How and Why We Lose Our Balance

Some of the most common injuries that happen at work are the result of slips, trips, and falls. In fact, falls are the most common cause of deaths in the construction industry, accounting for more than 37% of all on-the-job construction deaths in the U.S. in 2016. Slips, trips, and falls were responsible for 27% of all worker’s compensation cases involving missed days of work in 2014. Injuries from falls have a big financial impact as well.

The National Safety Council estimates that falls cost more than $70 million in worker’s compensation and medical costs annually.

The most common causes of workplace falls include:

  • Slippery working surfaces
  • Cluttered working surfaces
  • Unstable walking surfaces
  • Unprotected edges
  • Unsafely positioned ladders
  • Misused fall protection equipment
  • Floor holes and wall openings

Construction and extraction workers are particularly at risk for falls, but those employed in healthcare support, building cleaning and maintenance, and transportation and material moving are at higher risk as well. Of course, falls can also happen in any working environment.

To help prevent falls in the workplace, employers should:

  1. Plan ahead.

As part of any project, determine whether workers will need to use ladders, scaffolding, or work at varying heights. Then plan out the safety equipment needed in advance.

  1. Provide safety equipment.

Your employer should provide fall protection gear and proper equipment such as ladders and scaffolds for any worker working at a height of 6 feet above another level. Your employer should also inspect all safety equipment.

  1. Train workers to use safety equipment.

All the safety equipment in the world won’t help if no one knows how to use it. Your employer should ensure that everyone knows how to set up and use all equipment properly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s fall protection training resources can also help.

All workers, not just those in the construction industry, can help prevent falls in the workplace by:

  • Housekeeping: Keep walking surfaces clean, dry, and uncluttered.
  • Proper footwear: Ensure all workers have footwear appropriate for the job and job location.
  • Quality walking surfaces: Ensure that all walking surfaces are stable, clean, and free from obstructions or holes.
  • Good lighting: Ensure that work areas are well lit at all times.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, let the skilled attorneys at Petro Law Firm help. Contact us now for a free consultation at (205) 327-8311.

Spouse Severely Hurt in a Car Accident? Here’s What You Need to Do in the Next 48 Hours

There were 155,907 car crashes in Alabama in 2016. Of those crashes, 47,653 involved injuries. That means that one person is injured every 11 minutes in an Alabama car crash. Severe injuries in an auto accident can result in permanent disability, death, or require expensive ongoing medical treatment and physical therapy. If your spouse is severely injured in a car accident, it can be life altering for everyone in your family and difficult to know where to turn.

After an accident, it can be important to document the accident details and any witness observations as quickly as possible.

What you should do immediately following an accident:

  1. Contact the police.

You should contact the police where the accident occurred and ask for the police report and any witness statements. Memories of the details of an accident will fade quickly for your spouse and any observers. So, if your spouse is able, he should record his memories of the accident as soon as possible, including the time of day, weather conditions, and road conditions or obstacles.

  1. Take photographs.

If you are able, take photographs of the scene of the accident, including the crash site and the vehicles.

  1. Call your insurance company.

You should call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident, regardless of fault. In some cases, if you do not, your insurance company may deny coverage. But if the other driver’s insurance company is slow to accept fault, your insurance company can also help with the replacement or repair of your vehicle and seek reimbursement from the other insurance company. You won’t want to take on that financial burden if you don’t have to do so.

  1. Document injuries and bills.

Be sure to document all of your spouse’s injuries and medical bills, including ambulance and emergency care costs, ongoing medical care, prescriptions, medical devices, and physical therapy.

  1. Contact an attorney.

Contact an experienced Alabama auto accident attorney as soon as possible. The skilled attorneys at the Petro Law Firm can ensure that your case is well documented, handle insurance negotiations, and maximize your financial recovery.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, let the skilled attorneys at Petro Law Firm help. Contact us now for a free consultation at (205) 327-8311.

Bedsores in Nursing Homes: Just How Big Is This Problem?

