Have Years of Asbestos Exposure Caused You To Develop Mesothelioma Cancer?
You may have many unanswered questions if you or a loved one has suffered from mesothelioma. The mesothelioma lawyers of our Law Office can help you get the compensation you are entitled to.
What Exactly Is Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a specific type of cancer that attacks the thin layer of cells that line the body’s internal organs, known as the mesothelium. Mesothelioma exists in three known forms. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma. This disease version accounts for approximately 70% of all mesothelioma cases. Pleural mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the lungs, known as pleura. The second variety of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, appears in the heart’s lining, known as the pericardium. The third form, peritoneal mesothelioma, occurs in the abdominal cavity’s lining, known as the peritoneum. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos or have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways. There have even been studies that reveal that washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos can put a person at risk for developing mesothelioma.
People exposed to asbestos have collected damages for asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. Compensation via asbestos funds or lawsuits is an important issue in law practices regarding mesothelioma.
History of Mesothelioma and Asbestos
Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, which is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that exists, most commonly, in a fibrous state composed of microscopic crystals. Asbestos has been used for a variety of purposes for thousands of years. Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was used in various building applications, namely as a means of heat insulation, electrical resistant insulation, and as a supplementary composite material in joint compound and concrete, but has since been banned in America and most other countries. The danger of asbestos exposure has been speculated on for centuries, but factual medical link between asbestos and mesothelioma (amongst other ailments) was established in the early 20th century. Even though asbestos exposure was known to cause health concerns (that is, it was known by doctors and many leaders of the industry but not known by the general public or the workers who would be exposed to it), many large corporations continued to use the material thereby exposing hundreds of thousands of laborers to harmful levels of asbestos.
Mesothelioma litigation represents the longest-running mass tort in the history of America. Every year, approximately 10,000 people die from mesothelioma. One out of every 125 American men over the age of 50 dies from some chronic asbestos-related disease, and some 800,000 claimants have sought compensation against approximately 8,400 defendants. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, you need the help of an experienced attorney to fight on your side!
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 or more years after asbestos exposure. Shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space (pleural effusion) are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Pleural and pericardial mesothelioma can cause these a combination of or all of the following signs and symptoms:
Chest wall pain
Pleural effusion (fluid surrounding the lungs)
Shortness of breath
Fatigue or anemia
Wheezing, hoarseness, or cough
Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (which is called hemoptysis)
Blood clotting abnormalities
Anemia and fever
In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses. The individual may develop a pneumothorax or collapse of the lung. The disease may metastasize or spread to other parts of the body. If cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face. Peritoneal mesothelioma tumors that affect the abdominal cavity often do not cause symptoms until they are at a late stage. Symptoms include:
Ascites, or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
A mass in the abdomen.
Problems with bowel function.
In severe cases of the disease, be it pleural, peritoneal, or pericardial, the following signs and symptoms may also be present:
Blood clots in the veins may cause thrombophlebitis.
Disseminated intravascular coagulation is a disorder causing severe bleeding in many body organs.
Jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin.
Low blood sugar level.
Blood clots in the arteries of the lungs.
A Short History of Mesothelioma Legal Claims
Litigation related to asbestos injuries and property damages is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history. Since the medical profession identified asbestos-related disease in the late 1920s, workers’ comp cases were filed and resolved with little fanfare because o the pervasive presence of asbestos-related products in American construction. A flood of litigation began in the United States in the 1970s and grew in the 1980s and ‘90s. Massive multi-district litigations (MDL) remain pending in many states, some for over 20 years. According to an article in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, asbestos is still a hazard for 1.3 million US workers in the construction industry and workers involved in the maintenance of buildings and equipment since 2002. In addition to suing the trusts set up by asbestos manufacturers and suppliers as a result of their filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, plaintiffs’ have also begun using:
Manufacturers of machinery that allegedly required asbestos-containing parts to function properly.
Owners of premises at which asbestos-containing products were installed (which includes virtually anyone who owned a building before
Banks that financed ships or buildings where asbestos was installed (because no rational lender would take a security interest in an
an asset without studying the risks involved.
Retailers of asbestos-containing products (mostly hardware, home improvement, and automotive parts stores).
Corporations that allegedly conspired with asbestos manufacturers to deliberately conceal the dangers of asbestos.
Over the years, many of the defendant companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In addition to the litigation process, your Mesothelioma attorney must also assist you in filing for compensation from one of the many trusts formed to deal with claims against a particular defendant company. It is not unusual to see money from a bankruptcy trust awarded very quickly and with little delay once damages have been awarded. The trick is getting to that point. This is why it is very important to have an experienced attorney who can expedite the settlement process with the bankruptcy trustee.
The Right and Wrong Way to Pursue a Mesothelioma Injury Claim
Pursuing a mesothelioma case can be a complex matter because these types of cases often involve ambiguous statutes of limitations, multi-district litigation (MDL), the evidentiary concerns that are associated with MDLs, and other complexities that are commonly associated with mass torts (which is similar to class action lawsuit). In other words, first and foremost, you must be represented by an attorney with experience in complex product liability litigation, preferably in mesothelioma cases. The next concern is a matter of case management. Frankly, when it comes to defective product lawsuits of all types, many law firms prefer to consolidate your case into a cluster of other cases (a class action), settle for one lump sum, and then divide evenly among their hundreds of – in this case – mesothelioma injury clients. Our attorneys do not feel this is the best way to resolve your case. Because when plaintiffs band together, their interests are not taken into full account as the representing attorney executes his strategy. In a class action lawsuit, the lawyers end up making much more arguing the class action case than any single plaintiff can hope to win. One reason is that mesothelioma patients typically do not have a very long life expectancy once diagnosed with the disease. If a mesothelioma victim dies before a lawsuit can be filed, the executor of his or her estate can file for another surviving family member. When a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma through secondary asbestos exposure, that member also has the right to file on the original mesothelioma patient’s behalf and his or her own. So since the situations of each plaintiff (and their families) can change, those changes are not usually incorporated into the class action suit.
Many class action firms have approached us rather often to participate in their legal actions. Most often, that job involves serving as an “intake” firm that does little more than prospective interview plaintiffs to the class action suit, fill out forms, and maybe take a few initial depositions, which means we can get a “cut” of the legal fees for our minimal contribution to the class action lawsuit. This kind of “faux legal representation” is not always ethical. Sometimes this law firm that is “running point” in this class action lawsuit might not have the reputation we are uncomfortable with. We are all judged by the company we keep. Our mesothelioma injury attorneys aim to provide one-on-one and responsive legal representation for every client with a legitimate mesothelioma injury claim. Unlike other firms who attempt to lump all drug or defective product injury cases together (and treat your case as if it’s part of a class action lawsuit), we devote individual attention to each mesothelioma injury lawsuit. We pursue fair compensation relative to your unique health problems and financial losses. We firmly believe this is the only way to effectively and fairly serve our clients.
