Articles Tagged with wrongful death

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Is-That-Nursing-Home-Providing-Good-Care-300x300Last week I wrote a post titled Who’s Watching Your Elderly Relative In The Nursing Home? At the time, I had been taking depositions in a couple different Alabama nursing home abuse cases. While taking the deposition of one facility’s Director of Nursing, the witness basically admitted her facility only purchased a rulebook to get licensed. This Director of Nursing testified her facility obtained a canned rulebook years ago to get licensed. Since then, the rulebook sat on the shelf gathering dust. She could not testify to any of her own facility’s specific procedures.

Think about that — A facility full of caregivers with no common procedures. All caregivers are left to act as they deem appropriate. We also took the depositions of several different CNAs who provided care at the facility. Most of them had never worked with any other providers. So, they had no prior experience. This facility hired them and turned them loose on its elderly residents with no explicit policies.

When we reviewed the medical chart at the nursing home, we found almost nothing. By nothing, I mean almost nothing was charted despite doctor’s orders to monitor the elderly resident carefully due to his health condition. In my post last week I discussed the nursing home’s response to questions on its lack of charting. In response, the witnesses testified they only “chart by exception.”

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Alabama Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect AttorneysA recent news article tells the story of a tragic nursing home death. An elderly resident was found dead in a wooded area near the facility. How did it happen? How could a nursing home lose a resident?

The elderly assisted living resident had been absent from the facility for several days. You would think one of the nurses would have noticed? The facility now claims it thought the resident was on an outing with family. Instead, the elderly resident had wandered from the home. Nobody saw her leave. Nobody signed her out. You would think the nursing home followed a sign-out procedure for residents leaving with family???

The nursing home failed to monitor its elderly residents. A simple check-in / check-out procedure (if followed) would have prevented this death. How can a nursing home fail to follow such a basic procedure? While that nursing home was not in Alabama, we have plenty of facilities in our state that also fail to monitor their elderly residents.

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Blackwell Law FirmA recent al.com article discussed the jobs with the highest workplace fatality rates. What are the deadliest jobs? While the article discusses current statistics, the overall types of deadly and dangerous work remain similar year-after-year. You can read the article at Jobs With The Highest Fatality Rates In The USHere is the top 10 list:

10.  Farmers, Ranchers, Other Agricultural Workers (20.9 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 207)

9.  Underground Mining Machine Operators (21.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 10)

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Blackwell Law Firm: Helping Alabama FamiliesWhat is Alabama’s Survival Statute? Ask yourself, what potential claims survive death and can be filed by an Estate? In our office, we specialize in Alabama personal injury claims. If an injury victim dies BEFORE he can file a personal injury case, will his Estate or heirs be able to file the claim? Alabama’s Survival Statute sets those rules. And, UN-filed personal injury claims do not survive the death of the victim in Alabama.

This can be a big deal. A really big deal. Here is an example — Your neighbor suffers devastating injuries when struck head-on by an intoxicated driver. He is rushed to the hospital. He spends months receiving costly, specialized medical care. His bills grow and grow. Because he cannot return promptly to work, he loses his job. His damages are huge. He is not the only one suffering. His family suffers as well. If your neighbor files a personal injury case, he can try to recover all his damages and losses. What if your neighbor dies? If he filed his case, then his Estate can continue to pursue the claims. What if your neighbor dies before he could file his case? Then, his UN-filed personal injury claim dies with him. His Estate cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. His Estate will face huge claims by the medical providers with no ability to recover money to pay those claims. Is this scenario fair? Is it fair that an Estate can maintain a personal injury claim in one scenario but not the other? Certainly not.

Wait. Doesn’t Alabama allow wrongful death claims? Yes. If the personal injury victim dies FROM his injuries, then his heirs can pursue a wrongful death claim. Yet, this scenario remains unfair for two reasons. First, this provides NO help for the Estate where the personal injury victim died of an unrelated cause. No wrongful death cases exists if the death is unrelated to the injuries. Second, under unique Alabama law, you cannot recover compensatory damages in a wrongful death claim. In Alabama, only punitive damages are recoverable in wrongful death claims. So, the Estate is still left unable to recover for huge medical expenses, lost wages and other specific injury-related costs.

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2543453615_9e9b04de1b_z-300x225We share our roads and highways with large commercial trucks on a daily basis. These large commercial trucks have rear guards to protect passenger cars. If you rear-end an eighteen-wheeler, you are protected from going under the back of the truck. Why do large trucks not also have side guards? That’s a question safety advocates have long asked.

Commercial trucks can have a very high ground clearance. I’m sure you’ve been in the lane next to a large eighteen-wheeler. If you are in a small passenger car, you may even look over and think that your entire vehicle could go under the truck. That is the danger. In a side impact, a passenger car can slide under the body of the truck. That causes the truck body to crash through the car windows and into the passengers. A simple collision can become deadly. These under-ride crashes can cause horrible head and upper body injuries, including decapitation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated almost 300 car passengers were killed in side-impact collisions with a semi-truck in 2016.

We need to remember — Deadly side impacts are not limited to passenger cars. In urban areas, commercial trucks frequently share our roads with pedestrians and bicyclists. A Department of Transportation study also revealed a substantial number of death in side crashes involving both pedestrians and bicyclists.

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Photo by R. BauerA recent truck crash in Indiana highlights the importance of “Move Over” laws. The Indiana case involved a tow truck driver preparing to tow a disabled vehicle from the right shoulder of the Interstate. While helping stranded travelers and their disabled vehicle, an oncoming eighteen wheeler suddenly plowed into his tow truck. The tow truck driver had his yellow lights activated. The approaching tractor-trailer could have moved into another lane away from the tow truck. Yet, it did not.

Did the eighteen wheeler stop after the crash? No. The trucker fled the accident scene leaving the severely injured tow truck driver. One of the stranded passengers was a nurse. She saved his life. Yet, because of his severe injuries, the tow truck driver still required a leg amputation at the hospital.

I’ve written previously about the dangers emergency responders face on our highways. Police. Paramedics. Tow truck drivers. Utility workers. These individuals work to protect us. Their jobs often place them close to high traffic areas.

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Help For The Injured
Distracted driving is a major cause of needless highway injuries and deaths. Months ago, I wrote that parents must lead by example in order to reduce the rate of teenage distracted driving. My prior post is Distracted Driving: Parents Must Lead By Example. In that earlier post, I wrote:

Our public safety officials have worked hard to educate young drivers on this issue. However, education of our young drivers is much less effective if we don’t lead by example. It is difficult in a busy world to not be distracted while driving. Yet, we must work hard to practice safe habits that our children will see and absorb.

A new survey reveals parents may be a large part of the problem. According to the new survey, “parents are the most distracted drivers on our roads.” Ford Motor Company surveyed drivers in New Zealand and Australia. According to the results:

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Untitled-design-3-1-300x300Billboards. Television. Radio. Lawyer ads are everywhere. Anyone can smile and claim expertise! It’s much more difficult to perform the study and hard work necessary to win a complicated case. I’ve written previously that I would never hire a billboard lawyer for a serious case.

What about websites? I believe websites should contain good information for consumers. That’s why I wrote all the articles on my firm website. Unfortunately, too many lawyers purchase websites without writing or reviewing them for accuracy. Those sites contain canned content and marketing hype. Are you getting correct legal information? Are you getting the lawyer you thought you hired? These are big problems for people who need legal help.

For example, a local Huntsville DUI firm suddenly decided it wanted to advertise for personal injury and elder law cases. That firm created new billboards and a new website for their new specialties. Yet, one look at their website raises serious concerns. Their website has a Personal Injury page. Click on it. It looks nice. But, read to the bottom. That’s where you see the Disclaimer. What? Why do they need a disclaimer?

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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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A young husband received the call nobody wants. His wife was a dedicated paramedic. She was stopped along the Interstate helping the victim of an earlier automobile accident. A speeding driver suddenly approached, never slowed for the emergency scene, and lost control of his vehicle. He slid from the roadway and struck the young paramedic as she was performing her job duties. She lost her life while performing her job helping others.

This tragedy should never have occurred. The ambulance was stopped on the shoulder with lights flashing. A police car was also at the scene with lights flashing. That’s two emergency vehicles with lights flashing and visible far down the highway. Why did the approaching driver NOT slow down? Why did the approaching driver NOT move over to the lane away from the parked emergency vehicles? After the driver’s arrest, the truth was revealed — he cared more about getting home quickly than he did the emergency responders in his path.

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