legal 10/5/22 – How to choose car insurance / Car Accidents / Truck Accidents / Motorcycle Accidents / Pedestrian Accidents / Bus Accidents / Workplace Accidents / Traumatic Brain Injury / Wrongful Death / Premises Liability / Personal Injury Glossary – gtg

How To Choose an Auto Insurance Company

You should have an appropriate insurance policy that helps you when you need it. For example, you can hardly predict when an accident might occur and, therefore, must have vehicle insurance to sufficiently cover yourself against any possible third-party losses and fulfill the legal obligations involved in your vehicle’s registration with the insurance company. Many insurance advisors try to sell one company’s policies or another, whether you are looking for an online insurance market or a friendly neighborhood agency. Many insurance companies and numerous plans make your choice of choosing the right policy much more confusing. However, the Internet can help you select the most appropriate policies according to your needs. Many online companies specialize in advising the best policies suitable for your specific circumstances and requirements. Some companies providing online services are relatively new, but you can also find those who have established themselves in the insurance market.

Auto Insurance Online
Online auto insurance services are easy when choosing the right insurance for your vehicle. You have to consider the following factors when selecting the most appropriate insurance policy for your requirements:
First of all, you should look for reputed and well-known car insurance companies. Good companies generally have better insurance policies. The cost also differs across a wide range of insurance companies. Getting auto insurance quotes from various companies is essential to ensure you get the best bargains. While selecting affordable policies from reliable insurance providers, you must also consider the features of the policy. Generally, reputed insurance companies also have different policies that you can choose according to your requirements. The online insurance advisors can help you select the best policy for your requirements. You should avoid cheap policies as they are ineffective and fail to address the consumer’s requirements. You should prefer experienced and reliable insurance providers. The established firms provide better services, and their efficiency and experience in providing services will ensure that you have peace of mind when you need them. The insurance policies of reliable firms are not always costly, and if they do cost a bit more, you will be able to get services you can rely on. You should do some research and homework by reading the reviews from customers who have already purchased insurance policies from that service provider. This will help you understand the quality of services the insurance company provides. You should avoid purchasing insurance from any company that doesn’t have reviews, as it indicates that they are relatively new players in the field and may not be able to offer satisfactory services.

You will get a fair idea about the services offered if you go through the insurance company’s terms and conditions. This will allow you to understand the true nature and conditions of the service. If you ignore the terms and conditions of the service, you may face disappointment when you need their services due to the misunderstanding about the policy being offered. Finally, any policy is useless if you cannot afford it. Vehicle insurance is crucial to meeting third-party liabilities arising from unfortunate accidents and injuries that cannot be ruled out. The right insurance shall allow you to get a new vehicle with total compensation.

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Car Accident Attorneys: Five Things to Know

Car accidents are a fact of life. Given the number of cars on roads every day, it’s not surprising that the roads are also dangerous and lead to many motor vehicle accidents. Thankfully, most car accidents result in minor personal injuries and property damage. For this reason, victims usually do not think to engage a car accident attorney. But it is always a good idea to consult with a car accident attorney if you have questions about your legal rights following any accident. The attorneys at our Law Firm are available to answer your questions free of charge and will help you determine what your case is worth. Here are some answers to the most common questions our car accident attorneys receive:

What Should I Do Immediately Following a Car Accident?
The priority after any accident is to call 911 and get medical attention for anyone injured. The next step should be to contact the local police department. Police officers are trained in securing and investigating accident scenes. The police will prepare a formal accident report, which can be helpful in later establishing a negligent driver’s fault in a personal injury lawsuit.

While waiting for the police, you can take some preliminary steps. You should exchange contact, driver’s license, and insurance information with the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. Make sure to take note of the license plate and vehicle identification number of any vehicles. About all of us now carry a high-resolution camera as part of our smartphones. Take pictures of any damage to your vehicle and other conditions–skid marks, traffic signals, road obstacles–that you think might be relevant. You must start preparing for a possible legal claim as soon as possible.

What Should I Avoid Following a Car Accident?
You cannot win a personal injury case right after an accident, but you might lose it if you do not exercise some caution. The one thing you should never do is apologize or admit liability to the other driver. Even if you think you might be partly to blame for the accident, do not say anything until you have had a chance to speak with a car accident attorney.

Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney, or Can I Handle it Myself?
In truth, not every accident requires a lawyer. If you only sustained minor damage to your car and insurance covers the repairs, you may be okay handling things yourself. If you suspect the insurance company is not dealing with you fairly or that your total damages may be more than you initially suspected, there is certainly no harm in scheduling a free consultation with the experienced car accident attorneys at our Law Firm.

Remember, insurance company adjusters are experts in assessing accident claims. They do this daily, and their first duty is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line – not you. If an adjuster knows counsel does not represent you, he or she may take advantage of your lack of knowledge. It can be challenging to assess the value of your accident claim, especially when you have no experience in this area. Our attorneys can help level the playing field and ensure you are not pressured into accepting an initial offer that does not fully compensate you. We only handle car accident cases and have been doing so for 40 years!

What Types of Damages Can I Seek?
The three most common types of damages in car accident cases are medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. These are all classified as “economic damages” because they have a quantifiable value. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may also have a claim for “non-economic damages,” which may include physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of spousal companionship and services. Medical expenses are often the most significant concern because even a seemingly minor accident can lead to thousands of dollars in bills. If an accident causes whiplash or traumatic brain injury, the victim may face weeks, months, or even years of additional medical care. When another driver’s negligence was responsible for such injuries, the victim has the right to seek compensation for any or all of the following:
• Hospitalization and emergency care;
• Ambulance and medical transportation fees;
• Follow-up consultations with specialists;
• Medical accessories to aid recovery (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.); and
• In-home services, including any necessary non-medical care.
Our car accident attorneys can help adequately assess the total value of your economic and non-economic damages and seek appropriate compensation from the responsible parties. The last thing you want to deal with while recovering from your accident is deal with medical bills. We can help relieve you of that burden.

Can I File a Personal Injury Claim Even If I Was Partly Responsible for the Accident?
Some people do not pursue a personal injury claim following a car accident because they feel at least partly responsible. You should not feel that way. While some states bar a plaintiff from recovering if they are even found to be 1 percent liable for an accident, Texas is much more forgiving. Texas is an at-fault state regarding car accidents; specifically, it is a “comparative fault” jurisdiction. This means that any driver who is wholly or partially — at least 50 percent — at fault for an accident has to take responsibility. This means a plaintiff can recover damages against a negligent defendant regardless of the plaintiff’s relative fault. But any award will be reduced proportionately. Let’s say you get into an accident and sue the other driver. A jury awards you $100,000 in damages but also decides you were 20 percent at fault. The judge would then reduce the award by 20 percent to $80,000.

Why Should I Contact your Law Firm’s Car Accident Attorneys?
We know you have a lot of choices when it comes to hiring a personal injury attorney. What makes our Law Office unique is our commitment to family. Our attorneys understand that being injured in a car accident is traumatic and requires a personal touch. Unlike some impersonal mega-firms where clients are simply looked at as dollars, we strive to treat every client like a family member. Our attorneys have been widely recognized by their clients and peers for their outstanding service.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you no doubt have many questions about your legal rights. Our Law Office can provide the answers you seek. Let our family help your family: Call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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What Steps Should I Take Immediately after a Car Accident?