The Difference between Mass Torts and Class Actions
Defective product injury cases as pervasive as those surrounding mesothelioma have some unique challenges; They primarily stem from the complexity associated with numerous claimants pursuing the same defendants based on a single act of negligence; in this case, the broad use of lead components in construction for over a century. Just imagine the difficulty you would encounter in resolving a car insurance claim against a semi-driver that crashed into your car and 20 others in the same accident. If such an accident were to go to court, the judge would consolidate all of the claims into a single lawsuit because the court system does virtually everything it can to eliminate numerous identical lawsuits, creating backlogs on court dockets. Mesothelioma injury cases work similarly. A single wrongful act is committed against numerous persons, and the victims collectively bring their claim against the defendant. When a judge combines many similar cases, it is called a mass tort. When an attorney combines many similar cases into a single filing, it is called a class action lawsuit. This is why the public generally views mass torts and class action suits as similar; they have similarities and dissimilarities.
In a class action lawsuit, all plaintiffs have the same claim and cause of action. But, in a mass tort, each plaintiff has their claim that the judge combines into a shared cause of action. Most mesothelioma lawsuit ads are class action suits, but not all. To boil it down into simple layman’s terms, in a class action, what one plaintiff wins, all plaintiffs win. It can be money, coupons, or free meals; whatever the defendant offers as compensation that the court might accept as reasonable damage compensation. In a mass tort case, plaintiffs all have the same type of claim, but they ask for it, and if their case is successful, they receive individual awards based on their actual damage requests. Class actions have a couple of other important differences from mass torts. First, the court will allow an attorney to represent all claimants in a class action suit. A mesothelioma injury victim could have a real issue with being represented by an attorney in Iowa if their injury happened in Texas. Secondly, assuming this predetermined attorney wins the case or brings it to settlement, the compensation awarded may be disproportionate to the damages the person incurred. Remember, in class action lawsuits, it’s “one for all and all for one.” Look at past examples to illustrate this second problem with class action lawsuits. A 2008 class-action lawsuit settlement in California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Texas was supposed to compensate about 800,000 Ford Explorer owners whose vehicles lost value because of a perceived rollover danger. Those lawsuits claimed that Explorers lost about $1,000 in resale value because of publicity stemming from rollover accidents involving the SUV earlier in the decade. Under the settlement, those who bought Explorers in model years 1991 through 2001 were eligible for $500 vouchers to buy new Explorers or $300 vouchers to buy other Ford or Lincoln Mercury vehicles.
Consumer groups and some plaintiffs objected to the settlement. They said few owners would be able to take advantage of the vouchers, partly because of the poor economy and high gas prices. They also were upset the plaintiffs’ attorneys will receive as much as $25 million in fees and costs.”They get $25 million. All I get is this lousy coupon that I’m not going to use. It’s valueless to me,” said one plaintiff who owned a 1993 Explorer. A Texas plaintiff said the settlement left the consumer with nothing real value. “Who’s going to go out and buy another gas guzzler to take advantage of a $500 coupon?” There are situations where a class action lawsuit is advantageous, but a mesothelioma lawsuit is not such a situation. You get the point that defendants will offer anything with a monetary value so long as they don’t have to cut you a check. That often happens in class action lawsuits because individual plaintiffs cannot speak to the court individually to voice their displeasure.
The Value of a Representative Case in a Mass Tort
Most mass tort cases, including Mesothelioma injury cases, will be based on a representative case. Typically, the first, or one of the first, plaintiff(s) who pursues litigation will have their day in court. A jury will hear all the allegations against the defendant and decide on liability based on the evidence presented by the plaintiff’s attorney. The jury will also hear detailed descriptions of the plaintiff’s injuries and determine the monetary value of the plaintiff’s pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, etc. A jury may even hold the defendant accountable for punitive damages, that is, the additional money meant to punish the defendant for egregious forms of negligence. Since mesothelioma cases have been ongoing for many years, juries are not apt to have much pent-up outrage against the defendant, which is usually the inspiration behind high punitive damage awards outcome of this representative case will serve as a “benchmark” to help determine the outcome of virtually all other mesothelioma claims against the specified defendant. This formula is similar to how a Supreme Court decision tells the lower courts how the constitution is applied to a particular matter. In other words, your mesothelioma case is intimately tied to the outcome of the representative case. Additionally, in some cases, the judge might dictate that the defendant, once found to be negligent, is required to put some money into a trust to serve as the fund from which future claims can seek compensation, even if that defendant has declared bankruptcy.
Statute of Limitations And the Legal Road That Plaintiffs Must Travel
When a defendant breaches a legal duty owed to you, your cause of action (the basis for your lawsuit) is born. You can seek compensation from the defendant that breached that cause of action. Every cause of action has a statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations has run its course, your cause of action has expired, and you can no longer bring your claim against the defendant, irrespective of the case’s merit. Texas’s general statute of limitations is two years from when the defendant breached their legal duty and caused the plaintiff harm. In this case, since the universal dangers of asbestos are well-known, once the plaintiff is aware that his or her damages (mesothelioma diagnosis) are directly connected to the diagnosis, the plaintiff has two years to file their case in court. The case law that has come out of the multitude of mesothelioma injury cases tells us that the best rule of thumb is the statute of limitations is based on when the plaintiff should have known that the identified defendant’s negligence caused their injury. Once mesothelioma-related cancer presents itself, it is very aggressive, and those affected will often see survival rates of less than a year. For those who have been exposed through their jobs or negligence on the part of a company or municipality, seeking a mesothelioma settlement is the best option to recover costs for treatment and the pain and suffering caused by the disease.
The attorneys with our Law Office are committed to getting the best settlement for our clients suffering from mesothelioma in the shortest time. But, there are instances in which a trial will be necessary. If the defendant (including its insurance company if one is involved) is willing to admit guilt in exposing workers to asbestos, they may choose to settle to speed up the process. They may also demand a court case. The amount of compensation that can be obtained varies. Still, for those affected, it is important to remember that legal options exist to help fight against companies that did not take proper safety precautions and allowed asbestos exposure.
Multi-District Litigation can Also Affect Your Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations.
Most defective product cases stem from a product’s usage. In the case of mesothelioma, the use (and asbestos exposure) occurred many years before the side effects became “common knowledge.” So if causes of action have already technically expired after the two-year statute of limitations, it must be argued that some exception may apply: such as basing the plaintiff’s argument on recent statute of limitations exceptions case law to justify the traditional two-year statute being extended. The defendants will often have an opportunity to argue the applicability of a “borrowed” or “new exception” to the statute of limitations in every claim. Our Law Firm’s local mesothelioma injury attorneys will likely have to argue you’re your claimed alternative statute of limitations applies. This is a very contentious issue until the case is resolved. If this civil claim is multi-district litigation, often found in highly pervasive defective product cases such as mesothelioma, the statute of limitations can be extended in one jurisdiction but not another. It all depends on the judge and the ability of the attorneys on both sides of the issue to argue their cases successfully. The next question becomes, how long do you have from the date of this “common knowledge” proclamation? For instance, you have two years to bring most tort claims in Texas. But across the border in Arkansas, it’s three. If mesothelioma injury victims exist in both states, which statute of limitations applies? The answer comes from the rules of multi-district litigation.
