Areas of Practice - Personal Injury

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Information
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Personal Injury - Information
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Personal Injury Law
Personal Injury Law is an area of the Law under the branch of Tort Law. Tort law is part of the Civil Justice System that covers those losses, wrongs or damages that are caused by the conduct, act or omission of a responsible party to another person's body, property, rights or reputation. A Personal Injury Loss can occur at ones' work place, in a car wreck, by a faulty product, a defective product, an operating error, a faulty repair, a medical mistake, a slip and fall, a construction accident, an animal attack, a plane or train accident, a boating accident or many other scenarios. Personal Injury Law can protect and/or compensate for monetary, physical or psychological damages. However the damages that are caused must occur due to the negligence or unreasonably unsafe actions or intentional actions of another or an employer, a manufacturer, a doctor, a landlord or some other person or entity or organization who owes a duty of care. Personal Injury Law covers many different areas and situations.

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Car Wrecks
Each and every car wreck is different. Each individual involved and injured in a car wreck will have their own set of damages, individual injuries, and specific losses. While most car wrecks are caused by negligence and/or a momentary lapse of attention, some are caused by reckless behavior. Reckless behavior includes operating vehicles at high speed and driving under the influence.

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Establishing Liability
As with most liability claims, determining who is at fault in a car wreck is determining who was negligent for the loss. We will immediately obtain a copy of the police report, review the traffic laws and interview witnesses and if needed hire investigators and/or experts to determine who was at fault for your car wreck.

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Car Wrecks Caused by Highway Defects
Poorly maintained roads or malfunctioning traffic signals can also contribute to car wrecks. Sometimes improper designs, maintenance issues, construction issues, signage issues, lighting issues or other highway defects can cause serious or even deadly car wreck. In cases such as this the road construction company or even the State can be held responsible.

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Car Wrecks Caused by Drunk Drivers
Everyday drunk drivers kil and injure Texans. Victims and/or their families have the right to make a claim for actual damages and punitive damages. In addition to the intoxicated driver being held liable for the personal injuries or death, a bar or club can also be liable.

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Reckless Conduct and Road Rage
A driver who is reckless is one who operates his vehicle with "willful and wanton disregard" for the rights and well being of others. A driver can be found reckless, for example, if he or she drives in a threatening or harassing manner out of "road rage" and causes an accident. The concept of “Road Rage” is defined as "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway." Texas Law Enforcement Agencies are renewing efforts to identify and penalize aggressive drivers-those who speed, tailgate and engage in other dangerous driving practices.

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Damages
If you have been injured in an automobile accident you may bring a claim or lawsuit to recover the actual expenses associated with your property damage, medical costs, economic damages, and emotional and physical pain and suffering. However, recovering the full value of your damage can be complicated. Retaining a lawyer places you in the best position to receive the recovery that you deserve for your injuries.

In automobile accident cases, as in all negligence cases, the injured party may recover for physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering, medical and rehabilitative expenses, past and future lost income, permanent impairment and permanent disfigurement. Typical damages may also include future medical bills that are reasonably certain, loss of enjoyment of life, and physical property damage. A previous injury does not necessarily prevent the right to recover compensation. The injured party may still recover damages for re-injuring or aggravating an earlier injury. In order to document the damages, a person injured in an accident should keep a daily diary describing how the injury affects him or her and his or her immediate family.

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Family member's damages
The spouse of the accident victim may also be able to recover for damage to the marital relationship. Both the husband and wife usually bring the claim, which is known as "loss of consortium." Loss of consortium generally refers to any negative effect on the marital relationship caused by the accident, and includes loss of the spouse's love, companionship, comfort, affection, solace, moral support, sexual relations, ability to have children, and physical assistance in the operating and maintaining a home. Loss of consortium can be either temporary or permanent.

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Insurance
If the responsible party has insurance, then his or her insurance company should compensate the victim for his or her damages. Unfortunately, many insurance companies refuse to play fair when making their offer. If the other driver has insufficient insurance or is not insured at all, the victim may be entitled to compensation from his or her own insurance company under the uninsured or underinsured motorist provision. Also, other insurance policies, such as the policies of other family members or employers, may provide benefits to the injured person. Even if the injured person was partially at fault, the law may permit a recovery. To protect yourself and your family in the event of an accident, you should contact an attorney to review your insurance policies and to inform you of your legal rights under your policies.

