Personal Injury Blog Posts

Important Tips for Preventing a Boating Accident in Alabama

Summer is here, and Alabama boating season is upon us. Our numerous lakes, rivers, and access to the Gulf of Mexico make the Yellowhammer State a prime vacation spot for those who love to fish, sail, or just spend some time out on the water with family and friends. This year, we can expect even more boaters as many other summer activities have been canceled or limited by COVID-19.

There is nothing like enjoying summer fun on the waterways, but it does come at a potential cost. In 2019, Alabama had the highest number of boat accident fatalities since 1998, and the Fourth of July weekend was particularly deadly. Manufacturers are always coming out with bigger and faster water vessels, and with so much boating traffic in the summertime, it is more important than ever to take proactive steps to stay safe.

Common Causes of Boat Accidents

Most boating accidents are preventable and due to some type of human error. Some of the most common reasons why they occur include:

  • Operator Inexperience: Alabama requires all motorized boat operators who are age 12 and above to complete a boat safety course and carry a boater education card. This may sound stringent, but in reality, it is just a matter of completing an online course, paying a fee, and obtaining a card from the DMV. Some operators are not properly licensed, and many who are still do not have the proper training and experience to safely handle some of the conditions that arise on the waterways.
  • Operator Inattention: There are numerous ways that a boat operator can get distracted while out on the water. Dealing with passengers, handling equipment, and in recent years, being tempted to take pictures or videos or send messages on their cell phone.
  • Excessive Speeding/Recklessness: For a lot of people, speed is a big part of the fun out on the water. This is especially true with certain types of vessels, such as jet skis and speedboats that are pulling a water skier. Unfortunately, some operators cross the line into excessive speeding and other reckless behaviors like making big waves and getting too close to other watercraft.
  • Alcohol Use: Alcohol is often a big part of a boat outing. So naturally, it is tempting for boat operators to consume a few adult beverages. But as is the case with drunk driving, alcohol does not mix well with driving a boat.
  • Machinery/Equipment Failure: Problems with the engine, problems with the steering system, or problems with other equipment can result in a boat accident if the trouble occurs in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Important Safety Tips for Alabama Boaters

  • Be Educated on Boating Laws: Always know the laws and navigation rules for the waterways where you will be traveling – and follow them.
  • Check the Current Weather Conditions: Before you go out on the water, be familiar with the latest weather conditions and advisories. And if there is stormy weather moving in, follow local advisories and postpone your outing if necessary.
  • Designate a Lookout: Whenever possible, designate someone to watch out for threats and hazards that the boat operator might miss. Having a lookout can help you avoid catastrophe on the waterways.
  • Always Wear Life Vests: Everyone who goes out on the water should be wearing a life preserver – no matter what your level of experience or how good a swimmer you are. Your ability to swim will not do you any good if you are ever knocked unconscious and fall out of the boat, so always have your life vest on.
  • Avoid Drunk Boating: As we talked about earlier, if you are the one operating the boat, make the safety of yourself and others who are with you your top priority by staying sober and not consuming alcohol.
  • Avoid Reckless Boating: Do not go too fast or otherwise operate your boat in a reckless manner that endangers your party and others on the water.

Contact an Experienced Birmingham, AL Boating Accident Lawyer Even when we have done all we can to avoid a boat accident, we cannot control the negligence or recklessness of other parties. If you or someone close to you got injured in a boating wreck that was someone else’s fault, contact Burge & Burge for assistance. Call our office today at 205-251-9000 or message us online for a free consultation and case evaluation. We look forward to serving you

What Happens When you are Injured by an Aggressive Driver?

Aggressive driving is commonplace in Alabama these days. People are constantly in a hurry to get wherever they are going, and many of them will cut corners wherever they can to save a minute or two. If you have been driving for any length of time, there is no doubt that you have come in contact with aggressive drivers probably on multiple occasions, and you may have even exhibited some of these behaviors yourself at times.

Although many people frequently drive aggressively, it does not make this practice any less dangerous. Aggressive drivers often take unnecessary risks, and this behavior can sometimes boil over into road rage. Driving aggressively also increases the chances of a motor vehicle accident.

Attributes of Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving is defined as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” This is usually accompanied by a hurried, nervous, or sometimes angry mindset.

Some of the most common behaviors that could be characterized as aggressive driving include:

  • Speeding;
  • Tailgating/following too closely;
  • Weaving back and forth between lanes;
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way;
  • Running stop signs or red lights;
  • Illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers;
  • Failing to signal before changing lanes;
  • Cutting other drivers off.

