What Happens When Someone Negligently Injures or Kills Your Pet

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
For many Americans, pets are more than animals. They are loved companions who become part of the family, and losing one is often just as difficult as losing a human loved one. If your pet has been injured or killed due to someone’s negligence, here’s what you need to know.

Laws Vary by State and County

Pet legislation is complex because there are no widely accepted rules or regulations regarding pet injury or death. States each have their own laws and precedents, and some counties have their own ordinances. Most laws specifically discuss dog bites and animal cruelty, but few outline clear remedies available to pet owners who suffer a loss. Generally, a pet owner can obtain financial compensation in a few different ways:
  • Animal cruelty – If someone was cruel to your pet, you can file a criminal charge against the individual. As part of the sentencing, the court may require the defendant to financially compensate the pet owner.
  • Civil actions – You can file a civil claim for personal injury if someone’s negligence caused your pet’s injury or death. Individuals may sue for medical expenses and pain and suffering.
  • Small claims actions – Small claims courts allow anyone to file an inexpensive lawsuit in negligence cases. If an attorney does not believe that a civil action would produce adequate financial compensation, he or she may recommend filing a small claims lawsuit.
A pet owner can file criminal charges and a civil action against an individual concurrently.

Potential for Recovery After a Pet Injury or Death

Even though you see your pet as a family member, the courts may not see the relationship in the same way. Pet owners almost never secure as much compensation as the courts award in human injury cases. However, some cases may go above and beyond normal circumstances. Only a personal injury attorney who is familiar with pet laws in your jurisdiction can help you determine what legal action to take. The court may award a pet owner punitive damages in cases where defendant behavior was excessively negligent. Historically, some courts have also taken pet uniqueness and irreplaceability into account during damages proceedings. In addition to economic damages, these courts may award non-economic damages up to several thousand dollars.

Animal Cruelty Laws in Texas

In Texas, state criminal and civil laws exist to protect domesticated animals and previously captured wild animals. Domesticated pets fall into this category, but the law may not protect a stray animal, even if you took regular care of the animal. Under criminal statutes, you must prove that someone intentionally harmed the animal. Animal cruelty includes acts of torture, unreasonable confinement, purposefully killing or poisoning, neglect, and knowingly injuring an animal that belongs to someone else. Under state civil laws, pet owners may find a better opportunity for legal recourse. The laws protect all living creatures, wild and domestic. Cruelty under civil law includes acts of torture, overworking, food/water/shelter/care deprivation, confinement, and forced animal fighting.

Proving a Claim

Each court must interpret these laws in light of the facts of the case to make a just ruling. To prove a criminal charge or civil claim, the prosecution/plaintiff must provide evidence of intention and/or negligence. In civil claims, a pet owner must also demonstrate the level of harm a pet injury or death causes. To develop a fair case for damages, a pet owner and his or her attorney may need to determine the market value of the animal as well as the value of the pet as a companion. A pet’s personality, training, breed, health, and veterinary costs may all play a role in the total amount of compensation a pet owner requests. For more information about pet injury laws in San Antonio, contact the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C.
Posted by at 11:51 pm

Boating Under the Influence and the Law

Friday, January 22, 2016
When people head out on the water on a hot summer day, many enjoy packing a cooler of their favorite alcoholic beverages or stopping at a restaurant on the water for a few cocktails. However, controlling a boat while under the influence (BUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Texas. Here is what you need to know before the warm weather hits.

Boating vs. Driving Under the Influence

Many of the same rules that apply to DUIs apply to boating incidents. In recent years, sheriff’s departments and other law enforcement officers have really been cracking down on boaters who operate their watercraft while drinking. If they stop you and you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08, you will go to jail. Unlike a vehicle stop, law enforcement does not need probable cause to stop a boat on the water. A law enforcement officer may also apprehend you or follow you back to shore if he or she believes your faculties have been impaired.

Who Makes Arrests on the Water?

Any law enforcement agency present on the water is authorized to make arrests for boating under the influence. Many boaters wrongly believe that only a sheriff’s department can make the arrest, but if a game warden from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department suspects a driver is boating under the influence, he or she can make that call. Every holiday weekend during the summer, the department makes several BUI arrests.

Can I Drink and Operate Any Watercraft?