Accidents happen, and when they do, you will probably feel overwhelmed or confused about your next steps. Fortunately, injured motorists are entitled to compensation if someone else causes their injuries. However, time and again, we have seen clients make mistakes in the immediate aftermath of a car wreck. Please call us to protect your legal rights so we can advise you. Always remember to do the following:

Call the Police
A police report is a great asset when seeking compensation for your injuries. The police officer should identify the location of the crash and the parties involved. The report might also identify any witnesses to the accident and make an initial determination of liability. If you don’t have a police report, deciphering what happened will be much more challenging, so call the police and report the accident immediately. If you are too injured to pick up a phone, ask a bystander to call if they haven’t already done so.

Get Medical Treatment
Your health is paramount, so contact emergency services if you can’t get to the hospital on your own. Some people feel fine after a crash, but concussions and back injuries often take some time for symptoms to manifest, so you should go to a doctor anyway. Remember to follow your doctor’s course of treatment. You might aggravate your injury and get less compensation if you don’t. Sometimes, injured motorists don’t think they are improving, so they might stop following their doctor’s treatment. Instead, seek a second medical opinion.

Take Pictures of the Accident Scene
You want evidence of the crash scene before the vehicles are moved. Take out your smartphone and snap pictures of the vehicles involved. Try to get pictures from many angles—close up, far away, etc. Also, take pictures of any skid marks on the road.

After most accidents, you probably need to move your vehicle out of the way to stop impeding traffic flow. However, remember to get at least a couple of pictures of the accident scene before moving them. Don’t attempt to if the accident is severe and the vehicle cannot be moved. Wait for the police to arrive.

Only take pictures if you can safely do so. If you feel pain, ask a bystander to take them for you. Moving around might only aggravate your physical injuries, so wait for the ambulance to arrive.

Obtain Witness Information
Witnesses are a great asset in any personal injury case. Speak to anyone who saw the accident and get their contact information. Remember that personal contact information (email, phone numbers) is better than work contact information since people often change jobs. Enter their information immediately into your phone, so you don’t lose the information.

Admit Nothing
The temptation to say, “I’m sorry,” is powerful after an accident. Some say, “I’m sorry,” even if they know they didn’t do anything wrong. After a crash, you cannot say anything that sounds like you are taking responsibility for the accident.
● Don’t say, “I didn’t see you when I pulled into that lane.”
● Don’t say, “I probably should have honked my horn to tell you I was there.”
● Don’t say, “I’m fine.”
● Don’t say, “I have no idea what happened.”
Any of these statements could show up later and be used against you to show you were at fault or that the other driver is not to blame for the crash. Even saying, “I’m fine” could be used against you later. Remember, some injuries are slowly developing, so you don’t know if you are fine until 24-48 hours have passed.
Here’s what you can say after a crash:
● Ask someone to call the police. If you can make a call, tell the other drivers involved that you are calling the police.
● Ask someone to take pictures of the accident scene if you can’t.
● Ask someone to call emergency services. If you can dial a phone, tell the other driver you will call for help if they need it.
● Ask the other drivers involved in the crash for their names, addresses, registration, license information, and proof of financial responsibility. Also, write down their license plate and vehicle identification number, which should be on the registration.
Other than that, you should not engage in small talk as you wait for the police to arrive.

Report the Accident to Your Insurer and the Texas DOT
Insurance companies typically require that you notify them within 24 hours of an accident. Be sure to call them as soon as possible so that you meet their deadline. Ideally, you will call as soon as possible.

Texas law also requires that you report the accident to the DOT immediately if there is a death or injury or within 10 days for property damage.
If you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident in Texas, you must report it to the Texas DOT if a law enforcement officer does not investigate the accident and at least one person, including the operator, sustains injury or death or if property damage is more than $1000.
If you fail to report the accident, the state might suspend your license, so it is a good idea to call right after talking to your insurer.

Avoid Talking to the Other Driver’s Insurance Agent
Within days of the accident, you might get a call from an insurance agent. They might ask you to tell them your side of the story, or they might make an initial settlement offer. We strongly encourage you not to talk to the agent and not accept any settlement until you have met with a lawyer.
You should also avoid signing any papers an insurance agent gives you. You have no idea what rights you are signing away with these papers. In particular, insurance agents want you to waive your right to bring a lawsuit, so any paper you sign could contain a waiver. Only a lawyer represents your rights—not insurance agents.

Hire an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
If another driver is to blame for your injuries, you can pursue financial compensation in a settlement or lawsuit. However, you can’t delay. Texas gives injured motorists a limited time to seek compensation for their injuries. You need an experienced car accident lawyer willing to fight for you to maximize your recovery. At our Law Firm, our team has gone up against some of the largest insurers in the state of Texas. We are happy to talk to you, so please reach out to set up a free consultation.

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Truck Accident Attorneys

While not as common as collisions involving passenger cars, truck accidents are often more devastating for the victims and their families. Anytime a tractor-trailer, semi-truck, or 18-wheeler is involved in an accident with a smaller vehicle, the smaller vehicle bears the brunt of the impact.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates commercial trucks, nearly 4,000 fatal crashes yearly involving “large trucks and buses.” In the last year for which the FMCSA has complete data, there were roughly 132,000 injuries attributed to truck and bus accidents. Approximately three-fourths of all injuries and fatalities in these accidents are sustained by “occupants of other vehicles.”

What Causes Truck Accidents?
The typical passenger car weighs about 5,000 pounds. In contrast, the legal limit for a commercial truck–that is, one that does not have an oversize or overweight permit–is 80,000 pounds. This 16-to-1 weight difference makes a commercial truck a dangerous instrument when left in the wrong hands.
Several factors may lead to a serious truck accident:
The driver lacks experience in handling the vehicle;
The truck is carrying a load above its legal weight limit;
The driver recklessly operates the truck on narrow roads that are not designed to handle commercial vehicles;
The driver fails to obey traffic laws;
The driver does not see the victim’s car due to a commercial truck’s large “blind spot”; and
The driver is operating the vehicle while tired – possibly over the maximum hours permitted by FMCSA regulations.
Like anyone who operates a motor vehicle on Texas roads, truck drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists. If a driver’s negligence leads to an accident, the victims have the right to seek compensation. A qualified truck accident attorney is an invaluable ally in holding the driver, among other parties, accountable.

Who Is Responsible for a Truck Accident?
Truck accidents are not simple fender benders. They typically involve a web of factual and legal issues. If you are a victim recovering from serious injuries, the last thing you should do is attempt to deal with such problems on your own.
Why are truck accidents so complicated? For one thing, it can be challenging to ascertain who owns the truck. Consider a typical car accident. You typically exchange insurance and registration with the other driver, who, in most cases, is also the car’s owner. It is, therefore, readily apparent who is liable for any potential damages.
With truck accidents, it is usually not that simple. There may be multiple parties who are potentially liable for your injuries:
the truck driver, who may be an employee or an independent contractor;
the company that employs the truck driver;
the company that owns the truck, which may be different than the company that employs the driver;
the company that leased the truck from its owner; or
the company that owns or leases the trailer attached to the truck if it was carrying commercial cargo at the time of the accident.
Ownership interests are complicated to decipher because they often involve a variety of legal entities–corporations, LLCs, etc.– designed to minimize the valid owner’s liability. Experienced personal injury lawyers know how to untangle this mess and identify the correct parties.