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Recovery Amount
The value of an automobile accident case depends on a number of factors, including how the accident occurred, how easily the other party's fault can be established, the type and seriousness of the injuries, the type, frequency, and extent of medical treatment required, and the amount of insurance coverage available. Other relevant factors may include how the accident occurred, the extent of vehicle damage involved, whether the injuries are permanent or involve significant scarring, the amount of your past and expected future medical bills, and the effect of the accident on your income. Every personal injury case is different. Therefore, the assistance of an attorney is vital to determine the fair value of your personal injury claim.

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Conclusion
Injuries received in a auto accident can be catastrophic and life altering. Serious and disabling injuries can affect not only the injured person, but family members as well. Even relatively minor injuries that require medical care and result in lost time from work can have a great impact on a family. If you are an automobile accident victim and have questions or concerns about your losses, contact us to assist you by diligently pursuing the individuals or companies that caused your injuries, determining what insurance is available, and obtaining a fair recovery.

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Premises Liability
Premises liability is a broad area of personal injury law. It covers many different situations and circumstances in which a person(s) can be injured, or the injuries result in death. This can be very confusing and complicated to determine where the responsibility and liability for the injuries lie, so it is imperative you contact an attorney as soon as possible after the incident to examine the facts and help determine if a case can be made.

"Premises Liability" refers to the ability to hold owners and occupiers of property legally responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on that property. A property owner or occupier must take reasonable steps to make sure that their property is safe and/or in some cases, the property owner or occupier must warn people on their property of any dangerous conditions. Owners and occupiers of land, such as business owners, landlords, and tenants have a legal duty to maintain their property in a condition that is safe for others. If it is provable that the property owner or occupier’s failure to take reasonable steps to provide a safe property results in an injury, then the injured person may be able to recover monetary damages from the negligent owner or occupier.

There are certain situations that arise when the negligence of a property owner or occupier results in serious or catastrophic injury:

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Lack of Security at Retail Stores
Retail store owners not only have the duty to make sure that their stores are free from conditions that may cause injury to customers, but they must also take reasonable steps to maintain the safety of their customers with respect to preventing crime against the customers (e.g., lighting in parking lot and building exit, security patrols, or repairing holes in fences). For example, retail store owners need to proactively rectify any safety hazards on the property of the store and if there is no way to rectify the hazard, they need to adequately warn and protect the guests. The landowner must not knowingly, negligently, or maliciously fail to guard or warn against any dangerous conditions, use, structures, or activities, or they may be found liable no matter what the status of the injured customer is. The burden of proof is on the customer/injured person to prove negligence or purposely not ensuring the safety of the guests.

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Failure to Maintain a Property
It costs money to keep a building and its surrounding parking areas safely maintain. When a business attempts to save money by cutting corners on maintenance and that decision injures or kills someone, the business or property owner should be held accountable.
Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents happen when a business allows a hazard such as a slippery or greasy floor or potholes in an unlit parking lot.
When a ceiling falls at an industrial site or when boxes are stacked in a hazardous manner, workers and customers can be seriously hurt.
Slip and Fall in Parking Lot - can occur when individuals walk across unmaintained private parking lots and fall and suffered serious and permanent injuries. In some cases the holes individuals have tripped on have been present for a long time, evidencing a failure to inspect and repair by the owner.

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Dog and Animal Attacks in Texas
Every year, thousands of Texans are bitten by animals. In many cases, a person bitten by a dog may have a legal right to recover damages from the animal's owner or another responsible party.

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If You are Bitten by a Dog or Domestic Animal
The first thing you should do if you are bitten by a dog is to seek medical attention immediately. If you are not treated, a dog bite can cause serious injury and even death. Once you have been medically evaluated, you should also consider consulting with a lawyer experienced in animal bite cases.

An attorney will ask you for detailed information about the circumstances surrounding your animal bite. At a minimum, you should provide the name and phone number of the animal's owner. If you don't have this information, a neighbor or a witness might be able to provide it to you. Also, if there were witnesses, you should get their names and contact information as well.

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Dogs
Most states have enacted laws that are collectively referred to as "dog bite laws." Dog bite laws impose what is known as "strict liability" on dog owners for injuries caused by their dogs. Strict liability means that the dog owner is responsible for injuries caused by his or her dog, regardless of whether the owner was actually at fault.