Under the law, you should watch your alcohol consumption on any motorized watercraft. If you do choose to drink on the water, an activity that is inherently dangerous, make sure that you have a designated driver who meets all the requirements of operating a boat. A law enforcement officer can take action if he or she believes someone under the influence has or will be in control of the watercraft. Crafts without motors and under a certain size are excluded from BUI laws, but you could face a public intoxication charge in certain circumstances. You will not face BUI charges for operating a rowboat, floating in an inner tube, or paddling a kayak or canoe.

Who Can Operate a Watercraft on Lakes and Rivers in Texas?

Children who are at least 13 and have passed an approved boater education course can operate a vessel alone. However, if law enforcement has reason to believe that the child is not certified or was not in control of the boat, they may still question and/or arrest an adult for BUI.

Should I Avoid Drinking Altogether?

Most boating experts recommend avoiding drinking on the water in general. Drinking in the sun increases the risk of dehydration and the chances of water related accidents. However, you should definitely avoid drinking if you plan to operate the boat. Do not give law enforcement any reason to believe you were, or might, operate the boat after drinking. On the water, most stops are for routine safety checks involving life vests and other required boating items. As long as you are polite and do not show signs of potential intoxication, they will likely thank you and move on.

What if I See Someone Boating Under the Influence?

If you see someone behaving erratically on the water, give the craft a wide berth, and note the boat’s registration numbers. Contact law enforcement, and let them handle it. Boating accidents are often tragic, and those caused by careless behaviors such as drinking are entirely preventable. Reach out to The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. for questions involving BUI accidents.
Posted by at 11:52 pm

College Campus Accident Claims: Are They Different?

Friday, January 15, 2016
Lawsuits for accidents that occur at colleges can be very different from those at other establishments, depending on the circumstances. There are many considerations that determine how a lawsuit stemming from a campus accident will proceed; however, you do still have legal options if and when you pursue a claim.

Holding Public Schools Liable

State run schools, including colleges, universities, and technical institutions, sometimes fall under the category of sovereign immunity as other government agencies do. In Texas, you can only sue a state school if the state decides you’re allowed to do so. This extends to all forms of lawsuits, including personal injury claims. Depending on the situation, you may win the legislature’s approval and proceed with a lawsuit against the school. The state has the right to disallow petty lawsuits but may grant them in serious personal injury cases.

Holding Private Schools Liable

Private schools may or may not be under the protection of the state when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. A private school that falls under the category of “charitable institution” may be protected under the same sovereign immunity rule as public schools. If the injury occurred during the normal course of work and in a reasonable manner, you may not be able to present a lawsuit against the private institution. Some for profit establishments, however, may not fall under this category and can be sued as any other business entity would be. In business injury cases, you may hold each organization responsible for unreasonable situations that lead to harm under the concept of premise liability attorney in San Antonio.

Other Parties You May Sue

Depending on the case, you can hold other individuals liable after an accident on campus. Going to a college or other post-graduate institution doesn’t protect other students or visitors from legal action. In addition to people not associated with the institution, you may have the opportunity to look into 3rd parties, such as contracted foodservice companies, vehicle manufacturers, and others that may not fall under the umbrella of sovereign immunity. You may also hold more than one party accountable in a lawsuit. For instance, if you were injured by a drunk driver on campus, you may be able to hold both the school and the driver responsible for resulting injuries. The facility has a responsibility to provide reasonable protection for individuals on it.

You Need an Experienced Attorney to Bring a Lawsuit Against a College in Texas

If you decide to take legal action against a college in Texas or any other state or private institution, you’ll need the assistance of an attorney who understands Texas sovereign immunity laws. These cases are often more difficult than general personal injury claims and require an added level of expertise to determine who you can file against and the best strategy to do so. Schools may tell individuals injured on campuses they have no liability over the injury. Depending on the case, this may or may not be true, and we can help you make that determination. Even if the school doesn’t have liability, you may still have the option to file a lawsuit against another party involved in the accident. The medical bills and pain and suffering caused by an on-campus accident can add up quickly, and it may affect your ability to continue studying. Those who don’t have medical insurance may find the situation particularly difficult to handle. However, you’ll always have a legal outlet. Our team can help you obtain fair compensation so you can move on after a campus accident.


