Articles Tagged with impaired

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Untitled-design-3-300x300A recent insurance journal headline reads, Positive Drug Tests In US Workforce Highest In Two Decades. According to the article, positive drug test rates increased another 4.6% in 2021. The rate shows a 31.4% increase from its all-time low just 10 years ago. In isolation, those statistics are troubling. Let’s talk a little more about the potential impact of increasing employee drug use on accidents and injuries. An increase in drug impairment means an increase in dangers among employees on worksites. It also means an increase in dangers to the public, especially on our roads and highways. Today, I’ll address a couple areas of concern as well as one area of potential long-term good news.

Do Changing Marijuana Laws Impact Workers Compensation Claims? And Other Personal Injury Claims?

I’ve written several times about the potential impact of changing marijuana beliefs and laws on work-related accidents. In Alabama, our work comp law bars claims where (1) the worker was impaired; and, (2) that impairment proximately caused the accident. That second requirement – the impairment proximately caused the accident – is likely to be a key issue in more future cases.

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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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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 FirmDistracted driving is a huge problem on Alabama highways — much worse than reported. In a prior post, I discussed a study that analyzed distractions due solely to cell phones. That study, limited just to cell phone distraction, revealed distracted driving causes far more crashes than reported by government data. Of course, cell phones are not the only distraction causing crashes on our highways. Drivers face numerous other distractions. We discuss these distractions on our law firm website and in many of our blog posts.

How can we reduce distracted driving injuries? Outside the courtroom, our firm is committed to advocating for highway safety. Safety advocates have largely focused on three areas to combat distracted driving — education, law enforcement and technology.  When it comes to technology, you would expect car manufacturers to lead the charge for safety. Do they? Not always. General Motors (GM) is actually introducing an App called Marketplace that creates more risks of distracted driving crashes. A number of safety advocates share my concern with GM’s actions.

What is GM doing? GM has created a touchscreen App that will be included in new car models and will allow drivers to shop while driving. Here is what USA Today reported about the new touchscreen App:

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Blackwell Law Firm - Personal InjuryThe holiday season can be very busy. For many of us, our work year is coming to a close. Our children may have many holiday-related programs at school. Add to that already busy schedule — shopping for Christmas gifts, holiday parties, travel for family gatherings. It equals a very busy time. We spend much of that time in our cars on the road.

With all the extra activity, do drivers face an increased risk of accidents and injuries? That’s the question highway researchers asked. Researchers from The University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety examined the data. The University of Alabama study analyzed 10 years of Alabama car crash data during the days surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

After collecting and analyzing the data, computer science professor Dr. David Brown noted “the shopping days before Christmas are perilous.” That’s quite a statement. Although just my personal observation, I also think the days right before Christmas are the worst traffic days in Huntsville. Now that I have a teen driver in my house, I have discussed with him the expected holiday traffic around Huntsville.

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