Common Fourth of July Safety Mistakes

Monday, June 22, 2020

This year, the Fourth of July holiday falls on a Saturday – making it, even more, inviting for events such as barbecues, pool parties and firework displays. No matter how you plan on celebrating Independence Day, do so safely. The Fourth of July is one of the most dangerous days of the year in terms of personal injury risks. Avoid a few of the most common safety mistakes to keep your family free from injuries this year.

Underestimating the Risk of Consumer Fireworks

 One of the best Independence Day safety tips is to avoid consumer fireworks entirely. Go to a professional show if you and your family want to see fireworks this Fourth of July. It’s important to know the laws in Texas regarding fireworks. Most major cities in Texas ban the use of consumer fireworks within city limits. More importantly, fireworks cause thousands of serious injuries every year. They are also behind tens of thousands of structural fires and related injuries and deaths. If you must use fireworks to celebrate the holiday, do so safely.

  • Only purchase fireworks from licensed vendors.
  • Do not try to create your own fireworks.
  • Do not point fireworks directly at any person or structure.
  • Never place fireworks in glass bottles or metal containers to light them.
  • Do not use fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Light one firework at a time.
  • Never try to re-light dud fireworks.
  • Keep a hose, a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher close by.
  • Douse all used fireworks in water.
4th of july accidents

 In 2018, around 9,100 people visited emergency rooms in the US for firework injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The most common firework-related injuries are to the hands, fingers, head, face, ears, legs, eyes, trunks and arms. Injuries can range from third-degree burns to traumatic amputations due to firework explosions. Disfigurement, permanent scarring and digit amputations are all possible firework injuries victims could suffer if they fail to use fireworks safely.

Letting Kids Partake

 Children are some of the most common victims of Fourth of July accidents. Almost half (46%) of all firework injury victims are 19 years old and younger. More than one-third (36%) of firework-related injuries in 2018 involved children under the age of 15. When looking at an age group’s relative risk based on population, children five to nine are more than twice as likely as others to suffer firework injuries. 
 Parents often have the power to prevent child injuries related to fireworks but fail to do so for lack of safety knowledge. They may not realize how dangerous all types of fireworks can be for children. Sparklers, for example, are often mistaken as safe. In reality, sparklers account for more than one-fourth of all firework-related ER visits. Sparklers can give children severe burn injuries that cause permanent scars.
 Keep your children safe this Fourth of July by refusing them permission to use fireworks. Explain that no type of firework is safe for children under 18 – including sparklers, smoke bombs, firecrackers and bang snaps. Any type of firework could cause significant childhood injuries that maim them for life. Do not allow children to use fireworks or lighters/matches, even with adult supervision. A devastating firework accident could happen in a matter of seconds – too soon for a supervising adult to intervene.

Making Common 4th of July Party Mistakes

 Many people are rethinking their party plans this Fourth of July due to the coronavirus. If you or someone you know is still hosting an event with social distancing guidelines in place, make sure you follow safety rules for an injury-free celebration. If the party will have a pool, have a sober adult supervising at all times. If you are grilling, check your grill for cracks or leaks before use. Never grill indoors or near any structures, including decks and patios. If you will be out on the water, obey your state’s boating laws and best practices. Keep safety in mind no matter how you plan on celebrating the Fourth of July this year.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:12 pm

Texas Firework Laws

Monday, June 22, 2020

The 4th of July is less than a month away, and while it may look a bit different from previous years due to the coronavirus, many people in Texas are still planning to celebrate in a familiar way – with fireworks. Whether you plan on attending a public display and social distancing or celebrating right at home, make sure you obey state and local firework laws. Keep firework safety in mind as well for an Independence Day that is free from personal injuries. Consult with your Dallas personal injury attorney if you are a victim of an injury with fireworks.

Are Fireworks Legal in Texas?

