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Could Social Media Affect an Injury Case?

Thursday, February 27, 2020

You are not alone as someone who wishes to share aspects of your life with your friends and family via social media. Millions of users log onto Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, TikTok and other social media apps daily. Around 70% of Americans use social media sites, according to the Pew Research Center. If you get into a personal injury accident, it is in your best interest to restrict what you post to social media. Posting the wrong thing could have the power to reduce your financial recovery award…or eliminate it completely.

law case and social media

Why You Should Avoid Social Media

Your Dallas personal injury lawyer will most likely advise you to stay off of social media for the duration of your personal injury case. Investigators can access content posted across social sites and use it as admissible evidence. The defense may be able to take anything you post and turn it around to paint you in a negative light. Staying active on social medial during a claim could interfere with your ability to recover in many ways.

  • Contradicting your story. You or one of your friends might post something that contradicts the story you have been telling. If you say you have chronic pain that interferes with your enjoyment of life, for example, posting photos of you bowling or at a party could hurt your case.
  • Undermining your reliability. If you post something on social media that contrasts any information you gave to an insurance company, no matter how minor (such as a photo showing you at Disney when you said you were at work), this could be enough for the defense to establish that you are an unreliable witness.
  • Divulging your location. Something as seemingly innocent as checking in at a location could still serve as evidence against you during an injury case. The defense might use the fact that you checked in at a yoga studio as proof that your injuries are not serious, for instance, no matter why you were at the studio.
  • Saying the wrong thing. Even if you are careful about what you post on social media, you cannot control what your friends or family members post. Comments regarding your case or lifestyle, such as how much money you wish to make in a settlement, could hurt your case or damage how you look to a jury.
  • Trying to cover up evidence. Deleting messages or photographs you think might be incriminating could harm your case further. Investigators have ways of retrieving deleted content. The fact that you deleted things could look suspicious to a judge or jury, regardless of the actual content of the material deleted.

It can be difficult to predict how the defense may use your social activity against you during a personal injury claim. Changing your privacy settings will not keep investigators out. The best way to protect yourself from potential social media pitfalls is to delete or freeze your accounts during your claim. Do not post anything, check-in anywhere or let your friends tag you in any photos on social media sites. The same is true for other forms of digital communication. Be careful what you email, text and message to others, as this could also become evidence during your case.

Do Not Run the Risk – Log Off During Your Claim

Many injured parties believe they are exceptions to the rule and can do better about posting carefully on social media during an ongoing injury case. Unfortunately, they underestimate the ways in which an aggressive defense team can twist posts and online activity into evidence against them. Even the most prudent plaintiff could make a mistake on social media that comes back to hurt his or her claim. The best way to optimize your odds of obtaining fair compensation for an injury is by pausing your social media use entirely until the conclusion of your case.

Posted by admin at 7:01 pm

A Quick Guide to Calculating Pain and Suffering

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A fair settlement can provide your family with compensation to pay for medical bills, make up for lost wages due to missed work, and other expenses associated with daily living. Many personal injury claims also include what’s known as “pain and suffering” costs. These are noneconomic damages, such as physical pain an injury caused or emotional distress from the accident. If your family qualifies for pain and suffering damages, you or your lawyer will have to prove eligibility and calculate a fair amount of compensation to demand from the defendant. A lawyer in Texas can help you with the difficult task of calculating a reasonable pain and suffering award.

paperwork on table

Pain and Suffering Defined

Lawyers use the term “general damages” to define any intangible losses, like pain and suffering, as part of an injury settlement.

They contrast specific damages, or damages particular to a unique plaintiff, such as his or her precise medical expenses and lost wages. General damages can refer to many different mental, emotional or psychological losses.

  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Chronic pain
  • Stiffness and immobility
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Loss of limb
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Anxiety, stress or depression
  • Embarrassment or humiliation
  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Lost quality of life
  • Loss of consortium or household services

While you will have medical evidence and financial statements to support the value of your specific damages, it can be more difficult to quantify your pain and suffering. Luckily, those in the civil justice system have worked out a way to calculate pain and suffering damages to result in just compensation for injured parties.The two most common are the multiplier method and the per diem approach.

