Dog Bite & 1 Personal Injury article 12/13/19 – gtg

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You are here right now because you aren’t sure if you need a lawyer, and you probably have some questions. Most of the people I represent have never hired an injury lawyer before, and they are hesitant and want to find out some helpful information first. Maybe this describes you, too.

Many questions people have about their injury case are general in nature. I answer the most frequent questions below. If you have any you would like to add please feel free to contact me.

Is there a time limit on my case?
Most cases have a Statute of Limitations. For most injury cases, the deadline is 2 years after you were hurt. For Workers’ Compensation work injury cases, it is 3 years, but you must notify your job that you had an accident or injury within 45 days of the injury. There are many exceptions to this, and I encourage you to at least consult with a lawyer about this because if you blow this deadline, chances are, your case is over for good.

How much does it cost to hire an injury lawyer?
I work on a contingency fee on injury cases–no fee unless I get you a settlement or verdict/award. It is industry standard (and set by law) 20% for Workers’ Compensation cases and one-third (33 1/3%) up to 40% for regular injury cases, depending on the circumstances and case.

Can I hire a different lawyer if I am unhappy with the one I hired?
Of course you can! A word of warning, however: Lawyers are not supposed to chase after other lawyers’ clients. The only way I will represent you is if you have already decided to fire your lawyer and are going to hire a different one anyway. Beware of cheesy lawyers who bad-mouth one another. It is unethical, and it tells you a lot about a lawyer if the only way they can get clients is to spread rumors about others.

How much is my case worth?
Very common question, but there is no way for me to tell you that without A LOT of information about your case. Even then, there is a range of value depending on the client, the case, the facts of the injury, your doctor, and your medical outcome once you have recovered as much as you can from your injuries. This may be a disappointing answer, but its the truth, and you’d better think twice before hiring someone who tells you that you have a million dollar case before knowing any of the details.

If I was injured at work, what am I entitled to?
2/3 of your salary while off work. Your doctor bills paid. Your choice of treating doctors (up to 2). A lump sum payment at the end of the case reflecting the change in your body as a result of the injury. If you have serious ongoing problems, you can get a total permanent award or a permanent wage differential award between what you once earned and what you now earn. These are the basics, but as you can see, it’s complicated. There is other relief available depending on the case.

Can my employer fire or retaliate against me for filing a Workers’ Comp case?
No, it is a violation of Federal law for your employer to fire you or retaliate against you for filing a Workers’ Comp case, which is your right under the law. They are hard cases to prove, and my office handles these “Retaliatory Discharge” cases. But you have to be able to prove you were fired for filing a Workers’ Comp case and not some other reason.

How long does a case take?
I once settled a case in 30 minutes. I have settled several in several months. Most cases that settle can take a year. If a case goes into a lawsuit, it can be 2 years until we get a trial. I always push my cases, because you do not get paid waiting, and neither do I. I do not get paid anything out of your pocket on contingency fee cases, just when I win your case by settlement or verdict. In work injury cases (Workers’ Compensation), my office can file a 19b or 19b1 Petition to make sure you are getting paid and getting appropriate medical care from a doctor of your choice. Once I know some more details of your case, I will be in a better situation to give you an estimate.

If I had an injury before, will that ruin my case?
Not at all. But we must be 100% up front and honest about your medical condition before your accident or injury. Even if you had the same or similar problem before, the law allows us to make a claim for the exacerbation of a pre-existing injury–for a problem becoming worse. The insurance company is going to find out about your prior injury anyway, and honesty is the best policy.

What doctor should I go to?
Going to a company doctor in a work injury case is usually a mistake, because company doctors are out to protect the company. The law requires you to go to an exam by the company doctor but you get to pick who is actually treating you for your injuries. In most types of injury cases, if you have health insurance, have your family doctor refer you to the appropriate specialist. If you have neither money nor health insurance, find a neighborhood doctor who will work on a “lien.” That means that the doctor understands that you are down on your luck, and the law allows the doctor, via a lien, you get part of his bill paid if you win your case. If you have been injured and want to get compensation for your injuries, you have to get treatment or there is no way to prove your case.