How Do You Investigate a Truck Accident?
Identification is just the first step. Commercial trucking accidents generate a lot of paperwork – which is information that may clarify a defendant’s liability. At our Law Office, we know how to sort through this mountain of evidence to get to the heart of the matter. There are several questions we can investigate the answers to on your behalf:
Who was actually in control of the truck when the accident occurred?
Was the truck properly maintained according to the owner’s written records?
Who was responsible if the company failed to keep proper maintenance records, as required by federal law?
Has the same company – or even the same truck been involved in any previous accidents?
There are also cases where the truck driver and owner did nothing wrong. In other words, the accident was not the fault of negligent driving but a physical defect in the truck itself. Trucks are enormously complex machines that require thousands of parts to function correctly at all times. If one of those parts fails due to a manufacturer’s error in design or production, an accident victim may have a cause of action for product liability.

What Compensation Can I Recover?
A truck accident can leave you with lifelong injuries. Traumatic brain injury and paralysis are just two examples. These are not the kinds of injuries that heal after a quick visit to the emergency room. In many cases, victims find their quality of life significantly reduced. They may be unable to work or enjoy everyday activities.
Our attorneys can help a judge and jury understand a truck accident’s total financial and emotional impact. By law, you are entitled to recover past and current medical expenses from the negligent parties and compensation for estimated future medical care – even if it lasts the rest of your life. You may also seek damages for lost wages and future earning capacity and non-economic damages to compensate you for pain and suffering.

Why Should I Contact Your Truck Accident Attorneys?
Our Law Office is not a one-man affair. We have a team of experienced personal injury lawyers dedicated to serving the people. We know how to handle your case from start to finish, whether that involves a brief negotiation with an insurance company willing to admit liability or an extended trial involving months of investigation, discovery, and possible appeals.

Our Law Firm is committed to helping your family seek justice. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a negligent truck driver, owner, or manufacturer, call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

Motorcycles are an important part of Texas’s cultural landscape. As of 2021, Texas has 380,830 motorcycles registered with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The thrill of traveling the open road comes with the risk of severe injury or even death in a motorcycle accident.
According to figures compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle accidents were 27 times more likely to result in death than other motor vehicle crashes. It is not hard to understand why. Motorcyclists are exposed to the road with only a helmet for protection. In a collision between a motorcycle and a car or truck, the motorcyclist will generally end up on the losing end.

How Can I Avoid a Motorcycle Accident?
If you are a motorcyclist, the best way to prevent a potentially catastrophic accident is to follow good safety practices. Especially if you are relatively new to motorcycling, it is essential to remember a motorcycle is not a car. Texas requires a particular driver’s license to operate a motorcycle. Motorcycle riders must obtain a Class M driver’s license to operate a motorcycle on a public highway in Texas. Applicants must be 16 or older and have passed a Basic Motorcycle Operator Training Course approved by the Department of Public Safety. In Texas, helmets are required for any rider under the age of 21. Riders over 21 may forego wearing a helmet if they obtain the proper certification or insurance coverage. Such riders must either complete a Department of Motor Vehicles-approved Motorcycle Operating Training Course or obtain at least $10,000 in medical insurance. As with automobile insurance, these riders must keep a copy of their medical insurance card on their person while riding.

Will I Be Held Responsible for My Motorcycle Accident?
While many motorcyclists bristle at wearing a helmet, it is in your best interest to follow it. Aside from the fact that a helmet will protect you in the event of an accident, if you are not wearing a helmet, that could be used against you if you subsequently bring a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver that hit you.
Determining fault for a motorcycle accident becomes particularly important due to the “51 percent bar” rule in Texas. The law states that a motorist who is 51 percent or more at fault is prohibited from suing others for compensation after a crash. Texas applies this modified comparative fault rule to injury claims involving all types of motor vehicle accidents.
But your comparative fault will reduce the final damage award. The defense can call attention to those facts if you are not wearing a helmet or following other safe motorcycling practices. And while it may not seem fair, juries tend to be less sympathetic to motorcycle accident plaintiffs than other accident victims. They may be looking for excuses not to award you damages, even if you did nothing wrong.

Why Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
Insurance companies and defense attorneys know there is a bias against motorcycle accident victims. They will not hesitate to exploit this bias. Defense attorneys often portray accident victims as out-of-control “renegades” who take unnecessary risks. Similarly, insurance companies tend to lowball settlement offers to motorcycle accident victims–even when their client is clearly at fault–because they are confident they can sway a jury.
This is why you need skilled representation at your side. At our Law Office, we have the knowledge and experience to help motorcyclists injured due to another driver’s negligence. We can take over every aspect of your claim, starting with the insurance companies and working our way through the trial if necessary.

How Much Are My Injuries Worth?
One of the first things we can help you with at our Law Office is assessing the potential value of your injury claim. This is often the most challenging thing for inexperienced accident victims to deal with. You know your incurred costs to repair or replace your motorcycle and treat your injuries, but this may not reflect the total damages you sustained. Among other items you need to consider:
*Traumatic Brain Injuries. Motorcycle accidents often result in head and brain injuries. Concussions, hemorrhages, and hematomas–i.e., bleeding in the brain – are common following an accident. Such injuries are often life-threatening and require emergency surgery. Even then, there may be permanent neurological impairment.
*Leg and Foot Injuries. Severe fractures and even amputation of limbs may be necessary following a motorcycle accident. This can permanently impair the victim’s ability to return to work or even perform basic activities of daily living.
*Road Rash. Following a collision, getting thrown from a motorcycle often leads to “road rash,” as the motorcyclist’s body scrapes against the pavement. This is more than superficial bruising: road rash can lead to severe infections and nerve damage.
*Long-term rehabilitation and care. Medical expenses are not just about hospitalization and emergency care. It may take weeks, months, or even years after a motorcycle accident to heal fully. A victim may require significant physical therapy, rehabilitation, and in-home care.
*Wrongful death. If you have lost a spouse, parent, or child due to a motorcycle accident, you may have a wrongful death claim against the negligent party. Wrongful death is a type of personal injury claim recognized under Texas law. If successful, the victim’s family may recover funeral expenses, final medical bills, and any lost income and financial support provided by the deceased.

Why Should I Contact Your Law Firm?
Personal injury cases are always complicated. Motorcycle accidents present additional challenges due to the severe nature of the injuries and the relative difficulty in getting a jury to sympathize with a motorcyclist. At our Law Office, we will zealously represent your interests when dealing with insurance companies and defense attorneys. Contact us today if you have been in a motorcycle accident and need to schedule a free consultation immediately.

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Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

Every two hours, a pedestrian is killed in a vehicle-related crash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures. That works out to nearly 4,800 fatal pedestrian accidents each year. In addition, the CDC says more than 150,000 pedestrians require emergency medical care annually following non-fatal accidents.

