How Can the Police Prove a Driver Was High?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Texas takes driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases extremely seriously. It has some of the most stringent drug and alcohol laws in the country. Driving high is a major crime. Marijuana use in any capacity is currently illegal in Texas, as is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. After a car accident involving a driver who may have been under the influence, the police in Texas will conduct a thorough investigation to prove driver intoxication.

Texas’ DWI Law

As is the case in all states, it is against the law to drive while intoxicated in Texas. Intoxication refers to driving under the influence of impairing drugs and/or alcohol. The legal limit for alcohol in a driver’s blood system is 0.08%. Any amount of marijuana in a driver’s system, however, could be proof of driving high. The police can arrest and charge a driver with a DWI if he or she shows signs of being under the influence.

  • Dangerous driving behaviors
  • Slurred speech
  • Red eyes
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Aggression
  • Poor coordination or balance
  • Marijuana or alcohol signs/scents

The police will conduct tests to try to prove DWI during roadside traffic stops. For alcohol-related stops, a Breathalyzer can quickly analyze a driver’s breath to calculate his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Blowing over a 0.08 can result in a DWI charge. If a driver is high, however, a Breathalyzer test will not pick up the marijuana or other drugs. A driver suspected of a DWI involving marijuana may have to undergo other types of tests.

What Is the Protocol for Testing for Marijuana DWI?

Current marijuana DWI tests face backlash from the community for inaccuracies. Unlike alcohol, no device for officers exists to instantly check for DWI. There is also no legal amount of marijuana that defines when a driver is too impaired to drive. Instead, police officers often must use their own judgment to determine if someone is driving high. This may include asking the driver questions, watching for signs of intoxication and conducting field sobriety tests.
While a blood or urine test could be positive for marijuana, it is difficult to tell when the driver used the drug. Marijuana can stay in someone’s system for two months or longer. A positive chemical test, therefore, may not be evidence of driving while intoxicated. The driver’s defense attorney could argue that the driver used the drug weeks earlier, not on the day of the alleged DWI. The prosecution may then have to rely on other evidence, such as footage of a field sobriety test, to try to prove the DWI case.
Technology may finally be catching up with high driving, however. Companies such as Hound Labs are currently creating marijuana Breathalyzers that will work similarly to alcohol Breathalyzers. These devices may be able to rapidly and accurately check for recent marijuana use using a driver’s breath. The marijuana Breathalyzer could be a breakthrough for law enforcement since current testing techniques are largely inaccurate.

How Can the Police Prove a Driver Was High? 1

How To File a Claim for an Accident With an Intoxicated Driver

Driving high is becoming a prominent problem as more states decriminalize marijuana. DWI accidents took 940 lives in Texas in 2018, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. If an intoxicated driver struck you and caused serious injuries or took the life of a loved one, you have grounds to file a claim against the DWI driver. Texas civil laws give you the right to pursue financial compensation for losses such as property damage, medical expenses, disabilities, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
You have two years from the date of your car accident to file a personal injury claim against a DWI driver. Hire a Dallas personal attorney to help you handle the claims process. A lawyer can strengthen your case by collecting evidence that could prove the other driver was driving high, such as police reports, drug tests, eyewitness statements, expert testimony and the results of a criminal DWI case. A lawyer may be able to obtain more for your accident claim than you could alone.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 12:41 pm

When Is a Theme Park Responsible for an Injury?

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Visiting a theme park in Texas should not end in a trip to the hospital…yet this is exactly the experience hundreds of people suffer each year. Dangerous amusement park rides, slippery floor surfaces, spoiled food, unsanitary pools and other hazards could cause serious premises liability related injuries. Some of the most horrific injuries in history have included limb amputations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe lacerations, accidental drowning and wrongful death. The theme park may be legally responsible for guest injuries if it should have prevented the incident.

