Articles Tagged with safety

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Motorcycle Injury -- Blackwell Law Firm
A Huntsville lawyer recently reposted to LinkedIn an article by someone else titled 10 Common Motorcycle Accidents And How To Avoid Them. The attorney’s LinkedIn post simply contained the article with no additional insight.

The article is interesting. Yet, how many motorcycle riders are going to consult a network of business professionals like LinkedIn before going on a ride? Not many (if any). If people are looking for tips on how to operate their bikes on the highway, they may consult a motorcycle professional or motorcycle publication. If the person consults LinkedIn’s business network it is probably after an accident — for professional advice on handling the injury claims process.

At the Blackwell Law Firm, we have handled many motorcycle accident injury claims. Our law firm has a perspective that separates us from many other lawyers who advertise for personal injury claims. Our unique perspective helps us build these cases. What is our perspective that many other attorneys lack? We have real experience in the actual trial of motorcycle wreck cases. That gives us a unique perspective in a time when most lawyers who claim to handle personal injury work rarely, if ever, go to court for their clients. We have tried a number of these cases over the years (including this year) and have some thoughts based on our experience.

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Photo by E Max
The Claims Journal (an insurance industry periodical) recently published an interesting study. The California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) studied workers’ compensation claims involving spinal fusion surgery. According to the researchers most of these claims were initially reported as back strains.

The study is interesting. Yet, the results are not surprising. I have represented people in serious Alabama workers’ compensation and personal injury claims for over twenty years. In workers’ compensation claims, employers and their insurance carriers frequently under-report serious injuries. It’s not unusual for a workplace back injury to be under-reported as a mere strain even where the worker is experiencing symptoms classically associated with more serious spinal problems.

Employers and insurance companies initially under-report injuries in order to save their costs. Yet, the long-term impact on an injured worker can be tremendous. Here are three ways employers and their insurance companies under-report workplace injuries.

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Photo by KSAT 12
In recent days, we again saw the deadly toll of distracted driving on our highways. A church choir in Texas was returning from its annual retreat when the unthinkable happened. A pickup truck suddenly veered from its lane and into the path of their bus. The two vehicles collided head-on. According to news reports, thirteen senior citizens from the same church died in the crash. One church member survived the crash itself but currently remains in critical condition from her injuries.

The photographs and video of the crash scene are difficult to view. The vehicles look like mangled pieces of steel destroyed by the impact. But, this was not an accident. It was avoidable. The pickup truck driver chose to disregard completely the safety of others and caused the deadly crash. What choice did this driver make? He chose to drive distracted for miles down the highway putting many lives in danger. He chose to put his attention on texting instead of the roadway.

Distracted driving leaves a path of destruction across the highways of Alabama and all other states. In Alabama, we recently saw a driver receive jail time for a deadly distracted driving crash. In Georgia, a commercial truck driver plowed into a car of nursing students causing another deadly crash.

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Photo by Mark Goebel
In June, I wrote a post discussing distracted driving by commercial truck drivers. You can read the post here: Distracted Driving And Commercial Trucks — A Deadly Combination. That post discusses a terrible distracted driving case where a truck driver crashed into a group of nursing students.

The crash killed five nursing students and severely injured others. Afterwards, the trucking company quietly settled claims from the families of the nursing students killed. However, one of the severely injured nursing students and her lawyer prepared for trial.

In January, a jury awarded $15 Million to this surviving nursing student. The student suffers from a traumatic brain injury caused by the crash. I have two instant takeaways from the jury verdict.

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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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Worker safety is important for our families, our communities and the long-term economic growth of our nation. A recent scaffold collapse in China highlights the importance of workplace safety standards. According to CNN, a scaffold/work platform built to help workers repair a Chinese power plant recently collapsed, killing at least 74 people. The New York Times also reported the tragedy, describing the scene more graphically:

Dozens of workers were crushed to death under an avalanche of scaffolding, cement and steel rods in southeast China.

The New York Times article continues by describing other recent huge Chinese industrial accidents including (1) an explosion at a chemical warehouse killing 173 people; and, (2) a landslide at a construction site killing at least 73 people. In China,

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At our office, we speak daily with the injured victims of car crashes. We counsel our clients as they heal and, hopefully, return to normal life. We’ve seen the tragic harm caused by severe injury. In our cases, we work hard to obtain the maximum compensation possible for our clients. Yet, no amount of money can make up for a life-altering event that leaves a loved one hurting or disabled.

Accident. That’s the word commonly used for cars crashing into each other. We all use that word. Yet, it’s not really an accident when a driver chooses a distraction or dangerous activity over his responsibility on the road. Does anyone think it’s simply an accident when someone chooses to become intoxicated and then drive? Does anyone think it’s simply an accident when someone chooses to text or play with an electronic device while driving? In the dictionary, an accident has been defined as “an unexpected happening” and “not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured.” By definition, most car crashes are clearly not accidents.

The New York Times recently published an article titled, It’s No Accident: Advocates Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead. According to the article’s author:

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Earlier this summer an administrative law judge at the Department of Labor ruled for a truck driver who was fired when he refused to violate federal safety rules limiting driver hours. The judge awarded the trucker back pay plus compensatory and punitive damages.

The article about the incident tells a story that is far too common — a trucking company pushes its driver to exceed safety rules which protect us on the highway. In this story, the trucker refused to break the rules. And, the company fired him. In an effort to excuse the firing, the trucking company later argued the driver had refused other loads, was late to a meeting and ignored calls from the company dispatcher. Yet, the documents and other evidence did not support these “claimed” reasons for the termination. These other reasons were simply not true.

Too many truck drivers face pressure to break the rules. Pressure to violate service hour limits. Pressure to drive trucks exceeding weight limits. Pressure to continue driving trucks with faulty equipment. Pressure to act in a way that puts the rest of us in danger. Many needless personal injuries and deaths are the result. It’s good to read this story of a trucker who put safety first and was supported by the administrative law judge.

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Earlier this week, I wrote a post discussing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) push to install speed limiting devices in heavy commercial trucks. You can read that post at — Proposed Rule Would Stop Speeding Truckers. I think the proposal is an important safety step. At our firm, we have seen far too many families destroyed by a tragic highway crash involving an eighteen wheeler truck.

Much of the trucking industry supports the proposal for speed limiting devices. However, some drivers oppose the new rule. Some of the negative commentary is disappointing and troubling — such as threats to block lanes, generalized complaints against all regulation, claims that regular drivers cause all problems and protests that truckers should be allowed to drive as fast as they want. Such protests should not be a part of this important safety discussion.

However, we do understand valid concerns by some truck drivers that highway conditions or traffic flows might require a temporary change in speed. The DOT has proposed a period of discussion to determine the maximum speed setting for the new devices. While a slight increase may be understandable to account for these temporary conditions, does any fully loaded eighteen wheeler need to barrel down the highway as fast as its engine will allow? Certainly not. A reasonable limit exists and should be applied. A reasonable limit would protect lives.