Texas law permits the use of fireworks in the state by consumers. You do not need a special fireworks display license to purchase or use fireworks in Texas. Texas citizens may only purchase fireworks, however, from June 24 to July 4, as well as from December 20 to January 1. You must be at least 16 to buy or sell fireworks.
If you purchase consumer fireworks, you must only light them if you are at least 100 feet from flammable liquids, compressed gasses or other fireworks. You must also be at least 600 feet from any daycare center, school, church or hospital. You cannot shoot fireworks toward motor vehicles, boats, public property, public roadways, public parks or lakes in Texas. Fireworks are only legal for consumer use in Texas with several important restrictions.
Section 2154.003 of Texas’ firework law bans skyrocket and bottle rocket fireworks with propellant charges of less than 4 grams, a casing size of less than 5/8 of an inch for outside diameter and less than 3 ½ inches in length, and an overall length of less than 15 inches. It also prohibits any fireworks the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission deems unacceptable. If found in possession of illegal fireworks in Texas, you could face fines and the seizure of the fireworks.

Texas Firework Laws 2

Requirements for Selling Fireworks in Texas

In the state of Texas there are certain rules for selling Fireworks to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Additionally, each county has the right to allow fireworks to be sold during public holidays.
If a person wishes to sell fireworks in Texas, they must:

  • Be 18 or older in age to get a general license.
  • Be 21 or older in age to get a pyrotechnic operator license.
  • Take a state fire marshal administered exam.
  • Pay the appropriate license fees.
  • Get insurance in the case of a public display.

Texas’ universal firework law allows municipalities to enforce their own restrictions. You must, therefore, look into your city or county’s specific fireworks regulations before buying or using fireworks where you live.

Fireworks Are Illegal Within Dallas City Limits

Most cities in Texas do not permit fireworks, meaning you must travel to an unincorporated area to shoot them. Check for countywide burn bans before doing so. You will also need to own property or get permission from the property owner.
Dallas is one example of a major city in Texas that has made consumer fireworks illegal. In Dallas, no one may purchase, use or even possess fireworks within city limits. It is also illegal to light fireworks within 5,000 feet of the City of Dallas. The fine for disobeying Dallas’ firework ban can be as much as $2,000. Discharging a firearm in Dallas is also illegal. Firing a gun on the 4th of July could lead to a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Staying Safe While Using Fireworks in Texas

Leave fireworks to the professionals for optimal safety this 4th of July. Attending a professional fireworks display can keep you and your family safe from injury risks. It could also let you enjoy the show without worrying about breaking a city or state firework law. If you still wish to use fireworks on your own, follow a few general safety tips.

  • Never give a child a firework. Even sparklers burn at temperatures that can melt metal.
  • Only use fireworks if you have not been drinking alcohol.
  • Go someplace safe and legal, far away from any structures or public properties.
  • Avoid shooting fireworks near dry grass, underbrush or other flammable items.
  • Shoot fireworks straight into the sky, not toward anyone or anything.
  • Keep a bucket of water and fire extinguisher nearby in case of fires.

Every year, firework accidents cause thousands of fires, burns and serious personal injuries. Common firework-related injuries include severe burns, traumatic amputations, head injuries, eye injuries and finger injuries. If a firework causes a structural fire, it could also cause serious burn injuries or deaths. Save yourself and your family from potential disaster by going to a professional fireworks show in Texas this year rather than doing one on your own.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 1:51 pm

What Is Pro Se Litigation?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

 You do not lawfully have to hire an attorney to bring a personal injury claim in Texas. No law makes it mandatory to retain legal representation during insurance claims or lawsuits. You may choose to represent yourself during your claim instead. The legal term for a plaintiff who represents him/herself is a pro se litigant. Learn the pros and cons of pro se litigation to decide whether it is right for you.

What to Expect as a Pro Se Litigant in Texas

 Being a pro se litigant gives you important responsibilities. It will be up to you to protect your rights and look out for your best interests. You will also need at least a basic understanding of the laws that pertain to your case. You will need to know the grounds on which you are basing your case, as well as how to meet the burden of proof. In general, when bringing a personal injury claim, you will need to prove four main elements. 

  1. Duty of care. The allegedly at-fault party (defendant) owed you specific duties of care, such as a duty to protect your safety.
  1. Breach of duty. The defendant did not fulfill his or her duties of care. You will need proof of negligence on the defendant’s part – a breach of the duty of care.
  1. Causation for your accident. The defendant’s negligence caused the accident or incident that injured you.
  1. Damages accumulated. You have proof of compensable damages due to the defendant’s negligence, such as medical expenses or lost wages.

