Compassionate Help for Injured Workers

If you've been injured on the job, you know how it feels to be second-guessed. You're wondering if you'll be treated fairly or not. My mission is to make sure you know your rights and responsibilities and that you obtain all the benefits the law allows. Call me at 1-888-694-0174 or 334-702-0000.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Alabama Senator Proposed Harsh Changes to the Workers' Compensation Law

Senator Arthur Orr represents District 3 which consists of Limestone, Madison, Morgan Counties in northern Alabama.  Sen. Orr has indicated he will be introducing a bill in the next legislative session to make changes to Alabama’s workers’ compensation law.   He says the changes will help in job creation.  The truth is, they will help insurance companies keep more of the premiums they collect.

These changes will apply to every Alabama worker who is unfortunate enough to be injured on the job. 

Not surprisingly, the changes will only benefit employers and insurance companies.  Who will pay for these changes?  The injured workers.

Sen. Orr’s proposed bill would make it illegal for a judge to consider the injured’s worker’s pain in most cases.  If you get hurt on the job and have severe pain that your doctors believe to be credible, too bad - - the judge cannot consider your pain.

If a worker’s job-related injury is such that he is permanently and totally disabled, current law allows him to receive workers’ compensation benefits for the rest of his life.  Sen. Orr’s proposed bill would let the insurance company off the hook as soon as the worker reaches age 65.  This proposed change will benefit insurance companies at a time when most workers are living longer lives and at a time when you have to turn 67 to collect Social Security benefits.

What else is Sen. Orr wanting to give to the insurance companies?  Under current law, probably the most generous aspect of the law is that medical treatment remains open for life after a job-related accident.  Sen. Orr wants to change that so that if an injured worker goes without medical treatment for a certain time period, the right to receive medical is over.  The insurance companies win; the injured worker loses.

Finally, what happens if you go to trial in your workers’ compensation case and win? Sen. Orr wants to give the appeals courts the right to re-weigh the evidence and decide whether to over turn the trial judge’s decision.

What does Sen. Orr give back to injured workers in exchange for helping the insurance companies?  He gives them a $20.00 per week raise and increases the amount of permanent partial disability benefits from $220.00 per week to $240.00 per week.  Put another way, at a time when minimum wage is $7.25 per hour or $290.00 per week, the rate paid to injured workers will increase from $5.50 an hour to $6.00 per hour.  If a worker suffers a severe injury on the job and is 99 percent disabled or less, he is capped at $220.00 per week under Alabama’s unfair law but Sen. Orr will “allow” injured workers another $20.00.

            What can you do?  Call Senator Orr and tell him injured workers deserve better.   Contact him at (256) 355-3285 or (334) 242-7891.

What is Avvo?

First - check my Avvo profile:

The Avvo Rating is our effort to evaluate a lawyer's background, based on the information we know about the lawyer. The rating is calculated using a mathematical model that considers the information shown in a lawyer's profile, including a lawyer's years in practice, disciplinary history, professional achievements and industry recognition - all factors that, in our opinion, are relevant to assessing a lawyer's qualifications.
For some lawyers, the only information we have been able to collect is the publicly available information from state bar associations or other organizations that license lawyers. If that is all we have, then we display an Avvo Rating for the lawyer of either "Attention" or "No Concern." We display the "Attention" rating if there is information in the licensing records that, in our opinion, you should pay attention to, such as a disciplinary action against a lawyer without offsetting positive information. Otherwise, we display the "No Concern" rating.
We periodically collect background data from multiple sources, including state bar associations, court records, lawyer websites, and information that lawyers choose to provide to Avvo. Please keep in mind that we are not able to collect every piece of information about every lawyer's background. Information that we do not have could very well change the lawyer's Avvo Rating. So whether you see the numerical or the basic Avvo Rating, you should do further research regarding the lawyer to collect all relevant information regarding the lawyer's background.
Here's why the Avvo Rating can help you find the right lawyer:
  • It's unbiased. Because ratings are calculated using a mathematical model, all lawyers are rated by the same standards.

  • There's no favoritism. Here at Avvo, all lawyers are treated equally. They can't pay to change their ratings, and we don't play favorites to lawyers we know.

  • It's developed by legal experts for non-experts. The model used to calculate the Avvo Rating was developed with input from hundreds of attorneys, thousands of consumers, and legal experts.