Theme Park Safety Rules and Regulations

Theme and amusement parks in Texas must abide by certain laws and safety best practices. This involves designing safe rides, properly installing them and keeping up with ride maintenance. These laws come from federal, state and local sources. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, however, does not have jurisdiction over amusement parks or water parks. It can only oversee the safety of mobile rides. Instead, it is the state and local governments’ duty to regulate theme parks in Texas. They do so through the Amusement Ride Safety & Inspection Act.

  • Operational requirements
  • Insurance requirements
  • Daily inspections and inspection reports
  • Safety nets for certain rides
  • Closing dangerous rides during investigations
  • Warning riders of potential risks

All amusement parks have a duty to exercise reasonable care. This duty can refer to many individual actions and obligations, from performing regular ride inspections to cleaning up spilled drinks promptly. Anything a reasonable and prudent amusement park would do to protect guests from injuries will become part of a park’s duty of care in Texas. It is negligence if a theme park breaches its duty of care to guests, resulting in guest injuries or deaths. A breach of duty could come from the theme park itself or one of its employees.

Texas Premises Liability Laws

A theme park could be responsible for guest injuries if it should have done more to prevent the injury. If the theme park broke a state law, ignored a safety regulation or was negligent in its duty to exercise reasonable care, an injured guest could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit based on the doctrine of premises liability. Premises liability laws apply to theme park and amusement park accident claims in Texas. The rules of premises liability state that property owners owe certain duties to guests depending on their statuses.

  • Guests at theme parks are invitees, or guests the property owner invites to enter the premises. Landowners owe invitees the greatest standards of care. They must search the property for defects, repair known hazards and warn visitors of potential risks.
  • A licensee is someone who enters the theme park upon invitation, but for his or her own purposes, such as to make repairs. Theme park owners do not owe a duty to search for hidden hazards before welcoming licensees onto the property.
  • A theme park will not owe a trespasser any duties of care other than the duty not to cause intentional injuries. An important exception is if the trespasser is under the age of 18, in which case the theme park must ensure the property’s reasonable safety.

It is important to understand one’s classification as a guest at a theme park. This will determine what duties of care, if any, the theme park owed the guest. If the guest was an invitee and suffered a property-related injury such as a slip and fall, the theme park could be responsible for the guest’s damages. The injured party will have to prove the theme park reasonably could have prevented the accident, yet negligently failed to do so. A successful claim could help a theme park accident victim move forward.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 12:32 pm

Grilling Safety Tips

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Whether you are new to grilling or a seasoned grill master, accidents can happen. A simple mistake or oversight could cause a serious fire or explosion. Every year, an average of 10,200 home fires, 160 injuries and 10 deaths involve home grills, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Before the grilling season ends in Texas, learn a few important safety rules and best practices. Keeping these tips in mind could prevent you from suffering a catastrophic burn injury in a home grill fire.

Do Not Grill Near Your House

Keep a reasonable distance between a charcoal or propane grill and your home. About one-fourth of grill-related home fires in 2017 started on outdoor porches or balconies attached to the house. Avoid grilling indoors, on a patio or close to your house. Your grill should be well away from your home and not under any eaves or low-hanging tree branches. This could help you prevent dangerous house fires.

Keep Children Away

Many burn injury victims are children. Children often do not understand the dangers of hot objects such as open fires or grill tops. They may touch hot grills and suffer serious burns, or play with the dials and cause a fire. Teach children to stay at least three feet away from a grill while cooking. Never leave your grill unattended, especially if you have children in the house. It may be too late to stop the spread of a fire or prevent a burn injury if you are not there to quickly intervene. Keep pets at a safe distance from a grill or fire pit as well.

Practice Gas Safety

If you cook on a gas grill, take extra caution to avoid a dangerous gas leak. Check your gas tank hose regularly for breaks, damage or leaks. Wash the hose with soap and water and look for bubbles for evidence of a leak. Hire a professional grill servicer to repair a leak or to inspect your grill if you cannot get it to light. Stay alert for the smell of gas while cooking. Open the gas grill lid before lighting the grill to avoid a buildup of dangerous gas. If you smell gas, move far away from your grill and call the fire department. Double-check you turned the gas off when you finish cooking.