 As a pro se litigant, it will be up to you to prove these four elements more likely to be true than not true. If you do not believe you can successfully meet the burden of proof alone, hire a personal injury lawyer in Texas to represent you instead. The decision to hire a lawyer over being a pro se litigant could be critical to your recovery. Pro se litigation may only be an acceptable choice if you do not need legal advice from an experienced attorney.

What Is Pro Se Litigation? 4

When Is Pro Se Litigation Appropriate?

 One of the pros of being a pro se litigant is saving money in legal fees. You will not have to pay a retainer or attorney’s fees. You will get to keep 100% of the settlement or judgment award you win, if you win. You may also be able to resolve your case faster than a lawyer, who might be representing multiple clients at the same time. The cons of pro se litigation, however, can be significant. Pro se litigation can be dangerous and damaging to a plaintiff’s case.
 The drawbacks of pro se litigation can be as serious as unintentionally sabotaging your claim and receiving nothing in compensation. Without an attorney’s legal advice, guidance and skilled representation, you could make a critical error that destroys your ability to recover. You could miss Texas’ statute of limitations, for example – a mistake that will bar most plaintiffs from recovery. You will need the knowledge, skill and ability to pursue your claim to completion on your own if you choose pro se litigation.
 Pro se litigation is generally not a wise option for a claimant with high-value or serious damages. If you have catastrophic injuries such as broken bones or permanent disabilities, for instance, hire an attorney to demand fair and full compensation on your behalf. Handling a serious case by yourself when you have a lot to lose could put your future at stake. 
Pro se litigation might also not be the right choice if your case involves complicated factors, such as multiple defendants, lack of insurance coverage or a liability dispute. A lawyer will have the education and experience to handle complications. When in doubt, consult with an attorney about your specific personal injury claim. A lawyer can give you honest advice about whether going pro se is right for you.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:10 pm

Know Your Bicycle Rights in Texas

Monday, June 15, 2020

Being a bicyclist in Texas comes with several inherent risks. Distracted drivers, drunk drivers, roadway hazards and an increased chance of head injuries are some of the risks you take on as a cyclist. How you address these risks could determine whether or not you get into a bicycle accident. Texas crash statistics for 2018 show 72 pedal cyclist deaths in motor vehicle accidents. Protect yourself from an accident by knowing and exercising your rights as a cyclist in Texas.

Know Your Bicycle Rights in Texas 7

The Right to Ride in the Road

 Many drivers show signs of anger, frustration and road rage when driving behind bicyclists in Texas. They may tailgate you, honk their horns or pass too closely. It is your right as a biker, however, to ride in the road alongside motor vehicles. Bicycles are vehicles in Texas (Section 551.001). You have the right to take up a full lane of traffic when riding in the road. For safety reasons, keep as far to the right side of the road as possible except when avoiding obstacles or turning left. If a driver was infringing upon your right to the road, you may have grounds for a case against him or her after a collision.
 If your city has a bicycle path available, use this to reduce your risk of getting into an accident. Texas law, however, does not require you to use a bike path if you would rather use a standard traffic lane. You may also have the right to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk if the area does not have any municipal rules forbidding it. Texas does not have a statewide rule against riding on sidewalks. Many major cities, however, including Dallas, have municipal laws prohibiting bicyclists from riding on sidewalks in central business districts. Learn the laws in your city before riding on the sidewalk.

The Right-of-Way

 Bicyclists in Texas receive the right-of-way when a motorist would have the right-of-way in the same situation. When at an intersection, for example, if you came to a stop first on your bicycle, you will have the right-of-way. It is against the law for a driver to ignore your right-of-way as a bicyclist. If a driver does not yield and causes an accident, he or she could be liable for your injuries and damages. You must also respect others’ rights-of-way. It is your duty as a cyclist in Texas to obey all roadway rules and traffic signs, including stop signs and traffic lights.