What should I do if my doctor is being a jerk?
Find a new one. I’m not kidding. I have had my client’s treating doctors ruin their case for no reason. I have had treating doctors deny my clients needed medication and medical treatment because they do not like lawsuits, even when insurance company doctors have approved the treatment! If your doctor treats you like a jerk when he finds out you were injured in an accident, find another one. You do not deserve to be treated like a jerk by a doctor who has no idea about what you are going through and no sympathy. We prove half of your case through a doctor’s testimony–do you really want to try to prove your case with a hostile doctor?

What do I have to do if I hire you to handle my case?
I do all the heavy lifting. You provide me the basics of how your injury occurred, who the witnesses are, what doctors you are seeing. You sign my initial paperwork, like information releases so I can get your medical records. I always have clients sign a written agreement outlining our agreement. Your job is to tell me if you change jobs or addresses or phone numbers, keep me updated as to your medical treatment, send me anything you get in the mail related to your injuries, medical treatment, etc., and cooperate with my office as we collect your medical records, bills, and other information necessary to push your case forward. If we file a case, you might have to come downtown a few times for the case, but the day to day heavy lifting is all done by my office.

Do I have to tell anyone about my case?
No, and I will not tell anyone or discuss your case with anyone if you tell me not to.

What is a lien?
When you have no insurance, a doctor can file a lien (pronounced “lean’”) which is a legal piece of paper saying that if you get money out of your lawsuit, the doctor has to be paid a portion of it for his bill. The doctor does not have a “stake” in your case, because you still owe the doctor for the bills whether you win your case or not. The law limits how much they can get out of your settlement, and there are no liens on Workers Compensation cases (work injuries). From here, it gets awfully complicated. I have a lot of experience working these things out, and it can get very complicated, beyond what I can answer in a brief FAQ.

If my health insurance company pays my doctors bills, do I have to pay them out of my settlement?
It depends. It is likely that you health insurance paperwork (contract) says that you have to, but many times, my client’s health insurers never contact them about being paid back for the medical care covered by the health insurance. When they DO contact my office or you, then yes, we do have to work out a deal with them. I handle that, and I can usually get you a pretty good deal.

Can you lend me money because I am not working because of my injuries?
NO, a lawyer is not allowed to lend or advance money to their client. There are lawsuit loan places out there, but I do not suggest you go to them. They charge 40% or 50% interest, or more. I never suggest them and always advise against them. That said, if you must, you must, and I will cooperate if you direct me to do so.

What if I already gave the insurance company a recorded statement and signed some papers?
I represent people all the time who hire me AFTER they sign insurance papers and give a recorded statement on the telephone. Usually I can fix it. When I cannot fix it, we have to live with it and do the best we can. It may not be a big deal at all–but it can be a case-killer. It is one of the first things I investigate once I take over a case.

If I fire my old lawyer and hire you, do I pay two lawyer fees out of my case?
No, I cut a deal with the old lawyer, and if we cannot work out a deal, then the Court cuts my attorney fee and gives some of it to your old lawyer. Nothing for you to worry about–you pay the same as if you only ever hired me. I take the hit, but that is the breaks.

Should I lie about my old injury or about how the accident happened to make my case seem better?
You should never, NEVER lie about any part of your case, ever. People who lie always get caught in some way in injury cases, and then, their case is worth nothing. You may also be subject to contempt of Court if you lie–which can include jail and a fine. Do us both a favor–if you are even considering telling anything less than the 100% truth, then find yourself a different lawyer. I pride myself on my honesty and integrity, and demand the same honesty, respect, and cooperation I give to each and every one of my clients.

I am thinking about hiring the lawyer who did my real estate closing–he said he does injury cases, what do you think?
I think that it is probably a bad idea. You do not go to a foot doctor for an eye exam, or a hand surgeon for a headache. There are so many minefields in injury law that even a lot of injury lawyers do not know them. Think about it carefully.

My case already settled–can I hire you to get me more for my injuries?
Usually not, but there are exceptions. Usually, once you sign the settlement papers, that’s it. Keep me in mind for the next time a friend or family member needs a Personal Injury lawyer.