Pedestrians are especially at risk in high-traffic urban areas where residents frequently need to cross multi-lane roads, facing a gauntlet of drivers who fail to yield, travel too fast, and are too distracted by their smartphones to pay attention to the road. Drivers often do not take pedestrian safety seriously until it is too late. Even then, many drivers choose the cowardly (and illegal) “hit-and-run” approach of fleeing the scene without waiting for police–or stopping to assist the badly injured pedestrian lying in the street.

How Serious Are Pedestrian Accident Injuries?
A study published by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine found that in about 50 percent of pedestrian accidents, the victims suffered injuries to the lower extremities, i.e., the legs, feet, ankles, and thighs. The most common injuries were to the head, face, and neck (38 percent of accidents), followed by injuries to the upper extremities (27 percent).

Remember, a pedestrian lacks any protection when struck by a moving vehicle. Even a collision at relatively low speeds may produce significant, life-threatening injuries. If the injured pedestrian does not receive immediate medical attention, even a seemingly minor wound may be quickly infected, especially if the victim is left on the ground exposed to the elements.

Can I Sue the Driver Even If I Was Jaywalking?
A common defense in pedestrian accident cases is to blame the victim. The negligent driver will claim the pedestrian was jaywalking or suddenly darted into traffic. The driver maintains he had no time to respond and hit the pedestrian unwittingly.

While it is common sense that pedestrians should always observe basic traffic safety rules–crossing at clearly marked crosswalks where available, looking both ways before crossing the street, et cetera – Texas law imposes equal if not greater responsibility on drivers. After all, the driver is behind the wheel of a 4,000-pound car moving down the street at 40 miles per hour. As such, the driver has a legal duty to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians–even if they happen to be outside a designated crosswalk.

In any personal injury lawsuit, a judge and jury will look at all relevant factors, not just whether the pedestrian was jaywalking. A qualified pedestrian accident attorney can help ensure the court sees what happened and does not rush to blame you for someone else’s negligence. Even if you are partially to blame for the accident, you can still recover some monetary damages against a negligent defendant.

What If I’m Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
While most Americans pride themselves on a sense of personal responsibility, too often panic takes over following a pedestrian accident: The negligent motorist speeds away from the accident scene. The police can never identify the driver in many of these hit-and-run cases.

Where does that leave the victim? Aside from personal medical insurance to pay for their hospital care, pedestrian accident victims may be able to turn to their car insurance carriers. Many auto insurance policies include additional “uninsured and underinsured motorist” coverage. Such coverage is optional. You are not required to purchase it, but Texas requires insurers to offer it.

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are hit by a vehicle that either lacks insurance or has insufficient coverage to pay for all the damages you sustained. In the context of a hit-and-run, your uninsured motorist carrier steps into the anonymous driver’s shoes and pays your claim for damages.

Of course, it is usually not that cut-and-dry. There are several procedural hurdles you must clear. You need to file a police report regarding the accident. Texas law requires you to file a claim with your insurance carrier within two years.

Often, accident victims do not know they have uninsured motorist coverage or that it may apply to hit-and-run accidents. Insurers are not always eager, to put it mildly, to pay out uninsured motorist claims. Sometimes they will even deny valid claims or incorrectly state a pedestrian accident is not covered by the policy.

This is where our Law Firm can help. You might think a lawyer is unnecessary when dealing with your insurance company, but remember, the insurance company does not work for you; it works for its shareholders. We know how to negotiate with the insurers on your behalf to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

What If a Negligent Driver kills a Pedestrian?
Suppose a pedestrian is killed in an accident, and the responsible driver can be identified. In that case, the victim’s family may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim under Texas law. Wrongful death is meant to compensate a victim’s spouse or next of kin for the sudden loss of financial and emotional support. Wrongful death cases are enormously complicated and require the services of an experienced law firm like ours.

Why Should I Contact Pedestrian Accident Attorneys?
Hiring an attorney is a significant commitment. When you are already reeling from the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, you need to trust your attorney to look out for you. The last thing you want to deal with is insurance companies, defense attorneys, and mountains of paperwork.

Our Law Firm can give you peace of mind. We are family oriented – dedicated to helping you put your life back together. Call us to schedule a free consultation if you need legal advice following a pedestrian accident.

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Bus Accident Attorneys

The majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused by cars and trucks. While bus accidents are not as common, they are still a serious problem. According to federal regulators, more than 200 fatal bus crashes occur annually. Most of these crashes involve school and public transit (commuter) buses.

Even when not fatal, bus accidents can leave passengers and pedestrians with serious injuries that require costly medical care. Texas law imposes on all bus operators a duty to exercise the “utmost care and diligence” for the “safe carriage” of its passengers. This includes ensuring the bus is safe and that the driver obeys all applicable state and local traffic laws. A carrier may be liable for any personal injury arising from negligence failing to protect its passengers and the general public.

Can I Sue a Public Transit Agency?
One of the most frequent questions at our Law Office is whether you can sue a public authority, such as public transit, for injuries sustained while riding a commuter bus. The answer is yes, you can, but there are several additional legal hoops you will need to jump through. When you sue a private bus company for negligence, it is no different than any other personal injury lawsuit. Public transit agencies are considered subdivisions of the State of Texas. In the United States, the general rule is that you cannot sue the state or any of its components without its consent. This is a legal principle known as “sovereign immunity,” which extends back to when the American colonies were under the rule of the British king.

In modern practice, sovereign immunity means you cannot sue a Texas state agency unless the legislature has passed a law authorizing such a lawsuit. Fortunately for personal injury victims, there is such a law: The Texas Torts Claims Act (Section 101 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code) grants permission to sue the State of Texas for certain specific limited circumstances that are defined under the statute. But there is a catch. Under Section 101.101 of the Texas Tort Claims Act, the State of Texas is entitled to a “notice of claim” within 180 days of the incident. If this notice is not filed on time, the victim cannot sue for damages, regardless of the claim’s merits. This 180-day rule is a substantial departure from expected private personal injury lawsuits, where the victim has two years to file.

This compressed timeframe emphasizes the importance of working with an experienced bus accident attorney. It is easy for an inexperienced accident victim to get tripped on Texas procedural requirements when suing a public agency. And the courts will not give a victim any leeway – failing to comply with the strict terms will forever bar a person’s claim.

Are Other Parties Liable for a Bus Accident?
A bus accident may have many causes. The most common explanation is driver error. For example, the driver was operating the bus at too high a speed, which caused it to collide with another vehicle. The driver may also be tired if he or she has worked too many hours per week. Even scarier, the driver may be influenced by alcohol or drugs.

Alternatively, another vehicle may have crashed into the bus due to its operator’s negligence, in which case that driver can be held liable for the bus passengers’ injuries. The manufacturer may be liable if a bus fails due to a faulty part – say, a defective tire. There are also cases where the transit authority or private owner improperly maintains a bus. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes and enforces safety standards for bus operators. However, many carriers – especially discount bus operators – overlook or ignore FMCSA rules. While the FMCSA has the legal authority to revoke a private carrier’s right to operate intercity buses, there have been cases where such action has come too late to save unfortunate passengers from an accident.

Because the actual cause of a bus accident is not always readily known – and the responsible parties may try and cover their tracks – victims need to have someone on their side who will fight to learn the truth. Our Law Firm knows how to investigate bus accidents and identify the responsible parties. We know that many bus carriers cut corners regarding passenger safety. Our team will work to make sure such recklessness does not go unpunished.