Use the Right Tools

Many burn injuries are preventable with the right grilling tools. Using fire gloves, a good lighter, Kevlar sleeves, an apron with pockets and other safety equipment could help you avoid a painful burn injury. Make sure you have everything you need near your grill before you start cooking so you do not have to leave your grill unattended.

Treat Minor Burns at Home

If you do suffer a minor burn injury while grilling at home, run room temperature or slightly cooler water on the area until it helps with the pain. If you are wearing rings, a watch or tight jewelry, remove it so the burned area can swell freely. Do not pop blisters that form over a burn injury, as this could invite infection. Apply special cooling lotions or antibiotic ointments to the area, and then wrap it loosely in a sterile gauze bandage until it heals. Take a light pain reliever if you need to after a grill-related burn injury.

Go to the Hospital for Major Burns

A grill-related injury may demand emergency medical intervention if your skin appears dry, charred, white, brown/black or leathery. You may have a third-degree burn. If you have a burn injury that spans over more than three inches of your body, see a doctor for professional treatment. Burns in sensitive areas such as your face or hands also deserve medical attention. Professional treatment may include intravenous fluids, antibiotics, debriding, skin grafts and a hospital stay. Grill injuries can be serious. Do your best to grill safely, no matter how many times you have cooked over an open fire.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 10:22 am

4 Common Injuries at the Office

Monday, August 26, 2019

When you imagine workplace accidents, you may picture construction sites, manufacturing plants or the commercial trucking industry. You may not immediately think about your own workplace – the office. Yet an office can pose as many health risks and safety hazards to workers as a more dangerous workplace. A slip-and-fall accident, fall down the stairs, elevator accident, repetitive motions or acts of violence from a coworker could lead to life-altering personal injuries. You may be eligible for compensation if you suffer an injury at the office in Dallas.

Fall Injuries

Falls kill more construction workers than any other hazard each year, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration data. In 2017, 381 construction workers died in fatal fall accidents in the U.S. Construction sites are not the only places where falls occur, however. Falls are also the most common injury-related accident in the office. An office space could have many fall hazards waiting to cause serious injuries.

  • Poor lighting
  • Loose carpets
  • Electrical cords or computer wires
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Food debris in the kitchen
  • Dangerous staircases
  • Unstable chairs
  • Cluttered walkways
  • An open filing cabinet or desk drawers

Fall accidents in the office can cause sprained wrists and ankles, pulled muscles, bone fractures, head injuries, lacerations and traumatic brain damage. A bad fall could put you out of commission for weeks or months. During this time, you may lose wages and miss important opportunities for raises or promotions. You may also face expensive medical bills for your fall-related injury treatments.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue and repetitive motion injuries are also common in U.S. offices. Office jobs that require a great deal of sitting, typing, lifting, moving boxes or straining to reach items could lead to many worker injuries. Muscle sprains and strains are common, especially in the back and neck. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also common among office workers and people who work on assembly lines. Carpal tunnel affects the arms, wrists and hands and may require surgery to treat.

Object-Related Injuries

There might not be as many tools or materials flying through the air as at some workplaces, but the office can still pose a threat of objects striking or injuring workers. Look out for items sitting precariously on shelves or cabinet tops that could fall and strike sitting workers. Always be aware of the space you are in to avoid running into desks, chairs, tables, cabinets and other office furniture. Take care not to slam your fingers in a desk drawer, get jewelry caught in a paper shredder or topple unbalanced cabinets. These incidents could cause painful and temporarily debilitating injuries.

Violent Injuries

Surprisingly, acts of violence are a common cause of injuries in the workplace. Workplace violence can involve discrimination, harassment, assault, sexual assault, threats, intimidation and disruptive behaviors. Assaults at work could cause serious wounds such as gunshots or stabbings. You may be able to file a civil claim against your attacker during an ongoing criminal investigation or trial in Texas.

Can You Seek Legal Help?

