catastrophic injuries and families

How Catastrophic Injuries Impact Families

Catastrophic injuries are among the worst an individual can suffer, with the obvious exception of fatal injuries. Injuries that fit into this category cause lifelong pain and mobility issues, and often require medical care for the rest of a victim’s life.

However, these accidents don’t just impact the victim. They can affect the victim’s family and loved ones. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a serious accident, let us help. Call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 251-260-3815 to learn more about your legal options.

Physical and Mental Health

Catastrophic injuries have an obvious impact on the victim’s physical and mental health. These types of accidents often lead to lifelong issues, from pain that cannot be relieved by pharmaceuticals to limited mobility that requires walking aids or caregivers.

Some injuries can even leave victims at risk of fatal illness; for example, if a victim suffers third-degree burns on a large part of their body, they are susceptible to infections that can quickly become systemic. This type of stress, combined with the knowledge that their life has likely changed forever, is enough to push an individual into serious mental health issues.

These same issues can plague caregivers and family members as well. After an injury this severe, family members are often thrown into the role of care provider. This means helping their loved ones get up, perform activities of daily living, and finish their physical and occupational therapy tasks. For family members without experience in caregiving, this quickly takes a toll on their bodies. It can also negatively affect their mental health as they struggle to meet their own needs while trying to do everything that their loved one needs.

Emotional Effects

The sudden change in relationship between the accident victim and their family members can cause long-lasting emotional pain and suffering. For example, consider a dedicated husband and father injured in a serious crash.

He is accustomed to taking care of his family financially, supporting them through difficult times, and doing the physically demanding chores around the house. If he suddenly loses his income, needs assistance to do everything, and requires outside help for household chores and cleaning, he will likely suffer emotionally as he questions everything that he has built his identity on.

This abrupt change can also leave family members emotionally drained, which is even more challenging if they have to go through this time without the support of their injured family member. With no clear “end date” indicating when or if things will return to normal, family members may feel like they are failing.

Financial Impact

The financial damage of a catastrophic accident is undeniable. Many of these accidents involve property damage, and a totaled car can leave a financially strapped family with no way to get to work. Medical bills are extraordinarily high for these types of accidents, often stretching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And unfortunately, there’s no end in sight with severe injuries. The expenses continue to pile up, particularly with victims who need physical therapy, occupational therapy, mobility aides, and therapeutic pain medication.

Beyond that, you must consider the financial loss if the individual was a breadwinner in the family. Disability caps make it impossible for an injured individual to support their family to the same level after an injury, and a personal injury lawsuit may be the only way to get any sort of financial stability.

Even if the victim was not a breadwinner, the sudden loss of their contributions to the family can cause significant financial stress. A homemaker who unexpectedly becomes physically disabled may need to pay for childcare, home cleaning, transportation to and from activities, and much more.

The effects of a catastrophic injury never seem to truly end. The accident itself has a ripple effect that radiates out and impacts every part of the victim’s life as well as the lives of their family members. While a personal injury suit cannot restore the victim’s life to its pre-accident state, it can at least help them find their new normal more quickly and have the financial support they need to do so. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a catastrophic accident, turn to a trusted personal injury lawyer to help you through this time. To schedule a consultation with Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, call us at 251-260-3815 or reach out online

personal injury claim

Can a Personal Injury Claim Be Reopened After It Is Settled?

If everything goes well with your personal injury claim, you’ll have everything you need to pay your medical bills, cover extra expenses from time spent away from work, and take care of miscellaneous bills that pop up because of your accident. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it goes.

Accident victims often accept a settlement offer that seems fair, only to find out later that their medical bills far exceed their settlement amount. What happens next? Learn more about what happens if you are unhappy with your settlement amount after you’ve already accepted a payment.

Are you in the middle of trying to secure a settlement for an accident that wasn’t your fault? Let us help. Call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 251-260-3815 to discuss your case.

In Most Cases, No

Unfortunately, you can very rarely reopen a personal injury claim after it has already been settled. The majority of settlements involve a liability waiver, which prevents you from going back to the liable party later and suing for more money. This is meant to be a trade-off. In exchange for guaranteed settlement money, you give up your right to get more down the road. In exchange for paying out right away, the liable party is free from further costs they could incur in a court case.

However, it often isn’t a fair trade-off. In many situations, the accident victim gets a settlement that is far lower than they actually deserve. The liable party and their insurance company get the full benefits of a settlement agreement with minimal expense.