The Multiplier Method

The most frequently used of the two methods is the multiplier method. Using this method, a jury will start with the total value of the plaintiff’s calculated economic (specific) damages, then multiply it by a suitable number according to the circumstances of the case. Jurors will vote on a multiplier between 1.5 and 5 to represent the level of the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. While a moderate injury might receive a multiplier of two or three, for example, more severe, debilitating, traumatic or painful injuries would receive higher multipliers, such as four or five.

For instance, if you lost a limb in a traumatic workplace accident, a jury might assign your case a multiplier of 4.5 to calculate pain and suffering. If the combined value of your medical bills, lost wages, legal fees, travel expenses, property repairs, disability expenses and other out-of-pocket costs was $500,000, the jury would multiply $500,000 by 4.5 for a total pain and suffering award of $2,250,000. The only time the courts will cap pain and suffering damages in Texas is during medical malpractice cases, where the maximum award is $250,000.

The “Per Diem” Calculation

Less common is the “per diem” method of calculating pain and suffering. This process gets its name from the Latin phrase meaning “each day.” Rather than summarizing your general damages with one lump sum, the per diem approach works by demanding a certain dollar amount for every day you experience pain as a result of your accident.

Juries more commonly apply the per diem method to short-term injuries with clear recovery timelines versus long-term injuries. The per diem approach might not be appropriate for a long-term or permanent injury. If a jury does use the per diem approach, the jurors will come up with an appropriate dollar amount to assign per day of the plaintiff’s injury recovery. Typically, this dollar amount will match the plaintiff’s daily working wage. Then, the jury will multiply this amount by the number of days the victim will foreseeably experience pain and suffering from the injury or accident.

Say, for example, you were involved in a car accident and experienced a fractured arm as a result. You wore a cast for six weeks and took pain pills each day to alleviate your suffering. Even after your cast is off, you continue to experience pain for another month, for a total of 75 days of suffering. Say you make $35,000 a year—approximately $95 per day. Your per diem settlement would be around $7,2000.

What Is Your Case Worth?

 Catastrophic injuries are generally worth more than minor injuries in Texas. If you or a loved one has life-changing or permanent personal injuries, your pain and suffering damages may be higher than those of a victim of a minor accident. Wrongful death claims can also involve higher multipliers and compensatory awards. A jury may choose to use the multiplier method, per diem method or no method at all to calculate a pain and suffering award. Although it is possible to seek compensation solely for pain and suffering in Texas, most personal injury claims combine a pain and suffering demand with economic damages as well. This can lead to maximum compensation for the full extent of your damages after a preventable accident.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident?

If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be wondering about the recourse for the parties responsible or wondering how to pay for your medical bills. The Attorneys at Aaron Herbert are skilled at negotiating settlements that are fair, given the extent of your pain and suffering. To start your personal injury claim today, contact our office for a free case evaluation. We offer our services on a contingency-fee basis, so there’s no risk to you.

Posted by admin at 10:44 pm

Texas Negligence Laws

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Personal injury law hinges on the legal concept of negligence, or a failure to meet a certain duty of care for a given situation. Every state has unique laws regarding negligence, and Texans should know their state’s negligence laws. Plaintiffs who attempt to file lawsuits without a firm understanding of their states’ negligence laws could end up paying legal fees for a lost case or even face countersuits from defendants.

Proving negligence remains the same regardless of a state’s negligence laws. A plaintiff must be able to prove duty, breach, causation, and actual harm to succeed in a personal injury claim, but varying negligence laws in different states will have a drastic impact on the results of their lawsuits. Different negligence statutes will play out differently in court, and Texas follows a modified comparative negligence law. Learn all of Texas’s negligence laws for a better understanding of your claim.

woman touching back neck in pain

What Are the 5 Elements of Negligence?

In the civil justice system, the burden of proving the case rests on the plaintiff, not the defendant. It is up to the injured party to prove that his or her version of events is more likely to be true than not true based on a preponderance of evidence. Only then will a judge or jury award compensation to the plaintiff. Five standard elements make up the required burden of proof in most personal injury cases in Texas and throughout the country.