Are your client testimonials real or are they just names and things you just made up?
100% real and written in my client’s own handwriting. They are on file at my office, for anyone to look at who cares to. Just contact me to set up an appointment to see them if you want. I like to have a good relationship with my clients. I want a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation. So, my clients always agree to write a review for me, and I am also lucky–all of my clients send me referrals of their family and friends. That, in my book, is the true test of the job I am doing for people.

How long have you been in practice?
I have been licensed since 1998. I had my first jury trial in a personal injury case after one month of practice. After about 1 1/2 years, I went to a big Defense firm and worked for insurance companies and saw how they operate (ugh!). My sympathies were always with the middle class, working class, regular people over big companies, so I returned to doing injury work for injured people at a firm, and quickly realized that there are a lot of injury firms out there that treat their clients terrible, but their associates worse. I started building a practice mainly on word of mouth and great, respectful service. That is the foundation of my firm, and it is my promise to my all of my clients.

Do you really take cases to trial in front of live juries?
Sure, I have had more than 30 jury trials, and probably 100 arbitrations, hundreds of depositions. I have more trial experience than many lawyers, because I am not afraid to go to trial when my client’s case merits it. In fact, MOST lawyers retire without ever even having HALF the trials I have had.

You’re a lawyer–how do I know if I can trust you?
The best thing to do is talk to me and see what you think. Read what my clients have to say about me, my practice, and how they were treated. I’m a straight shooter and pride myself on telling the whole truth from beginning, through the middle, through the end. No surprises, just the truth. That’s why I get so many referrals from my current and former clients.

What happens to me if I got hurt at work (Workers Comp case) and I cannot go back to my old job?
We might be able to get you a new job that matches your new physical abilities, and it probably pays less than what you were making. But we might be able to get you what’s called a “wage differential”–which means that if you used to make $20/hour and now you can only earn $10/ hour, we might be able to get you that extra $10 per hour for the remainder of your working life. That can be a lot of money, and it can really ease the financial strain of suffering such a serious injury.Obviously, this is complicated stuff, so this is not a promise that I can get you a wage differential in your case without knowing more.

If I send you a case, can you pay me some money for it?
It is unethical for lawyers to do that. Lawyers who do that can and do lose their license to practice law. I strongly suspect that this is a common practice with some lawyers. I could lose my license, so I cannot and do not do it. The ethical rules for lawyers say that you are not allowed to give “anything of any value” for someone referring you a case. You will have my friendship, my appreciation, my thanks, my recognition.And, you will know that you have done your friend or family member a true service by getting them to an honest, hardworking, “tell it like it is” lawyer. You can never put a price on the value of that, my friend. You will have to ask yourself whether you want to entrust your friend or family member’s case to a lawyer who breaks the law and risks his license just to get a new case–what kind of lawyer would do something like that?

How much do you charge?
All of my injury cases are taken on contingency, which means I only get paid if I win you money or get you a settlement. 20% statutory fee of Workers’ Comp and 33 1/3% or 40% for other injury cases, the industry standard that everyone charges. That means you pay nothing up front–I only get paid out of what I win for you. Very occasionally, in a complicated, tough, or costly case, I might take a case on an hourly rate or ask a client to help with costs, but that is very rare.

Who pays the case costs?
Case costs are things like a Court filing fee, a fee for getting copies of medical records, address verification of the person who hurt you, ordering a copy of the police report, etc. I typically advance case costs. If we lose, I typically eat the costs I have advanced on your case–you do not pay me back. If we win, the case costs come out of your end after I take my fee. This is standard practice in the injury business. I am very careful not to waste money on Court costs. There are some occasional cases that I ask for a retainer or costs-only retainer, but that is in less than 1% of my cases, and it is a rare and special situation.

How many times do I have to come downtown if my case goes to Court?
Hard to say, but maybe 2-3 times before the trial, and then you have to be present for the entire trial, start to finish. This is not the gospel, but it is a pretty good estimate.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Are you the victim of a dog bite? Let our lawyers help! We are personal injury lawyers with extensive experience in personal injury cases, including dog bites.

