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What Is the Texas Good Samaritan Law?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

No one anticipates witnessing a car accident. If you do see a collision happen or are one of the first people to the scene and intervene to render aid, you are what Texas considers a Good Samaritan. Texas law protects its Good Samaritans by exempting them from liability for injuries unintentionally inflicted while offering assistance at the scene of emergencies, such as car accidents. The Good Samaritan law in Texas has some boundaries and exceptions, however.

The Texas Good Samaritan Act

In Texas, the Good Samaritan Act is an important law that protects people who render aid in a good faith attempt to help others. The act specifically states that if a person administers care in good faith at the scene of an emergency, that person will not bear liability for any damages he or she causes while administering said care. In other words, someone with personal injuries or property damages because of a Good Samaritan’s good-faith actions in an emergency will not be able to file a lawsuit against the Good Samaritan.

Lawmakers in Texas and many other states passed Good Samaritan laws to encourage people to act if they are in a position to help others in emergencies. These laws came about because many people were hesitant to intervene in emergencies out of a fear that the victim would sue should something go wrong. If a Good Samaritan accidentally twisted a car accident victim’s spine the wrong way while removing the victim from a burning car and caused a permanent spinal cord injury, for example, that victim could sue the Good Samaritan were it not for Texas’s related liability law.

Texas’s Good Samaritan Act encourages action in the face of emergencies by protecting those who step in to help from liability for damages. Even if someone helping out in good faith injures the person he or she is trying to help, the Good Samaritan will not have to pay for that person’s damages. It is important to note, however, that Texas’s Good Samaritan law has some exceptions, limitations and boundaries.

Exceptions to the Good Samaritan Law

Lawmakers have revised the Texas Good Samaritan Act many times since it originally passed. They have added several exceptions to the general rule. If an exception applies to a case, the Good Samaritan could still face liability – or legal responsibility – for the victim’s injuries or damages. A Good Samaritan in Texas may not be exempt from liability in certain situations.

  • He/she acted with willful negligence or wanton disregard for the safety of others.
  • He/she was a licensed nurse, doctor or emergency services technician.
  • He/she expected payment or other remuneration for administering care.
  • He/she was at the scene of the accident to solicit business, such as for a doctor or law firm.
  • He/she is the person responsible for putting the victim in harm’s way in the first place.

The main exception to the rule is if the Good Samaritan acted with willful or wanton negligence in rendering aid. This is a higher burden of proof than general negligence. To override Texas’s Good Samaritan Act and bring a lawsuit against someone who renders aid, a plaintiff must prove that the person acted with a willful, intentional or wanton disregard for others’ safety. This determination will depend on the circumstances surrounding the case.

When to Speak to an Attorney

Whether you are the injured victim or the Good Samaritan, you could benefit from hiring an attorney for help with a complicated accident case. Texas’s Good Samaritan Act and its numerous exceptions can be difficult to navigate on your own. Discuss your accident case with a personal injury attorney near you for advice you can trust. Your lawyer can help you overcome any legal challenges you may face due to the Good Samaritan Law.

Posted by admin at 5:51 pm

Does Texas Have a Sick Leave Law?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

No one plans on an illness that forces him or her out of work or into the hospital. In light of the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, it is clearer than ever how greatly an illness can impact a worker’s life. One of the most common questions for people who contract serious illnesses is whether they will be able to take sick leave at work, with or without pay, without losing their jobs. Unlike some states, Texas does not have a sick leave law. Unless federal sick leave laws apply, therefore, an employer could deny sick leave requests.

texas sick leave law

What Is the New Sick Day Law?

 Texas does not have a state law making it mandatory for private sector employers to provide paid or unpaid sick leave. Public sector employers, however, must give their employees sick leave at the rate of eight hours per one month of employment for full-time employees. Sick leave will start to accrue the first day of employment. An eligible employee can take this leave for an illness, injury, pregnancy or to care for an immediate family member with an illness. The employee will need a doctor’s note to take three or more days of sick leave.

 In March 2020, President Trump signed a law that expanded sick leave in the US to certain eligible people. The bill gives up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to parents who have to care for children due to childcare facility shutdowns connected to the coronavirus. It grants up to 12 weeks at 67% of the recipient’s average salary up to $200 per day. It can also provide up to two weeks of 100% pay reimbursement up to $511 per day. Some employers with under 50 employees are exempt from having to pay. Self-employed workers may receive these benefits in the form of a tax credit.

 Can an Employer Deny Sick Days?

 An employer in Texas in the private sector can deny sick days if the terms of federal sick leave laws do not apply. No state law requires employers to give their workers sick days. If an employer decides on its own to provide paid or unpaid sick leave, however, it must fulfill the terms of its policy. It is illegal for an employer to deny sick days after granting them to an employee via an employment contract, for example. Employees should carefully review their employment contracts and workplace policies before requesting sick days in Texas.