  1. Duty of care owed. The defendant had a legal duty to behave or not behave in some way toward the plaintiff. For example, a driver that crashed into you will have had the duties to pay attention to the road and obey traffic laws.
  2. Duty of care breached. The defendant failed to exercise reasonable care, breaching his or her duties to the plaintiff. For example, an at-fault driver might breach his or her duties by driving drunk.
  3. Cause in fact. The defendant’s actions or misbehaviors must be the actual cause of the accident and injuries in question. In other words, you would not have your injuries or damages were it not for the defendant’s breach of duty of care.
  4. Proximate cause. A reasonable and prudent person in the same circumstances would have known the breach of duty could lead to injuries. For example, a reasonable person recognizes the dangers of drinking and driving.
  5. Damages suffered. The defendant’s actions caused specific and actual damages. The Texas civil justice system will only reimburse you for damages if you have compensable losses from the accident. These may include hospital bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you need assistance proving your claim, a personal injury attorney can help you find and present evidence to support all five necessary elements in Texas. Note: not every personal injury case requires all five elements. Only cases based on negligence will require all five. Some cases, such as strict product liability claims or strict dog bite claims, do not require proof of negligence or a breach of duty of care to obtain compensation. Discuss your type of case and the burden of proof with a lawyer for specific information about your situation.

How Can I Prove Negligence in a Case?

In Texas, the civil courts require a plaintiff’s side of the case to prove in a clear and convincing way that the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, intent to harm or breach of duty caused the damages in question. You will need proof of a breach of duty that goes beyond hearsay or just he-said, she-said. Admissible evidence during a personal injury claim in Texas can take many different forms.

  • Image-based evidence. Photographs and videos of the accident can serve as indisputable proof during a claim. Take photos of your accident, request copies of official police photographs and obtain any available surveillance camera footage.
  • Official reports. Copies of accident reports from police officers, employers, store managers, business owners, property owners and others could help fill in the blanks and create a clear picture of what happened.
  • Testimonies or statements. Sworn statements by eyewitnesses and subject-matter experts can help explain things to a jury, such as the defendant’s reasonable duties of care for the situation.

The main evidence categories are real, demonstrative, documentary and testimonial. Physical, photographic, illustrative and verbal evidence could all help prove your injury claim. Work with an attorney to preserve key evidence from the start. A lawyer can make phone calls to preserve evidence such as closed-circuit television footage or maintenance logs. A lawyer can also strengthen your case with actions such as hiring experts to act as key witnesses, hiring investigators, working with accident reconstructionists and collecting eyewitness statements.

Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence

In a typical personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was negligent, and then prove the defendant’s negligence directly resulted in measurable, tangible losses to the plaintiff. Plaintiffs can still recover damages even if they are partly to blame for their damages, under a comparative negligence law. For example, a plaintiff could sue a distracted driver who caused an accident while texting behind the wheel, but the plaintiff will likely absorb a percentage of fault for the accident if the plaintiff was speeding or otherwise negligent at the time.

Under a pure contributory negligence system, the plaintiff in the previous example would not be eligible for collecting damages, even if he or she is only 1% at fault. Under a pure comparative negligence system, the plaintiff can still collect damages even if he or she was 99% at fault. The plaintiff simply loses a percentage of the case award or settlement equal to his or her percentage of fault. The Texas modified comparative negligence system only allows plaintiffs to recover damages if they are 51% or less at fault for their damages. Once a plaintiff reaches 52%, he or she may not recover damages.

The Texas system provides a healthy balance because it protects the rights of plaintiffs who unjustly suffer damages from negligence while simultaneously discouraging frivolous or risky lawsuits. A plaintiff is far less likely to file a lawsuit if the plaintiff knows he or she is more than partially responsible for the damages. Taking such a risk would also open the plaintiff up to a countersuit from the defendant. A defendant will have justification to file a counter suit if a jury decides a Texas plaintiff is 52% or more at fault.

How Does This Law Affect Compensation?

A plaintiff found partially at fault for claimed damages in a personal injury case will lose a portion of the settlement or case award equal to his or her level of fault. For example, a plaintiff filing a lawsuit claiming $100,000 in damages absorbs 10% of the fault for the incident. He or she would then lose 10% of the case award for a total of $90,000. However, if the plaintiff absorbs 52% or more fault for the accident, he or she would not receive anything. The plaintiff would then have to pay legal fees to his or her attorney for the lost case and face possible retaliatory legal action from the original defendant.

If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, it’s important to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney to vet your case before attempting to file your complaint. A good attorney will investigate your claim to make sure there is no room for you to absorb fault for your damages and ensure the best chances of success in trial.