Bedsores, and medical complications from untreated bedsores, are far too common in the U.S. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 159,000 U.S. nursing home residents had bed sores in 2004. Residents over 64, those with nursing stays of less than a year and those with recent weight loss were more likely to develop pressure ulcers. Unfortunately, bedsores are a sign of neglect and are completely preventable with proper nursing care.

What Causes Bedsores?

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are wounds caused by constant pressure on the skin, primarily immobility. They usually develop over a bony area such as the heel, elbow, hip, shoulder or back of the head. A prolonged sedentary period, without regularly moving the patient around, can lead to lesions and skin abrasions that are difficult to heal.  

There are usually warning signs for a bed sore that develop before an open wound. A bedsore may first present as a rash or the skin may change temperature or color and swell. The depth and severity of the pressure ulcer determines its stage and complications can develop from more advanced bedsores. Potential problems include cellulitis, an infection of the skin and soft tissues; bone and joint infections; sepsis or even cancer for long-term nonhealing wounds.

How Can I Prevent Bedsores?

You can prevent bedsores through frequent repositioning and good skin care.

Positioning:

  • Shift your weight frequently, at least every 15 minutes if you are in a wheelchair. If you can’t move on your own, ask for help.
  • Look into a specialty wheelchair. Some wheelchairs will allow you to tilt, which can relieve pressure on the skin.
  • Try to lift yourself. If you have the strength, do wheelchair push-ups by lifting yourself off of your seat with the arms of the wheelchair.
  • Adjust the elevation of your bed: Don’t raise the head of your bed more than 30 degrees. This will help prevent skin friction or shearing as you slide down the mattress.
  • Use cushions. Don’t use a donut cushion, as this puts too much pressure on the surrounding soft tissues. Rather, use cushions to position yourself and relieve pressure.

Skin Care:

  • Keep your skin clean and dry.
  • Inspect your skin daily. Watch for warning signs of a pressure sore, including a rash or skin color or temperature change.
  • Protect your skin. Use talcum powder at friction points and be sure to use lotion to moisturize dry skin.
  • Watch out for irritating clothing. Buttons, fasteners and wrinkles in the sheets can cause friction and pressure.

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home, home care or hospital, let the skilled litigators at Petro Law Firm help. Contact us now for a free consultation at (205) 327-8311.

What Happens When a Truck Hits a Motorcycle?

On a beautiful day in Alabama, there’s nothing like hitting the open road for a ride on your motorcycle. In fact, Alabama is home to more than 109,000 licensed motorcyclists. Unfortunately, the driver of a motorcycle is more likely to be injured or killed in a crash than those in a car or truck, particularly if a truck is involved. On average, our state witnesses around 1,500 motorcycle injuries annually and dozens of fatal bike accidents, according to Drive Safe Alabama.

Why Are Motorcycles More Dangerous?

  • Less Visibility: Motorcycles are smaller, less visible to drivers in trucks or cars and more easily hidden by other vehicles or road obstacles.
  • Smaller and Less Stable: Motorcycles have only two wheels, rendering them less stable than vehicles with four wheels, particularly during emergency braking or maneuvering.
  • Road Hazards: Sometimes small hazards such as gravel, wet roads or small objects, that have little effect on a larger vehicle, can cause a motorcycle to crash.
  • No Barrier: In a motorcycle there is no barrier between the rider and the road and no passenger compartment to protect the biker from other vehicles or the road when a crash occurs. A motorcycle also has no seat belts and no airbags.
  • Skill Level: Riding a motorcycle takes more skill and physical stamina than driving a car. Less experienced motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in a crash.

The average motorcycle weighs about 400 pounds, while the legal limit for a loaded semi is 800,000 pounds. It seems obvious that a crash between a truck and a motorcycle will be far more dangerous for the biker.

Who Is Liable in a Motorcycle Accident?

Liability in an accident will often be determined by whether one driver was negligent, meaning whether one driver behaved in a thoughtless or reckless manner that caused injury to another. But often both drivers may have contributed to the accident and comparative or contributory negligence will come into play. Alabama has a contributory negligence model, which creates special challenges for plaintiffs seeking damages.