For more information, contact The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. today.
Posted by at 11:57 pm

The Common Problems Catastrophic Accident Survivors Face

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Victims of catastrophic accidents suffer life-altering consequences. Catastrophic accidents are defined by the injuries they cause, forever changing the way a victim’s body functions. These damages often leave individuals unable to function at the same level as they could prior to the incident. Whether a victim suffers from serious burns or a spinal cord injury causing paralysis, many encounter the following common problems:

Financial Issues

Catastrophic injuries either prevent those affected from ever performing work at the same level of functionality, or the injury requires long-term medical help, including care, rehabilitative treatments, medication, and surgery. Medical expenses and a lack of income generation can cause financial complications quickly in the aftermath of an accident. For many, these injuries affect the victim’s income generation as well as a caregiver’s ability to earn a competitive income. In some cases, a caregiver may not be able to earn any extra income while treating an injured relative.

Quality of Life Difficulties

Those who never fully recover from a catastrophic injury often face a significantly decreased quality of life. For example, a parent may never play ball with his kids. Someone may never be able to travel independently again. In the blink of an eye, a person’s world can turn upside down after a catastrophic accident. Even those who do make a full recovery may face life-altering consequences. Think about the college ball star who gets into a car accident and has to undergo several surgeries to regain functionality. He or she may lose scholarships, be unable to perform ever again, and get so far behind at school that continuing on the same path no longer makes sense. Family members affected by the deaths that result from catastrophic accidents also experience devastating problems. Children, for instance, may never get guidance from a parent. Spouses often lose the companionship of their partners.

Emotional Distress

In addition to the physical consequences of a catastrophic accident, victims and family members may experience serious emotional problems. Trying to adjust to the injuries and reliving the accident in their heads can cause PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health disorders. Almost every survivor of a catastrophic accident goes through some level of emotional distress, regardless of the injuries sustained. Serious injuries may also affect an individual’s motor functioning or brain processing. The life of a victim can be incredibly lonely, making community support and family involvement an important part of the healing process.

Lack of Guidance

After an accident, survivors and their family members may not have a clear understanding about where to turn for guidance. Many must make serious work-related and medical help decisions while answering questions from investigators and absorbing the full impact of how life has changed. Not having access to legal, medical, and support resources can make the process much more difficult for everyone involved. Texas has a number of helpful state-run resources for accident victims undergoing rehabilitation and those trying to get back into the workforce. Catastrophic accident victims also have the ability to explore legal recourse with an experienced counselor. Filing a personal injury claim against the individual responsible for the accident is one way victims can overcome the common problems posed by severe accidents and start to move forward with their lives. At The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., we understand the complex financial, medical, and emotional problems severe accidents cause. We’re here to help make rehabilitation and moving on with your life a little easier so you can focus on healing instead of worrying about how you’re going to care for your family or create a meaningful future for yourself.


If you’re suffering from the consequences of a catastrophic accident, give our office in San Antonio a call today.
Posted by at 11:53 pm

If I’m Doing Something Illegal but Get Injured, Can I Still Make a Claim?

Friday, January 8, 2016
The answer to the question is that it depends, particularly in the case of a pedestrian accident. For instance, if you’re jaywalking because you really didn’t want to go to the crosswalk to get back to the office and a speeding vehicle hits you, the query shifts from “if someone is liable” to “how much is someone liable.” Depending on the type of illegal activity and the circumstances, you may or may not be able to make a claim.

Jaywalking and Drunk Driving

As a pedestrian, you typically have the right of way on the road. However, you’re responsible, under Texas law, for following the rules of the road. You can’t step out into traffic just because you want to; you need to cross at a crosswalk if one is available. Let’s say you jaywalk in a busy part of town because everyone else does it, too, except this time a drunk driver hits you in the process. You suffer catastrophic injury, and the driver walks away with barely a scratch. You were both doing something technically illegal, but the vehicle operator was acting far more dangerously. Under Texas’s comparative fault laws, the court will assign a percentage of the blame to each party. The amount of compensation you can receive as a result of the accident is based on that percentage of fault. However, when the amount of fault meets or exceeds 50%, that individual cannot claim any damages after the accident. So, if you were 20% responsible for the accident but the drunk driver was 80% responsible, he or she could not collect any damages. 20% of your compensation would be taken away.