Posted by admin at 4:41 pm

How Long Would it Take to Finish an Injury Settlement?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

With serious injuries from an accident in Dallas, what you want most may be to receive your settlement so you can put the case behind you and finally move forward. It is normal to feel impatient with the claims process, especially if you have a particularly complex or arduous case. However, having patience with your claim could ultimately allow you to obtain greater compensation from the defendant, such as by being willing to go to court to pursue maximum recovery. Learn what timeframe you might expect during a claim in Texas to better prepare yourself for the future.

Each Case Is Unique

Before you read about typical timeframes for personal injury claims in Texas, realize that each case is unique. An average timeline might look far different from the reality of your case. When you hire a personal injury attorney, you can ensure a timely and efficient claims process. A lawyer’s time is money. He or she will want to expedite your claim as much as you do. Your attorney can make sure you submit all the correct paperwork, provide sufficient evidence, meet Texas’ deadlines and fulfill other requirements for an efficient claim. Only an attorney can give you an accurate estimate of how long he or she believes your case will take to settle.

Medical Treatment: Day 1 to the Point of Maximum Medical Improvement

The first phase of a personal injury settlement is the claimant seeking medical treatment. You may need to go to the hospital immediately after your accident and enroll in a treatment regimen that could last days, weeks or years. It is important to wait until you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement before calculating the value of your claim. Otherwise, you might not know how much your injury or disability will cost in the future or impact your life.

Insurance Claim: Day 1 to Day 30

Something else you can do the day of your accident is to initiate the insurance claims process. Most insurance companies require claimants to report their accidents within one to three days. Prompt reporting could protect your right to insurance benefits. Insurance companies in Texas have 30 days from the date they receive claims to resolve them. In the first week, a claims adjuster may contact you as he or she begins an investigation. Be careful what you say to an adjuster as he or she is not on your side. If you do not trust yourself to speak to an adjuster, retain a lawyer to do so for you.

You should hear from an insurance company within a few days after filing your claim to confirm the insurer received all the required paperwork. Then, within 30 days, the insurer must approve your claim, deny your claim or request more time for further investigation. If the insurance company requests more time, it must give you an estimated timeframe and a valid reason for the extension. If you suspect the insurance company of delaying your claim without reason, speak to a lawyer about potential insurance bad faith. If the company accepts your case and you come to a settlement agreement, expect to see your first check within two weeks.

Personal Injury Trial: Day 30 to Day 365 and Beyond

The average injury insurance settlement takes around two to three months from the date of the accident to complete. Many factors could alter this timeline for your case, including the nature of your injuries, the investigative process and whether the defendant refutes fault. It may take much longer to resolve your claim if you need to proceed to trial. Although most personal injury lawsuits conclude with pre-trial settlements, some require trials for fair compensatory awards.

A personal injury trial in Texas can take one year or longer to resolve. Some claims take a few years to reach jury verdicts. The trial process will involve pre-trial negotiations, a discovery phase, depositions, evidence collection, hearings and possibly appeals. An attorney can walk you through these processes and help you save time along the way wherever possible. Keep in mind you only have two years from the date of your accident to file an injury claim in Texas. Contact a lawyer right away to meet your deadline and begin the claims process promptly

Posted by admin at 5:51 pm

About Texas (PIP) Personal Injury Protection

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Personal injury protection (PIP) is a type of auto insurance the State of Texas does not require. In general, PIP pays for your damages and losses after an at-fault accident. Understanding personal injury protection, when you might need it and how to pursue benefits from a PIP policy could help you recover financially after a car accident in Texas. Contact a car accident lawyer near you for answers to your specific questions about personal injury protection coverage.

texas personal injury protection law 2020

What Does PIP Cover?

Texas is a fault-based insurance state, meaning that an at-fault driver or party will be liable for crash-related damages. If you cause an accident, you will have to pay for damages. If you only carry Texas’ minimum required amounts of insurance, your policy will not cover your own damages in an at-fault accident. Personal injury protection is optional, but you must tell the company in writing if you wish to reject this coverage. Personal injury protection auto insurance pays for a few different damages the policyholder suffers if he or she needs extra coverage.

  • Medical coverage. PIP will pay for 100% of a policyholder’s necessary medical services. This can include ambulances, doctor’s appointments, treatments, surgeries, x-rays, prosthetics, medications, professional nursing, dental fees and nursing expenses.
  • Death damages. If the policyholder passes away in the auto accident, PIP insurance could pay for funeral and burial costs, as well as the medical expenses the victim incurred prior to death.
  • Lost wages. PIP will reimburse the person for 80% of lost income if he or she had to miss work because of the accident. The insurance company will need proof of the amount of income lost.