What Kind of Damages Can I Recover?
A bus accident is a serious trauma. Since buses, unlike cars, generally do not have seatbelts, passengers are more likely to be ejected from their seats and slammed into the floor, window, or even another seat. In the best-case scenario, the victim is only left with minor scrapes and bruises. But in more serious bus accidents, the passengers may have broken bones, torn ligaments, spinal damage, and even traumatic brain injury. Medical expenses following a bus accident can quickly add up, especially if you require extensive follow-up care and physical rehabilitation. In a successful personal injury claim, you can recover all these expenses and other economic losses, such as lost wages and noneconomic damages for your pain and suffering.

Why Should I Call Your Bus Accident Attorneys?
Many attorneys in Texas can help you with a personal injury claim. Our Law Firm stands out because of our family practice and our dedication to client service. Our clients have honored us with a perfect rating on Yelp. Let our attorneys help your family recover from a serious bus accident. Call us today to schedule a free consultation if you need immediate legal assistance.

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Workers Comp and Workplace Injury Attorneys

Workplace injuries do not always happen in an office or parking lot. If your “workplace” is behind the wheel of a delivery vehicle or truck or if you are running an errand for the office, you can just as easily be injured in a car crash while on your way. In fact, given the prevalence of car crashes, in some industries, you may be significantly more likely to be injured in a vehicle than in the workplace.

Texas, unlike other states, does not require an employer to have workers’ compensation coverage. If the employer subscribes to workers’ compensation, most workers in Texas know or are informed at the time of hire that workers’ compensation benefits are available to them if they suffer a workplace injury or are otherwise injured or become ill while on the job. However, when one is injured behind a car or truck wheel, employees can become confused about their rights to compensation. Should they file a workers’ compensation claim? Should they file a personal injury suit? Or should they file both?

Our Law Firm is passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks understand and exercise their legal rights, including those behind the wheel because of their employment.

Am I Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Generally speaking, an “employee” injured while “on the job” can apply for and receive workers’ compensation benefits if their employer subscribes to workers’ comp. The two terms in “quotation marks” above are the two terms that are most often litigated in workers’ compensation cases. To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Texas, a person must be injured while he or she:

Is an “employee” as opposed to an independent contractor. Independent contractors who are hurt on the job are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In some cases, the delineation between an employee and an independent contractor is clear – someone who is paid by the hour as opposed to the job or project is almost always considered an employee. In other cases, whether a person is an independent contractor or an employee can be a more difficult determination. The more control an employer has over the worker – how he or she does his or her job, the times at which the worker must be at work, and the appearance or uniform the worker must wear – the more likely the worker is correctly classified as an “employee” as opposed to an independent contractor (regardless of what any contract or handbook says).

Is “on the job” and in performing his or her duties. Where the employee is running an errand for his or her employer or where driving is part of the employee’s job duties (i.e., a delivery driver who is engaged in making deliveries), an accident on the road will usually be considered “on the job.” A closer question exists when the employee’s duties include driving or delivery, but the employee is injured while on a “detour” – a personal errand. If the employee is injured when engaged in a task that benefits the employer, then the employee will likely be considered “on the job.”

Workers’ compensation benefits are an exclusive remedy against an employee’s employer. This means that if the car crash is due to the employer’s carelessness or the carelessness of a coworker (i.e., two delivery trucks from the same company collide with one another), the injured employee cannot file a lawsuit against the employer for compensation. However, the injured employee may be able to file a lawsuit against a negligent third party while still pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.

What Should I Do After a Workplace Accident on the Road?
If you are on the road for your employer and are involved in a car wreck, your first concern should be your health and safety. Move yourself and the vehicle to a safe location if you can do so without causing further injury or danger to yourself. If you are injured or suspect that you might be injured, summon emergency medical assistance as soon as possible.

Next, you should take the following actions:

*If you have not summoned law enforcement officers and emergency assistance to the scene of the crash, do so;
*Notify your employer of the crash as soon as practical. Notifying your employer should not take precedence over taking steps to safeguard your health and well-being; however, you should notify your employer at the earliest possible opportunity. You may verbally notify your employer, but you will need to notify your employer using a written statement or another form provided by your employer. (Failing to timely report your accident can result in a denial of your workers’ compensation claim.)
*Obtain the name, contact information, and insurance information of the other driver(s) involved in the crash. If there are witnesses who observed the crash or spoke with you or the other drivers after the crash, it would be helpful to obtain their names and contact information as well.
*Record and document as many details about your accident as possible. As soon as you can do so, create a written record of the facts of what led to the crash. Suppose you can take photographs of the accident scene (including pictures of the overall location of the crash and damage to your vehicle). In that case, these can be very helpful in assisting your attorney to “reconstruct” the crash.
*Contact a Car Accident Attorney As Soon as Possible

If you need assistance following a car accident while on the road, look to our Law Firm immediately. Whether you are injured “on the job” or not, we can help you obtain total and fair compensation for your injuries. Call our experienced and dedicated legal team today.

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Traumatic Brain Injuries Following a Car Accident

Head injuries frequently occur after a car accident, and many people do not get the proper care they need until after they begin experiencing symptoms. This is often because concussions can take hours or even days before the brain swelling gets to the point of causing apparent problems. Directly after a car accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. This not only preserves the integrity of your claim but also ensures that you are getting the proper treatment.

If you or someone you know has just been in a serious car accident and are dealing with head or brain trauma, this article will help answer some of your most pressing questions.

If you were involved in a car accident resulting in a possible brain injury, please get medical attention immediately. If you are concerned about the cost of medical expenses, please talk to us. We work with doctors who can help you regardless of your insurance situation.

How Common are Concussions or Brain Injuries after a Car Accident?
Head injuries are much more common than you may think. It does not require a “shock” or direct trauma to the head to cause a concussion or traumatic brain injury. A sufficiently jarring or abrupt stop can cause your brain to rattle in your skull. While many folks associate such an injury with whiplash, some symptoms are the same; having your doctor check for signs of brain swelling is always recommended.

As stated, brain injuries do not require direct trauma to the head and are often one of the most common injuries associated with car accidents. A second concussion can be fatal, while the first one has yet to heal.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 7% of all crashes result in a traumatic brain injury. Sadly, vehicle-related TBIs are way too familiar.

What are the Most Common Causes of Head Injuries in a Car Accident?
There are two types of brain injuries: open and closed. Open head injuries are caused by blunt force trauma that causes the skull to crack open or penetrate the brain. The swelling of the brain causes closed head injuries.

Open head injuries can be caused by:
Flying glass,
The impact of another object
A defective or exploding airbag.

Closed head injuries are generally caused by blunt force trauma, even of a properly functioning airbag, whiplash, banging head on the side window, or head collision with the windshield.

Of the two, closed-head injuries are more common.

What Kind of Settlements Occur in Brain Injury Cases?
Settlements depend on the severity of one’s injuries. In a personal injury case, a plaintiff is entitled to recover both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages include:

Medical expenses,
Lost wages during recovery,
Any expenses related to your injury,
Lost future wages, and
Lost employability.
In cases where the brain injury is so severe that it renders the driver unable to perform the duties related to his or her job, the victim is entitled to be compensated for lost present and future wages. This can also include compensation for training related to a replacement job.