  • It's easy to understand. With simple ratings from 1 to 10 or "Attention" and "No Concern," we hope to make clearer the murky process of understanding lawyers' backgrounds.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ABOUT ME - Alabama Workers' Compensation Attorney Tracy W. Cary

     Since 1994, Tracy W. Cary has worked exclusively for people who were injured or killed by companies or people who cause injury or death by violating safety rules that are designed to protect the public and make our lives safer. Tracy is passionately devoted to working for injured victims and he works hard to prevent insurance companies from unreasonably delaying or denying legitimate claims and to make them compensate injured victims fairly.
Tracy has been involved in obtaining numerous jury verdicts for his clients. His firm obtained one of the largest verdicts in Alabama history, a record $21 million jury verdict achieved in 2011. In addition, Tracy has represented hundreds of injured workers with workers’ compensation claims and tried numerous cases all over the State. Whether handling a large case or a very small case, Tracy takes his mission very seriously and he is available for consultation toll free at 1-800-638-3665. No case is too large. No case is too small. Every case is important.

      Tracy is licensed to practice law in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. In addition, he has handled cases in Arizona, Kansas and Connecticut. Tracy practices in state and federal courts handling a variety of accident and injury claims including wrongful death cases, car wrecks, trucking accidents, motorcycle wrecks, workers’ compensation claims, dog bite incidents, consumer fraud, Social Security disability claims, insurance bad faith claims and product defect claims.

     Tracy co-founded the law firm of Morris, Cary, Andrews, Talmadge & Driggers in 1999. We have grown to seven attorneys and 17 total staff.  Each of the lawyers in our law firm have similar interests. We are dedicated to our faith, our families and our firm.

     Although Tracy focuses on all types of injury and accident claims, he also has chosen to focus on workers’ compensation claims. Many times injured workers are among the most vulnerable of our society. Tracy has authored and published a consumer-rights book – The Injured Worker’s Survival Guide -The Five Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Workers’ Compensation Claim - and has also authored many articles and reports to help accident victims. He has created a website – and blog, exclusively devoted to job-related accidents. The firm website also contains valuable information, see -

     Tracy earned his law degree in 1992 from the University of Alabama School of Law. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications in 1985. Tracy served as a field artillery and JAG officer in the United States Army and the Alabama Army National Guard.
Tracy is married with four children. He is active in his church, Covenant United Methodist Church, and in his community. Tracy has been peer rated by other lawyers as having very high ethics rating, which denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities. In legal abilities, his peers rated him very high.  http://www.mcatlaw.com

Monday, August 29, 2011

New York Times calls Alabama's Immigrant Law the Cruelest in the Nation

The New York Times

The Alabama Legislature opened its session on March 1 on a note of humility and compassion. In the Senate, a Christian pastor asked God to grant members “wisdom and discernment” to do what is right. “Not what’s right in their own eyes,” he said, “but what’s right according to your word.” Soon after, both houses passed, and the governor signed, the country’s cruelest, most unforgiving immigration law.

The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, is so inhumane that four Alabama church leaders — an Episcopal bishop, a Methodist bishop and a Roman Catholic archbishop and bishop — have suedto block it, saying it criminalizes acts of Christian compassion. It is a sweeping attempt to terrorize undocumented immigrants in every aspect of their lives, and to make potential criminals of anyone who may work or live with them or show them kindness.

It effectively makes it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant in Alabama, by criminalizing working, renting a home and failing to comply with federal registration laws that are largely obsolete. It nullifies any contracts when one party is an undocumented immigrant. It requires the police to check the papers of people they suspect to be here illegally.

The new regime does not spare American citizens. Businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants will lose their licenses. Public school officials will be required to determine students’ immigration status and report back to the state. Anyone knowingly “concealing, harboring or shielding” an illegal immigrant could be charged with a crime, say for renting someone an apartment or driving her to church or the doctor.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department have also sued, calling the law an unconstitutional intrusion on the federal government’s authority to write and enforce immigration laws. The A.C.L.U. warns that the law would trample people’s fundamental rights to speak and travel freely, effectively deny children the chance to go to school and expose people to harassment and racial profiling.

These arguments have been made before, in opposition to similar, if less sweeping, laws passed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia. What is remarkable in Alabama is the separate lawsuit by the four church leaders, who say the law violates their religious freedoms to perform acts of charity without regard to the immigration status of those they minister to or help.