Most PIP insurance plans provide $2,500 to $5,000 or more in coverage for the at-fault party and his or her passengers. As someone involved in an auto accident, you may be eligible for coverage under PIP insurance as well as other policies, including that of an at-fault driver, vehicle owner, employer or multiple parties. If you do not have PIP coverage, you may have other policies available to take your claim.

How Does Texas PIP Work?

After an auto accident, if you wish to recover compensation through your policy’s PIP coverage, you will need to document your accident, injuries, medical expenses and related losses of income. Your insurance company will need proof of the losses you are claiming. Report on the car accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Most companies make it mandatory to report a wreck within 24 to 72 hours. You will submit the necessary documentation for your insurer to review, then wait up to 30 days to hear back from the insurance company. The insurer will either accept your claim and offer a settlement or deny coverage.

What Is a PIP Settlement?

You may not need to file a PIP claim with your insurer if someone else caused your auto accident. If another driver or party is to blame, that person’s policy may be liable for your damages. Hire an attorney to investigate your crash if you are not sure of the cause. If the at-fault party does not have enough insurance or you caused the accident, file a claim seeking PIP benefits from your insurer. If your insurance company accepts your claim, it will offer a settlement according to the perceived value of your losses and the limits of the policy.

Your insurance company might not offer a high enough settlement for your losses depending on the situation. Insurance companies often try to protect their bottom lines more than their clients. If you believe your medical bills and lost wages combined are worth more than your insurer has offered, negotiate for a higher settlement with help from an attorney. A lawyer can take over communications with your insurer to pursue the fair amount of your claim or the maximum under your policy’s limit. A lawyer could also help you explore recovery options outside of a PIP settlement for greater compensation.

Posted by admin at 5:04 pm

Are Landlords Responsible for a Tenant’s Safety?

Sunday, February 9, 2020

When you sign a lease to rent a space, you become responsible for certain things, such as replacing the batteries in a fire alarm. Your landlord, however, will retain legal responsibility for other things. Your leasing agreement can describe which aspects of the home or apartment are your responsibility and which are your landlord’s. If an accident on your property injures you, the landlord may be liable for your damages.

Landlords’ Responsibilities Under Texas Law

Renting to a tenant does not remove 100% of a property owner’s responsibilities over the property. The owner will still have legal ties to the premises, as well as specific duties of care over the safety of tenants. These duties generally include overseeing the reasonable safety, livability, maintenance, and repair of the premises. If a landlord breaches any of his or her duties and a tenant suffers an injury as a result, the landlord could be legally responsible for damages. A landlord in Texas has a few specific responsibilities by law.

  • Habitable housing. In Texas, the law requires a landlord to keep rental properties livable. The implied warranty of habitability entitles tenants to safe and livable homes. A landlord is responsible for the essentials, such as a sturdy structure, safe floors, a roof that keeps out the elements and hot water.
  • Safety from toxic substances. A landlord must ensure the safety of a premises in terms of exposing tenants to toxic substances such as lead, asbestos and mold. Property owners must take reasonable steps to inspect a premises for toxic or hazardous substances and remedy any discovered risks.
  • Adequate security. It is also a landlord’s legal responsibility to keep a property reasonably safe from criminals. This may include tasks such as hiring a security guard, installing a gate, screening tenants and replacing locks.
  • Safe common areas. A landlord remains responsible over any shared or common areas on the property, such as hallways, common rooms, living areas, laundry rooms and grounds. Any property defects in common areas could lead to the landlord’s liability for accidents.
  • Safe hired help. If your landlord arranges a third party to conduct maintenance, inspections or repairs at a rented property, your landlord could be vicariously liable for any injuries or damages the paid worker or volunteer causes. These cases involve negligent undertaking laws.

A landlord must meet at least the minimum standards of care in maintaining a rental property. If a landlord breaches any of his or her duties of care and a tenant sustains an injury because of it, the landlord could be liable. As an injured tenant, you may be able to hold your landlord financially responsible for your damages in certain circumstances.

Do You Have a Case Against a Landlord?