The Right Not to Wear a Helmet

 Texas does not have a universal bicycle helmet requirement. Currently, the State of Texas does not require any bicycle rider to wear a helmet, regardless of age or level of experience. It is your prerogative to wear a helmet or not wear a helmet, unless the municipal rules in your city say otherwise. Cities that require the use of a bicycle helmet include Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Houston and Bedford.
 A defendant in a personal injury claim in Texas could not hold it against you if you were not wearing a helmet in a bicycle accident. You have the right under state law not to wear one. Even if the accident gave you a head, face or brain injury, the defendant could not use your lack of helmet wearing in a comparative negligence defense. Wearing a helmet, however, is a wise choice for your personal safety as a bicyclist. Wearing a helmet drastically decreases your chances of a serious brain injury in an accident.

The Right to Expect Reasonable Care From Drivers

 Finally, as a bicyclist, you have the right to expect drivers and others on the road to treat you with reasonable care. All drivers owe duties of care to other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. These duties include obeying traffic rules and state laws. Driving drunk, texting and driving, driving negligently, and reckless driving are examples of common breaches of the duty of care by drivers in Texas. If a driver fails to respect one of your rights as a cyclist and this causes a collision, you could have the right to bring a claim against the driver for negligence. A Dallas bicycle accident lawyer could help you bring a cause of action in Texas.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:19 pm

The Rise in Roadway Fatalities in Texas During COVID-19

Sunday, June 7, 2020

One of the biggest changes COVID-19 brought to Texas was stay-at-home orders. Many cities enacted mandates requiring residents to stay at home except for essential activities. As a result, traffic volume on some of Texas’ busiest streets drastically decreased. Law enforcement officers assumed this would correspondingly decrease the number of fatal car accidents. Unfortunately, it did not.

Death Rate in Texas Stays High Despite Decrease in Traffic

 In theory, a dramatic dip in the number of cars on the road should lead to the same type of drop in the number of fatalities from traffic accidents. Yet in Texas and many other states around the country, this was not the case during COVID-19 lockdowns. According to the most recent updates by the Texas Department of Transportation, the month of March 2020 saw 241 traffic accident fatalities. This was a decline of only 21% from March of 2019. This death rate is alarming since there was about half the number of cars on the road in March 2020 compared to 2019. The death rate should have also been cut in half, yet this was not the case.

What Is Causing Fatal Car Accidents During COVID-19?

 The explanation for the high number of deaths on the roads in Texas during a stay-at-home order is simple: drivers are being more reckless on emptier roads. A Facebook update from Ed Gonzalez, Sheriff of Harris County, stated that many of the fatal accidents during COVID-19 lockdown orders were during nonessential trips. Furthermore, he said that most of the deadly collisions involved reckless driving behaviors, such as speeding. Reports from around the country reiterate Sherriff Gonzalez’s sentiments, finding that most fatal accidents during stay-at-home orders occurred due to one or both drivers’ reckless actions behind the wheel.

  • Traveling at excessive speeds
  • Racing
  • Running red lights
  • Rolling through stop signs
  • Ignoring rights-of-way
  • Driving while drunk
  • Texting and driving
  • Driving while fatigued 

 Reckless drivers appear to be taking advantage of less traffic on the roads in Texas during COVID-19. They are speeding, racing and breaking other roadway laws, either with the belief that it is safe to do so due to less traffic or that they will not get caught due to fewer police officers on patrol. Breaking roadway laws, however, is just as dangerous as it was before the pandemic. Reckless drivers are the reason crash rates remain high despite fewer people being on the road. 

The Rise in Roadway Fatalities in Texas During COVID-19 9

Pedestrians Are Especially at Risk in Texas 

 The disparity between low traffic volume and a high number of fatal accident rate is also apparent in Austin, where police reported 381 car accidents and 111 injuries in March 2020. March 2019, in contrast, had 450 accidents but only 99 injuries. Significantly, only one pedestrian died in March 2019, while three victims in March 2020 were pedestrians. This shows an increased risk of fatal accidents for pedestrians during COVID-19 conditions in Texas. 
 Pedestrians may be more at risk than others for fatal collisions during the COVID-19 pandemic due to driver inattention. Drivers may be paying less attention to the roads because of a decreased risk of encountering other drivers. There has also been an increase in the number of pedestrians walking, jogging and running in Texas during the pandemic. Gym closures due to COVID-19 have led to many people getting out and exercising on their own, in the streets. 