If you encounter an aggressive driver, it is best to avoid them as much as possible and not to engage them. Any act that might antagonize them could escalate the situation into a road rage incident.

Pursuing an Aggressive Driving Accident Claim in Alabama

If you are involved in an accident with an aggressive driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, which may include economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage; as well as noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and diminished quality of life.

Although you might assume that you will recover damages from a car accident if the other driver was driving aggressively, this is not a guarantee. Alabama is one of the few states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard to personal injury claims. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, even 1%.

This is a very high bar to clear, and you can be sure that the other side will try to use the Alabama contributory negligence laws against you. For this reason, it is very important to get an experienced attorney involved in your case as soon as possible, so you’re right to recover compensation can be preserved.

Steps to Take if you are in An Accident with an Aggressive Driver

If you are involved in a collision with an aggressive driver, the steps you take immediately after the accident will be a major determining factor in whether or not you are able to secure full and fair compensation.

Here are five critical things you must do if you are involved in an aggressive driving accident, or any other type of motor vehicle accident for that matter:

Get Immediate Medical Treatment

The first priority after any auto accident is to make sure that anyone who sustained injuries receives prompt medical care. With that in mind, your first call should be to 911 to bring an ambulance to the scene. Even if you do not feel like you have been injured, you should still get checked out, because sometimes it takes a little while after the accident is over and your adrenaline rush has subsided before you feel the effects of an injury.

Contact the Police

Whenever there is an auto accident with potential injuries, the police should be called to the scene. The police will help secure the accident scene so it is safe for traffic to pass by, and they will also investigate the scene, interview those involved as well as any witnesses, and file an official report. The police report will be relied upon heavily in any legal proceeding that may result from the accident.

Document Everything

Although there will be a police report, you should create your own report as well. If you have something to write with, write down in as much detail as possible the events that caused the accident. If you cannot write at the moment, use the voice recorder on your smartphone to create an audible report. Also be sure to take multiple photos of the accident scene and capture any video footage you may have available if you have a dashboard camera that was running.

Secure Witness Testimony

If there are any individuals nearby who saw what happened, get their names and contact information so you can follow up with them later on. If they are willing, try to get them to provide a statement while you are still at the scene and everything is fresh in their minds. Many witnesses will be willing to allow you to record them with the voice recorder or video camera on your smartphone.

Be Careful What You Say About the Accident

When you are speaking with others at the scene and later on, be very careful what you say about the accident. Never admit fault or apologize to the other party, leave the determination of fault to the experts. Also, it would be a good idea to take a break from social media for a while. Insurance companies use professional investigators who are very good at uncovering information from social media profiles, so do not discuss your case online or in any electronic form.

Get in Touch with a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer

At your earliest convenience, contact an attorney to discuss your case and review your legal rights and options. Pursuing a car accident claim in Alabama without an attorney is an uphill battle, especially with the contributory negligence laws in our state. By retaining the services of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney, you will be in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation for your injuries.

How the Coronavirus may Affect Personal Injury Cases

The COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the country has understandably occupied much of our attention as a society. Never before has a viral outbreak caused large sectors of our economy to shut down in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. This has many people wondering how the public health emergency that was created by the coronavirus will impact personal injury claims.

First and foremost, it is important to realize that those who have been injured through no fault of their own can and should still pursue a personal injury claim as soon as possible. If you wait until this virus passes before taking action, it could severely diminish the value of your claim.

It is also important for you to know that Burge & Burge is still open and available to provide the strong personalized representation our clients have come to expect. We are working remotely and following social distancing guidelines, but we are fully equipped with the resources to effectively represent you during this difficult time. We invite you to contact our office to set up a free consultation, which can be conducted entirely by phone.

How the Coronavirus may affect Personal Injury Claims

Here are some of the ways the COVID-19 pandemic might impact a personal injury case:

You Might have Difficulty getting Medical Treatment

Probably the most important issue from the standpoint of personal injury victims is ensuring that they receive the medical treatment needed to mitigate the effects of the injury and get on the road to recovery or maximum medical improvement. This means seeing a medical professional as soon as possible after the injury and following their advice with regards to follow-up visits, surgeries or alternative treatments, rehabilitation, etc.

Under normal circumstances, someone who gets injured can normally get in to see a doctor pretty quickly. But with so many medical resources directed toward treating coronavirus patients, many are finding that non-critical medical care has to be delayed. Although you may have to postpone some doctor appointments and some procedures, you need to do what you can to follow through with whatever recommendations you have been given. These are extenuating circumstances, so do not become discouraged if you are not able to do everything exactly according to your original schedule.