Non-economic damages include:

Pain and suffering,
Reduced quality of life,
Loss of enjoyment, and
Loss of consortium.
In cases where your injuries are severe enough to prevent you from being intimate with your spouse, cause chronic pain, reduce the overall quality of your life, and prevent you from enjoying activities you once enjoyed, you are entitled to be compensated for that.

Does Insurance Pay for Head Injuries?
Yes. Since Texas is a tort state for auto accidents, you would file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy. You can also file a claim against your uninsured/underinsured driver’s policy. Ideally, these policies would cover the expenses related to your economic losses and compensate you for your emotional and physical losses.

What Kind of Symptoms Result From Brain Injuries and Concussions?
The most common form of traumatic brain injury is a concussion. It is an essential and common injury that occurs after a car accident. Most symptoms are caused by pressure building up in the skull after the brain swells.

Common symptoms of a concussion include:

A feeling of pressure in the head,
Headache,
Temporary loss of consciousness,
Feeling like you are in a fog,
Amnesia,
Dizziness,
Ringing in the ears,
Slurred speech,
Nausea,
Vomiting,
Concentration problems,
Memory problems, and
Fatigue
The symptoms can occur immediately after the event or take a few hours or days before you fully begin to experience them.

Delayed symptoms include:

Irritability or personality changes,
Difficulty concentrating or remembering,
Sleep disturbances,
Sensitivity to light and sound,
Depression and anxiety, and
Disorders involving taste and smell.
The most severe symptoms include:

Prolonged trouble with coordination, concentration, or memory problems,
Seizures,
Recurring dizziness, and
Worsening symptoms.
Does Brain Damage Occur from a TMI?
Brain damage can occur when traumatic brain injury results in some form of severe impairment. Since the location of the brain damage determines impaired functions, it can be difficult to generalize on individual types of brain damage.

Those who acquire brain damage through a car accident require prolonged occupational therapy geared toward restoring the functions damaged due to the injury. In many cases, the damage is temporary, and even though the brain damage may not be repairable, another part of the brain can relearn what was lost when the brain was damaged.

Nonetheless, restoring that brain function can take months and even years. During that time, you may be out of work, incur substantial medical expenses, and deal with the emotional trauma of an uncertain future.

The Severity of Brain Injury
Even in cases where the brain injury is “mild,” 15% of individuals will have problems that persist one year after the traumatic event. Those who suffer severe brain injury may experience difficulties with cognition, coordination, memory problems, impaired decision-making capacity, and psychiatric symptoms such as perception disorders.

The physical symptoms may never go away. Seizures, tremors, fatigue, paralysis, and persistent headaches may reduce their quality of life.

Talk to a Brain Injury Attorney
When someone suffers a brain injury, it is not just the victim who experiences the consequences. A brain injury victim’s family may rely on his or her income, emotional guidance, love, and support. If you or someone you love has been in a severe car accident, talk to our Car Accident Attorneys today and set up a free consultation. We can help.

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Wrongful Death Attorney

A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury lawsuit brought on behalf of a deceased party instead of being filed by an injured person. Wrongful death lawsuits are filed by surviving family members or a personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Below, we will go into more detail and discuss commonly asked questions concerning Texas’s wrongful death statute.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When one individual’s or company’s actions result in the death of another person, surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. To prove negligence, the plaintiffs must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant breached a duty of care owed to members of the general public. For example, suppose a dangerous or defective product, such as a prescription drug, causes serious medical complications that result in death. In that case, the surviving family members may file a lawsuit against the company that manufactured the drug. Drunk driving accidents also often result in a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver.

Who can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Texas, the deceased’s spouse, parents, or adult children may file for wrongful death. The only other person who may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas is the deceased’s representative. If you are unsure whether you qualify, please call our Law Firm, and we’ll advise you.

What Type of Compensation can Family Members Receive in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
As with most things in law, the answer is “It depends.”

In a wrongful death lawsuit, two types of monetary damages can be awarded to either family members or directly to the victim’s estate. The victim’s estate can be compensated for lost wages, medical expenses, burial arrangements, and the pain and suffering related to the circumstances that caused their death.

Spouses are entitled to recover damages for their emotional grief, financial support, and loss of consortium. Children are entitled to recover damages related to their emotional grief, and minor children who are still claimed as dependents are entitled to loss of financial support. Children are also entitled to recover damages related to the loss of moral guidance.

Parents are entitled to recover damages related to their grief at the loss of a child.

Other family members may be limited in what kinds of noneconomic damages they are entitled to recover. A determination will need to be made regarding how close siblings, cousins, or other family members were to the deceased. If family members had a claim on the deceased’s estate, they can recover damages related to the estate’s lost value.

Is There a Cap on Wrongful Death Damages?
There is a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, emotional grief, loss of consortium, loss of moral guidance, and other claims that are not easily quantified. Family members may sue for losses that do not have a specified monetary amount, such as mental and emotional anguish, consortium loss of counsel, and other non-financial losses. Texas places a cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death medical malpractice claims initially valued at $500,000. Still, families can receive $1,500,000 or more after adjusting the cap for inflation.

There is no cap on any other type of wrongful death claim.

What is the Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Claim?
The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Texas is two years. That means the family has two years from their loved one’s death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit. After that, they lose their opportunity unless some extenuating circumstance is present to warrant the delay.

Statutes of limitations can be tricky in some circumstances. So even if more than two years have passed, please give us a call so we can discuss your specific situation with you.

What are the Different Types of Wrongful Death Actions?
Wrongful death can be divided into wrongful death claims and survival actions in Texas. Often, these are filed together. Survival actions compensate the victim’s estate instead of the surviving family members. Your wrongful death attorney can discuss this with you in more detail.

What are Some Examples of Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
*Car accidents – If one individual kills another in a car accident, the family may pursue damages directly against the negligent driver and their insurance policy. This includes accidents that involve drunk drivers. Our lawyers are experts at dealing with car accident cases, and we will advise you regarding your situation.
*Defective product lawsuits – If a dangerous or defective product contributes to the death of an individual, the family may pursue a lawsuit against the company that manufactured the product. Claims against cigarette and e-cigarette companies exemplify this type of lawsuit.
*Medical malpractice lawsuits – If a doctor is negligent in performing his or her duties, and that negligence results in the death of one of their patients, family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor. Damages in such cases are capped at $250,000.
*Dog bite lawsuits – Rare, maybe, but sometimes dog bites result in death. When that happens, the family can sue the owner of the dangerous dog.
*Premises liability – While most slip and fall accidents do not result in death, other premises liability claims, such as a dangerous condition left unattended on the premises or a negligent security lawsuit, may involve a wrongful death claim.
*Intentional torts – Families can file lawsuits against negligent parties in a careless accident, but they can also file wrongful death lawsuits against murderers whose direct malice resulted in wrongful death.
Work-related deaths – In some cases, workers’ families may sue their loved one’s employer if they are killed on the job or by a responsible third party. In other cases, the claim will be handled by Texas’s workers’ compensation program if the employer is a subscriber.