“The law,” Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile said in The Times, “attacks our core understanding of what it means to be a church.”

You’d think that any state would think twice before embracing a law that so vividly brings to mind the Fugitive Slave Act, the brutal legal and law-enforcement apparatus of the Jim Crow era, and the civil-rights struggle led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But waves of anti-immigrant hostility have made many in this country forget who and what we are.

Congress was once on the brink of an ambitious bipartisan reform that would have enabled millions of immigrants stranded by the failed immigration system to get right with the law. This sensible policy has been abandoned. We hope the church leaders can waken their fellow Alabamans to the moral damage done when forgiveness and justice are so ruthlessly denied. We hope Washington and the rest of the country will also listen.

Two Car Crash in Ashford

It's a Gift: Evasive Witnesses Are Doing You A Favor If You Know To Take Advantage

It's a Gift: Evasive Witnesses Are Doing You A Favor If You Know To Take Advantage
By Jim McElhaney as published in the ABA Journal, August 2011.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Law enforcement agencies not prepared to enforce new immigration law

Law enforcement agencies not prepared to enforce new immigration law

I Can’t Lie

Many will remember “Liar Liar” the 1997 comedy starring Jim Carrey.   

In the movie, a lawyer lies to win his cases, at the expense of his family, career and self.  Eventually he learns that honesty is the best policy.  As the Proverbs tell us, “The Lord hates dishonest scales but accurate weights are His delight.”  Prov. 11:1. 

Perhaps a worker is afraid that if he tells the truth on his job application about a previous injury, he won’t hired.  So he figure a little while lie won’t hurt.  But will it? 

What happens to an injured worker who lies on a job application and is later injured on the job? 

            Cascaden v. Winn-Dixie Montgomery, LLC, 2011 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 204 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 5, 2011) gives us the answer.

Alabama Code § 25-5-51 addresses misrepresentations in job applications:

“No compensation shall be allowed if, at the time of or in the course of entering into employment or at the time of receiving notice of the removal of conditions from a conditional offer of employment, the employee knowingly and falsely misrepresents in writing his or her physical or mental condition and the condition is aggravated or reinjured in an accident arising out of and in the course of his or her employment.
At the time an employer makes an unconditional offer of employment or removes conditions previously placed on a conditional offer of employment, the employer shall provide the employee with the following written warning in bold type print, "Misrepresentations as to preexisting physical or mental conditions may void your workers' compensation benefits." If the employer defends on the ground that the injury arose in any or all of the last above stated ways, the burden of proof shall be on the employer to establish the defense.”

To understand what happened in the Cascaden case, first thing about how Alabama courts used to interpret the law.  In the past, Alabama courts held that a misrepresentation of a preexisting medical problem only mattered if a worker injured that same body part again.  For example, if a worker didn’t admit a previous back injury on a job application but later hurt his shoulder at work, the misrepresentation wouldn’t necessarily prevent the worker from receiving compensation for the shoulder injury.  One of the reasons for the past decisions is that the employer wasn’t relying on the misrepresentation of the worker’s back problems to decide whether to hire the employee.
The recent Cascaden decision changes all that.

It is NO LONGER REQUIRED for an employer to prove it relied on the misrepresentation.

The Court of Civil Appeals held that it is not required that employers rely on the misrepresentation.  Instead, for an employer to raise the defense under § 25-5-51, the employer must prove: that (1) in the course of the worker entering into his employment relationship with the employer, (2) the employer provided the worker with the written warning set forth in § 25-5-51, (3) the worker knowingly and falsely misrepresented his physical or mental condition, (4) the worker's misrepresentation was made in writing, and (5) the worker's condition was aggravated or reinjured in an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.

Written Warning Required 

Avoid this problem in advance by telling the truth! 