In the comparative negligence model, each party involved in an accident will be assigned a certain percentage of fault. As long as you are less at fault than the other party, you can recover damages.

By contrast, in Alabama’s model, if the defendant can prove that you shared some responsibility for the accident, you can be barred compensation entirely. To win a case given our state’s high standards, therefore, you often need a detailed, meticulous legal strategy.  

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, let the skilled attorneys at Petro Law Firm help. Contact us now for a free consultation at (205) 327-8311.

What to Do If Your “On the Job Injury” Is So Bad It Effectively Ends Your Career?

Work-related injuries are disturbingly common in a host of occupations. Worker compensation exists to protect both employees and employers from the fall out. Employees receive medical coverage and compensation for lost wages when they are injured on the job regardless of fault. Employers, in turn, provide coverage and are protected from employee lawsuits. Most employers are required to have workers’ compensation coverage under Alabama law.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

Under workers’ compensation laws, if you are injured on the job, your employer must pay for your medical expenses related to the injury, as well as for lost wages. Unfortunately, no matter the injury or who is at fault, workers cannot sue their employers for negligence or pain and suffering if their employer maintains appropriate workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

If you are completely unable to work, you are entitled to receive total disability benefits, which are 2/3rds of your regular wage up to $843 a week, if you bring in $65,000 or more a year in salary. (This cap gets updated annually. Please check out the AL Division of Workers’ Compensation website for more details.) There is no time limitation on how long you can receive total disability benefits, although the insurance company can require you to undergo a medical examination. If your disability rating qualifies, you can continue to receive total disability benefits for life. This, however, is rare and you should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you get the benefits you need.

What If a Third Party Caused My Accident?

If a third party caused your accident, you are entitled to pursue your workers’ compensation claim, as well as a personal injury suit against the third party.

Claims for a third-party suit might involve:

  1. Negligence: If an outside person or company, such as a subcontractor or other person on your job site, fails to use reasonable care and injures you, they may be subject to a claim for negligence.
  2. Product Liability: If defective or negligently maintained equipment caused your injury, the manufacturer or maintainer of the equipment may be subject to a lawsuit.
  3. Premises Liability: If you’re injured while working at another location and the business or property owner failed to reasonably maintain their property, injuring you, they may be subject to suit.
  4. Wrongful Death: If an outside person or company causes a death, the family may be entitled to file suit for wrongful death.

 

If you are injured on the job, it’s important to consult an experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. If you’ve been injured at work, even if you are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits, let the professionals at Petro Law Firm ensure that you are maximizing your benefits. Contact us now for a free consultation at (205) 327-8311.

The Wildest Construction Accidents Ever Caught on Video

Construction projects can be inherently dangerous. With heavy equipment, heights, and many moving people and parts, mistakes can happen. In Philadelphia, construction is one of the most dangerous industries for workers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Transportation incidents, slips, falls, trips and contact with equipment or objects are particularly dangerous. When these accidents are caught on video, it can be horrifying but also serve as a warning. Let’s take a look at some of the worst construction accidents caught on video:

Lower Manhattan Crane Crash

In February of 2016 in New York City, a crane operator was lowering a 55-foot crane in Lower Manhattan during heavy winds. The crane broke and crashed to the ground, killing a man sitting in his car below. After an investigation, the operator of the crane was found to be at fault for lowering the boom at the wrong angle and failing to secure the crane during winds. Video

Shanghai Demolition Excavator Crush

On July 29, 2018, a demolition crew working in Shanghai misjudged the direction of a 5-story building collapse, crushing an excavator. Luckily, the driver barely missed the accident and wasn’t injured. Video

Alabama Smokestack Collapse

In November of 2015, an Alabama excavator driver somehow avoided injury when a smokestack collapsed on top of his excavator. Video

Kenya Mall Demolition

In yet another excavator accident, this time in Westlands, Kenya, a worker narrowly avoided disaster. In August 2018, during the demolition of the Ukay mall, a wall fell on top of an excavator. Shockingly, only one worker was slightly injured.