Did You Sign a Liability Waiver?

If you’re wondering whether or not you can reopen a personal injury claim, find out if you signed a liability waiver. You probably did, since very few settlements are paid out without a liability waiver. However, if you did not sign a liability waiver, you may have grounds to reopen a claim.

Pending Claims Against Other Parties

Quite a few accidents involve multiple liable parties. In a car accident, for example, an injured victim might have a claim against the negligent driver and their insurance company. However, they might also have a claim against the vehicle manufacturer if a faulty airbag caused them to sustain more serious injuries than they would have if their airbag had functioned properly. In a tractor-trailer accident, a victim may have a claim against the company that employed the driver and the company that overloaded the tractor-trailer, putting it in a position where the accident caused more damage than it otherwise would have.

If your claim involves more than one party, it’s likely that your current settlement is an agreement with just one of the parties. You may still be able to seek damages from the other parties who have some liability in your accident.

Clerical Errors

In theory, you should carefully read every legal document for accuracy and understanding before you sign it. In reality, most people skim or even go straight to the signature line at the bottom, especially after signing 15 documents. If your paperwork has a clear clerical error—for example, a written settlement of $10,00 instead of the intended $10,000—you should still be able to seek the $10,000 you were supposed to receive. Unfortunately, some people use these mistakes as an excuse to pay victims even less. But if your underpayment is the results of a clerical error, you can generally fight that and get what you are owed.

Protecting Your Personal Injury Claim from the Beginning

The solution here is obviously to ensure you don’t accept a bad settlement offer. Getting a fair settlement from the very beginning is far easier than trying to fight for more money after you have accepted money. It’s important to reach out to a Mobile personal injury attorney promptly after an accident. They can gather the necessary evidence and fight the insurance company on your behalf, ensuring that you aren’t victimized again by a greedy insurance company.

Contact Burns, Cunningham & Mackey Today

Have you been injured because of someone else’s negligence? Find out if you can seek compensation for your injuries. Discuss your case with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to learn more about your options. Schedule your consultation with Burns, Cunningham & Mackey by calling 251-260-3815 or get in touch with us online.

construction accidents

4 Common Construction Accidents

Construction is an important part of the Alabama economy, but it also one of the most dangerous occupations. In 2018, there were 23 fatalities in the construction industry in our state and 24 nonfatal injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In the U.S., every day there are at least 14 deaths on-the-job and more than 20 percent are among workers in the construction industry. Next to transportation and mining, the construction industry is one of the top three professions that pose a safety hazard for workers.

OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a division of the federal government which oversees safety on construction sites, in the workplace, and in manufacturing plants.

OSHA has dubbed the “Fatal Four” injuries responsible for more than half of construction worker deaths nationwide in 2018.

The Fatal Four

If you or a loved one works in construction, understand that these are the inherent workplace injury dangers.

They include:

  1. Being struck by an object – A construction site is in constant motion with many people and equipment coming and going. It is not surprising then that there are loose objects falling and debris on the site as well as scaffolding, ladders, and cranes that are part of the necessary equipment to get the job done.  These are not stationary tools of the trade, so moving, shifting, or falling objects can cause injury.  
     
  2. Electrocution – Accidents involving electricity accounted for about 8% of all construction accident deaths, according to OSHA. Loose wiring in a building can easily come in contact with a worker and any nearby power lines may not be properly secured.

  3. Slip and Fall – During the construction process there are often unsecured platforms of different elevations that workers must move among. If steps and railings are not secured, if an area is dark and not marked, if there are different platform levels, or no guardrails, a construction worker can easily be injured on-the-job. Construction slip and fall accidents accounted for nearly 40% of construction worker deaths in 2018, according to OSHA.
     
  4. Being Stuck Between Objects and Machinery – With heavy machinery and some of it not properly secured, it is not uncommon for a worker to be caught between big equipment and a structure that has collapsed. This can result in a body being squeezed, crushed, or compressed between parts of an object. Strangulation can result if someone is caught in running machinery and equipment.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is the insurance program that provides compensation when you are hurt on-the-job. Any Alabama business with five or more employees is required by law to have workers’ compensation coverage.

In return for providing compensation to workers, the injured employees agrees not to sue the employer.

You are entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured in a workplace accident, but do not expect to receive your normal weekly or bi-weekly check. Workers’ compensation will only pay up to two-thirds of your normal wages.

A Third Party

What if a third party contributed to your accident and injuries?