In general, you will be able to hold your landlord financially responsible for your losses if he or she owed you a duty of care, negligently or intentionally breached this duty, caused your accident, and if you have damages as a result. These are the four main elements of a negligence claim against a landlord or property owner in Texas. You could be eligible for compensation if you have proof of all four elements. An attorney can help you understand your landlord’s specific responsibilities over your safety and that of your home or apartment, as well as whether your landlord violated these duties.

If your personal injury lawyer in Dallas can present a strong claim to damages to an insurance company, judge or jury on your behalf, you may receive financial compensation for your losses. Your landlord may have to pay you a compensatory award for your related medical bills, property damage, lost wages, legal fees and other damages. Find out whether you can hold your landlord accountable as the responsible party after a premises-related accident on a rented property in Texas by contacting an attorney. A lawyer can help you pursue maximum compensation.

Posted by admin at 4:45 pm

Are Punitive Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

One of the main goals of filing a personal injury lawsuit is pursuing compensation for your losses. The compensation you could receive, called damages, may cover tangible and intangible losses such as medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering. A special type of compensation you could receive in addition to these awards is punitive damages. Under Texas law, personal injury victims may seek punitive damages in certain circumstances. It can be difficult, however, to win this type of award.

What Are Punitive Damages?

The Texas courts divide a personal injury claimant’s financial recovery into two damage categories: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages make up for your losses by offering a financial award in a fair amount based on your economic and noneconomic damages. Punitive damages, on the other hand, punish a defendant for especially wrongful acts. Punitive damages are an award you might receive in addition to compensatory if the courts see fit to punish the defendant for certain acts.

  • Gross negligence. Gross negligence goes beyond a simple breach of duty of care and into willfulness or recklessness. A defendant whose behavior shows an extreme disregard for the safety and health of others or knowledge that his or her actions could cause foreseeable harm is grossly negligent.
  • Malice refers to the intent to commit the act in question, knowing that it will result in harm to others. A defendant guilty of malice will have intentionally caused your injuries or a loved one’s death. Someone could be guilty of express malice, formed by a rational mind, or implied malice that is inferred from the defendant’s conduct.
  • Fraud refers to someone’s intentional deception of another through misrepresentation of material facts. Fraud can refer to tricks, scams, deceit or other dishonest actions the defendant knowingly committed to injure you or damage your property.

These are the three reasons the courts will award punitive damages during personal injury cases in Texas. To receive these damages, you or your attorney will need to prove that the defendant’s actions or misconduct meet the threshold of gross negligence, malicious intent to harm, fraud, recklessness or wanton disregard for your safety. The judge may then deem it appropriate to teach the defendant a lesson – and set a precedent for others in the community – by forcing him or her to pay an additional sum in punitive damages.

Punitive Damages and Texas Law

Section 41.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code gives standards for the recovery of punitive damages or exemplary damages. It states that the plaintiff must prove through clear and convincing evidence that the defendant caused the harm in question through fraud, malice or gross negligence. A jury must unanimously vote in favor of the plaintiff regarding the defendant’s liability and the number of exemplary damages to receive a punitive damage award. This 12 out of 12 juror requirement differs from the 10 out of 12 requirements needed to settle on a verdict.

what are punitive damages?

Texas law also places a cap on the amount of money you could receive in punitive damages. If you and your lawyer can overcome all the other challenges in receiving exemplary damages, you could receive up to the state’s maximum compensation. The law places a cap of $200,000 or twice the amount of your total economic damages plus an amount equivalent to your noneconomic damages, up to $750,000 maximum.

For example, if you received $1 million in economic damages for a spinal cord injury and $500,000 in noneconomic losses, the total amount of punitive damages possible would be $2,500,000 (two times $1 million, plus the $500,000). This cap does not apply, however, to cases where the defendant committed a felony. Work with an attorney to maximize your odds of obtaining punitive damages in Texas.

Posted by admin at 6:37 pm

6 Smart Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Attorney

Friday, January 17, 2020

Your first encounter with a personal injury attorney can be daunting. You might not know what to expect or how to get the most out of your free initial consultation. Asking the right questions can help you understand more about your claim and the possibility of filing a lawsuit in your county. It can also give you peace of mind about the future by leading you to the correct attorney for your needs. Arrive prepared by bringing a list of smart questions with you to your first meeting.

What Is the Lawyer’s Experience in This Practice Area?