 Employers in Texas must also abide by all relevant federal sick leave laws. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), for instance, gives some workers unpaid sick leave for medical and family-related matters without fear of job loss. Employers in Texas must grant eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of leave per year for covered events, such as the birth of a child, the placement of a child via foster care or adoption, or a serious health condition. An employer in Texas cannot breach a federal sick leave law by denying sick days to eligible employees.

 Is PTO the Same As Sick Days?

 In general, paid time off (PTO) is not the same as sick days. PTO is a package an employer can choose to give employees that bundles together different types of leave, including vacation time, personal leave, and sick days. Sick days, on the other hand, refer to just one type of leave at a company.

 Can You Be Fired for Being Sick in Texas?

 The answer to this depends on your status as a worker, whether you work in the private or public sector, and whether the sick leave requested falls under a federal leave law. If your employer legally has to abide by the terms of federal law such as the FMLA, you are an eligible employee and you request the leave for a valid reason, your employer cannot fire you for taking this leave. If, however, no state or federal sick leave laws apply to your employer or your situation and your boss does not have a separate sick leave law, he or she may have the right to terminate your employment for taking sick leave in Texas. 

Posted by admin at 3:10 pm

Texas Statute of Limitations

Sunday, April 12, 2020

One of the many laws you need to know as a claimant during a personal injury claim is the statute of limitations. This is one of the most important laws to know in Texas, as missing your statute of limitations could end your claim before it begins. The courts in Texas obey statutes of limitations strictly, often barring clients who file too late from obtaining any financial recovery. Speak to a Dallas personal injury lawyer for personalized information and advice about your statute of limitations.

Texas Statute of Limitations

What Is It?

 A statute of limitations is a type of law you will find in every state. It sets a time limit on filing a claim. Both criminal and civil cases have statutes of limitations. In the criminal courts, statutes of limitations set time limits by which prosecutors must bring charges against a defendant. These time limits vary depending on the alleged crime. In the civil courts, statutes of limitations limit how long an injury party (plaintiff) has to file a claim to damages against a defendant. Civil statutes of limitations vary according to the type of accident.

 Statutes of limitations help keep the justice system just. Without a law requiring plaintiffs to file their personal injury claims by a certain time, a plaintiff could feasibly wait as long as he or she wanted to file. This delaying of justice might not be fair for the defendant, who could lose opportunities to defend himself or herself with the loss of evidence over time. Enforcing statutes of limitations keep things moving through the justice system more efficiently by prompting claimants to file as soon as possible. It is important to know your statute of limitations in Texas if you wish to protect your right to bring a claim.

 How Long Is the Statute of Limitations in Texas?

 As a claimant in a personal injury case in Texas, your statute of limitations will be two years, in most cases. Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code 16.003(a) gives this statute of limitations. With a few exceptions, a filing party has two years after the day of the accident or injury to bring a civil claim in the State of Texas. This is the same statute of limitations as with property damage claims in Texas. During a wrongful death claim in Texas, a plaintiff must bring a cause of action no later than two years after the date of the injured person’s death.

Some types of civil claims come with four-year deadlines in Texas. For example, a claim for financial losses due to a contract dispute can be brought within four years of the action or inaction that allegedly breached the contract. Breaches of fiduciary duty claims are also subject to a four-year deadline in Texas, as are most debt collection and fraud claims. Standard personal injury lawsuits, however, have two-year statutes of limitations, with some exceptions.

 It is important to ask an attorney what your statute of limitations is early on, so you do not accidentally miss your deadline. Some exceptions to the general rule exist; however, the courts will only toll, or extend, a statute of limitations in rare circumstances in Texas. If, for example, you did not discover your injury or illness until a date later than that of the accident, the clock generally will not start ticking until the date of discovery. Other exceptions exist for certain cases with minors (those under 18) and criminal offenses.

What Exceptions Are There to the Statute of Limitations in Texas?

The most common exception to the statute of limitations in Texas is the discovery rule. The discovery rule states that if a claim involves delayed symptoms, this can toll the deadline. If a victim did not discover his or her injury immediately, the clock will not start counting down until the date of injury diagnosis or discovery. If the defendant can prove that another reasonable and prudent plaintiff would have discovered the injury sooner, however, this could shorten the deadline. Common injuries with delayed symptoms include traumatic brain injuries and back injuries.

 Exceptions to Texas’ statute of limitations exist for claims arising from certain crimes, according to Section 16.0045 of the law. If the claim involves alleged child sexual assault, child sexual abuse, child sex trafficking, prostitution of a child, indecency with a child or other such sex crimes against children, the survivor will have 30 years from the date of the offense to file a civil claim.

Another exception to the general rule is in a case based on exposure to asbestos or silica. For asbestos-related injuries, a victim has two years from the date of the exposed victim’s death or the date the claimant serves on a defendant to file. This exception exists because asbestos exposure typically does not result in discoverable illnesses until years later.

Certain maritime claims (claims involving injuries on the water) also have unique statutes of limitations in Texas. The law provides three years to file from the date of an injury or death that occurs on navigable waters during maritime activity. Finally, the statute of limitations on a first-party insurance claim can range from two years to four years in Texas, depending on the language of the insurance contract.