As mentioned, there will be a representative trial on which subsequent claims will be based. The judge who presides over that case will certainly have a great challenge in rendering a fair decision. In addition to a multi-week trial, the judge must also exercise a great degree of foresight and diligence since the outcome will affect so many other claims in the future for that particular federal judicial district (to which any appeals to the outcomes will be addressed). Typically, the representative claim is brought in a particular jurisdiction for a specific reason; usually, it is the jurisdiction where the defendant’s base of operations is located or the trust of the bankrupt defendant is managed. Subsequent cases will be brought through the same court. However, the victim’s rights will be based largely on the rules and procedures in the jurisdiction where the victim lives. In this particular event, hybrids of both areas’ case laws are usually applied. This is the very essence of multi-district litigation; legal compromise. Typically, the court in the jurisdiction where the representative case is brought will employ a “borrowed statute of limitations.” That is, the court will apply the statute of limitations that would otherwise be employed in a particular claimant’s jurisdiction, yet the procedures, the rules of evidence, damages caps (if there are any), and other legal variables will often be based on the jurisdictional nuances of the court in which the representative case is brought.
How Can I get my Fair Share of Mesothelioma Compensation Knowing all of That?
The judge in the representative case will often dictate that monies are to be placed in trust pending the resolution of future claims. This certainly adds complexity and competition to the equation that necessitates adequate legal representation unless those monies have already been set aside. Then, certain complications are often, but not universally, avoided. The nuances of filing a claim are foreign to most people outside the legal field. Courts have meticulous procedures and rules that must be adhered to, or a lawsuit will be thrown out before it can begin.
Additionally, mass torts generally result in the defendant exhausting their ability to pay all claimants. Mesothelioma can be one exception simply because so many defendants, over time, have been identified. Some are still in business. But most went out of business long ago. When liquidating their assets under the “Sword of Damocles,” our country’s long history of mesothelioma litigation, all those assets have been placed in hundreds of trusts that continue to pay mesothelioma damage awards. So your claim can become a race against the clock to ensure that you are not passed over in favor of other claims. Also, the importance of adequately arguing the value of your claim (known as “proving up” your damages) cannot be overstated. Mass torts often become competitive, and you need aggressive legal representation to ensure that many similar claimants fully protect your interests.
Our Mesothelioma Injury Lawyers are Here to Help
There are several ways that a person diagnosed with mesothelioma can seek compensation, starting with the employer that exposed them to asbestos in the first place. This avenue goes through the Texas worker’s compensation laws which are rather complicated and, under the worst circumstances, could leave plaintiffs with less-than-adequate compensation, but not always. An experienced work injury attorney can help you determine the best way to seek fair compensation through this venue. Large corporations, especially those in the construction industry, ship-building, or those involved in the mining of asbestos, have set up trust funds for those affected by mesothelioma. So long as a patient can prove employment and a doctor attest that their cancer was likely caused by asbestos, this is a relatively straightforward avenue of at least some amount of mesothelioma compensation. In the case of smaller companies or the military – which does not recognize all types of mesothelioma caused by asbestos – a legal option may be the best.
Our Law Firm’s mesothelioma attorneys offer specialized services, including highly-regarded investigations, that can help plaintiffs receive a fairly negotiated settlement without needing a court case. Depending on the circumstances and other details of the case, it is not unusual to see six-figure settlements, but again, the facts of your case will dictate the actual amount. As you might expect, the number of regulations and bureaucratic red tape surrounding mesothelioma litigation can overwhelm those without legal experience. But the case law is well established in almost a million cases, and an experienced legal professional can use that case law to build the case you need to seek compensation. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, our mesothelioma attorneys can help you. Our firm has over 20 years of experience helping hundreds of mesothelioma victims seek compensation for their suffering. We have an intimate knowledge of the laws surrounding asbestos and know how to build the case you need to receive a fair settlement. The major defendants in mesothelioma cases are aware of our track record. They often negotiate such settlements in good faith because they don’t want to face our attorneys in court.
If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, contact the mesothelioma lawyers from our Law Firm today. Do not let those responsible for your injuries go unpunished. Let us help you get the compensation and justice you deserve. With this knowledge, an injury sustained from mesothelioma requires an attorney skilled in handling product liability claims and mass torts and has experience arguing multi-jurisdictional civil cases. So if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, let our Law Firm help you seek compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Mesothelioma litigation may be very complex and confusing to many, but our lawyers have the experience needed to build a strong case. We have successfully recovered compensation for hundreds of mesothelioma victims. The major defendants in these cases know our successful track record and often fully cooperate with our settlement demands because they do not want to face our attorneys in court. Contact a local mesothelioma injury or wrongful death attorney at our Law Firm toll-free.
Discuss Your Case With An Attorney From Our Law Firm Following a DWI Accident Causing Injury or Death
What is a dram shop, you ask? In the United States, “dram shop” isn’t a term that people easily recognize. During colonial times, alcohol-serving establishments were referred to as “dram shops” because they used liquid measurement units called drams to serve alcohol. Accordingly, any drinking establishment where liquor is sold for consumption on the premises is known as a dram shop. Bars and, in some cases, restaurants are examples of dram shops. Dram shop laws dictate that the seller of liquor can be sued by an individual who an intoxicated person injures. These laws protect the injured third party against personal injuries and property damages resulting directly from the actions of the intoxicated individual (such as those resulting from drunken driving) but also against the loss of family support owing to such injuries. Generally, the person who became intoxicated cannot sue the seller if she or he is injured. The principle upon which the dram shop laws are based states that anyone who profits from alcoholic beverages should be held liable for any resulting damages. Provided that it can be proven that the seller sold liquor to a person who was already intoxicated, which is generally illegal, it is not necessary to show that the seller was negligent in proving his or her liability.
Dram Shop History
In the mid-1800s, dram shop laws were created during the Temperance Movement. The first of these laws was passed in 1872 and was amended in the decades that followed. By the 1990s, over forty states had either dram shop laws or court rulings that held a commercial server or seller of alcohol liable if an intoxicated patron caused an accident or injury upon leaving the seller’s establishment. More recent laws include limitations on the compensation amounts that may be awarded, the seller or server’s type and degree of responsibility, and a statute of limitations. During the late 1980s, a dramatic increase in liquor liability lawsuits arose due to the dram shop laws. Accompanying this rise was the increase in the number of damages that could be awarded to victims.
Consequently, liquor liability insurance became difficult to obtain and afford. To avoid costly dram shop lawsuits, alcohol vendors have implemented various strategies to prevent negligent behavior. These strategies include:
Eliminating “happy hours.”