Find a Wrongful Death Attorney
Our Law Firm assists grieving families who believe that another’s negligence or malice directly resulted in the death of their loved one. If you have lost a loved one to carelessness, recklessness, or malice, our attorneys will assist you through every stage of the legal process. This includes filing the lawsuit on your behalf and getting the evidence we need to prove it before a jury. Talk to us today for a free consultation.

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Premises Liability Attorney

Our injury attorneys help clients injured in an accident – whether from a car accident or another. If you were injured in a home, office, or store, give us a call, and we’ll discuss your options for receiving compensation for your injuries.

One of the categories of accident law that our attorneys regularly handle is called premises liability. We file premises liability lawsuits for our clients against negligent homeowners, landlords, and large department stores like Walmart, strip malls, and plazas. Below, we will discuss the premises liability laws applicable and answer some of our client’s most common questions.

What is Premises Liability?
Every property owner or occupier has a duty of care to provide safe premises for those they invite onto their property.

This duty of care includes the mandate to maintain safe premises, inspect their premises, and repair or remove any dangerous conditions that might be present on the premises. When they fail in this duty of care, and another person is injured due to that failure, the injured party may sue the property owner/occupier for damages related to their injuries.

What is the Statute of Limitations in a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
In Texas, an injured party has two years to file a premises liability lawsuit against an allegedly negligent party. Please keep in mind that the statute of limitations can be complicated, so we ask that you please give us a call to discuss the details of your injury.

What are the Damages in Premises Liability Lawsuit?
Damages are the legal term for certain types of injuries, both financial and not financial. In a premises liability claim, an injured party may recover damages for:

Medical expenses,
Lost wages,
Loss of earning power,
And pain and suffering damages.
Pain and suffering damages, considered non-economic damages, include physical pain and discomfort, emotional pain, loss of enjoyment, or loss of quality of life.

Can I File a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
Premises liability lawsuits are generally filed by those who suffered a primary injury due to the owner/occupier’s negligence. In cases where the injury resulted in death, the surviving family members or the representative of the deceased’s estate can bring a wrongful death action.

Types of Premises Liability Lawsuits
There are several different categories of a premises liability lawsuit. Below, we will discuss each one in greater detail.

*Slip, trip, and fall accidents – These are the most common types of premises liability lawsuits, and our accident attorneys regularly help clients with these cases. Slip and fall cases involve an owner/occupier leaving a dangerous condition unremedied and allowing an injury as a result. To prove that the owner/occupier is liable, the plaintiff must prove that the owner/occupier either knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and did nothing to remedy it. These accidents involve icy stairs, slippery floors, broken railings, products left in aisles, and other dangerous conditions.
*Inadequate maintenance accidents – In cases where building codes are violated, a landlord can be held liable if someone is injured or sustains damages related to the violation. Landlords are expected to keep common areas in buildings in fit, clean, and habitable condition.
*Negligent security lawsuits – Negligent security lawsuits allege that because an owner/occupier of a store or building did not provide adequate security measures for the building, they are responsible for any injuries caused by other members of the general public who would not otherwise have been able to gain access or harm others on the property. Bars, department stores, and apartment complexes are the most likely targets of these lawsuits.
*Toxic condition lawsuits – Landlords can be liable for lead poisoning if they fail to disclose the condition to prospective renters. In other cases, some conditions on the premise that results in sickness caused can result in a lawsuit.
*Dog bite lawsuits – Dog bite lawsuits are a common form of premises liability. Owners of dogs are responsible for ensuring that the public is safe from them. If the dog jumps the fence and injures another person, the owner can be held liable so long as they did not incite the dog and were not trespassing.
*Attractive nuisance lawsuits – When a minor is injured by a potentially dangerous condition on their premises, the owner of the premises may be held liable even if the children were trespassing. For instance, if a child wanders onto a neighbor’s property and falls into the swimming pool, the parents of the children can claim the owner did not adequately secure the swimming pool providing access to the child.

Defenses to Premises Liability Lawsuits
In a premises liability lawsuit, the injured party has the burden of proving that the owner’s negligence was responsible for their injuries. While sometimes this is pretty obvious, it will not always be. Texas law outlines the duties owners/occupiers owe members of the general public who are invited onto their property. However, an owner/occupier can claim that the accident was (at least partly) the injured party’s fault.

*The injured party was not an invitee – An owner/occupier can claim that the injured party was not an “invitee” on their property. For instance, a door-to-door salesman would have a weaker claim to a premises liability lawsuit than someone you invited. If a general public member is in an area exclusively for employees, their share would also be weaker.
*Owner/occupier “didn’t know” about the dangerous condition – In most premises liability lawsuits, the foreseeability question determines whether the defendant is negligent. If the owner/occupier did not know or could not have known about the dangerous condition, they will not be ruled negligent for the accident.
*Injured party contributed to the accident – If a person trips over a box left in an aisle but is staring at their cell phone instead of watching where they were going, the owner/occupier can reduce their liability.

In a successful premises liability lawsuit, your accident attorney at our Law Firm will prove that the owner/occupier either knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to remedy it. Had they remedied the dangerous condition, the injury would have never occurred.

Talk to a Premises Liability Attorney Today
If you have sustained injuries that you believe resulted from a property owner’s negligence, the litigation team at our Law Firm can file a lawsuit on your behalf. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.

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Personal Injury Law Glossary
Personal injury law terms and insurance industry terms can be confusing. We created this car accident law glossary section to help our clients better understand the legalese. We’ll be adding more terms to this glossary each month. Feel free to reach out if we can help clarify anything!

Adjuster:
An insurance adjuster is an insurance company employee who calculates settlement awards for injury victims. Also called a claims adjuster, this person’s job is to settle the claim for as little money as possible. The claims adjuster represents the insurance company’s interests, while your injury attorney represents yours.

Arbitration:
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution involving a mini-trial during which a legal conflict may be settled outside a courtroom. An arbitrator acts as both judge and jury, and the arbitrator’s decision binds all parties.

Assumption of Risk:
In tort or injury lawsuits, the assumption of risk is a legal defense or doctrine. The assumption of risk holds that a plaintiff relieves another party of a duty of care in a negligence claim because the plaintiff knowingly and willingly accepted the risk of injury, thus relieving a defendant of liability.

Bodily Injury:
Bodily injury is an umbrella term for any physical injury that results in medical consequences. Typical bodily injuries can range from cuts and bruises to serious bodily injuries that result in permanent impairment, the loss of an organ or limb, the severe risk of death, or permanent disfigurement.

The burden of Proof:
Every lawsuit has a burden of proof. In a civil case, that burden is the preponderance of the evidence, whereas it is beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case. In a civil case, jurors are asked to decide if the validity of the plaintiff’s claims is more likely than not. This is a considerably lower standard of proof than a criminal case.

Causation:
In a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must establish that the relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s injuries is causal. Causation is one element that can prove negligence. The but – for test determines the defendant’s liability in most personal injury cases. In other words, had the defendant [done/not done] [some action/inaction], then the plaintiff would not have suffered [the injuries].

Claim:
In legal terms, a claim is an assertion against an allegedly at-fault party. In the case of car accidents, if a driver violates a rule of traffic and this violation results in injury to a plaintiff, that plaintiff can file a claim against his or her insurance policy or the defendant directly. Related terms include complaint, cause of action, and suit.