A surprising amount of injuries each year in the United States are caused by dog bites. Two percent of the population of the United States is bitten by dogs every year. According to national statistics, some 850,000 bite victims seek medical care for dog bites in any given year. Dogs are very powerful animals, and a dog bite can be devastating. Sadly, children receive more than their share of attacks. Medical bills for the treatment of these dog bites can be astoundingly high. Physical, emotional, and collateral damage to the victims and the victims’ families can be even higher. If a dog bites once, chances are it will bite again. Dangerous dogs can be prevented from biting another innocent victim if dog bite victims pursue their claims.

Do you need to hire a lawyer to handle a dog bite claim?
You may wonder “Won’t hire a lawyer drag out the process? Won’t it cost me money? Won’t it affect my relationships with people? Won’t I get the same amount an attorney could get for me?” Actually, the opposite is true – in a dog bite case as well as any other injury case. 

An insurance company may offer a dog bite victim only a fraction of what the claim is worth, and what an attorney would be able to obtain. Insurance companies know that victims will most likely have no idea of the value of a claim. Insurance companies also know that the victim, or the victim’s family, is operating largely from anger, fear, sorrow, or worry about expensive medical bills and lost wages and are able to play on those emotions. An experienced attorney serves as a buffer between the victim, or victim’s family, and the insurance company, and is able to negotiate from a position of strength.

Insurance companies will offer a victim 10% to 20% of what an experienced attorney could get. The insurance company tries to keep the other 80% to 90%. Attorneys work on a contingency basis and take one-third, so a victim with an attorney would receive far more with the attorney, even after subtracting the contingency fee, than he could get for himself.

With a contingency fee, the victim will pay for nothing, and the attorney receives no payment unless he obtains a settlement or a verdict at trial. If nothing is recovered, the victim owes nothing. He will not have to pay the attorney a fee, and will not have to repay the attorney for his costs.

Oftentimes in a dog bite case, the owner of the dog is a friend or family member, possibly even a parent or legal guardian. The victim may feel uncomfortable or reluctant to pursue a case for damages in these situations. This is where hiring an experienced attorney makes even more sense. A good attorney knows how to deal with an insurance company in a professional manner, and the victim and victim’s family are removed from the process. As most cases settle, particularly cases where the insurance company knows it is up against an experienced and formidable attorney, the possibility of unpleasant confrontation in court with the dog’s owner is even further reduced. It is important here to know that if you are a victim and the dog owner is a friend or family member who is covered by insurance, your friend or family member will never have to contribute a penny to your award. If there is insurance coverage, the insurance company will pay. If there is no insurance then you can decide not to proceed with your case.

Attorneys also have access to databases where they can compare their case to cases that have been settled or gone to verdict involving similar injuries, and similarly situated victims, in the jurisdiction where the injury occurred. This enables a good attorney to have a very accurate picture of what his case is worth before even beginning negotiations with an insurance company or preparing for trial. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. An experienced and professional attorney can be a very powerful ally.

Many victims who are disfigured are not even aware that they may have substantial claims for loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, or emotional distress. Their spouse or significant other may also have a substantial claim for loss of consortium if the facts support such a claim. While victims may not know they can pursue these kinds of claims, an experienced attorney knows. The insurance companies also know the existence and value of these claims, but they are not about to inform the victim. Insurance companies may offer compensation for time missed from work, but they will not voluntarily offer money for future lost earnings capacity, which is a complicated issue, often requiring expert testimony, and invariably completely beyond the ability of an accident victim to prove. Since this can be the largest portion of the loss over the years, it is essential that an experienced attorney handle this for the victim.
If the victim’s medical bills, which is a dog bite case can be very substantial, are paid by the victim’s own health insurance, the health insurance company will file a lien with the dog owner’s insurance company. The dog owner’s insurance company will pay the full amount of those claims without hesitation. Lawyers who represent accident victims, however, further benefit their clients by negotiating with the third parties and reducing their claims, which becomes money in the victim’s pocket.

So the answer is yes. You should definitely retain an experienced attorney to represent you if you, or if a family member, has been the victim of a dog bite. Contact our personal injury lawyers for your free initial consultation.