Texas is unique in that it does not make workers’ compensation insurance mandatory for employers. Although some employers in Texas have workers’ compensation, others do not. For this reason, it is wise to seek legal help after an office injury in Texas. Your boss may not have workers’ compensation insurance, leaving you with limited options for financial recovery.
If your employer could have prevented your accident, you may have grounds for a civil action against the company. An insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit could result in payment for your hospital bills, long-term health care costs, disability, lost wages and more. You may also have grounds for a claim against an office product manufacturer for an unstable or defective item. Hiring a Dallas personal attorney after an office injury could help you recover fair compensation for your damages.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:20 pm

Is Hitting a Parked Car and Leaving the Scene a Hit-and-Run?

Friday, August 23, 2019

In the busy city of Dallas, minor collisions such as hitting a parked car happen daily. It is a driver’s legal responsibility to remain at the scene and fulfill certain obligations before leaving – even if no one was around to see the accident occur. Hitting a parked car and leaving without fulfilling these duties constitutes the crime of hit-and-run in Texas.

No matter which side of a hit-and-run you were on, learn what laws may apply to your case. Learn more about hit and run laws from our Dallas personal injury lawyer.

Texas’ Hit-and-Run Laws

Texas Transportation Code Title 7, Section 550.001 contains the state’s main hit-and-run law, described as a driver’s duties following an accident. It states that anyone involved in a wreck with another driver or with a parked vehicle must stop as close to the scene of the collision as possible. The driver must determine if anyone involved in the crash needs medical assistance. In a crash involving a parked, unattended vehicle, a driver must remain on the scene until he or she has fulfilled the required duties under Section 550.024.

  • Taken reasonable measures to locate the owner of the vehicle
  • Left a note in a visible place with the driver’s name and address
  • Included how the accident happened
  • Left other contact information, such as a phone number
  • Given the name of the driver’s insurance company

Striking a parked car and fleeing the scene is a hit-and-run in Texas. The charge for this crime is either a Class C or Class B misdemeanor depending on the value of the damage to all vehicles. Damage exceeding $200 is a Class B misdemeanor. If the accident caused bodily injuries, the hit-and-run could be a felony crime, punishable with a jail or prison sentence and/or fines.

What To Do if You Accidentally Hit a Parked Car

Hitting a parked vehicle in Dallas is a simple mistake thousands of drivers make each year. Texas has insurance requirements for just such reason. Your insurance company should cover the damages to the other person’s vehicle. Your insurance premium may increase, but you will not face criminal charges if you remained at the scene and fulfilled your duties.

You can get into much more trouble if you commit a hit-and-run. If you strike a parked car in Dallas, remain at the scene and provide the required information, either to the owner if you locate him or her or in the form of a note.

What To Do if Someone Damaged Your Parked Car and Left

If you were the victim of a parked car hit-and-run accident in Dallas, you have rights. Remain calm and document the collision. Immediately ask around for anyone who may have witnessed the accident. Record their statements using your phone, if possible. Take photographs of the vehicle damage, the location of the accident and any other visible evidence. Call the police to report the hit-and-run. Even if the damage does not look severe, the police can write an official accident report you can give your insurance company.

Texas is a traditional fault state when it comes to car accidents. If the at-fault party flees the scene without leaving information, however, you will seek damage reimbursement from your insurance company instead. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is an optional type of coverage in Texas. Your insurance agent will tell you if you have this coverage. If so, it will pay for your damages after a hit-and-run collision. You may end up paying out of pocket, however, if you do not have this type of insurance.

Could You Sue for Hit-and-Run?

If the police catch the driver that hit your parked vehicle and ran, you will have the right to file a civil claim against the driver. A civil claim differs from a criminal one. It serves to reimburse you for your property damage repairs and other related damages, not to punish the perpetrator for a crime.

You may bring your action during an ongoing hit-and-run criminal trial or you may wait until the trial ends. The Texas courts will toll your statute of limitations until the completion of a criminal case involving the hit-and-run driver. To learn more, speak to an experienced Dallas car accident lawyer about what your options are for filing an accident claim for your damages.

Click to read a more in-depth dive into Texas Hit-and-Run Laws.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 12:13 pm