurance for their injuries. In the last year, I’ve had to talk with two different families in this exact situation where the medical bills, alone, exceeded a million dollars. Yet, in each situation, the at-fault driver carried only minimal automobile insurance. These are difficult conversations to have with hurting or grieving families. It is difficult to tell a hurting family that they cannot recover even a real fraction of their losses.

Alabama law only requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. Right now, that minimum amount is $25,000. Let’s put that into perspective. If you are badly hurt in a wreck, a helicopter ride to the hospital, by itself, will likely consume this entire amount. Yes, I’ve had this situation in several different cases. The bills from a regular ambulance ride and emergency room visit will consume a significant portion of the minimum limits. In any case involving a serious injury, the minimum limit of $25,000 is far, far too low. Your damages in any serious personal injury will exceed that amount.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Helping The Injured In AlabamaIn a December 2018 post, I asked the question — Is the Alabama Supreme Court Biased Against Car Accident Victims on Venue Issues? At our office, we file and prepare many car accident and injury cases for trial. Where can a case properly be filed? Where is venue proper? Sometimes, venue is proper in more than one county. Sometimes, you have a choice. When you do, venue can be a huge issue. When we have a choice, we consider carefully which county may be better for the case.

How is our Supreme Court wading into the venue issue? In recent years, our Supreme Court issued several decisions using a principle called “forum non conveniens” to transfer cases. Forum non conveniens allows courts to transfer a case from the proper venue where filed to another proper venue for “the interest of justice” or the “convenience of parties and witnesses.” Should the court make subjective decisions on “convenience” to overrule a plaintiff’s chosen venue? Historically, the bar has been high. Historically, courts would defer to the chosen venue unless it had little or no connection at all to the case. I think courts should defer to the plaintiff’s proper choice of venue.

In its recent decisions, the Supreme Court forgot the deference which should be extended to the plaintiff’s choice of venue. Our Supreme Court repeatedly used the principal of forum non conveniens to transfer personal injury cases. In my 2018 post, I criticized the willingness of our Supreme Court to impose its subjective choice of venue on a plaintiff.

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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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photo by U.S. Air Force
Is the ban on texting and driving in Alabama effective? In a recent post, I discussed two shortcomings with Alabama’s current distracted driving law.

  • Our current law is limited in application. Our current law applies to portable devices removable from the car. And, it applies simply to texting or typing activities. As I discussed in my prior post, the use of electronic devices has expanded far beyond simple texting or typing activities. In our practice, we’ve seen accidents caused by drivers actually surfing the internet while driving. We even had one client hurt by a driver who was watching a movie on a portable device while operating a car. Our law should be written to encompass unreasonably dangerous distractions beyond the simple act of texting. I understand – we cannot anticipate every bad act. But, we can keep the law up to date with advances in how people use portable devices.
  • Our current law contains minimal penalties. What is the first-time offender penalty for a texting and driving citation? It’s $25. The penalty for texting and driving in Alabama provides almost no deterrent to drivers.
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Photo by KOMUnews

Emergency Rooms Fail To Diagnose Many Traumatic Brain Injuries

In past posts, I’ve discussed problems with emergency room protocols for accident victims who may be suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Emergency rooms often fail to diagnose significant cases of TBI as well as significant disc injuries in the spine. Our office regularly interviews victims of car accidents and work-related accidents with injuries left undiagnosed by emergency room personnel.

I get it. Emergency rooms are often crowded and chaotic. Emergency room professionals must worry about immediate life and death issues. Will the patient live? Is the patient at risk of paralysis? How do we stabilize the patient? These questions take priority. Yet, many significant TBI cases are left undiagnosed and untreated.

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Photo by 401kcalculator.orgIn an earlier post I asked — Are Truck Driver Health Issues Causing Accidents? We believe the answer is clearly, yes. Our firm has helped numerous Alabama clients injured in crashes caused by drivers with dangerous health conditions.

We understand commercial truck accident cases and the issues in those cases. Our recent investigations include crashes caused by drivers suffering fatigue from severe sleep apnea, drivers with known histories of seizures and drivers with drug abuse issues. For more information on the significant problem with truck driver health on our highways, you can read our prior post.

Federal regulations require commercial drivers to obtain a medical certification of their health. So, why are dangerously unhealthy truckers allowed on our highways? A primary reason is the medical certification process itself. That process is faulty with few checks or balances. The qualifications required under Federal law to be a medical examiner are low. And, medical certifications are rarely reviewed for accuracy or safety. This leads to a huge problem — biased medical professionals who will certify anyone for a price.

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A recent USA Today article discussed a fatal bus crash caused by a commercial driver with a history of seizures. According to the article:

The school-bus driver involved in a Baltimore crash last month that killed six people had a history of seizures and a dozen safety incidents in the past five years, federal crash investigators said Wednesday.

Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration officials notified Glenn Chappell two months before the crash that he wasn’t authorized to drive a commercial vehicle because his medical certificate wasn’t on file with the state, according to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Reckless drivers and school bus safety. In an earlier post I discussed a new Alabama law aimed at protecting children around school bus stops. The new law allows Alabama school buses to have cameras. The cameras will photograph reckless drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus. Then, these drivers will receive a $300 fine.

My prior post discusses facts related to the needless injury of children at school bus stops. While I was not aware of any Alabama studies when I wrote my prior post, both North Carolina and Texas had studied the danger. According to the North Carolina study, each day over 3,000 cars in that state illegally pass a school bus while it is stopped to pick up children. A major news outlet has also studied the issue and estimated American drivers illegally pass a stopped school bus more than 13 Million times a year.

Do some cars illegally pass stopped buses because the driver is distracted? Certainly. Do other cars illegally pass stopped buses because the driver recklessly or impatiently chooses to disregard the danger? Certainly. Either way, this tremendously reckless conduct puts our children at needless risk of personal injury or death every day.

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May 3rd, 2011

Photo by C. Waits

School Bus Safety. Each morning buses throughout Alabama carry our children safely to school. Every afternoon those same buses deliver our children safely home. School bus travel is relatively safe. Most often, it’s not the school bus or its driver that creates the danger of injury. Instead, it’s the automobile drivers around the bus who neglect safety and create risks of injury.

The most dangerous part of school bus travel often involves the actual stops where children board or exit the bus. Why are school bus stops so dangerous? They are dangerous because other drivers choose to pass or speed around the bus while children are present. While I’m not aware of any Alabama safety studies related to drivers who pass stopped school buses, the state of North Carolina did conduct a study. And, the results of their study demonstrate the tremendous risks of personal injury or death at school bus stops. According to North Carolina state transportation official Derek Graham:

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Did you know pituitary gland damage is common in traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases? According to a recent article discussing pituitary gland damage in TBI cases:

Many studies have shown that a high percentage of patients who suffer mild, moderate, or severe TBIs may have some form of pituitary dysfunction in the first three months following the injury. While most of these patients’ symptoms go away over the following nine months or so, many still have pituitary hormone dysfunction by the end of a year.

Recent medical research shows a significant number of TBI patients actually continue to suffer chronic, or long-term, pituitary gland injury: