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Huntsville Personal Injury Law Blog

Fire at farmers’ cooperative shows need for workers’ compensation

Severe burn injuries pose a special challenge for injured workers for at least two reasons: they can be debilitating in nature, causing lengthy loss of time from work, and can take a long time to treat and to heal, which can lead to the need for specialized medical, occupational and even mental health professional assistance -- all of which comes with a considerable cost.

Workers’ compensation in Alabama was designed precisely with such serious employment-related injuries in mind. And as a recent incident in Decatur indicates, it can also save much time and trouble that would otherwise ensue if it were up to the employee to file a lawsuit against his employer for compensation.

What causes workplace accidents?

More often than not, workplace accidents in Alabama are highly preventable. There are a few common causes of injury that, if caught early, could save companies thousands, if not millions, of dollars each year in workers’ compensation claims — and could save workers’ lives.

The first two causes are personal ones. Workers are often pushed, by themselves or employers, to stay late and finish work, leading to high levels of fatigue. This causes slower reflexes at machinery, distraction and other hazards. They may also become stressed out, leading to more mistakes or even cases like heart attacks.

What happens if a defendant dies before a lawsuit is filed?

It is not unheard of for an accident to occur, such as a car crash, in which a party who negligently caused the collision does not survive the encounter. In such an instance, what is the effect on the plaintiff's ability to file a lawsuit if the allegedly at-fault person is no longer living?

Under Alabama law, in such a situation it can still be possible to file a lawsuit against the estate of the person responsible. For example, if a lawsuit against a person was already filed and then the defendant dies, or a cause of action exists (and has not been precluded by the running of the applicable statute of limitations) against an individual who has already died, it can still be possible to initiate a legal claim against the personal representative of that person. This not only applies to personal injury situations, but also to other claims such as ones based on contract.

How Social Security and workers’ compensation work together

If you have been disabled as a result of a work-related accident or illness, you may be eligible for more than one type of disability benefit. A common form of benefits overlap can occur between Alabama workers' compensation disability benefits and those that may be available through Social Security.

Having two potential sources of disability benefit income is certainly advantageous, but it does come with the proverbial “catch”. Namely, the federal government does not want to create what may amount to a “windfall” situation for people whose combined benefits would actually amount to more than what they were making while they were working. Thus, the Social Security Administration has devised a formula that can reduce the amount of your disability benefits if you are receiving them in tandem with workers compensation disability benefits.

Things you should know about traumatic brain injury

The brain controls every function of the body. Damage to the brain can be caused by being struck in the head by an object, falling down and striking it on an object or on the floor, being violently shaken or being subjected to insufficient oxygen.

The consequences of a traumatic brain injury may include nothing more serious than dizziness, headache and nausea. But it could just as easily result in loss of consciousness or, even, a coma. Other consequences could be permanent disability accompanied by a need for long-term care, or, if the brain injury is serious enough, it could cause death.

What is your arm worth under Alabama workers’ compensation law?

Seems like an insensitive question, doesn’t it? If you have lost an arm as the result of a work-related accident, isn’t every arm worth the same no matter where the victim lives? Perhaps it should be, but under state workers’ compensation laws, the value varies. A recent study published by Pro Publica shows that the rates of compensation in Alabama fall far below the average across the country for some injured body parts.

Workers’ compensation laws are based upon a law which computes compensation for each body part injured and the nature of the injury. The study showed that two workers with very similar backgrounds, e.g., age within two years of each other, both married, both with two children of similar ages and, remarkably, both with their children’s names tattooed on their bodies. But the difference in the amount of compensation the two men received for losing a portion of a left arm in job-related injuries was staggeringly different. 

OSHA campaign focuses on construction site fall prevention

Any type of workplace or job site has some risk for injury to employees. A restaurant worker can slip and fall while carrying a tray of food to a table or suffer burns in a kitchen. An office worker can develop carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive computer tasks or have debilitating back pain from chairs that don’t meet ergonomic standards. But the construction industry is one of the most inherently dangerous in terms of injuries that qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Falls are the most common cause of death on construction sites.

OSHA records show that 828 fatalities were reported that occurred in some sort of construction accident. Of those, 291 were due to injuries from falls. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 35 percent of construction worker fatalities resulted from falls. Because of the large percentage of deaths and injuries from these accidents, OSHA has launched a Fall Prevention Campaign designed to give employers the necessary information to reduce these alarming numbers.

Car accidents: preparation is key for settlement or trial

If you are involved in a serious car accident, chances are that you had no way to anticipate it, not to mention prepare for it. But in its aftermath, how your attorney prepares your claim can make the difference between receiving the compensation you need and having to make do with less.

It begins with the investigation of the accident. Timing is crucial: the longer it takes for investigators to get to the accident scene and to take measurements and photographs, and the longer it takes to identify and to talk with witnesses, the more likely it is that key elements such as physical evidence at the scene or witness recollections can degrade. 

Alabama ranks 23rd for strictest DUI laws

A recent study looked at every state’s DUI penalties to determine which states were the strictest and which were the most lenient. The study ranked the states, with one being the strictest and 51 being the most lenient. Alabama was ranked 23rd overall.

Even though Alabama is not ranked the highest on this list, the consequences for a DUI can be serious. A person who is convicted of a DUI for the first time faces a maximum penalty of $2,000 and a driver’s license suspension of three months. The severity of the consequences increases with each conviction. For example, the first DUI conviction does not carry a minimum jail sentence. A fourth conviction for a DUI is automatically a felony and carries up a jail sentence of up to five years. 

Investigation focuses on car turn in motorcyclist accident

An investigation into a recent Madison County car accident that sent a motorcycle rider to the hospital with a head injury focused on a turn made by the car. The westbound motorcycle crashed into the side of the other vehicle that turned in front of it.

The eastbound car made a left turn into the path of the westbound motorcycle. Unable to stop or otherwise avoid a collision, the motorcycle rider was thrown into the air. According to police at the scene, the rider was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.