Articles Tagged with car accident

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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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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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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.

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Blackwell Law Firm in HuntsvilleSovereign immunity. Most personal injury lawyers shudder at the phrase! We occasionally deal with this issue in our personal injury cases. When we do, we are usually explaining to callers the difficulty or impossibility of suing the state for damages.

How about a slightly different issue — tribal sovereign immunity. Native American tribes are not independent political entities. They are not states, like Alabama. They have often been called “domestic dependent nations” and are subject to control by the U.S. Congress. Tribes retain some historic sovereign authority unless Congress acts. If you find the relationship confusing, you would not be the only one.

A current case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court presents an interesting issue of tribal sovereign immunity. It involves a car accident and the Poarch Creek tribe in Alabama. The Alabama Supreme Court framed its decision like this:  The doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity affords no protection to tribes with regard to tort claims asserted against them by non-tribe members.

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billboard-3220111_1920-300x164“Do you have a billboard?” I was sitting with a group of parents at a recent school event when one mother innocently asked me the question. “I thought I saw your name on a billboard.”

“No,” I politely answered. What I really felt like saying — “Never. I know a lot of lawyers and would personally never hire one who is on a billboard.” For our firm, it is a matter of professionalism. At their core, all legal matters are personal. Sometimes, these very personal matters require detailed preparation and special study. What do you typically get with a billboard lawyer? You get the false bravado of a lawyer with a manufactured smile or stare telling you some catch phrase to get your business. Catch phrases like:

  • “We got this”
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Blackwell Law Firm - Serious personal injury lawyersA recent article in an insurance industry periodical asks why hospitals charge auto insurers more than health insurers. The article then concludes hospitals use their market power against commercial insurers. Hospital charges are unfair. Hospitals regularly take advantage of people following automobile accidents. However, the insurance article asks the wrong question and reaches the wrong conclusion.

What is the correct question? The article should ask “why do patients with auto insurance claims pay more.” The real focus should be on the actual patients. After all, the patients ultimately bear the real cost of health care. And, patients seeking treatment following an automobile accident often pay more. The injured patient loses in two different ways. First, the patient probably paid health insurance premiums with the expectation of health coverage. Yet, their health insurance goes unused following a car accident or other personal injury. Second, the inflated medical charges not covered by your health insurance — These inflated charges were ultimately paid from the settlement money you needed to cover all your damages.

What is the correct conclusion? The article WRONGLY concludes the higher charges are the result of hospital market power. The article ends by quoting a professor at Johns Hopkins — “If market forces fail to generate a reasonable price for these patients, policymakers should step in to address this market failure.” I’m sure hospitals do use their market power to extract the highest reimbursement possible. However, we are NOT in this predicament solely because of true economic market power. At least not in Alabama. No, we are largely in this position because hospitals have already worked our actual policymakers to pass a law allowing them to place liens on medical care rather than simply bill health insurance. Policymakers have enacted special legislation giving hospitals the authority to interject themselves into liability cases for maximum payment. Let this special use of government legislative power sink in for a moment. Hospitals enjoy a lien privilege not held by others. It’s not called market forces or market failure when you use the political system to gain an unfair advantage. I call it an abuse of government that further harms people.

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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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roundabout-39394_1280-300x300It’s been almost 30 years since I was a Freshman at the University of South Alabama (USA). Driving on campus meant regularly using the large roundabout that connected my dorm to the academic buildings. For most students at USA (back then), this was the first roundabout ever seen. The design was largely unknown in Alabama. Since then, the concept has grown in use due to traffic and safety issues.

Now, I regularly drive the roundabout in downtown Huntsville near the civic center. Yet, you still see some drivers hesitate as they approach — uncertain as to a road design unfamiliar to them. After watching an uncertain driver at that roundabout yesterday, I decided to write this post.

Roundabouts are a frequent safety feature of roads in Europe. In the United States, they are less common. But, the number of roundabouts is increasing. Are roundabouts a safer alternative that reduces serious roadway injuries? Highway experts say, YES. While the focus of my blog is personal injury and safety, highway experts say roundabouts provide several important benefits.

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Blackwell Law FirmIn a prior post, I asked “Can A Simple Blood Test Reveal Traumatic Brain Injury?” At the time, the research looked promising. After writing that prior post, we continued to follow developments. Now, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a blood test for this purpose.

Why is a blood test for traumatic brain injury (TBI) significant? In a short answer — Many TBI victims suffer without a diagnosis, without treatment and without understanding. Following a traumatic incident, emergency rooms frequently fail to diagnose TBI cases.

Think about it. After a serious accident, you rush to the hospital. Suddenly, you are in a crowded emergency room. It can be a chaotic scene. While emergency rooms are designed to handle “emergencies” like yours, they are also overflowing with patients who lack the resources or finances to seek basic care elsewhere. Emergency room physicians and nurses work hard. They have hard jobs. They work to treat all patients. But, life and death issues take priority. They must. With so many patients and so many problems, many significant TBI cases go undiagnosed and untreated. After all, many TBI patients look normal.