Charlotte Dump Truck Crash

Frequently, construction accidents happen while driving, such as this accident in Charlotte, North Carolina in August of 2018. A dump truck driver, who had just dumped a load at a construction site, crashed into an interstate overpass. The driver forgot to lower the bed after dumping his load, which crashed into the bridge. Video

If you believe you have been hurt on the job, let the skilled litigators and workers’ compensation attorneys at Petro Law Firm help. Contact us now for a free consultation at 205-327-8311.

Mark Petro selected among America’s Top Litigators

Announcing the selection of P. Mark Petro among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2018. Selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® is by invitation only and is reserved to identify the nation’s most exceptional trial attorneys in high value, high stakes legal matters.

Click here to read more.

Car Accident Claims Aren’t Over for Uber Passengers

In Alabama, passengers injured in a car accident may run into a quirk of the law when it comes to their injuries. Alabama’s “guest statute” prevents a rider in a car from making a claim for negligence against the driver unless the rider provided the driver with payment or something else of benefit.

What Is A “Guest”?

Whether or not a rider in a car is a guest or a passenger for hire has been the subject of much litigation. The benefit the rider provides to the driver to avoid the guest statute doesn’t have to be money, it can be something else that benefits the driver or even something that mutually benefits both the rider and the driver.  As long as the benefit isn’t something incidental, the guest statute may not apply. Luckily, the issue is much clearer with Uber and Lyft drivers. The guest statute doesn’t apply when you pay an Uber or Lyft driver for your ride.

So, if you and your Aunt Sue are driving to Walmart to pick up some groceries and Aunt Sue runs a red light, you wouldn’t normally have a claim for negligence against Aunt Sue for your injuries. But if you hire an Uber driver who runs a red light on the way to Walmart with you in the car, you may have a possible claim against the driver. Likewise, the driver and any passengers in any other cars involved in the accident may also have claims against the Uber driver.

How Will You Get Compensation?

Generally, financial responsibility for your injuries and any damages comes from the Uber driver’s insurance. If the driver carries commercial insurance or a personal car insurance policy with a rider providing coverage for ride sharing, either of those policies could apply. However, many ride-share drivers don’t carry extra insurance or have riders to their personal policies. Luckily, Uber and Lyft do carry third party liability insurance coverage for up to $1 million in coverage for personal injuries and property damage for each accident. If the driver does carry another policy, the third-party liability insurance will generally kick in after the driver’s personal insurance is exhausted.

At Petro Law Firm, we hope you never find yourself in a car accident. However, if the situation does arise, we’re here to help. If your car accident is complicated and you need assistance, call us at (205) 327-8311.

How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident

How to Determine Fault in a Car AccidentAlthough it may seem like common sense, determining fault in a car accident isn’t always obvious or straightforward. What may seem clear to you may in fact be correct. But in Alabama, as in the rest of the country, the at-fault driver isn’t going to want to admit fault — and neither will their insurance company.

It’s to your advantage to understand how to determine fault in a car accident. At the very least, so you can recognize when someone else is doing it wrong, or — more likely — trying to take advantage of you. In the end, you’ll have to depend on the authorities to make the final decision.

If you’re wondering if you’ve been treated fairly in a recent car accident, Petro Law Firm can help. In this article, we’ll tell you what to look for when determining actual fault.

Fault Is Not Always as Obvious as It Seems

Many factors are at play in any car accident, and “insurance politics” will be at play in the aftermath. You may find yourself in a dispute even when you’re certain you how the accident happened … because you rarely have the final say. If that’s the case, it may be time to reach out to a car accident lawyer, whether uncertainty arises in how to determine fault in a car accident, or someone’s just plain wrong — or lying.

Who Is Responsible for Determining Fault in a Car Accident?

People with a hand in determining fault in any accident include:

  • Accident investigators.
  • Police officers at the scene.
  • Insurance companies.
  • Insurance regulators.