Dog bite statutes provide a significant legal advantage to people injured by dogs. In states that do not have such laws, an injured person has the burden of proving that the dog owner knew (or should have known) that his/her dog was vicious and could injure someone. Under strict liability dog bite law, however, the plaintiff only needs to show that the dog bit him/her.
However, an injured person could be barred or limited from recovering his or her full damages (even under a dog bite law) if the dog owner shows that the injured person provoked the dog, or was trespassing. Generally, in states with dog bite laws, a person injured by a dog will have an easier time proving his or her legal case than a person bitten by another type of animal.

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Horses and Domestic Animals
Most injuries from horses are caused by kicks, as opposed to bites, which are the most common cause of injury from dogs. Texas does not have specific laws regarding injuries caused by horses. As a result, injuries caused by horses typically are treated as are injuries caused by other domestic animals, under standard rules of negligence. Thus, the owner of a horse will usually be held liable for injuries caused by the horse if the owner knew or had reason to know of the horse's dangerous tendencies. Also, consistent with other animal cases, a horse owner may not liable for injuries if the owner can prove the injured person "assumed the risk," was "contributorily negligent," or provoked the horse.

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Wild Animals
People who own or keep wild animals are often subject to strict liability in the same way that dog owners are responsible for dog bites under dog bite laws. The reason for this is that the act of keeping an animal that, by its nature, is potentially uncontrollable and vicious is considered inherently dangerous. Thus, even if the owner of a wild animal goes to extreme measures to protect people from his animal (such as building high fences), if the animal injures someone, the owner of the animal can be held liable regardless of the effort he or she took to protect the public.

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Dos and Don'ts
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The Dos
Do call our law firm as soon as possible.

Do call your agent as soon as a covered event takes place. As soon as you get home from the car accident, or even before you go to the doctor, call your agent.

Do review and understand your coverage before talking to your insurer or your agent. Read the "Coverage" and "Exclusion" sections of you policy in particular.

Do take and keep detailed notes of all conversations with insurance company representatives, and get names, phone numbers, and job titles of people you speak with, including their supervisor's name.
Do consider whether you might have insurance coverage under some other insurance policy as well. Many people have more than one policy that might cover a claim. In particular, look at homeowner policies, "umbrella" policies, and materials that came with your credit cards.

Do take pictures, if possible. That doesn't mean you should sneak a "PatientCam" into surgery with you, but take pictures of your destroyed vehicle, fire-damaged home, or injuries if you can.

Do be honest and forthcoming with your insurer. Even if it is embarrassing, it is better if your insurer knows all the facts. Failing to be candid with your insurer might invalidate your policy or cause a denial of coverage.

Do understand the difference between replacement coverage and depreciated or actual cash value. If your policy provides replacement coverage, don't settle a personal property loss for "actual cash value." You may be required to replace the lost items before getting your full reimbursement if you have replacement cost coverage.

Do keep all receipts of meals, lodging, and purchases made in connection with time spent pursuing your claim or recovering from your injuries from the time of the covered event until final settlement with your insurance company.

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The Don'ts
Don't give any recorded or written statements to an insurer until you are sure you understand your coverage. Remember you are not required to allow the insurance company to record your telephone conversation. If you have doubts, do call our law firm.

Don't automatically accept the estimate or appraisal of your losses given to you by the insurer. Insurance companies will often try to get you to accept their estimator's or contractor's repair or replacement estimates, which might be a bit low.

Don’t sign any releases or waivers of any kind until you obtain legal advice. A bad financial situation after a major loss may make it seem necessary for you accept a premature, inadequate settlement from your insurer. But you may remember destroyed items after you have signed a release as to payment for your personal property inventory or other claims. For these reasons, it is advisable to consult an attorney before signing a release or waiver. Be sure to read the fine print on any payment from the insurance company.

Don't sign any release and do not accept any check that says "final payment". Call our law firm as soon as possible.

Don't ignore time limits. You only have two years before the statute expires and ignore time limits set by your policy.

Don't forget that you have a contract with your insurer. Your insurer has a legal obligation to provide the coverage it promised to you. Be insistent about enforcing that obligation.

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