There are Delays and Changes in the Court Process

Although our firm is still fully operating (albeit remotely), the same cannot be said for the court system. Local courts have either closed or become limited to emergency hearings, which means personal injury cases are going to be delayed. This is something we can do very little about, but the good news is that this should only be temporary. As soon the virus passes and we are given the “all clear”, we expect the courts to resume operating at full capacity. In the meantime, a lot of other work can still be done to move the claim forward.

You Might Feel Increased Pressure to Settle your Claim

Because of court delays and finances getting tighter for many households, you might be much more motivated to get a settlement check. However, it is important to understand that insurance companies know this too, and many of them will try to take advantage of the situation. This means offering claimants very low settlements that amount to only a fraction of what they deserve.

Those hardest hit by this situation are likely to be folks who are trying to handle an insurance claim on their own. Now more than ever, it is extremely important to have skilled legal representation. An experienced lawyer can negotiate effectively with an insurer even while delays from the COVID-19 outbreak slow down the wheels of justice. This puts injury victims in the best possible position to secure full and fair compensation.

There Might be more Uninsured Drivers Down the Road

The financial impact of the coronavirus situation is hard to measure, but most analysts believe that it will be devastating for our economy. One of the ways this could manifest itself is with people deciding not to pay for things that do not keep a roof over their head or food on the table. This could mean a lot more drivers on the road who don’t have insurance. To make sure you are protected, take a look at your auto insurance policy and be sure you have adequate coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists.

Can I Collect Workers’ Comp if I get Hurt while Working from Home?

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing countless businesses to shut their doors, many companies are moving their workforce to their homes at least temporarily while this situation is ongoing. This means that thousands of Alabamans are working from home for the first time.

With so many employees working remotely, telecommuters often wonder whether or not they would be covered by workers’ compensation for an injury that happens at home. The short answer to the question is the same as if you are working on-site – you are covered by workers’ comp if the injury is “work related”. That said, the lines between personal and work activities for telecommuters can get pretty blurry, and it can be more difficult to prove that an injury is work-related when it happens at home.

Here are a few scenarios that may help clarify this question:

  • Bob works out of his home office upstairs, but his office does not have room for his filing cabinet, so he keeps his files in the basement. Bob is on a conference call with his coworkers when he is asked about information that is contained in one of his files. While walking downstairs to grab the file, he trips and falls down the stairs, injuring his head and back. Because Bob was on the clock and performing a work-related task, workers’ compensation should cover him for this injury.
  • Sue also works out of her home office upstairs, performing telecommuting tasks such as phone and computer work. During the middle of her workday, she decides to put in a load of laundry. While carrying the laundry basket downstairs to the laundry room, she slips and falls and hurts her lower back. In this case, even though Sue was “on the clock”, her injury occurred while doing something that was not work-related. Therefore, she would probably not be covered by workers’ comp for her injury.
  • John is working in his home office when he receives a call from his supervisor. While running across the room to grab the phone, John trips over his dog and gets hurt. In a case like this, you have an at-home employee who is performing a work-related task, but the injury is caused by a personal factor – his dog. Employers and workers’ comp insurers might try to deny a claim like this because the dog was involved, but courts have generally held that in this type of scenario, the injury would be work-related.

Are Independent Contractors Covered for Injuries while Working from Home?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “no”. Workers’ compensation laws apply to employees only, and they do not extend to independent contractors. However, there is some confusion about who is an employee and who is an independent contractor.

In general, an independent contractor is defined as someone who is only responsible for the finished product or service but has full control over the way the work is performed. An independent contractor also provides his/her own tools, equipment, and skills to complete the job. With employees, on the other hand, companies control or have the right to control how they perform their job.

There are some cases in which a company misclassifies someone as an independent contractor who should be classified as an employee. And it is important to note that contracts stating that someone is an independent contractor are not sufficient to establish this relationship. These types of cases are extremely complex, however, and if you believe that you should be classified as an employee and you were hurt while working from home, you should talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

Greater Burden of Proof with Work-At-Home Injuries

Telecommuting injuries are typically far more difficult to prove than an injury that occurs in the workplace. This is because there are usually no witnesses when someone gets injured at home. If this has happened to you, it is important to document what happened in great detail (including multiple photographs showing how the accident was caused in the injuries that occurred), report the injury to your employer right away, and seek prompt medical treatment.