Free Legal Evaluation

If you, or someone you care about, have been injured by a dog, you can contact our law firm for a free evaluation by calling our office. Our phones answer 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Our law firm will evaluate your claim free of charge and advise you on your legal rights to collect compensation. There is no obligation to use our services, and there is never a fee unless we get money for you.

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What should I do if a dog attacks me?
What types of injuries can occur during a dog attack?
What are the laws surrounding responsibility for dog bites or attacks?
DoesTexas have a “Dangerous Dog Statute”?
What causes a dog to attack?
Will I get rabies if a dog viciously bites me?
What can I do if a loved one wrongfully died due to a dog attack?
What is the most dangerous breed of dog?
I was attacked by a dog and now am suffering from depression. What is the cause of this?
Should I contact a lawyer if a dog has attacked me?

What should I do if a dog attacks me?
The following are the steps you should take if attacked by an animal.
Seek medical attention. 
Report the dog bite or attack to the proper authorities.
Photograph the wounded area. 
Write down names and contact info for any witnesses.
Contact an experienced dog bite attorney to handle your case.

What types of injuries can occur during a dog attack?
No matter what the reason for the attack, a victim can sustain terrible injuries including:
Bites
Puncture wounds
Rabies
Fractures or crushing injuries
Head or brain injuries
Scarring
Emotional Trauma
Wrongful Death

What are the laws surrounding responsibility for dog bites or attacks?
If a dog injures a person, the dog’s owner will be liable for damages. In order for the owner to be held liable, the victim must not have committed a trespass or other tort, nor tease, torment, or abuse the dog at the time of the injury. In cases where the victim is less than seven years old, the law presumes that the child was not committing a trespass or other tort and the burden of proof is on the defendant.

Does Texas have a “Dangerous Dog Statute”?
State of Texas laws regarding the regulation of dangerous dogs to prevent dog bites are found in Title 10 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. This law allows for the seizure of a dangerous dog that causes death or serious bodily injury.

What causes a dog to attack?
Dog bites usually occur because the dog has been startled, interrupted from eating, or disturbed while caring for puppies. It is important to remember that dogs are still animals with animal instincts. Dogs while playing with them even accidentally bite people. For example, a dog may lunge for a ball, miss the ball, and instead end up biting the arm of the person whom was playing with the dog. However, sometimes dog bites occur as a result of the negligence of a dog owner. The dog bites someone without provocation or warning, or because the owner has not properly restrained their dog.

Will I get rabies if a dog viciously bites me?
Not necessarily, however, you should seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system (the brain and spinal cord.) Rabies is 100% fatal if it is not treated before symptoms appear. Since rabid dogs can spread the disease through their saliva, a victim of a dog bite may be exposed to rabies when bitten. Do not assume that all pet owners have their dogs properly vaccinated against rabies.

What can I do if a loved one wrongfully died due to a dog attack?
In most cases, the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death action for money lost because of the deceased’s death. The amount of money that can be recovered equals the monetary loss suffered by the family members who are now deprived of that part of the decedent’s earnings. These beneficiaries may also recover money damages for hospital, nursing, medical, funeral and estate administration expenses that they had to pay because of the injuries that resulted in the injured person’s death.

What is the most dangerous breed of dog?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 25 breeds of dogs were involved in 238 fatal dog bites one year alone. More than 50% of the deaths where the breed was known were caused by Pit Bull type dogs and Rottweilers. However, it is estimated that German Shepherds are the mostly likely breeds of dog to bite.

I was attacked by a dog and now am suffering from depression. What is the cause of this?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. The disorder usually develops within 90 days of the trauma, but may take longer to develop. According to the American Psychiatric Association, typical symptoms last approximately 3 months. Others may experience symptoms that come and go over several years. Common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include:
Recurring, intrusive, and distressing memories of the event (e.g. flash backs, panic attacks, etc.) 
Avoiding situations that remind you of the event 
Becoming emotionally numb and withdrawing
Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
Fearing for your personal safety 

Should I contact a lawyer if a dog has attacked me?
Yes, you should first contact your local animal control and the police department. Then you should immediately contact an attorney to learn your rights. An experienced dog bite attorney can help you recover more in damages and help you get your life back on track.

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