Reducing late-night operation
Offering free Breathalyzer tests
Instituting designated driver programs
Training servers on how to deal with intoxicated customers
Many states have made these precautions mandatory. Additionally, many insurance companies now require that these preventive measures be implemented or provide incentive offerings for their use. Dram shop liability in many states has been expanded to include corporate or individual social hosts who provide free alcoholic beverages. As may have been expected, many lawsuits have resulted from this new source of liability. Owing to this, individuals wishing to host a social or business function in these states must take several of the same preventive measures that drinking establishments do. Specifically, they must obtain liquor liability insurance or hold their event at an insured bar or hotel.
Drunk Driving Accidents
More than negligent drivers involved in common traffic accidents, stiffer penalties are often assessed to drunk drivers due to the severity of drunk driving accidents and the grossly negligent actions accompanying them. Much more physical damage and fatalities result from drunk driving accidents due to the driver’s inability to control his reflexes. Further, there are usually multiple parties at fault in the accident. Due to this, the guidance of a seasoned dram shop attorney who can bring independent lawsuits against all liable parties according to their degree of negligence is needed.
Drunk Driving Accident Defendants
In any drunk driving case, the obvious defendant is the driver. When on the road, all drivers have a legal duty to provide for the safety of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. If a drunk individual gets behind the wheel of a car, this duty has been violated, and he or she will be held accountable for any harm that may result. Texas law states that the level of intoxication is a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent. Other third parties can be held responsible for the drunk driver’s actions. These parties include bars, restaurants, clubs, and other drinking establishments, which may be held liable under the dram shop laws found in the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code. These laws do not allow these establishments to serve a patron past the point of legal intoxication, and they can be held accountable for the patron’s negligent driving. Under these laws, a drunk driving accident is considered a chain of events that ends with the accident but begins when the driver starts consuming alcohol. The circumstances surrounding how the driver came to be intoxicated can have a bearing on the injured victim’s ability to file a civil claim against the drinking establishment. Dependent upon the bar’s percentage of liability in the accident, the victim may be eligible to seek compensation from the bar. This is crucial since many drunk drivers lack the resources to compensate the injured victims.
Should the Drinking Establishment be Held Accountable?
Due to a lack of knowledge based on the issues involved, many people disagree that drinking establishments should be held responsible for the actions of the patrons they serve. Further, individuals question how a drinking establishment can be held accountable for the patron’s actions after they leave the bar. Texas dram shop laws do not agree with this viewpoint.
Bars Must Provide for Everyone’s Safety
The dram shop laws of Texas expect the drinking establishments to act responsibly so that the roadways can remain safe for everyone. Holding the party that furnishes the drinks accountable reduces the number of drunk drivers on the road. With the state adopting a blood alcohol level of .08, the laws recognize that anyone who has reached this level can no longer make his or her own decisions and has already broken the law of public intoxication. Most individuals who oppose the dram shop laws are unaware that it is illegal for drinking establishments to serve anyone who has reached this level. When a bar over-serves a customer, it has violated the law. Consequently, if the patron leaves the bar and injures someone in an accident, the bar can be held partially liable for the accident because of its negligent over-serving of the patron. To comply with the laws of Texas concerning serving alcohol, businesses, and clubs must obtain a liquor license. Just as drivers are expected to obey the traffic laws of the state to keep their licenses, drinking establishments must obey the drinking laws. The consequences that result from over-serving patrons can be disastrous and harsh penalties have been established to reduce the number of violations. However, this has not stopped some drinking establishments from ignoring the laws and selling as much liquor as they want to patrons to gain as much profit as possible. Inebriated drinkers want to continue drinking, making it easy for the servers to take advantage of the situation. To make the roadways safer and encourage drinking establishments to avoid liquor law violations, they must be held accountable for over-serving.
From a scientific point of view, an individual’s inhibitions and ability to make rational decisions are disrupted by alcohol. Therefore, decisions made by individuals while under the influence of alcohol would not have been made had the individual been sober. Further, intoxicated individuals lack the reasoning ability to determine if they can drive. As a result, the servers in drinking establishments must be held accountable for ensuring public safety. Drinking establishments have another responsibility to ensure that their servers can recognize when patrons have reached the legal limit for alcohol consumption. Bartenders must be properly trained concerning the effects and dangers of alcohol as well as how to identify drunks who should be cut off before they are allowed to serve alcohol in Texas.
Further, the drinking establishments are responsible for ensuring that all of their servers have received this training. This is done to prevent any bartender from claiming ignorance of the law to avoid liability for over-serving a customer before he or she became involved in a drunk driving accident. The drinking establishment’s responsibility for its customers’ actions can be likened to that of a dentist who sedates a patient before removing his or her wisdom teeth. Due to the wooziness experienced by the patient after the surgery, the dentist must not allow the patient to drive home afterward. It is easy to see that if the dentist let the patient drive home and was involved in an accident, the dentist should be held responsible. This same principle can be seen in a drinking establishment’s negligence contributing to the drunk driving accident.
Do Dram Shop Laws Hold the Drinking Establishment Completely Responsible?
Although untrue, many people believe that dram shop laws hold drinking establishments responsible for 100% of the damages that result from a drunk driving accident. Generally speaking, an experienced dram shop attorney will bring legal action against the driver and the drinking establishment and attempt to recover damages according to their proportionate negligence for the accident. For example, if a customer is over-served and then goes out and injures someone in a drunk driving accident, the drinking establishment becomes liable for a percentage of damages determined by the court. If the injured party sustains half a million dollars in damages and the bar is found to be twenty percent liable, then the bar owes $100,000. The drinking establishment is never held 100% responsible. The purpose of dram shop laws is not to allow drunk drivers to avoid responsibility for their actions but rather to make all negligent parties accountable for contributing to drunk driving accidents. States vary widely regarding the extent that drinking establishments may be held accountable for a drunken patron’s behavior. There are a few states that do not impose any dram shop laws at all. For example, Nevada’s tourist industry would likely become non-existent quite quickly if dram shop laws were enacted. A few other small states limit the liability of drinking establishments to illegal alcohol sales, such as serving drinks to minors or known alcoholics.
What Constitutes Proximate Cause?
Most individuals who oppose the dram shop laws are aware of the impact of proximate cause on drunk driving accidents. In any drunk driving accident, the proximate cause is the individual who indirectly contributed to the cause of the accident. Although this possible defendant wasn’t involved directly in the accident, he or she did something to make the accident happen. To illustrate, if a driver swerves into oncoming traffic and another driver must swerve to avoid hitting him, which in turn causes this driver to ram into a storefront, the first driver is the proximate cause of the accident even though he was not actually in the accident. Dram shop laws require a bartender to be aware of the dangers of over-serving his customers and then letting them drive. If the customer injures or causes the death of another individual in a drunk driving accident, then the bar is the proximate cause of the injury or fatality.