How to Stay Safe on the Roads in Texas During COVID-19

 Do not assume your risk of being in a vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian accident is lower because of less traffic in Texas during COVID-19. According to the most recent crash statistics, your risk of being in a fatal accident remains almost the same – and they may have even increased for pedestrians in Texas. 
 Do your best to avoid an accident by always paying attention when driving or walking around Texas. Obey traffic laws, including speed limits, even if you appear to be the only one on the road. Look both ways before turning, entering an intersection or crossing the road. If you get into an auto accident during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact a Texas car accident lawyer for a consultation about your legal options.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 3:46 pm

How a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Lead to Risks of Suicide

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Traumatic brain injuries and mental health have a close connection. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to many physical, emotional and behavioral changes in a survivor. These changes could cause an overall decrease in a survivor’s enjoyment and/or quality of life. A TBI may also cause conditions such as depression and anxiety. Together, these factors unique to TBIs could ultimately increase the risk of suicide.

TBIs and Suicide

 Multiple studies have shown a link between TBIs and suicidal thoughts and actions in survivors. Most of these studies identify the highest risk of suicide in the first six months after a brain injury. Daily struggles with symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and cognitive issues can drive some patients to suicide. The risk of suicide is around three times as high in the first six months after a TBI than afterward, according to some estimates. An extensive study in Denmark, however, focused on the long-term increases in the risk of suicide for people with TBIs.
 In the long term, a traumatic brain injury can alter the way the brain works, making it difficult for a survivor to do things he or she used to be able to do easily. These may include exercising, enjoying favorite activities, engaging in sports or hobbies, playing with kids, comprehending basic facts, and communicating with loved ones. A TBI can impact communication, comprehension, basic math skills, memory, motor skills and more. These changes can lead to depression in survivors, who may start to feel hopeless or frustrated about the future. Issues such as losing one’s job can exacerbate these feelings.
 A TBI can also impact a survivor’s emotions, leading to feelings the person may not have had before. These can include frustration, irritability, insensitivity, aggression, anger and sadness. Personality changes and issues such as mood swings and outbursts are also common. Overwhelming negative feelings on top of difficulties with day-to-day activities or an overall decrease in quality of living can increase the risk of suicide for someone with a brain injury. 

How a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Lead to Risks of Suicide 11

Warning Signs of Suicide in a TBI Survivor

 If you have a loved one who survived a traumatic brain injury, keep the increased risk of suicide in mind. Watch for any potential warning signs of depression or suicidal thoughts. Life events such as divorce, substance abuse, unemployment, or depression diagnoses can make suicidal thoughts or actions even more likely. Detectable signs can mean a heightened risk of suicide in the following minutes or days. Act quickly to get your loved one help if you notice any red flags.

  • Making statements about suicide
  • Threatening self-harm
  • Seeking access or information to means of suicide
  • Talking about feelings of hopelessness
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Posting about suicide on social media
  • Purchasing a gun
  • Refusing to receive treatment for depression
  • Isolating oneself
  • Abusing alcohol and/or drugs
  • Displaying severe mood swings

 If you notice any potential signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviors in your loved one, take immediate action. Request assistance from a crisis hotline 24/7, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Do not leave your loved one alone. Call 911 if you have an emergency. Tell a trusted friend or family member about what is happening. Encourage your loved one to talk about his or her feelings with a professional. Do not keep any promises to keep suicidal thoughts a secret. Offer support by being someone your loved one can talk to, setting up professional assistance, encouraging communication, and reassuring him or her that things will get better.

Your Legal Rights as Someone With a TBI

 If you or a family member sustained a traumatic brain injury in a preventable accident in Texas, consider your legal rights while you seek treatments for your physical and emotional injuries. The person who caused your accident may be legally responsible for your TBI and related treatments – including psychological care and therapies. A defendant may be liable for your emotional distress, mental anguish and lost quality of life as well as your economic damages. Contact a Dallas brain injury lawyer for advice about a TBI lawsuit and emotional distress.

Posted by mockingbird at 10:30 am

What Happens If You Get in an Accident With a Suspended License?

