Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Boston.com has posted an article about how many doctors that drug companies hire to be the spokesman for a drug actually have “questionable’ records. Drug companies say that they hire the “most respected doctors in their fields for the critical task of teaching about the benefits and risks of their drugs.”

But an investigation by ProPublica has brought to light that many doctors who are on drug companies’ payrolls have been accused of “professional misconduct”, lacked credentials as researchers or specialists in area of the specific drug, or had been disciplined by state boards.

A review of physician licensing records in the 15 most populous states and three others found sanctions against more than 250 speakers, including some of the highest paid. Their misconduct included inappropriately prescribing drugs, providing poor care, or having sex with patients. Some of the doctors had even lost their licenses.

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The Georgia Injury Lawyer & Attorney Blog has posted a startling article, originally from FleetOwner.com, about how car accidents, including medical costs and productivity losses, in the year 2005 cost the US $99 Billion…which roughly averages to a $500 bill to each licensed driver in the country.

Here’s some of the number breakdown:

-“Costs related to fatal motor vehicle-related injuries totaled $58 billion. The cost of non-fatal injuries resulting in hospitalization amounted to $28 billion, and the cost of injuries to people treated in emergency departments and released was $14 billion. “

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In years of representing countless personal injury victims from car wrecks, this is one of the more common questions.

Clearly there is an accident. Clearly the other driver ran into the back of you. Clearly you were hurt and went to the hospital.

You gather your medical bills and send those to the adjuster for the guy who smashed into the back of your car.

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Plaintiff Lawyer Trial Tips has posted a helpful article with some tips on how to proceed when telling your story in front of a judge or jury in court.

Start the story with the defendant and not the plaintiff:

When a series of focus studies were done across the country the outcome confirmed what was already an accepted fact. That fact is that people apply “availability bias” as listen to a story and immediately begin to fill in the blanks by asking themselves questions about the behavior of the activity they are told about. They immediately raise issues in their own mind about the conduct of what went on focusing on negative possible factors that might explain what happened. If you start your story by talking first about the defendant’s conduct, the Jurors will construct their understanding of the case in the context of the defendant’s behavior. Questions about why the defendant did or didn’t something that caused it to happen are raised as you describe the conduct. You want the initial focus on the negligent conduct of the defendant.

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The LaBovick Injury Law Blog has posted an article highlighting the need for drivers to be extra cautious when sharing the road with bicyclists, particularly in the summer months.

In an effort to promote roadway safety for Bicyclists we are sharing important stats involving bicycle accidents:

There are 73 to 85 million bicycle riders in the US, including 45 million over age 6 who rode more than six times in 2008.

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Depositions are a critical part of an Alabama injury lawsuit such as a car wreck or products liability type of case. Depositions are a part of discovery but are the only type where the party (plaintiff or defendant) is required to answer without help from their attorneys.

When?

Depositions take place after the lawsuit is filed and normally after written discovery has been exchanged. Normally both the plaintiff and defendant are deposed the same day in a car wreck case – bigger cases (truck wreck, product liability, medical malpractice, etc) typically involve longer depositions so the depositions will take place over a period of days.

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Many car wreck cases can be settled without having to file a lawsuit. Insurance companies have whole divisions of workers set up to process and resolve car wreck claims. Though you are trying to get as much money as you can for your claim, and they are trying to pay you as little as they can, you both typically have the same goal, resolving your claim without a lawsuit. For both sides, lawsuits bring added expense, added time and added uncertainty.

An insurance company looks at three main things in deciding whether to settle a claim. First, was their insured at fault? Even if they decide the first one in your favor, they will then look at the second issue – are the injuries you are claiming related to or caused by their insured? And finally, what is the value of those injuries? Obviously, someone with mild back pain has a claim that is worth much less to them than someone who has suffered a broken leg or who has had to have back surgery as a result of the wreck.

If you or your lawyer are not able to get the claim resolved, then a lawsuit will have to be filed. Once this happens, a typical case in Alabama state courts is not set for trial, until at least 9 months to a year after being filed. Oftentimes, most cases will not be tried at the first setting, either due to other cases being set before them, or difficulty for both sides in having the case ready for a jury trial.

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After you have filed an injury lawsuit and served the defendant, then the defendant has 30 days (14 days if you file in state district court) to file an “answer” or file a “motion to dismiss”.

Let’s start with an answer. In the typical car wreck or truck wreck answer, the defendant will deny virtually all of the allegations you made in the complaint. This is not always proper (a subject for a future article) but this is standard and it means that the defendant is saying, in essence, “prove every part of your case”.

The answer will also contain “affirmative defenses” that say even if the defendant was negligent or reckless in driving the car or operating a semi truck, because of the affirmative defense you lose. Here are some examples. If you sue outside the time period allowed (generally two years) then a defendant could truly be negligent but because of a statute of limitations defense the defendant would win the case. Or in Alabama we have contributory negligence which means that if you are in any way at fault, you generally cannot recover even if the defendant was 99% responsible for your injuries. There are numerous other affirmative defenses that are typically alleged by the defendant.

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I was in a deposition the other day and while watching my client answer the questions, I was reminded of a couple of pointers. My client was attempting to testify to the best of her ability, but had a hazy memory of the events. While this is certainly not devastating to the case, it might at a later point bring her credibility into question. At the very least, if the other side has what appears to be a clearer memory or record of the events, it may likely cause the jury to tend to side with their version.

Cases often take a year or more to get to trial. It can be difficult to remember the events clearly, especially when issues of the timing of events or how you felt at a particular time become important. We recommend that as early in the case as you can, sit down and hand write everything you can think of about your case. Start by writing down chronologically what things happened, when they happened and how they hurt or injured you or how they made you feel.

Later, when you are required to recite this in a deposition or at trial, you will be able to prepare and review your notes to help you remember what happened.

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