Because there is so much gray area with work-from-home injuries, a lot of incidents that should be covered end up getting denied. For this reason, those who get injured at home need strong legal counsel by their side working hard to secure the benefits they need and deserve.

Injured in a Remote Workplace Accident in Alabama? Contact Burge & Burge for Assistance  

If you or a someone close to you got hurt while working from home, Burge & Burge is here to help. Like everyone else, we have taken all of the precautions and made the necessary adjustments to stay safe while the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing. But rest assured, we are open, fully operational, and ready to advocate aggressively on your behalf like we have always done.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 205-251-9000.

Are Railroad Workers Eligible for Workers’ Comp?

The short answer to this question is “no”. Railroad workers are not covered by workers’ compensation; instead, injured workers in the railroad industry are eligible to file a Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) claim. While FELA claims have many similarities with workers’ comp, there are some very significant differences as well.

What is FELA?

FELA is a law that was passed in 1908 for the specific purpose of giving workers in the railroad industry a legal avenue for recovering compensation for a work-related injury or illness. Railroad work is among the most dangerous occupations in the US, and the federal government sought to give those who are employed in this industry a way to obtain damages for injuries in which their employer or another party played a role.

What is the Difference between FELA and Workers’ Compensation?

FELA claims and workers’ comp claims both serve as avenues for workers to recover compensation when they suffer an injury or illness that is work-related. But this is pretty much where the similarities end.

Workers’ compensation is a state-administered program in which an injured worker files a claim with the employer and their insurance company. FELA, on the other hand, is a special federal law that was created for one specific industry. FELA claims are essentially personal injury lawsuits filed directly against an employer or third party, and they can be filed in either state or federal court.

The most significant differences between workers’ comp and FELA are the standards of fault and types of compensation that can be recovered. Workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, meaning injured workers are eligible for benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

There are a few exceptions to this, such as self-inflicted injuries and violations of company policy, but for the most part, an injured worker can receive benefits through workers’ comp even if the employer was not in any way responsible for the accident.

This does not always mean recovering benefits is easy – the system is complicated and confusing, and employers and their insurers frequently put up unnecessary roadblocks designed to frustrate workers into giving up – but at least the claimant does not have to prove that their employer caused their injury.

FELA operates under a fault-based system, and as such, an injured worker will need to prove negligence on the part of their employer or a coworker. That said, FELA applies a comparative negligence legal doctrine, meaning it is not necessary to prove that the employer is 100% at fault. Even if the injured employee is partially responsible for the workplace accident, they can still recover some compensation as long as they can prove that the employer or another party (such as a co-worker or product maker) played a role.

What makes FELA significantly advantageous compared to workers’ comp is the ability to recover all of the compensatory damages that would be available through a personal injury lawsuit.

With workers’ compensation, benefits are limited to necessary medical expenses, two-thirds of lost earnings, rehabilitation and retraining, and a few others. With FELA, an injured worker can recover compensation not only for these direct monetary losses (including 100% of lost earnings rather than only two-thirds), but also for intangibles such as physical pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

Overall, the ability to file a FELA claim is generally much better for railroad workers than if they were dealing with the workers’ compensation system. The only exception would be if the injury was a freak accident or it was 100% the fault of the injured worker, and this is only true in a very limited number of cases.

One Word of Caution: If you are employed in the railroad industry and you suffered a work-related injury or illness, you can expect your employer to push back hard against any claim that they are responsible for the accident. Like any other business, their goal is to mitigate their losses, so they will look for any way they can to pin at least some of the blame on you. Because of this and the complexities involved with FELA claims, it is highly recommended that you seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible, so your right to recover full and fair compensation can be protected and preserved.

Injured in a Railroad Accident? Contact Burge & Burge for Assistance  

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a railroad accident in Alabama or anywhere else in the country, Burge & Burge is here to help. We have extensive experience successfully representing railroad workers with FELA claims, and we know what is necessary to establish fault on the part of those responsible, so you are able to obtain the compensation you deserve.

Message us online or call our office today at 205-251-9000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned FELA attorneys.

How Social Media Use Can Impact a Personal Injury Claim

Most Americans use one or more social media platforms to connect with friends and family, and to stay updated on everything that is happening. Facebook, Instagram, and others have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other, and for many people, social media is an integral part of their lives.

While being active on social media is generally fine most of the time, it is a much different story if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit. If you were hurt in a car accident or suffered any other type of injury that was someone else’s fault, the things you say on social media can definitely be used against you. And in fact, social media posts could even cost you your right to recover compensation for your injuries.