Comparative Negligence:
Comparative negligence holds that two individuals can simultaneously be at fault for one accident. In Texas, we are a “modified” comparative negligence state. Under the Texas modified comparative negligence standard, you can sue for damages even if you are partially at fault for an accident. However, if you are found to be more than 50% to blame for an accident, you cannot recover any damages.

Compensation:
Compensation in a personal injury lawsuit usually includes monetary damages that offset debts incurred due to the accident and awards for other damages such as pain and suffering.

Compensatory Damages:
Compensatory damages are a category of monetary damages that serve to compensate an injured party. The at-fault party or his or her insurance company makes restitution to offset medical expenses, lost wages, and any expenses related to the plaintiff’s injury. Additionally, there are non-economic compensatory damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship or consortium. Other types of damages include collection damages and punitive damages.

Contingency Fee:
Personal injury attorneys often work on a contingency fee basis. In other words, you are not required to pay your attorney until you are awarded a settlement check from the defendant or the insurance company. Your legal counsel will be paid a percentage of that money.

Contributory Negligence:
Texas operates on a pure comparative negligence system. Texas and most states have modified comparative fault rules that bar plaintiffs from recovery if they can be shown to be 51% at fault for the accident.

Damages:
Damages are defined as any losses related to an injury you sustained due to the conduct of an allegedly at-fault party. The concept is distinct from an injury in one fundamental way. Let us say an avid tennis player breaks her leg due to negligence. This individual would have a greater sense of loss than someone who likes reading books in her spare time. Additionally, if one person needs to be on her feet all day for her job, a broken leg increases her damage because she cannot work during recovery.

Deposition:
Depositions involve taking and recording out-of-court testimony during a trial’s discovery phase. Witnesses to accidents or events will be deposed under oath by both the plaintiff’s and defense’s counsel. Testimony is given before a court reporter and can be used later for the trial.

Distracted Driving:
Distracted driving is a generic term that encompasses several behaviors resulting from car accidents. Texting, taking your eyes off the road, driving while tired, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are all forms of distracted driving. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents.

Due Diligence:
In law, due diligence is the exercise of reasonable care to avoid harm to another person or his or her property. For a lawyer, due diligence involves exhaustive research in his or her aim to represent the interests of the client. Both cases represent an individual’s duty of care to another.

Exhaustion of Benefits:
In no-fault insurance states, exhaustion of benefits relates to your PIP (personal injury protection) policy limit. You have exhausted your benefits if your medical expenses or lost wages exceed your policy limit.

Expert Witness:
Expert witnesses provide expert testimony. In the case of medical malpractice, this would include doctors who can testify to the substandard quality of care another doctor rendered. In the case of a car accident, an accident reconstruction specialist may be called to the stand. Expert witnesses have specialized knowledge that attorneys use to benefit their clients.

Good Faith / Bad Faith:
When policyholders are required to file claims against their insurance policies, the insurance company has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the policyholder’s best interests. When the insurance company denies a claim unlawfully or needlessly stalls the policyholder, the company can be said to be working in bad faith and sued on those grounds.

Hit and Run Accident:
A hit-and-run occurs when a driver causes a crash and then leaves the accident scene to avoid liability. Those with uninsured driver’s policies can file claims against their insurance company in the event of a hit-and-run accident. Additionally, these policies cover drivers if the at-fault driver has no insurance at all.

Indemnity:
In insurance terms, indemnity is protection against a legal claim for negligence. For instance, a negligent driver is protected by his or her insurance policy from damages resulting from negligent driving. The term is most often related to professional malpractice insurance, such as that found in the legal or medical profession.

Interrogatories:
Interrogatories are a formal set of written questions that one litigant presents to another. These questions must be answered under court order.

Joint and Several Liability:
In cases where multiple parties can be held liable, it is known as joint and several liabilities. For instance, if a tire blows out, causing an accident, it may be possible to hold the tire manufacturer responsible and the driver who failed to care for the tire properly. A service shop that installed the tire may also be liable for the accident.

Letter of Claim / Claim Letter / Demand Letter:
A claim letter is a formal demand issued by an attorney on behalf of the client. The claim letter demands some action or payment for an alleged act of negligence or failure to uphold the terms of a contract.

Loss of Consortium:
A spouse may sue a negligent party for loss of marital companionship. In essence, they can sue for loss of physical intimacy.

Loss of Earnings:
In instances in which an injured person loses wages related to his or her work due to an accident, the injured person can recover those lost wages in a personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, dependants and spouses of an individual killed by negligence may sue the at-fault party for loss of earnings in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Mitigating Circumstances:
In a personal injury lawsuit, mitigating circumstances may reduce a defendant’s liability. These include icy or slippery roads or other road hazards. This does not excuse the defendant’s negligence but may be considered.

Negligence:
Negligence is a legal theory of liability present in most tort or injury lawsuits. To prove negligence, three factors must be present:
The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
The defendant violated that duty of care; and
The plaintiff’s injuries resulted from that violation.

Out-of-Pocket Costs:
Out-of-pocket costs are costs related to an injury. Those seriously injured may need significant modifications to their home to get around. This would be an out-pocket-cost. Individuals who can no longer drive may need to pay for transportation. This, too, would be an out-of-pocket cost.

Pain and Suffering:
Pain and suffering are compensatory damages in an injury lawsuit. They include physical pain and discomfort, emotional anguish, psychological trauma, loss of companionship, and more. These are considered non-economic damages as they do not relate to a monetary loss.

Plaintiff:
In an injury lawsuit, the plaintiff is the party who alleges that he or she was injured as a result of the defendant’s negligence or misconduct.

Premises Liability:
It is assumed that when one individual or company invites others onto its property, the property owner owes that individual a duty of care to ensure no safety concerns. The property owner can be held liable when an individual is injured due to a foreseeable hazardous condition.

Punitive Damages:
Punitive damages are exacted from a grossly negligent party when their conduct is so egregious that the court or a jury sees fit to punish them for it and deter others from acting similarly.

Special Damages:
In the context of personal injury cases, special damages refer to damages that can be calculated easily. Another word for these is economic damages. They refer to medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, and lost wages.

Standard of Care:
In medical malpractice lawsuits, a doctor’s actions are considered against the prevailing standard of care in his or her field. If the doctor is found to have rendered care that is considered less than the prevailing standard, he or she can be sued for medical malpractice or negligence. It can also apply more broadly to any negligence claim.

Statute of Limitations:
The statute of limitations represents the window during which one party may bring a personal injury lawsuit against another party. In Texas, that is two years from either the date of the accident or the date on which the individual became aware of his or her injuries. In the case of minors, the statute of limitations is tolled until their 18th birthday.

Subrogation:
In insurance terms, subrogation occurs when your insurance company fronts the money for a claim against another party determined to be at fault. The insurance company would then file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company to recover the money they paid to get you and your car back on the road.

Total Permanent Disability (TPD):
TPD is a term used for individuals who can no longer work in their current occupation due to an illness or injury. It is most frequently found in long-term disability or injury and liability claims.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage:
Drivers have the option of carrying uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This policy covers them if another driver’s liability policy does not cover their total medical expenses or other damages. It also covers drivers in the case of a hit-and-run.

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