Friday, June 5, 2020

A car accident case in Texas can involve many different factors. One is the invalidity of one of the drivers’ licenses. Driving with a suspended license can lead to serious penalties in Texas. If a driver gets into an accident with a suspended or revoked license, the consequences for breaking the law can be even more severe.

Learn the potential consequences of driving without a valid license and causing an accident with a suspended license in Texas.

What Is a Suspended License?

A suspended driver’s license means the driver lawfully cannot operate his or her motor vehicle until driver’s license reinstatement. Some license suspensions are definite while others are indefinite. Definite suspensions have set timeframes, at the end of which the driver will be able to pay for reinstatement and start driving again. Indefinite suspensions can last as long as is necessary for the driver to complete the required actions, such as passing a safety course or satisfying a judgment.

In Texas, the Department of Public Safety may suspend a driver’s license for committing traffic infractions or crimes while operating a motor vehicle. Common reasons for license suspensions are excessive speeding, racing, drunk driving, reckless driving, red-light running, causing an accident and accumulating too many points on a driver’s record. Driving without insurance at the time of a car accident could also lead to license suspension under the Texas Safety Responsibility Act, as can causing an accident that results in personal injuries, deaths or more than $1,000 in property damages.

If the state suspends your driver’s license, it will notify you by mail to the address on record. It will explain the reason for the suspension, in most cases, and provide the option for a hearing. If you wish to schedule a hearing, you have 20 days from receiving the notice to do so. You may be able to argue the suspension at a hearing, with or without help from a traffic violation attorney. Reinstating your driver’s license after suspension takes fulfilling all the requirements and paying a $100 fee.

What Are the Penalties for Driving With a Suspended License?

You cannot drive on a suspended license in Texas. Doing so could result in a Class C misdemeanor charge. A conviction for driving on a suspended license in Texas can come with a fine of up to $500. You may also need to satisfy other fines, such as a $250 surcharge to reregister your license for the following three years.

You could face steeper penalties – a Class B misdemeanor – if you have a previous conviction for driving without a license, driving while intoxicated or similar offenses. A Class B misdemeanor conviction could result in heftier fines, as well as up to six months in county jail. Finally, driving with a suspended license can increase the timeframe of your suspension or lead to driver’s license revocation. Revocation is the permanent removal of your driving privileges.

What If You Cause an Accident in Texas on a Suspended License?

Causing an accident while driving on a suspended license can lead to severe penalties. You may face criminal charges depending on the situation. In addition to a traffic citation and hefty fines, you could also face civil liability for causing an auto accident. Civil liability will not depend on whether you were driving on a suspended license, although the victim may be able to hold this against you to make you a less reliable witness. Instead, your liability will depend on whether you were negligent or reckless in causing the car accident.

Proof of your fault for causing the crash could make you civilly liable for the victim’s damages. This will mean your auto insurance company must pay for the victim’s losses related to the crash, such as medical expenses and vehicle damages. Your insurance premiums will most likely increase if found guilty of causing an accident on a suspended license. Your insurance company may even drop you as a customer. You may also have to pay a significant amount more for SR-22 insurance – auto insurance for high-risk drivers. Hire a Dallas car accident attorney if you cause an accident while on a suspended license in Texas.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 11:01 am

What Factors Can Sabotage My Personal Injury Claim?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A personal injury claim is a complicated type of civil suit that requires a lot from a claimant. The typical plaintiff will need to understand rules such as filing deadlines, how to prove negligence and when to take a claim to trial. Unfortunately, several factors could sabotage your personal injury claim if you are not careful. Do your best to avoid them with help from a Dallas personal injury attorney.

Mistakes Made By Claimants

 Several things can go wrong during the filing of a personal injury claim in Texas. It is up to you as a claimant to learn the rules for filing or else hire someone who does. From determining whether your insurance covers your injuries to knowing when to bring your case to trial, you will need to handle many matters to have a successful claim. Do your best to avoid the most common mistakes claimants make that sabotage claims.