Different attorneys specialize in different practice areas. Search for a lawyer that offers services for your particular type of accident, such as a commercial truck accident or a slip and fall attorney. During your meeting, ask for more details about the lawyer’s experience in your practice area. Find out how many years the lawyer has been practicing and his or her success rate with cases like yours. The lawyer you choose should have at least a few wins under his or her belt in your practice area.

Do You Have a Claim? What Is it Worth?

Ask whether the lawyer believes you have grounds for a lawsuit based on the information and facts you have provided. The lawyer may think you have a claim but tell you he or she is not the right person to represent you or say you do not seem to have a claim at all. Either way, get a second opinion from another attorney. Someone else may see things differently. If the lawyer does think you have a case, ask about its potential value. Finding out what your case might be worth can help you negotiate with insurance companies.

Who Will Actually Be Taking Your Case?

Many mill-type firms accept dozens of cases at once and pass them off to paralegals, assistants and associates rather than providing one-on-one attention from lead attorneys. Ask if the lawyer you are talking to will be the person handling your case. If not, ask which attorney will be taking over after your initial consultation. Find a firm that provides care and attention from a licensed attorney, not less-qualified staff members.

Can the Firm Go to Trial?

Most personal injury cases settle without needing to go to trial. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to take a defendant to court for fair compensation. Retain a firm that is comfortable going to trial if the need arises. Otherwise, you could get stuck having to find and hire a different attorney partway through your case, if settlement negotiations do not seem to be working. Find a law firm with trial propensities from the start for the simplest legal process. Hiring a lawyer an insurance company knows can go to trial could also lead to higher settlement offers.

Will You Have to Pay If the Firm Loses?

In general, you should not have to pay for your attorney if he or she loses your case. Most personal injury law firms accept clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning no fees after lost claims. Find an attorney that will accept your case with no fees upfront (no retainer necessary) and that will only charge you for his or her services after the lawyer obtains you a financial settlement or verdict. This fee arrangement can give you peace of mind financially while you recover from serious injuries.

How Long Will My Case Take?

Although each case is unique and unexpected delays can arise, a lawyer should be able to give a rough estimate as to how long he or she thinks your case will last. A lawyer can base this estimate on factors such as the severity of your injuries, whether you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement, how cooperative the insurance company has been and how long similar cases generally take. Knowing how long your claim could take to settle can prepare you and your family for the journey ahead.

Posted by admin at 6:07 pm

10 Most Common Burn Injuries at Home

Monday, November 25, 2019

Many people think their homes are places where serious and fatal burn injuries cannot occur. Most homeowners are familiar with their cooking equipment, furnaces, space heaters and other appliances. You might underestimate the dangers of cooking, decorating, purchasing new appliances or engaging in other regular activities at your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), however, 73% of structure fires in 2018 were home fires. Home fires and burn injuries are more common than you think. Practice a few general safety tips to avoid suffering a serious burn at home.

Who Is Held Liable?

If you suffer a bad burn injury at home, someone else may owe you compensation for your related medical bills, property damages, lost wages and other losses. Although you may not have a case if you negligently caused the burn injury yourself, you could have grounds for a claim if another person or entity reasonably could have prevented your burns yet failed to do so. If a defective water heater exploded, for example, the product’s manufacturer could be liable for your burn injuries.

Potentially liable parties for a burn injury that occurs at home include product manufacturers, property owners (if you are renting) and individuals. Any party that reasonably should have prevented your burn injury but failed to do so could be liable for damages. If your burn injury would not have happened but for the action or omission of another party, that party could owe you compensation for causing the incident. Speak to a Dallas burn injury lawyer for help with your case.

Thanksgiving Cooking Safety

Your risk of suffering a burn injury at home increases if you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is the number one day of the year for home cooking fires, according to the NFPA, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. It is also a popular day for serious burn injuries and related trips to the emergency room. If you plan on cooking this Thanksgiving holiday, do so with safety in mind.

  • Stay in the kitchen the entire time you are using the stovetop.
  • Check on your turkey frequently.
  • Keep hot items at least three feet away from children.
  • Do not let electric cords dangle within reach of children.
  • Keep knives safely out of reach.
  • Keep your kitchen floor clear of toys, clutter and debris.
  • Keep flammable items away from your oven, stovetop and other heating appliances.
  • Avoid using an oil-based turkey fryer.