Server and Bartender Responsibilities
Bartenders are responsible for regulating their patron’s drinking. As a result, the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission has set up rules and regulations to train bartenders and servers to recognize patrons on the verge of intoxication and to stop the sales when they have reached the point of public intoxication. The goal of these laws in dram shop cases is to do whatever possible to ensure the public’s safety. The law states that every establishment that serves alcohol must have a TABC liquor license and that all servers who are employed by a licensed bar be trained to know all the guidelines, rules, and expectations necessary to recognize the warning signs of drunkenness in patrons. Additionally, drinking establishments have put policies in place describing how servers must track the alcohol consumption of various customers. Tally sheets, hand signals, electronic tracking systems, and color-coded glasses or coasters are just a few methods used to monitor the quantity and potency of alcohol patrons consume. For the most part, these methods are usually adequate. However, there are those rare instances when other methods must be used to deal with intoxicated customers.
In most cases, a manager will intervene to cut off service. There are times in which the matter becomes more complicated when the patron sneaks in a flask to consume more liquor than the bar will allow. When this occurs, the manager should confiscate the flask and cut off service to the customer. Further, food should be provided to customers to assist with the absorption of alcohol. Finally, the manager should arrange a safe ride home for the patron. The only way the drinking establishment can avoid liability is to follow these steps.
Spotting Indicators of Intoxication
It is not difficult to recognize drunkenness, and servers are expected to be on the lookout for it. This TABC requirement states that all servers should watch for signs of “obvious intoxication” in their customers. Signs such as slurred speech, falling asleep in a chair or at the bar, swaying while walking, sitting or standing, inability to express thoughts, and aggressive or violent behavior are all signals that the customer has had enough to drink and should be cut off immediately. Recognizing signs of intoxication is more difficult with those who drink regularly and “hold their liquor” better than others. In these individuals, the signs of intoxication are not as easily seen. It is for this reason that servers must make a note of when they have served enough drinks to make the customer intoxicated. At this point, that service to the customer should be cut off. Generally, a patron should not be served more than two beers or glasses of wine or one shot or cocktail per hour. If this limit is exceeded, intoxication will very likely occur.
The Safe Harbor Defense
In cases where every precaution, according to TABC guidelines, was taken and the patron still becomes involved in a drunk driving accident, the drinking establishment can plead the safe harbor defense to avoid liability for the harm caused by accident. However, it should be noted that the defense must prove the bar met every state guideline to use the safe harbor defense. If they can do so, the drinking establishment is immunity from lawsuits.
On the other hand, drinking establishments try to use this defense even though they have not met all the safety guidelines for responsible serving. This being the case, it is very important to have experienced legal representation to receive your deserved compensation from the negligent drinking establishment. The dram shop attorneys with our Law Firm have years of experience with dram shop laws and know how to perform a thorough investigation and conduct depositions that will be used to prove that the drinking establishments failed to fulfill their duty to serve customers responsibly. Our firm can help you to prove your case and obtain fair and reasonable compensation from the negligent drinking establishment that served the patron who caused your injury.
Our Law Firm Can Help
The basic rules concerning drunk driving accidents in Texas are fairly straightforward. However, resolving cases involving dram shop laws can be very challenging. Drinking establishments that do not uphold their duty to serve their patrons responsibly should be held accountable for their liability in contributing to a drunk driving accident, injuries, or death. Unfortunately, this is not easy and should not be attempted without experienced legal representation. The dram shop attorneys with our Law Firm can provide the assistance needed in these cases. Give us a (toll-free) call today for a free consultation, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your case and provide information on how we can help you recover from the injuries you have incurred.
OIL & GAS INJURIES / WORKERS’COMP
Oil and Gas Production Workers Must Fight to Win Damages When They’re Injured on the Job
After years of lying dormant, Texas’s oil and natural gas patch is again abuzz with action. High market demands for these petroleum commodities and shrinking inventories have found the oil and gas companies trying to squeeze every bit of petroleum out of the ground. And in the doing, they are pushing workers to and past the limit of their endurance to meet this never-ending demand for oil and natural gas. And they’re also using machinery that is being worked 24/7 or older devices that are well past their prime and can perform safely. So when you consider all of these elements, you probably understand why pipeline and drilling rig jobs can often be some of the most dangerous work in the world, with all this pressure on the employees who work to bring profits to the drillers in the oil patch. A lot of drugs are taken by these workers so they can perform at a high level for days on end: which comes as a little surprise when one learns that drilling contractors and subcontractors are not the most diligent in drug-testing their workers. Countless accidents produce a disproportionally large number of broken bones, debilitating injuries, and even deaths because of the petroleum industry’s obsessive campaign to cut corners (and their costs) and to push workers over the brink of their physical ability: all designed to make their rigs profitable. At the same time, the money (and demand) are sky-high.
Serious injuries in oil and gas drilling accidents, or anywhere in the Texas oil production industry, are inevitable for various reasons. Many are caused by worn or defective equipment. Explosions happen with a certain amount of frequency. Negligence or carelessness can lead to heavy objects falling, such as pipes or other drilling equipment, as well as a host of other missteps and mishaps. Often, employees must work lots of overtime and seldom see an off day for a week or even longer. Many work double shifts for several days straight because the money is good, and the employers are willing to pay big money for productive workers who arrive early and stay late. If you visit this website, you may have been injured on an oil or gas drilling platform or a pipeline mishap. You probably wonder if someone other than you must bear the fair financial burden for this accident. It would help if you had full compensation for your injuries, lost work time, and other damages, not some ten cents-on-the-dollar offer that falls short. You probably feel alone and want to know who fights for your rights. If you’re a surviving family member of someone killed in an accident, will someone fight for your rights too?
Texas workers’ compensation insurance pays about half of the job-related injuries in Texas. So you must know whether or not your petro-employer has this coverage, even if it rarely covers all of the reimbursement needs for your medical expenses if your injuries are serious. There are compensation supplements to workers’ comp, which we will discuss briefly. You also need to know exactly who is responsible for your injuries and the level of neglect that led to them, especially if any third party past your employer had a hand in causing them. The success of your quest to obtain compensation depends on your ability and your oil and gas rig injury attorney to get to the bottom of the accident and its causes and identify every liable party. Resolving petroleum production worker injury cases can be very complex. In their rightful attempts to recover fair payment for their injuries, workers are fighting the most powerful companies in the world. Their influential petroleum industrial complex employers see these injured workers as a nuisance and an obstacle to the millions of dollars they stand to make.
The oilfield injury legal team at our Law Firm has over 20 years of experience in fairly resolving injury claims and civil cases on behalf of injured drilling rig and pipeline workers. If you’ve been down this road before, you know that inexperienced lawyers fail to win fair injury settlements in oil rig drilling accident cases. You also know it’s virtually impossible for drilling workers without legal experience to succeed if they represent themselves against these industry giants.
OIL & GAS INJURIES / WORKERS’COMP
Does your Petroleum Employer Subscribe to Workers’ Comp? This we Must Know First.