While rear-ending someone doesn’t automatically result in you getting all the blame anymore (thanks, insurance regulators!), certain factors still weigh for or against you. The first things police officers on the scene will try to figure out is the “primary collision factor” (PCF) — that is, the accident’s main cause. They will try to determine who was mostly at fault. Typically, driver error is the PCF, though weather, road condition, mechanical failure, and even external factors like animals in the road can contribute.

Meanwhile, accident investigators analyze the cars, damage, and crash site to determine fault, while insurers make their own decisions on fault, and who they believe should pay the damages. The police report usually gets the most weight when all of the above get together to decide how to determine fault in a car accident.

Can Drivers Share Fault?

Yes, but it hurts all drivers who share fault. As of late 2018, the Cotton State uses the “pure contributory negligence” standard for car accidents (thanks not so much, insurance regulators). That means that if you’re assigned any fault at all, you can’t claim damages from the person who hit you. It doesn’t matter if you’re cleared of 99% of fault, you’re still out of luck due to that 1%. It’s no surprise, then, that insurance companies sometimes go to absurd lengths to fight for shared fault, which forces your own insurance company to pay for your damages.

Working Out Insurance Claims

This doesn’t mean you can’t seek compensation against an at-fault driver. If the investigators assign full blame to the other driver(s), their insurance company may accept the ruling without complaint and agree to pay for the damages and repairs. Otherwise, you can take them to court; and if the preponderance of the evidence collected by the police and investigators demonstrates full fault on their behalf, you can still receive the compensation you need (and possibly more), especially if you’ve suffered permanent disability or if the accident will impact you long-term.

What to Do If You Are Assigned Minor Fault

Even if the other insurance company won’t pay damages because they investigators assigned you some fault, don’t give up. The other insurer may offer a negotiable settlement. If not, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver(s) who hurt you. This is when you need an auto accident attorney on your side the most.

Unsure How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident in Alabama? We Can Help

If you have questions about how to determine fault in a car accident, contact Petro Law Firm for a free consultation. We can help with your car accident claim.

The Most Dangerous Jobs in Alabama

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 100 people were killed on the job in Alabama in 2016. The majority of those fatal work deaths were related to traffic incidents, fatal contact with objects or equipment or falls, slips and trips. So, let’s take a look at the most dangerous jobs that you might find in Alabama:

  • Logging

The logging industry plays a large part in Alabama’s economy, but loggers suffer 127 deaths per 100,000 workers, making it one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

  • Pilots and Flight Engineers

Aerospace is one of the largest industrial groups in Alabama, but 53.4 per 100,000 pilots and flight engineers will die on the job nationwide each year.

  • Construction Industry

Construction has long been one of the more dangerous occupations in the country. Nationwide, construction laborers die at a rate of 17.4 workers per 100,000. Structural iron and steel workers suffer 37 deaths per 100,000 workers and 40.5 of 100,000 roofers will die on the job.

  • Refuse and Recycling

Collectors of refuse and recycling endure 27.1 deaths per 100,000 workers. Hazardous equipment, heavy materials and road incidents are often to blame.

  • Electrical Power Lines

Electrical power line installers and repairers work with electricity on a daily basis. Between the electrical hazards and the heights at which they work, these professionals suffer 23 deaths per 100,000 workers each year.

  • Truck Drivers

Drivers, sales workers and truck drivers hauling goods across long distances die on the job at a rate of 22.1 per 100,000 workers in the U.S. Traffic and road incidents as well as exhaustion are often the cause.

  • Agricultural Workers

Ranchers, agricultural managers and farmers raise animals and crops for wholesale. They deal with dangerous and heavy equipment and large animals on a daily basis, leading to a death rate of 21.3 workers per 100,000 each year in the U.S.

If you’ve suffered a work place injury, the professionals at the Petro Law Firm can help. Call us at (205) 327-8311 for a complimentary consultation to see if we can help you get the benefits you deserve.