  • Failing to obtain immediate medical care. Claimants can sabotage their own personal injury claims by waiting to see a doctor too long after an accident. Delaying medical care is a reason insurance companies use to deny injury claims. They may argue that you made your injuries worse by failing to see a doctor immediately.
  • Waiting too long to file a claim. The courts in Texas take statutes of limitations very seriously. If you miss your deadline to file a personal injury claim, it could end your case before it begins. Insurance companies also take deadlines seriously. Report your injury to an insurance company right away to make sure you have a valid claim.
  • Not knowing how to deal with insurance claims adjusters. The mistake of telling an insurance adjuster too much could hurt your case. Do not admit fault or give more information than the adjuster requests. Do not accept a settlement offer until you have spoken to a personal injury lawyer about the true value of your case.

 You can avoid common plaintiff mistakes by hiring a lawyer and allowing him or her to take over your personal injury claim for you. A lawyer in Dallas will know how to negotiate with insurance companies and take other steps to protect your right to compensation. You can rest assured in the strength and validity of your case when you hire an attorney to handle legal matters on your behalf.

Pre-Existing Injuries

 Some issues that could sabotage your injury claim are beyond your control, such as pre-existing injuries. A pre-existing condition related to the injury for which you are claiming damages could give your insurance company a reason to deny benefits. If you are filing for a back injury, for example, but a previous workplace accident gave you a slipped disk, your insurance company might try to allege that you already had the injury in question.
 Avoid a pre-existing injury negatively impacting your claim by properly documenting your new injury. Keep all medical documents, test results, x-rays, doctor’s letters, diagnoses and treatment plans related to the injury in your current claim. You should also avoid signing any paperwork from your insurer that grants the company access to your medical records. These papers often request access to your full medical history, not just the documents connected to your most recent injury, so the company can deny a claim based on a pre-existing condition.

Insurance Bad Faith

 Other common factors that sabotage personal injury claims in Texas have to do with bad faith by insurance companies. Your insurer might not treat your case fairly, honestly or in accordance with state insurance laws. Insurance bad faith could compromise your claim and lead to a negative outcome. Common examples of insurance bad faith are delaying your claim, denying benefits without a valid reason, avoiding your phone calls and refusing to offer a reasonable settlement. If you suspect insurance bad faith, contact a lawyer right away. Hiring a lawyer may be necessary to force an insurance company to treat your claim fairly.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 3:56 pm

Can I Have a Case If I Was in an Accident But Suffered No Injuries?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

It may seem counterintuitive to file a personal injury claim in Texas if you do not have any personal injuries. If you consider the other potential ramifications of an accident, however, such as property damages, lost wages and emotional distress, you will understand how some clients can file claims without physical injuries. It may be possible to bring a claim to damages if you were in an accident that did not physically injure you. Consult with a Dallas personal injury attorney for more information about your specific case.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Suit in Texas

 Emotional distress is common damage sought during personal injury claims in Texas. It refers to damages other than a physical injury that arose from a traumatic accident. Living through or witnessing an accident such as a car crash could inflict many nonphysical injuries on a victim. The defendant at fault for causing the accident may be legally responsible for a victim’s emotional distress in Texas even if the victim did not have a physical injury.

  • Mental anguish
  • Psychological trauma
  • Shock 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lost quality of life
  • Diminished enjoyment of life
  • Loss of someone’s love or companionship
  • Grief or bereavement

 If someone was negligent, reckless, or malicious in causing an accident that gave you emotional injuries or distress, that person may owe you compensation. Although most personal injury claims in Texas involve physical injuries as well as emotional distress, some claimants can recover mental anguish damages without physical injuries. If you lost a loved one in an accident, for example, you could seek damages for your emotional distress through a wrongful death lawsuit.

How to Prove Emotional Distress

 If you wish to bring a claim for your emotional injuries alone, you will need to prove that the defendant negligently or intentionally caused your emotional distress. Hiring a personal injury lawyer could help you with this burden of proof. Your attorney will know what elements are necessary to prove to obtain compensation for emotional distress, as well as what evidence to gather on your behalf.
 In a claim for emotional distress alone in Texas, it is not enough to prove the defendant was negligent. You or your lawyer will need to prove that the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious. You must prove the defendant guilty of particularly outrageous or horrific behaviors to qualify for emotional distress damages alone in Texas. Additionally, if another tort applies to your claim, such as harassment, you may only be able to recover under that claim. In other words, you cannot file a separate emotional distress claim in addition to your harassment claim.
 Although it can be difficult to fulfill the increased burden of proof during a claim only for emotional distress, it is possible. Claimants in Texas have and do successfully obtain compensation for claims that do not involve physical injuries. Evidence that could help a plaintiff prove this type of case include psychological evaluation records, letters from therapists, eyewitness reports and testimony from mental health experts. A lawyer could help you identify sources of evidence for your particular emotional distress claim.