Like every other Texas business, oil drilling companies are not legally required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. So, work injury cases are divided into two distinct types that require different methods and strategies to resolve successfully. Employers who carry worker’s comp are “subscribers.” Those who don’t are “non-subscribers.” So the first element to successful injury compensation is determining whether or not your employer is a subscriber or a non-subscriber. Workers’ comp is a coverage “pool” maintained by participating private insurance carriers contributing to this “umbrella coverage.” For companies that subscribe to workers’ comp, it affords almost universal protection from civil injury lawsuits by employees. Because injured workers are denied the opportunity to receive fair injury compensation against workers comp subscribing employers in court, their chances of seeing reflective reimbursement for their actual damages in the case of serious injury are severely compromised since workers comp benefits rarely pay actual damage amounts that are found in civil judgments if they are severely hurt or ultimately disabled.
Some employee benefits include workers’ comp paying for virtually all medical bills for any job-related injury. Workers are covered, no matter how the oil or gas drilling accident happened or who was at fault. When it comes to the peripheral damages that are an outgrowth of work injuries such as lost wages: the disability, the pain, and suffering, the wrongful death, workers’ comp never cover the total value of the harm done to you from the job-related injury, so, if your injury is not severe and you can return to work relatively quickly, workers’ comp is not that bad. Suppose a petroleum production worker has suffered crush injuries, broken bones, massive head injuries, amputations, horrible burns from blowouts and explosions, or dismemberment. Workers’ comp is their only avenue of financial remedy for those injuries. In that case, they will never be fully repaid for their damages. The surviving family members won’t fare much better in the case of wrongful death in the oil and gas patch unless gross negligence can be proven. On the other hand, the subscriber-employers to workers comp are doing fine through the program’s protection from civil lawsuits.
Many Texas employers, including a large number of drilling contractors (and subcontractors), often run the risk of not subscribing to workers’ comp. Then, when an injury occurs, they try to avoid a lawsuit with the injured worker by claiming to have workers’ comp when they don’t. They offer to quickly pay workers’ comp benefits after they make the employee sign an official-looking “workers’ comp release.” All this blatant fraud does is allow them to wiggle out of a very expensive non-subscriber civil lawsuit, and the money they offer will never fully cover your total damages, so don’t be fooled. The victim’s only avenue is to file a lawsuit to receive full restitution from a non-subscriber for a workers’ comp oilfield injury or pipeline accident. An experienced petroleum injury attorney can quickly determine your company’s actual workers’ comp status, then share every legal option available to you that will deliver the just compensation for your injuries, pain, suffering, lost income, disability, or wrongful death of your beloved family member.
OIL & GAS INJURIES / WORKERS’COMP
Identifying all Negligent Parties in Connection with Petroleum, Your Rig, and Pipeline Injuries
Once your employer’s workers’ comp status is known, you and your attorney now encounter the two possible avenues to receiving injury compensation outside the purview of workers’ comp. Don’t get confused. You still might have civil remedy through workers’ comp if it applies to your case. That umbrella of civil invulnerability does not protect many non-subscribers and third parties. But that exception to workers’ comp civil protection occurs if gross negligence is suspected of leading to an employee’s fatal injury. If a petroleum employee dies due to a workplace injury caused by gross employer negligence, surviving family members may file a civil suit against that employer. Gross negligence is defined as having willful disregard for the safety of others. In such cases, an employer shows by his behavior that he doesn’t care what happens to his workers or doesn’t create or maintain a safe workplace. All he wants is for the well to produce or the pipeline to deliver the most petro-products possible, the consequences be damned. Creating a safe workplace is not a priority for these employers. If the negligence does not cause a fatal injury, regardless of whether your employer subscribes to workers’ comp or not, the most practical strategy to receive fair compensation involves third-party claims and lawsuits against those other than the employer who have done something negligent and caused injury to the drilling or pipeline employee. Suppose an electrician failed to wire a rig correctly and caused a worker to be fatally shocked, or a crane operator dropped a large pipe on an employee. In that case, they, and their employers, could be additional “third-party contributors” to the accident. Or if a faulty piece of machinery caused the injury, the manufacturer may be liable through a defective product lawsuit. The owner of some leased equipment that was not appropriately maintained could be responsible for its malfunction and your injuries. Another party might be liable if the rig or pipeline owner did not provide safe working conditions. The same accusation might be made against the corporation that hired anyone to oversee the drilling rig or offshore platform. With so many companies involved in any single petro-project at any given time, the list of liable parties to your accident can be lengthy.
Suppose you sue any responsible third parties. In that case, you cannot file an appropriate workers’ comp claim against your employer because it’s basically “no-fault insurance” and will be paid anyway. This is often how our clients receive just compensation amounts for their oil or gas production injury. We combine that workers’ comp claim and at least one third-party lawsuit. Sometimes, the total compensation strategy can involve more than one third-party defendant. You probably have a better appreciation of just how tricky it is to get to the bottom of such intricate accident cases. And often, these accidents must be tirelessly investigated. Experience and the ability to properly investigate the accident scene and the roles these third parties played in the oil or gas rig mishap is necessary to determine all parties responsibly and make them pay for the injuries they caused. A skillful petroleum rig and pipeline accident lawyer can investigate and design the best strategy to win the just compensation deserved by those injured victims in a complex Texas oil and gas drilling or pipeline injury case.
Speak With Our Attorneys if a Loved one has Suffered Injury due to the Negligence or Neglect of a Nursing Professional.
When people consider medical malpractice, they typically think of lawsuits filed against doctors or surgeons. But the truth is that virtually any medical professional can be guilty of medical malpractice and end up as the cause for an insurance claim or become a defendant in a lawsuit. In modern medicine, nurses are given much greater responsibilities and are becoming much more involved in all aspects of patient care. While this is generally a good thing, it means that when nurses make mistakes, the consequences are much more severe. Due to these changes in the medical world, nurse malpractice lawsuits are becoming quite common compared to 20 years ago when they weren’t nearly as prevalent. Suppose you have been injured due to a nurse’s mistake. In that case, Our nurse malpractice lawyers can tell you what options are available and how you can seek compensation for your injuries.
Common Types of Nursing Malpractice Injuries
Any number of mistakes can result in nurse malpractice. Still, in general, as with all medical malpractice cases, nurses are guilty of malpractice if the care they provide fails to reach the standard set by other professionals in the nursing field. More specifically, this type of negligence commonly includes:
Failing to monitor a patient’s vital signs and report to doctors the changes in these signs.
Failing to collect test results promptly so that proper treatment can be given.
Failing to report any changes in a patient’s condition to the physician attending the patient.
Committing some mistake while administering medication or providing any other form of patient care.
Nursing malpractice can occur in various patient care environments:
In a hospital
A privately-managed care facility such as a nursing home
A retirement center
Even visiting nurses who care for patients in their homes have been found to have committed malpractice.