There are also exceptions that can shorten, rather than extend, Texas’ statute of limitations. If you are bringing a tort claim against a government entity in Texas, for example, you will have less than two years to file paperwork. According to Section 101.101 of the Texas Tort Claims Act, a notice of this type of claim must be brought no later than six months from the date of the accident. If you are injured in an accident with a city bus, for example, you will only have six months to file your initial paperwork against the city government.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Children in Texas?

There are also special statutes of limitations on personal injury claims that involve children in Texas. Child victims are not of the age of consent (18), and therefore do not have the mental capacity to bring legal claims in the eyes of the law. The law states that they are not mature enough to make legal decisions for themselves. This rule gives child victims two options when filing personal injury lawsuits:

  • A parent files within two years. A parent who wishes to file an injury claim on behalf of a minor child must do so by the ordinary statute of limitations in Texas – two years of the date of the accident. Either parent can file.
  • The child files within two years of turning 18. In Texas, the statute of limitations on a personal injury case is tolled until a minor reaches the age of majority. Thus, the deadline typically does not come until the victim’s 20th

Texas has a statute of repose that caps the right to file a medical malpractice claim at no more than 10 years from the date of the alleged act of malpractice, even with the discovery rule and a minor victim. This means if the minor was injured by medical malpractice, the claim must be brought within 10 years, even if this deadline comes before the plaintiff’s 20th birthday.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Right Away

If you do not file your personal injury case before Texas’ statute of limitations, you could forfeit the right to obtain financial recovery, even if you have evidence of the defendant’s fault. It is critical not to wait to speak to an attorney. Waiting until the end of your window of time could mean accidentally missing the time limit.

Waiting to file can also reduce the strength of your evidence. For instance, eyewitnesses may not be able to clearly remember what they saw a year after the accident. Act quickly to contact a personal injury attorney and file your paperwork to protect your rights.

Statutes of limitations are complicated. The law in Texas can have exceptions in special circumstances. Always speak to a personal injury lawyer about your deadline to file as soon as possible after an accident in Texas.

Posted by admin at 4:24 pm

New Texas Laws for 2018

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

You may hear news about state legislation, but you may not know when new laws go into effect. The Texas Legislature was busy during the 2017 session, and a number of new laws came out of this activity. Below are some of new laws this year that you should know about:

SB 1381

Has anyone asked you to show a picture ID with a credit or debit purchase this year? If so, you may already be familiar with one of Texas’ new laws. Under SB 1381, merchants have the right to request identification with every debit or credit purchase. If you can’t provide proof of your identity, then you run the risk of the merchant declining your transaction. Lawmakers hope this measure will help decrease the amount of fraud and identity theft throughout the state. If you’ve never had to show any identification with a credit or debit card purchase, it’s because the measure is not compulsory.

SB 5

Here’s one that might affect the upcoming midterm elections. Under SB 5, lawmakers relaxed a previous voter ID law that many people considered discriminatory against minorities. Now, anyone who wants to vote, but who has difficulty obtaining the required ID, has other options. Under the law, anyone who can demonstrate a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining the required form of identification can show alternate proof, including paychecks, utility bills, or bank statements.

SB 1062

The Texas Legislature also moved to make transferring motor vehicle ownership simpler under state law. As this time, federal law stipulates that all odometer disclosures must occur on a secure form to prevent tampering. Previously, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles required that a carbon copy of this form go to its office via mail for confirmation, delaying the transfer of ownership. However, under SB 1062, the state now accepts electronic copies, which will streamline the process for everyone involved.

House Bill 1036

This new law aims to enhance women’s health by requiring commercial health insurance providers furnish more comprehensive coverage for breast cancer prevention. Under HB 1036, these carriers must cover the cost of 3-D mammograms, a superior screening tool to the traditional 2-D test. Previously, anyone receiving a mammogram could expect an extra $100 charge for requesting 3-D imaging. This will hopefully aid in the early detection of breast cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death among women nationally.

SB 1381

Some of the laws passed by the state last session aimed to right past wrongs or ease access to important services for all; others were simply practical. SB 1381, now in effect, increased the amount of milk that trailers can haul. Previously, the law allowed milk trailers to transport only 80,000 pounds of milk. Now, the limit is 90,000 pounds. While some people worried that this would lead to faster destruction of area roadways, all truckers who want to carry this amount must pay $1,200 for a permit. The revenue from each permit will go to the counties where the trucks drive through to go toward road maintenance costs.

SB 549

Bingo licenses that never became active were addressed by SB 549. Under the law, organizations that applied for bingo licenses from the Texas Lottery Commission but did not use them within a year can ask for their money back. The law also allows reimbursement of fees if an organization withdraws an application or receives a rejection from the Texas Lottery Commission.

The Texas Legislature passed other laws that became effective this year. Some of these laws may touch your everyday life; others you may never notice, but it’s always good to be aware of how the law is changing where you live and work.

Posted by admin at 9:43 pm