Contact a Lawyer About an Emotional Distress Claim

 In general, hiring a personal injury attorney could increase your odds of having a successful emotional distress claim in Texas. An attorney can let you know if you qualify to bring this type of claim, as well as what it will take to win compensation. Then, your lawyer can take over the legal process on your behalf. A lawyer could also be an asset if you wish to file a claim for other damages not related to physical injuries, such as lost wages from having to miss time at work or property damage repairs. Contact an attorney as soon as possible if you suffered emotional injuries in an accident in Texas.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 12:23 pm

Recognizing the Signs of Medical Malpractice

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Medical malpractice is a type of wrongdoing by professionals in the medical field. It refers to any negligent or intentional action or omission during diagnosis, treatment or health management that injures a patient. Every year, thousands of patients sustain injuries and illnesses due to medical malpractice. If you notice any signs of malpractice in your health care, you may have grounds to bring a civil claim against your physician, the hospital or another party. 

Recognizing the Signs of Medical Malpractice 13

How Do You Know If You Have a Case for Medical Malpractice? 

 Most patients believe medical malpractice happens much less often than it actually does. In a 10-year period, defendants had to pay 143,713 claimants for medical malpractice claims. These are just the cases that went to court and succeeded. Texas is one of the top states for medical malpractice claims, along with California, Florida and New York. Although many actions can constitute medical malpractice, certain errors are more often involved in lawsuits than others.

  • Birth injuries
  • Misdiagnoses
  • Delayed diagnoses
  • Medical product defects
  • Failures to treat
  • Surgical mistakes
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Failures to warn of known risks

 If you are a patient in Texas and you experience a poor health outcome, it does not necessarily mean you are the victim of medical malpractice. The legal definition of medical malpractice, or medical negligence, in Texas is the violation of a duty of care to a patient by a health care provider. A physician must have been negligent in your health care in some way for you to have a medical malpractice case.

What Are the 4 Ds of Malpractice?

During a claim, it will be up to your side of the case to prove the defendant guilty of medical malpractice. Most plaintiffs need attorneys to help them prove their cases. This is a complicated practice area with many rules and regulations in Texas. You may need proof such as eyewitness testimony, expert opinions and medical records. Proving negligence during a medical malpractice claim takes four main elements: the four Ds.

  1. Duty. The medical field assigns certain duties of care to those within the practice. Physicians, nurses and other health care practitioners must do what is in the best interests of their patients. They owe this duty as soon as they accept patients into their care.
  2. Dereliction. Dereliction is a deviation from the accepted standard of medical care, or a failure to fulfill a doctor’s obligations. It can describe any act of negligence, carelessness or wanton disregard for a patient’s safety that another health care provider would not have committed in the same circumstances.
  3. Damages. Damages are the specific losses or harm a patient suffered because of the dereliction of a health care provider. Medical malpractice damages in Texas can refer to economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Some cases also involve punitive damages.
  4. Direct cause. Finally, the health care provider’s breach of the duty of care must have been the direct cause of the patient’s injuries, damages and losses. In other words, the patient’s injuries would not have happened were it not for the defendant’s negligence or breach of duty.

 Proving the four Ds during a medical malpractice suit in Texas may take hiring a medical expert to testify as to the defendant’s duties of care and alleged breach of that duty during a patient’s care. If you believe you have evidence of the four Ds, you may have all the signs of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact an experienced Dallas injury attorney to help you determine if you have a case. If so, your lawyer can help you demonstrate duty, breach of duty, causation and damages through a preponderance of the evidence. A successful malpractice suit could pay you for losses such as hospital bills, lost wages, legal fees, physical pain and emotional distress. 

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 10:52 am