Our lawyers may be able to help you file an additional personal injury claim against that at-fault third party which will allow you to receive all of the compensation you deserve for an accident that was not your fault.

An example of a third party involvement in your injury might include a truck that strikes your vehicle while you are on-the-job, defective heavy machinery or equipment is delivered to your place of employment, a subcontractor may cause you to be injured, or the owner of the property may not have it in a safe condition for workers on-the-job.    

Burns, Cunningham and Mackey understands the pain and stress that a construction accident can bring.  We understand that you will need rehabilitation while you continue to pay the bills during this very stressful time.

Our lawyers will seek all of the compensation you are eligible for, because we understand all of your options including pursuing a third party involved.

Let us take the burden off of you during this difficult time. Call us our Mobile office at 800-574-4332 for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you.

expert witness in alabama

The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases

In a personal injury lawsuit, expert witnesses may be vital to the success of your claim. These witnesses can provide support for your case, reject claims made by the defendant, and prove your case’s true value.

The Importance of Expert Witnesses in a Personal Injury Case

It’s essential to understand that expert witnesses play a much different role in personal injury cases than regular witnesses. A regular witness is a person that was present at the time of the accident and can testify about what they saw or heard.

Expert witnesses weren’t on the scene, but have a high level of experience, proficiency, and education that qualifies them as an “experts” in particular fields. Depending on their expertise, they can testify about how the collision occurred, the amount and extent of future medical treatment, the permanency of the injuries and the amount of any future wage loss.

Experts are not always hired to appear at trial. Your attorney might consult with an expert to gain a better understanding of certain aspects of your case and help form the best strategy. Experts can run focus groups to help frame the issues and develop a theme for your case.  In these instances, the other side might never know that you have used an expert to improve your case.

You might also have an expert provide official testimony related to the circumstances of the accident, a piece of defective equipment, the extent of your injuries, or your resulting emotional trauma. These witnesses may be rebutted by the defense with their own set of experts, but they can often help your case.

Types of Expert Witnesses We Might Use

Whether you use a consulting or testifying expert witness in your case, there are many different types of authorities that you can bring in to strengthen your arguments and even increase the amount of your award. These include:

  • Medical Experts. Medical experts can testify about your specific injuries, your prognosis, as well as your options for recovery. In a medical malpractice case, these experts are generally required to testify about how a healthcare worker deviated from their normal standard of care. Some expert medical testimony will involve a review of records and a separate examination.
  • Accident Reconstruction Experts. These experts help attorneys and law enforcement agencies figure out what happened in an auto, workplace, or other accident involving property or machinery. They use their expertise and evidence collected to reconstruct how the accident occurred and can help pinpoint causation.
  • Mental Health Experts. Mental health experts can consult and testify about how an accident has impacted your mental and emotional state. This testimony can be used to support claims for pain and suffering and other damages.
  • Economics Experts. If you are claiming that your injury has affected your ability to earn a living, an economics expert can help place a dollar value on these damages, which could be significant.
  • Engineering Experts. When an injury is due to shoddy building construction or a defective piece of equipment, an engineering or design expert can testify about how certain defects were the cause of your accident and injuries.
  • Specialized Experts. Anyone who is an expert in a certain area may be able to contribute to the outcome of your case. Other expert witnesses that we’ve used in personal injury cases include phone records specialists, forensic toxicologists, and vocational specialists.

Your Role in Working with an Expert Witness

While it will be your attorney’s job to recommend and locate an expert witness, you may be involved as well. As your lawyer works on building your case, you might need to provide additional information to assist these witnesses in doing their job.

We may refer you to an expert medical examiner if it will help establish the facts of your injuries or allow you to receive the care you need in the future. Following up with diagnostic tests, medical records requests, and answering other questions posed by your attorney and the witnesses can help increase the chances of a positive case outcome.

Contact Our Mobile Personal Injury Attorneys

The subject of expert witnesses within a personal injury case can be complex. You and your legal team must first identify any issues within your case that would benefit from additional explanation. Your attorney can then locate experts that are willing to work on your case.

There are many expert witnesses in the Mobile area, though we may need to reach out to professionals regionally or nationally to secure what you need. When you are trying to prove liability or damages, no stone should be left unturned.

At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., our personal injury attorneys aggressively fight for maximum compensation on behalf of every client. Contact our Mobile office now at (251) 260-3815 with any questions or to schedule a free consultation.