Turkey fryers that use oil are one of the top causes of Thanksgiving burn injuries and home cooking fires. The NFPA recommends against using an oil-based turkey fryer, but if you do so, position it in your yard at least 10 feet away from any structures. Do not overfill your fryer with oil. Defrost your turkey entirely before dropping it into the oil. Keep a grease-rated fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.

Common Burns You Can Get at Home

The four types of burns you could suffer are thermal, electrical, chemical and radiation. Within these categories are more specific types of burns, such as scalds from hot water or third-degree burns from spilled hot oil, that could injure you at home. Whether it is Thanksgiving or just another day at home, you could end up in the hospital with one of these 10 most common burn injuries.

  1. Fire-related burns
  2. Scalds
  3. Contact burns
  4. Hot liquid burns
  5. Steam burns
  6. Oil burns
  7. Cooking burns
  8. Electrical burns
  9. Chemical burns
  10. Explosion-related burns

Any type of burn could be significantly painful and require emergency medical treatment. If you suffered a first-degree burn (no blistering), you may be able to treat it at home if it is not on your face or another vulnerable area or more than four inches long. For second- and third-degree burns, however, you should see a doctor for professional burn treatment. Without hospitalization, you could be at serious risk of infections and other complications.

 

Posted by admin at 4:19 pm

What Are Special Damages in a Personal Injury Settlement?

Friday, October 18, 2019

Filing a personal injury claim serves multiple purposes, but one of the most crucial for a victim is obtaining a compensation award for economic and/or noneconomic damages. A positive injury settlement could contain award amounts to cover many different damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While each personal injury settlement is unique, the broad types of damages potentially available to a victim remain the same in Texas.

What Are General Damages?

The two main damage categories in a Texas personal injury claim are compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages serve to reimburse a victim for his or her losses. Several specific types of damages exist under the broad category of compensatory damages. The two subcategories of compensatory damages are general and special. General damages are those most reasonable accident victims would suffer in a personal injury accident, such as physical pain, emotional suffering, mental anguish, lost enjoyment of life and distress from permanent disabilities or disfigurement.

What Are Special Damages?

Special damages in a personal injury settlement are out-of-pocket losses that are unique to the individual victim. They may include past and future health care expenses, lost income, lost future earning capacity, legal fees, travel costs and the price of property repairs. Special damages are the quantifiable financial losses the victim experienced because of the defendant’s actions or conduct. To obtain special damages, the victim or his or her attorney must prove specific losses through receipts and documentation. Proof can come in the form of medical bills, paystubs and estimates from vehicle mechanics.

What Are Exemplary Damages?

Exemplary damages, often called punitive damages, in personal injury settlements are extra compensation awards granted to a victim in cases involving a defendant’s malicious, intentional or wanton acts. A judge may award exemplary damages in a personal injury case if the defendant’s actions warrant an additional restitution award as a form of punishment. A judge may also issue punitive damages if he or she believes compensatory damages do not adequately compensate a victim for severe, traumatic or permanent losses.

What are Special Damages

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is one of the main types of general damages available in most personal injury claims. Pain and suffering can refer to many different forms of physical pain, mental anguish or emotional distress. A victim may be eligible for pain and suffering damages if the accident or injury caused significant emotional repercussions.

  • Anxiety or fear
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Physical pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Grief
  • Humiliation

Proving pain and suffering can be more difficult than proving measurable economic damages. Proof can come in the form of testimony from mental health experts, letters from treating psychologists, or statements from family and friends. A lawyer can often help a victim prove pain and suffering as part of an injury settlement.

Can You File a Claim?

As the victim of a personal injury accident in Texas, you could be eligible for compensation to cover special, general and/or punitive damages. Proving your economic and noneconomic damages may take assistance from a lawyer in Dallas. In most cases, your lawyer will need to establish four main elements to obtain a compensation award on your behalf.

  1. Duty of care. The defendant in your case must have owed you specific duties of care at the time of your accident.
  2. Breach of duty. The defendant must have breached, or failed to fulfill, his or her duties of care to you.
  3. A direct connection must exist between the defendant’s breach of duty and the damages you are claiming.
  4. Your lawyer must provide proof of economic and/or noneconomic damages related to the accident in question.

Your attorney can review the facts of your recent accident to let you know if you have grounds for a claim against one or more defendants in Dallas. If so, your lawyer could help you negotiate a fair settlement award for your special and other damages during an insurance claim. If a settlement is not possible, your attorney may be able to take your case to court.

Posted by admin at 8:24 pm