In very limited circumstances, you could still make a claim if you’re doing something illegal and get injured. Trespassing provides a good example of when you might be able to make a claim. Generally, a property owner isn’t responsible for anything you do to injure yourself on his or her property. However, if that property owner had a serious safety hazard on the property, the property wasn’t properly marked as private, and you suffered a severe injury as a result, you might be able to hold the owner liable for your injuries. Similarly, if the property owner shot you as you were obeying his or her request to leave, you might be able to hold that person accountable. Technically, you were engaged in an illegal activity, but unless you were actively trying to cause harm or continued to engage in the illegal activity after confrontation, the property owner does not have a right to injure or kill you.

Contact an Attorney to Discuss Your Situation

There are very limited circumstances in which you can file and successfully win a claim if you were engaged in an illegal activity at the time, but it’s not unheard of. Many factors will come into play, including whether the other party was also engaged in an illegal activity, if someone owed you a reasonable duty of care, or if you should have reasonably known you were engaged in an illegal activity. The only way to determine for sure if pursuing a civil claim against the individual who injured you is right is to sit down with an attorney to review your case. Federal, state, and local laws may all play a role in each case determination, and only an experienced and local personal injury attorney can offer the advice you need to make an informed decision about pursuing a case. For more information regarding any injury claims, regardless of whether you were engaged in an illegal activity at the time, contact our San Antonio office today.
Posted by at 11:54 pm

Can a Court Take Away a Senior Citizen’s License After an Accident?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
As the baby boomers get older, more adult children are asking questions about senior licensing and what types of situations warrant the state revoking licensing privileges. Depending on the circumstances of an accident and the age and health of the driver who caused the accident, the court can, in limited cases, revoke license privileges for senior drivers. To get a better idea of if that is a possibility, here are some of the laws Texas uses to govern senior drivers and accidents.

Senior Driving Laws

Any citizen between age 79 and 84 must renew his or her license at the DPS office every six years. Anyone 85 or older needs to do so in person every two years. Drivers who renew their licenses after age 79 must submit to a vision test and medical evaluation, as well. The department will also conduct additional testing and investigate senior drivers at the request of a court, physician, or family member concerned about a senior’s driving habits. The DPS can refuse to renew a license or restrict the licensing for certain reasons. It can also create conditional licensing to prevent certain drivers from driving on the freeway or to ensure a senior driver has another capable adult in the vehicle, drives only during the day, or does not exceed a certain speed limit. The department can also require that a senior use hearing aids and glasses while driving or vehicles equipped with certain safety implements. Depending on the reason for a license revocation, a senior may have his or her license reinstated at a later time.

Reasons for License Suspension After an Accident

If a senior causes an accident, the court can take a number of actions. It may ask DPS to conduct an investigation into the individual’s driving capabilities. A judge may also have the authority to automatically revoke a license in some situations, including:
  • The number of points on a license. If a senior has a certain number of points on his or her license at a time, the court may decide to suspend the license for a certain amount of time.
  • Serious accident offenses. Seniors involved in vehicular homicide, running from the police, DUI, or who leave an accident scene may have their licenses suspended by the court.
  • Lack of insurance or means to pay accident liability. If a senior doesn’t have insurance and can’t pay for the damages caused in an accident, the court may decide to suspend his or her license.
  • Repeat violations. Seniors who have caused accidents before or who have a history of reckless driving may lose their licenses after an accident.

Helping Seniors Stay Safe on the Road

Adult children concerned about their parents or other seniors driving on the road can request a DPS investigation to ensure they aren’t driving recklessly. You may also want to talk with a senior’s doctor to articulate concerns about driving on the road after a certain age. Physicians should discuss medication side effects and how a health condition might affect an individual’s ability to drive safely on the road. In some situations, you may want to discuss the ramifications of a senior continuing to drive with an attorney. Getting into an accident as a senior could have consequences for the estate, particularly if the senior caused the accident. Sometimes, seeing the potential for adverse consequences will help seniors voluntarily relinquish their driving rights. Try to drive with seniors when possible to see how their reaction times, decision-making skills, and visibility actually affect driving habits. The moment you notice a difference in driving, consider an honest conversation with him or her. Take additional steps if needed.
Posted by at 11:48 pm