How Social Media Activity Can Damage your Personal Injury Case

Suffering a significant personal injury that someone else caused is a major event in a person’s life, so it is understandable that they would be tempted to post about it on Facebook or whatever their favorite platform is. But it is important to realize that your friends and family may not be the only ones who read your posts. The other side will be trying to view them as well, looking for any way they can to diminish her claim.

Here are just a few of the common social media activities that could jeopardize your claim:

  • Posting comments about the accident: One of the first things many people do after accident is to post comments about it on their social media. This can be very dangerous, because your thoughts and feelings immediately after an accident could be clouded by emotions. Some people are also naturally inclined to admit fault or be apologetic about something bad that happens even if they had nothing to do with it. Comments like these can be twisted around and often used to pin at least some of the blame for the accident on the person who was injured.
  • Posting comments and photos about your physical condition: Another thing that can be problematic after an accident is to post photos of yourself and/or comments about your physical condition, how you are feeling, or anything related. For one thing, you may not know the full extent of your injuries until you have had a thorough examination. In addition, many people want to reassure those closest to them that they are doing okay and that they are optimistic about their prognosis. But if you are making a claim for damages to compensate you for both physical and emotional injuries, comments like these can be used to undermine such claims.
  • Posting photos that show activities you are involved in and commenting on them: Even posts that are unrelated to your accident and injury can be used against you, especially if they show you on vacation relaxing and/or having a good time with those around you. These again could be used to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you are claiming, and that you have not really suffered that much emotional distress because of them. Be careful also about others tagging you in photos and change your settings so that this cannot be done without your approval.

Strict Privacy Settings May Not Help

Some people believe that they can post whatever they want on social media because they have strong privacy settings. It is always good to protect your privacy and social media, but this might not help you in a personal injury case. Insurance companies have vast resources, and they employ investigators who are very good at finding out what claimants are posting on social media.

For example, they could create fake profiles and become friends with your friends, so they are able to see what you are posting. But even if this or something similar does not happen, all of your electronic activity is discoverable, and it could be subpoenaed if the other side chooses to do so. The bottom line is that you should always assume that whatever you do electronically – whether it be text messages, social media posts, or “private” electronic messages – could be seen by the other side, and act accordingly.

What Should I Do with my Social Media Accounts after a Personal Injury?

If you have the discipline, the best thing to do if you are involved in a personal injury case is to suspend your social media accounts for a while. If your accounts are inactive, then you will not even be able to accidentally do something that damages your case.

If you must maintain your social media accounts, then you should significantly limit your activity. Do not make any comments or posts of your own, adjust your settings so you are never tagged in photos that other people take, and only use your social media to stay informed and updated on what others are doing.

Suffered a Personal Injury in Alabama? Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Attorney

If you or a loved one got injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you will need experienced legal counsel in your corner to help advise you on issues like social media, and to fight hard for the full and fair compensation you deserve. If the injury occurred in Birmingham or any nearby community in Alabama, contact Burge & Burge for assistance. Message us online or call our office today at 205-251-9000 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases of abuse in America’s nursing homes. Last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the number of cited abuse deficiencies more than doubled from 2013 to 2017. In addition, the percentage of abuse deficiencies at the highest level of severity increased during this period from 31.9% to 42.6%.

There are several reasons for the rising number of nursing home abuse cases. One of the primary drivers of this crisis is our aging population. The Baby Boomers are entering their golden years, and an average of 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old every single day. At the same time, there has been an increase in for-profit nursing facilities, and the tight labor market has made it difficult for these facilities to find qualified employees to hire.

As a result, far too many nursing facilities are facing staffing shortages, leading to numerous forms of neglect and abuse. Not only are these facilities understaffed, those who do work there often lack the proper vetting and training to adequately perform their duties. Nursing facilities need to invest far more to obtain quality workers, and the 2019 GAO report rightly concluded that improved oversight is needed to better protect nursing home residents from abuse.

Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

The GAO found that 58% of the abuse suffered by nursing home residents is perpetrated by the staff, while the remaining percentage happens between residents or is done by outsiders. Staff-initiated nursing home abuse can be grouped into three general categories:

  • Physical Abuse: This is the most common form of nursing home abuse, and it is often done by staff who do not have the temperament and/or quality of character to work with the elderly. Examples of physical abuse include hitting, punching, slapping, pushing, pulling, pinching, kicking, biting, and striking with an object. Nearly half of all nursing home abuse deficiencies were identified by the GAO as physical in nature.
  • Verbal/Mental Abuse: The second most common abuse deficiency in nursing homes is identified as verbal or psychological. Nursing facility residents depend heavily on their caregivers for even their most basic needs. This makes them very susceptible to this form of abuse. Examples of verbal or psychological abuse include yelling, insulting, threatening, intimidating, or harassing. A caregiver may also isolate a resident by forbidding them to leave their room to visit with other residents or outsiders.
  • Sexual Abuse: Though it does not occur as often as physical and verbal/mental abuse, sexual abuse is a widespread problem in today’s nursing facilities. A multi-year investigation by CNN found that more than 1,000 nursing homes throughout the country have been cited for sexual abuse. Many predators view the elderly as easy targets, especially those who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Those who have these types of conditions are less likely to remember that they were abused, and people are less likely to believe their story when they do report it.

Protecting your Loved Ones from Nursing Home Abuse

There has been a sharp increase in the number of reported cases of nursing home abuse in recent years, but this only tells part of the story. A very large percentage of abuse cases never get reported at all. Estimates vary, but some studies suggest that only about one out of every 14 cases of abuse are ever formally reported.

It is not hard to see why abuse so seldomly gets reported. As mentioned earlier, nursing home patients rely on their caregivers for everything, and if they report abuse and no one believes them, there is a credible fear that things will get even worse for them. Knowing this, it is all the more important that family members take proactive steps to protect loved ones who are in nursing homes.

The GAO identified “infrequent visitors” as one of the top risk factors for nursing home abuse. In other words, nursing facility residents who are ignored by their loved ones are significantly more likely to be abused. With this in mind, one way you can protect a family member who is in a nursing home is to show up to see them frequently.

If you visit often and get to know your loved one’s caregivers and their supervisors, you will communicate the message that you expect your loved ones to be well cared for. While you visit, pay close attention to their physical conditions, demeanor, and living conditions, and look for any signs that things are not right. And if you suspect that they are being abused, act promptly to put an end to this situation.

Has your Loved One Been Subjected to Nursing Home Abuse? Contact Burge & Burge for Experienced Legal Guidance

If you have good reason to believe that your loved one has been abused in a nursing facility, report this to the proper authorities, then contact us to discuss your legal options. Call our office today at 205-251-9000 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.

5 Common Construction Accidents

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in our economy. Workers do fast-paced jobs with heavy equipment and machinery, often in high places, all while having to deal with uncontrollable factors such as inclement weather, what the guy (or gal) next to them is doing, and many others. About 10% of all workplace injuries and illnesses happen in construction, and six different types of construction industry workers are listed in USA Today’s top 25 most dangerous jobs in America.

On a construction job site, accidents happen all the time. Many are minor mishaps, but others are more serious and can cause injury to workers. Here are five of the most common accidents that occur on construction sites:

  • Slips, Trips and Falls: About 40% of all construction accidents are slips, trips and falls, and these types of accidents account for a high number of construction fatalities. As mentioned earlier, construction workers are often situated in high places, such as on ladders, scaffolds, and roofs. When someone is working in a higher elevation and things are not set up properly, they can trip over tools, materials, or debris and sometimes slip and fall a great distance.
  • Being Struck by Falling Objects: At a typical construction site, there are typically a lot of materials, waste items, and debris, much of which is heavy and/or contains hard edges. There is always a risk of these and other objects falling and striking a construction worker. Workers are supposed to wear hardhats to protect them from this danger, but even with this protection, about 10% of all construction-related injuries happen because a worker is struck by a falling object.
  • Equipment Accidents: Modern equipment and machinery help construction companies get the job done faster and more efficiently. Cranes, hoists, bulldozers, nail guns, and other equipment can save companies a lot of time and money. But what happens if something goes wrong with one of these machines? For example, a nail gun misfires, or a bulldozer gets stuck in reverse and strikes a nearby worker. Some equipment accidents happen because of reckless use, while others are caused by negligent maintenance or a product defect.
  • Overexertion: Construction work involves hard physical labor, which is often performed in extreme heat and humidity. This is especially true in southern states like Alabama. Putting in long hours doing hard and repetitive tasks under the hot sun can cause heat stroke, muscle and joint damage, and repetitive stress injuries.
  • Getting Caught In-Between/Crush Injuries: Construction workers often work with heavy tools, machinery, and equipment in compact or enclosed areas. This can cause them to get trapped into these areas by the equipment they are working with, which can result in severe crush injuries.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are numerous other accidents that happen on a construction site, such as:

  • Misuse of tools;
  • Electrical accidents;
  • Fires and explosions;
  • Collapsing structures;
  • Truck accidents;
  • Exposure to toxic substances.