Tracy W. Cary currently services as chair of the Alabama Association for Justice Workers’ Compensation Section. He earned his B.S. from the University of Florida and his J.D. from the University of Alabama. He is licensed to practice law in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. He practices with the Dothan firm of Morris, Cary, Andrews, Talmadge & Driggers, LLC. He is past chair of the Alabama State Bar Workers’ Compensation and has an extensive workers’ compensation practice throughout dozens of Alabama counties. Email:

Injured Workers Hammered by Harsh Application of the Schedule

By Tracy W. Cary
Alabama Workers' Compensation Attorney
 I have written for years about how harsh Alabama law can be when an employee gets hurt on the job and the injury is to a "scheduled" part of the body.  Scheduled injuries are listed at Alabama Code § 25-5-57(a)(3).  See, Table of Scheduled Members.  Essentially the only parts of the body not listed in the schedule are the head, neck, back, hips and shoulders.   According to recent decisions of the Alabama appeals courts (Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and Alabama Supreme Court), if an worker injures a scheduled part of the body, the worker generally cannot make a claim for vocational disability, even if the real effect of the injury would cause the employee to be permanently totally disabled.  For example, think about a mechanic who lost the use of both his hands in an accident at work.  The schedule says that the worker will be paid compensation up to 400 weeks, even though his life expectancy might be 2,000 weeks. 

     Alabama's appellate courts have carved out at least three exceptions to getting around the schedule:  pain,  psychological injury and extension of the injury to other parts of the body.  However, the courts continue to whittle away at these exceptions, making them harder to apply.  In a decision released in August 2011, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals did just that. 

     With the release of G.UB.MK Constrs. v. Davis, 2011 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 220 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 19, 2011), the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's finding of permanent and total disability.  The trial court awarded an employee PTD benefits outside the compensation schedule set out in Ala. Code § 25-5-57(a)(3), based on the debilitating pain he was suffering from a work-related injury to his left hand. The employer appealed. As the employee did not testify that the pain in his left hand had virtually totally debilitated him or that pain from the left hand prevented him from fully using the uninjured parts of his body, including his dominant right hand, the trial court erred in awarding him PTD benefits under § 25-5-57(a)(4) instead of scheduled benefits under § 25-5-57(a)(3).  

However, in a recent Alabama Supreme Court decision, the State's high court upheld a decision finding a worker 100 % disabled as a result of a scheduled foot injury.  Ex parte Hayes, 2011 Ala. LEXIS 35 (Ala. Mar. 18, 2011).  There, an injured worker was found to permanently totally disabled because the employee's right foot extended to and interfered with the effective functioning of the remainder of his body in a manner that satisfied the Drummond rule.     
     Do you have a injury to a "scheduled" body part?  Consult with a lawyer who specializes in workers' compensation law before deciding what to do.   
Thinking about what to do?

Tracy W. Cary currently services as chair of the Alabama Association for Justice Workers’ Compensation section and has also served as chair of the Alabama State Bar Workers' Compensation section. He earned his B.S. from the University of Florida and his J.D. from the University of Alabama. He is licensed to practice law in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. He practices with the Dothan firm of Morris, Cary, Andrews, Talmadge & Driggers, LLC. He is past chair of the Alabama State Bar Workers’ Compensation and has an extensive workers’ compensation practice throughout dozens of Alabama counties. Email:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Motion seeks to delay retired judge's trial

By LANCE GRIFFIN published in The Dothan Eagle
Published: February 18, 2011

A retired local judge accused of numerous ethical violations while serving in Houston County is asking to have his trial date delayed.

Former Houston County District Judge John Steensland, Jr., was charged with 60 violations of the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics by the Judicial Inquiry Commission in December of last year. His trial date in front of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary is scheduled for March 2 in Montgomery.

A motion filed by Steensland’s son on behalf of Steensland states that numerous other complaints against Steensland have been filed since the original complaints were made public, are currently under review by the Judicial Inquiry Commission and could trigger more official charges. Therefore, Steensland argues the trial should be delayed until all matters have been resolved and all charges can be faced in one proceeding.

“The Judicial Inquiry Commission staff and executive director have engaged in a course of conduct encouraging said individuals to file new complaints in an effort to further humiliate, intimidate and prejudice Steensland,” attorney John Steensland III wrote in the motion to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary filed Feb. 17. “The desired effect of JIC’s conduct relating to the new complaints is simple. The outcome of the trial in the present matter notwithstanding, Steensland will be forced to endure the entire process again.”

“Steensland is entitled to have all charges, complaints, documents, materials and witnesses against him combined and consolidated so that all alleged mIsconduct can be adjudicated in the same proceeding,” Steensland wrote.

The court has until Tuesday, Feb. 22, to rule on Steensland’s motion.

Motion seeks to delay retired judge's trial