What are the Parameters of Medical Malpractice, and How do they apply to Nurses?
All medical professionals owe their patients a high “legal duty.” In medical malpractice terms, a legal duty is described as a “standard of care.” Medical professionals owe their patients a certain responsibility of care proportionate to their peers. More put, doctors, nurses, and all healthcare professionals must treat their patients as others in the same field would treat theirs. The healthcare industry falls into a category that calls for a very high standard of care (or “duty”) since medical professionals receive years of unique and highly-specialized training. They must undergo years of extensive education and rigorous certification to treat their patients safely. This education should also make them sensitive to their patient’s physical and emotional needs. This is why society, in general, expects medical professionals to not only be knowledgeable regarding their ability to properly and correctly diagnose; they must treat patients with sensitivity without causing these vulnerable people further injury or discomfort. All caregivers are held to higher standards than people in other professions due to their specialized occupations. This leads to lofty performance expectations in the eyes of the general public and the law.
Whether They Are Aware or Not, Medical Professionals Can Violate Their Legal Duty
Once a standard of care has been proven in a malpractice case, the next duty of the plaintiff is to clearly illustrate that the responsible medical professional(s) who violated that standard of care is specifically liable for your injuries. A simple example might find that a nurse breaches the standard of care if he or she erroneously gives a patient the wrong prescription or misreads vital data during surgery, causing the operating surgeon to make a mistake. Nurses can misread a patient’s chart and cause an attending physician to make a treatment mistake, which further harms the patient. Many of these same mistakes can occur in a managed care environment, causing mistakes in treatment that might lead to rapid wrongful death. In a home care environment, a nurse might not properly manage the paperwork on which the overall treatment of that home-bound patient is determined; again leading to a case of malpractice when this unfair treatment catches up with the patient. In any instance surrounding administering prescription drugs, any medical professional involved in this vital task must know to avoid taking negligent, incorrect steps in administering and recording the treatments given to the patient. Such a violation is reasonably considered to be outside of the norm for the standard of care. Sometimes, nurses may be the last to know when they make a mistake.
Did You Know? Our Law Firm has been fighting for medical malpractice victims` rights for over 20 years. Call to discuss your case.
Very few people like you have even the smallest amount of necessary legal insight to understand, or even know, why a nurse or some other medical professional chose to do what they did. This is why expert medical witnesses must be sought-out and retained by your nursing malpractice lawyer to determine whether or not a medical professional has violated the standard of care for their profession. These expert witnesses, usually doctors themselves, must have extensive experience in the same fields of medicine as the nursing defendants to be beneficial to your Texas medical malpractice claim. Specialized witnesses can properly and accurately determine whether or not a standard of care was violated, by whom, to what degree, and in what context if more than one healthcare provider might be a defendant, especially if some cover-up might apply to your malpractice lawsuit. We can help you locate these expert medical witnesses in Texas or across the U.S. who are lynchpins in proving your allegations of breach of the high medical standard of care: elemental to the success of your malpractice case. Since Texas has one of the highest concentrations of renowned medical professionals globally, chances are we won’t have to look very far.
Malpractice Lawsuits against Nurses can be Difficult without an Experienced Attorney.
Medical malpractice lawsuits can often be the most challenging forms of personal injury or wrongful death cases in Texas. One reason for this sad reality is that the medical profession is, by definition, highly technical and sophisticated and holds defendants to a higher standard of care (or duty). Another reason is that several liable parties responsible for the injury can cloud the issue of responsibility for your injuries. If malpractice is added to the original injuries that necessitated your treatment, laying appropriate blame is a very intricate task for your legal investigative team. It can sometimes be likened to looking for a needle in a haystack. These two reasons alone can help you understand why injured victims have no better than a little chance of winning a Texas medical malpractice claim without the legal help of an experienced nursing malpractice injury attorney. A skilled lawyer can locate the perfect medical experts to stringently review your treatment records and determine whether your malpractice lawsuit is justified. They are also very adept at detecting medical records that someone may have altered, which is an immediate tipoff that a case of nursing malpractice might be at the bottom of your injuries. If nothing else, altering medical records is a felony. Why would a medical professional risk going to jail for altering medical records unless some malpractice cover-up was involved? Our medical experts can also help determine the degree of responsibility on the part of everyone who is involved in your medical care.
Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys have the means and skill to thoroughly investigate your case and apply this substantial evidence to a compelling legal strategy for you. With over 20 years of experience in personal injury, malpractice, and wrongful death law, our Law Firm can help you identify all responsible defendants in your malpractice suit so that you can successfully ask for fair compensation from them for their negligent behavior that made your injury even more painful. Our Law Office can also work to ensure their careless actions will not be repeated and harm some other unsuspecting, trusting patient.
It is Far From Easy Proving Medical Malpractice in Texas: but it IS Done Every Day.
Negligent medical professionals believe they owe you nothing unless you legally compel them to pay you proper compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. To force those liable for your injuries to pay you this fair compensation, your legal advocate must build a compelling case; using strong and substantial evidence that forces all liable parties to accept responsibility by proving the parts they played within the following guidelines: A malpractice victim bears the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit to recover damages in Texas. You, the victim (and your legal counsel), must prove through a “preponderance of the evidence” that a medical defendant caused your injury. It is the plaintiff/victim’s responsibility to seek legal action against that liable party. You can’t simply wait around to be reimbursed for your injury by those who were negligent in your care out of the goodness of their heart. If you don’t have a solid case, defendants will relentlessly chip away at it. So there is a specific sequence of things you must prove to realize the success you wish for in a malpractice lawsuit or insurance claim.
A High Plaintiff “Burden of Proof” for so High a Medical Professional’s Legal Duty
As a plaintiff, your medical malpractice lawyer must effectively prove – in this case – that a nurse’s negligence was the cause of your additional injury or illness in a malpractice case. Even if some of those injuries are all too apparent, defense attorneys and insurance companies will demand specific and irrefutable proof that your injuries were sustained through the specific negligence of a medical professional. This is where the forensic skill of your investigators and medical experts comes into play as they provide the proof the defendants demand. You must prove this guilt of negligent treatment beyond a shadow of a doubt. So, fortified by your experts’ specialized knowledge, you and your experienced lawyer can clearly prove to a jury how an injury may have been sustained due to medical negligence by a nurse in a hospital, managed care center, or in your home, and can also work to convince those jury members that this series of events that led to your further injury or illness did indeed happen and that you should be fairly compensated for their wrongdoing. If your case is extreme, the chances of negotiating a reasonable settlement with the guilty defendants grow, which means that an expensive civil trial may be avoided.
Once Liability is Proven, the Malpractice Victim Must Ask for REASONABLE Damages
Damages is the legal term for financial losses sustained due to an injury or loss. Damages must have been incurred in some fashion by a plaintiff due to the injury experienced due to medical malpractice. They can be awarded for economic losses such as medical costs, lost wages, future earnings, and pain and suffering. Calculating damages is a crucial phase to Texas malpractice claims because the number of damages equals the amount of compensation you, as a plaintiff, are entitled to receive once you win your judgment. After all, what’s the value of winning a six-figure case and only being awarded five figures in damages because you didn’t correctly assess the value of the damages you have suffered?