Legal Options for Construction Accident Injuries

When a worker is injured in a construction accident, there are several potential legal avenues through which they can recover compensation. In Alabama, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and if the employer has this type of insurance, this would usually be the first legal recourse.

Workers’ compensation covers the injured worker’s medical expenses, two-thirds of gross wages while out of work, rehabilitation costs, and disability coverage. Worker’s comp is a no-fault system, meaning the employee should be covered regardless of the cause of the workplace accident.

While this is how workers’ compensation is supposed to work, it does not always play out this way. In some instances, employers put up unnecessary roadblocks in an attempt to frustrate workers into giving up on the benefits they deserve. If this has happened to you, speak with an attorney right away to discuss your rights and legal options.

Aside from workers’ compensation, there are several other legal remedies that may be available to recover losses incurred through a construction accident injury:

  • If the employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, you may be able to sue them directly for damages;
  • If the injury was caused by a party other than your employer (such as a third-party contractor), you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party;
  • If the accident and subsequent injury was caused by faulty or defective equipment, you may have a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor of the equipment.

Suffered a Workplace Injury in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Attorney

If you or someone close to you was hurt working on a construction site, you need strong legal counsel in your corner working hard to protect your interests. If your injury occurred in Alabama, call Burge & Burge today at 205-251-9000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us online or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body.  It typically weighs only about 3 pounds, but it is made up of billions of nerve cells and other kinds of cells, all intricately connected and designed to send signals to other areas of the body. The brain controls not only how we think, but virtually every other function in our body as well.  In fact, it is not an understatement to say that the brain is the essence of who we are.

Thankfully, an organ this important is protected by a hard, exterior skull. The skull is a series of 8 bones that are fused together along suture lines. The brain is also protected by a covering of three thin membranes which are called meninges, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).  But even with this level of protection, brain injuries can still happen.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not everyone who is struck in the head sustains a traumatic brain injury, and these types of injuries can vary greatly in their level of severity. 

Mild forms of TBI (commonly known as concussions) might only last from a few hours up to a few days or so, while more moderate to severe forms of this condition can last for several weeks, months, or even years.

TBI affects the lives of millions of Americans. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are approximately 2.8 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths each year that are attributable to this condition. This comes at an estimated annual cost of approximately $56 billion. Some of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury include slips and falls, motor vehicle accidents, being struck by hard objects, and sports injuries.

How to Cope with TBI

For those who suffer more moderate to severe forms of traumatic brain injury, it will be a slow road to recovery. And as much as we would like to say this road will be easy, it will not. There will be numerous challenges along the way, and you will need to enlist the help of those around you more than ever before. 

That said, you can get through this, and there are several things you can do to make it easier to cope with the injury:

Listen to your Doctor

No matter what type of injury you suffer or health condition you develop, it is very important to follow your doctor’s orders. This is especially true for those who suffer traumatic brain injuries.  TBI is a unique condition that manifests itself differently in each individual case, and it can be difficult to determine the right time to resume various activities; such as work, driving a car, and strenuous exercise. Listen very carefully to what your doctor says about your condition and follow his or her instructions to the letter.

Give Yourself more Time

Suffering from TBI can cause you to process information slower, and it can make it harder to focus on important tasks. The end result is that it generally takes longer than it did before you were injured to complete the tasks you need to get done. This can lead to untold stress and frustration if you try to pack too much into too short an amount of time. Realizing this, focus each day on only the most important things you need to do, and allow yourself plenty of time to do them. Do your best to avoid distractions, and make sure that those around you support you in this.

Keep Important Items in the Same Location

Do your best to simplify your life by keeping things in the same location. Create a designated place to keep your keys, wallet, phone, glasses, medication, and other important items. Keeping things in the same place can help avoid frustration and stress, allowing you to establish a routine that can help you function at as close to normal as possible.

Write Down your Experiences

Journaling helps those who suffer from TBI to stay in touch with their emotions and process their feelings. Take a few minutes each day to write down the events of the day and how you felt.  Having a written journal can be a great tool that you can refer to, refresh your memory and help track your experience. If you want, you can also share your journal with a doctor or counselor for additional insights.

Use Technology to Organize your Life

These days, there are numerous mobile phone apps available to help those with TBI stay organized. For example, there are apps that allow you to create shared calendars with family members, so your loved ones know your schedule and can remind you about important activities; such as doctor appointments, meal times, and when it is time to take medications. There are also apps with brain exercises, flash cards, phone and car locators, voice recognition software, and many others. With the help of your loved ones, make use of the mobile apps that will be most beneficial for you.

Obtain Legal Assistance

Those who suffer from traumatic brain injury incur a wide range of losses, which may include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life. If this injury was the fault of another person or party, you deserve to be compensated. Recovering full and fair compensation is not always easy, however, and the insurance company for the responsible party will do everything possible to minimize the amount of damages they have to pay.  For this reason, it is very important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation can be fully protected.

If your injury occurred in Alabama, contact Burge & Burge for assistance. Call our office today at 205-251-9000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us online or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

What are the Most Important Considerations when Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney?

When someone is injured or killed because of the negligence or reckless actions of another person or party, they will most likely need to hire a lawyer to help ensure that they receive just compensation. But hiring a personal injury lawyer is not a decision that should be made hastily.  Not all attorneys are the same, and with so much at stake, it is very important to take some time to consider which attorney you want to work with.

Before we discuss what to look for in a personal injury attorney, here is some advice on what to avoid. Beware of direct solicitations from lawyers or representatives for lawyers. They will sometimes pose as “investigators” and show up uninvited to your home or hospital room after an accident. 

In Alabama, these types of solicitations are against the law unless you already know the lawyer, have been represented by them in the past, or you have a family member or close personal friend who knows the lawyer. Other than these exceptions, this type of conduct is illegal, unethical, and the lawyer they are soliciting for is most likely unqualified to handle your case.

You should also be very skeptical of lawyers who have billboards all over town and run numerous ads on the radio, TV, and in the newspaper. These are usually firms that work on high volume and put very little time into each case. Cases are usually handled by an inexperienced associate in the firm, and their goal is to settle quickly and move on to the next case. A firm like this almost never takes a case to trial, and if things get complicated, they will often bail out or hand the case over to another firm.

Top 5 Considerations when Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Now that we have covered what to watch out for and avoid, here are some of the things you should look for in a personal injury attorney:

Experience

It is great if the lawyer that has extensive personal injury experience, but it needs to go deeper than that. Personal injury is a very complex area of the law, and it can encompass all types of injuries; from auto accidents to medical malpractice to workplace injuries to Social Security disability claims. For this reason, it is best to work with a lawyer who focuses exclusively on this area of practice. A lawyer with this level of experience will have dealt with numerous scenarios and most likely will have handled some of the more complicated cases. This will help provide the confidence and assurance that they can handle your claim as well.

Commitment and Resources

We talked previously about “settlement mills” – firms that work on a high volume and never take a case to trial. The lawyer you choose should not only have experience practicing personal injury law, they should also have the in-depth experience, ability, and willingness to take your injury claim to trial. The other side needs to know that you are ready and able to pursue litigation if necessary. Otherwise, they will have very little motivation to give you a fair settlement offer.  Along these same lines, your lawyer should also have the resources to call on top specialists to serve as expert witnesses (when they are needed) to help substantiate your claim.

Communication, Personalized Attention and Care

Your lawyer should be a trusted confidant who provides strong legal guidance and moral support to help get you through a difficult time. Choose a lawyer or firm that will work closely with you throughout the process, communicate with you frequently, and treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve.

Results

When it is all said and done, what matters more than anything else is whether or not you will be able to recover the full and fair compensation you need and deserve (for your injuries). As such, your lawyer should have a successful track record with other cases like yours, and they should be highly regarded by the top reputable and impartial legal rating services. Bottom line: look for a lawyer who has proven to get results for other clients who have already been in your situation.

Your Gut Feeling

There are a lot of factors to weigh when deciding who you want to represent you in your personal injury claim. If you are still considering a handful of good candidates and you are having a hard time making a decision, you will ultimately have to go with your gut feeling. How did you feel about the lawyer after talking to them? Did their answers to your questions make sense? Who do you think you would feel most comfortable working with? These and similar questions will help you decide which lawyer you want to work with.

Speak with our Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers in Birmingham, AL

If you or someone close to you has suffered a personal injury in Alabama through no fault of your own, we at Burge & Burge welcome the opportunity to earn your trust. Call us today at 205-251-9000 or message us through our web contact form to schedule a free consultation. You may also stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience, or we will come to you.