There are two types of damages: economic and non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are subjective (like pain, suffering, or loss of affection for a loved one). Economic damages are clearer and involve medical bills, lost wages, and other items with a relatively consistent dollar value. You’ll certainly ask for some out of both categories. But calculating those damages to produce a total is best left to an experienced medical injury lawyer because if your total is excessive (or too little), it harms your case. Our Law Office’s experienced medical malpractice attorneys have over 20 years of experience calculating and then proving the proper amount of damages done to our clients. Hence, they can receive the best-negotiated settlement or civil trial award for their injury or loss. Our goal is to help you back onto the road to recovery through reasonable and appropriate compensation amounts.
Damage Caps and the Challenges you Face from Malpractice Insurance Companies
There is a limit to the number of damages awarded in any Texas malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice “damage caps” mean that if your injuries are disastrous or if they produce permanent injury (and untold years of expensive supplemental care), you might not receive truly reflective compensation for your malpractice-related pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other appropriate damages. You have the special insurance interests, along with THEIR lobbyists and recent tort reform legislation in Austin, to thank for that. Because of intense pressure from those special parties, the legislature passed several laws almost ten years ago. These tort-reform laws have tilted the medical malpractice playing field in their favor. Now, with very few exceptions, there are damage award caps in medical malpractice civil cases. “Non-economic damages” (again, pain, suffering, lost future income) are capped at $250,000. Economic damages (the actual cost of your medical bills due to the malpractice) must be an actual and to-the penny. Before tort reform, anyone could sue any doctor, hospital, CAT scan tech, or another licensed medical professional for as much as they wanted and often collect unreasonable damage amounts. When the medical professional was found guilty of negligence, juries would levy huge damage awards. Now we understand that over the years, many unscrupulous attorneys and their clients took advantage of what they saw as a license to print money. So yes, a certain amount of tort reform appeared necessary in many instances. The legislature failed to adequately address the problem when the insurance and medical lobbies began pressuring our lawmakers in Austin. So the result now gives us a series of malpractice laws that benefit Texas malpractice insurers: but at the expense of both the healthcare providers they serve and those with legitimate malpractice claims. Today, it’s much more difficult for malpractice victims to recover the true value of their injuries, pain, suffering, and lost wages in any lawsuit or insurance claim. That’s why it’s so important for your Texas medical and nursing malpractice lawyer to be adept at investigating all facets of alleged malpractice.
More than one injury claim (and lawsuit) can be sought if other caregivers are responsible for those injuries. Even with this tort reform, healthcare professionals are getting screwed by their insurers. Because tort reform has lowered the money, their insurance companies are paying out. But since 2003, when this tort reform became state law – on average – malpractice premiums have increased by more than one-third. How can insurance companies increase their rates if they pay out much less than they were ten years ago? We’ll let you figure that out, but the answer is obvious to anyone over eight years old.
The Challenges in Winning Nursing Malpractice Injury Lawsuits
Filing a lawsuit against a nurse or licensed healthcare professional is extremely complex, and a non-attorney has almost no chance of success. This is due to several hurdles that the plaintiff must overcome. The first comes from the simple fact that the medical field is complicated. Most patients (and most jury members) have very little knowledge of the modern medical world, and it can be almost impossible for a non-attorney to prove that he or she was the victim of negligence. It would be best if you had an attorney familiar with medical issues and with experience convincing juries of a medical professional’s negligence.
In many cases, this requires testimony from expert witnesses who helped investigate your case to argue that the defendant’s conduct does not meet the high standards of care expected of medical professionals in the defendant’s field. Our lawyers can ensure that you have the expert witnesses needed to build a strong case. We also speak the jury’s language, so we can explain even complex medical issues in a way that a jury can understand. In other words, we ensure that the jury knows what happened to you and why you need compensation. The second major hurdle you will have to face is the malpractice insurers themselves. Damage caps have encouraged many to offer substandard settlement offers because they are protected from high payouts. These insurance companies use adjusters and excellent attorneys to help build a sturdy defense wall to shield their medical clients. And they are very good at what they do, especially if you represent yourself or hire an inexperienced attorney who claims he can do the job for a smaller percentage of your damage award. Medical malpractice cases are held to a stringent standard of proof (another reason why expert witnesses are so vital). If you or your inexperienced attorney do not know how to present your case in such a way as to meet these standards of proof, you will walk away empty-handed. In the final analysis, an experienced malpractice attorney who can investigate your allegations, call on the right medical experts to assist in that investigation, and give testimony on your behalf presents the most solid case. Armed with that, your experienced medical malpractice lawyer can aggressively negotiate the most reasonable compensation settlement possible. The attorneys at our Law Firm have over 20 years of experience effectively negotiating reasonable settlements from insurance companies. Our reputation for tenacity on our client’s behalf, coupled with solid cases, often causes these insurance companies to offer the reasonable settlement our clients have been looking for all along.
Let the Nursing Malpractice Injury Lawyers at our Law Firm Help You Seek Justice
There are many malpractice attorneys in Texas. How can you decide which one is right to handle your case? Our respected Texas malpractice attorneys recommend interviewing at least two or three before choosing the lawyer you want to hire. Ask each one about his track record for settling and litigating malpractice insurance claims and cases. Find out what each attorney thinks the strengths and weaknesses of your case are. See if the lawyers can provide you with the names of former clients whose cases were similar to yours. Ask if you can contact them. Then, reach out to them and ask the same question you asked the prospective attorney. If you do all of these things to your satisfaction, you’ll be able to hire an attorney whose experience in handling cases such as yours gives you confidence and peace of mind that this is the lawyer you can trust with your case.
Did You Know? Our medical malpractice attorneys have won thousands of cases. Call us today to discuss your case.
The legal professionals at our Law Firm are well known for investigating, prosecuting, and successfully resolving nursing malpractice cases. We understand the changes enacted by the recent tort reform and know how to build a strong case to hold nurses and other medical professionals responsible for their negligence. We have filed successful claims against almost every insurance carrier in the country, and their adjusters and defense lawyers know how successful our lawyers have been. They typically cooperate fully with our settlement demands, so they do not have to face us in court. If taking a case to trial is what it takes to get you the settlement you need, we are ready, willing, and able. We will do everything we can to help you get back on your feet. So if you have been the victim of nursing malpractice, contact our Texas nurse malpractice attorneys today for a free initial consultation. Put our years of experience to work for you. If you want to know your rights, how to proceed with your claim, and how much compensation you can secure from your malpractice injury case. Call our Law Office now for a free consultation and find out how we can help you. The legal professionals at our Law Firm will help you seek the justice you deserve and the settlement you need.