Burn & Scald Injuries – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
Burn Injuries are Tragic and Often Cause Pain Much Greater Than Other Types of Injuries
Many people in the city of Houston suffer from burn related injuries everyday that are the result of someone else’s negligence. These injuries can be very painful and cause life-altering circumstances in your life. The disfigurement of the skin can cause you to be insecure about the way you look and it could cause you to shy away from friends and family. Suffering from severe burn injuries could require extensive medical treatment, which accumulates medical bills and expenses. If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury in the Houston area, then contact an attorney because you might be entitled to receive compensation.
Types of Burns
Burns are categorized in degrees and those determined by the severity of the injury to the skin. The degrees are first-degree burn, second-degree burn, third-degree burn and fourth-degree burns.
A first-degree burn is a burn that affects the outer layer part of the skin. It is considered a minor burn and it usually doesn’t blister. The symptoms of a first-degree burn are redness, painful to touch, dry skin and peeling of the skin. A first-degree burn usually heals within a week or so. An example of a first-degree burn is a sunburn.
A second-degree burn is a burn that is more severe than a first-degree burn. Second-degree burns affect the outer and lower part of the skin. Its symptoms are redness, blistering, swelling and is painful to touch. Second-degree burns heal within 2-3 weeks.
A third-degree burn is a burn that affects the top two layers of the skin. Once the skin is burned, dead skin then forms. Third-degree burns are very severe and require medical attention. Suffering from a third-degree burn can cause disfigurement of the skin and surgery is warranted because the doctor has to peel away the burned skin in order to allow the skin tissue to heal properly. Often times skin grafting is necessary to repair the tissue. The symptoms of third-degree burns are charring of the skin and very painful to touch.
A fourth-degree burn is the most severe burn. Fourth-degree burns affect the muscles and bones. Due to the severity of the burn, you might not feel any pain at all because the nerve cells are destroyed. Fourth-degree burns can cause death and many people who suffer from fourth-degree burns do not survive.
Causes of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries can be caused by several different things. The most common causes of burn injuries are hot liquids and steam. The second leading cause of burn injuries is scalding hot water. A burn can also be caused by a fire, chemicals, or exposure to an electrical shock.
Our firm has been litigating burn injuries for over 20 years. We represented a man who suffered burn injuries on his foot by scalding hot water and he was awarded a substantial amount of damages for his injuries. We also litigated a case for a teenage girl who suffered burned injuries from gasoline being poured on both of her legs. We have represented numerous burn injury cases in Houston and the surrounding area. Contact our office today to receive a free consultation.
Neck and Back Injuries – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal Injury Accidents Causing Severe Neck and/or Back Pain
Neck and back injuries are among the most serious types of injuries that a person can suffer from. These injuries can lead to continuous pain, limit mobility, and in extreme cases can lead to paralysis or death. In some cases, the events that can lead to a neck and back injury are caused by someone else who could be liable to you for your injuries. Our Office has over 20 years of experience and has helped Houston area clients determine their rights under the law regarding their neck and back injuries.
What are Some Common Causes of Neck and Back Injuries?
One of the most common causes of neck and back injuries are car accidents. A common way that people injure their neck or back in a car accident is if they are hit from behind causing them to have whiplash. Due to the high rate of speed and the amount of force generated by a car, neck and back injuries are always a possible consequence of a car accident.
Injuries from car accidents are not always apparent and sometimes take a few days before you begin to feel symptoms of an injury. You should consider seeing a doctor after a car accident so that they can examine you and determine if your neck or back has been injured.
Another common way people injure their neck or back is from a workplace accident. Jobs that require manual labor or expose workers to heavy materials and equipment run the risk of their workers suffering from injuries. This can result from lifting something that is too heavy or having something fall on top you. If this type of accident occurred due to negligence on the part of your employer then you might be able to hold them liable for the injury.
Yet another common way that you could injure your neck or back is in a slip and fall case. A way that this type of accident could occur is if a person were shopping in a store and slipped on either a wet spot on a floor or on something left on the floor by a negligent worker. In this case, the person who slipped might be able to hold the store liable for the negligent actions of its workers.
What are Some of the Common Types of Neck and Back Injuries?
Neck and back injuries can vary in severity all the way from only causing stiffness and soreness to causing full paralysis. These types of injuries are serious because they have the potential to severely impair your quality of life by limiting the things that you are able to do. Some of the most common types are injuries are whiplash, a herniated disk, and spinal cord injuries.
Whiplash occurs when the neck and head are thrown back further than their normal range of motion. This usually occurs during a car accident when you are hit from behind. Whiplash can cause of variety of symptoms including headaches, pain in the neck and back, dizziness, poor concentration, and fatigue. Usually the symptoms are not immediately felt but become noticeable a couple days after the accident.
A herniated disk occurs when something causes a disk in your spine to be pushed out. Usually when the disk is pushed out it pinches a nerve which causes pain. A herniated disk can be caused by a number of different things like a car accident, lifting something heavy, or falling. Symptoms of a herniated disk include weakness, numbness, and a tingling down your arms. They are generally treated with physical therapy but sometimes require corrective surgery.
Spinal Cord Injuries
One of the more severe types back injuries are related to the spinal cord. These injuries occur when there is a fracture or dislocation in the neck or back. This can be caused by severe accidents such as a car accident or by a heavy object falling on you. If the fracture is on the neck it can lead to paralysis and possibly death. If the injury is lower on the back it could lead to either whole body paralysis or paralysis below the waist. Spinal cord injuries require surgery and extensive physical therapy.
You Deserve to Know Your Rights
The symptoms of neck and back injuries range from mild pain to paralysis and possibly death. If you or a loved one injured your neck or back as a result of someones negligence, you deserve to know your rights.
The attorneys at our Law Office have over two decades of personal injury experience. We have helped many personal injury victims suffering from neck and back injuries receive the compensation that they deserve. Call one of our attorneys today for a free consultation regarding you neck or back injury.
Bystander Claims in Houston – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
Am I Allowed to File a Bystander Claim in a Texas Personal Injury Case?
Often when someone is injured, their loved ones suffer as well. It is incredibly painful and emotionally traumatic to watch a family member be hurt or killed. As a result, there are situations where the court will allow you to recover for damages you incurred by simply watching your loved one be injured or killed. In the event that you have suffered similar heartache, you may be able to receive damages under what is known as a bystander claim. Of course, this is a very narrow exception and you will need to speak with our attorneys to effectively determine if this exception applies to your case.
How do I Qualify for a Bystander Claim?
A bystander claim is a claim for damages which a person may bring if their loved one has been killed or traumatically injured. It’s not available in every situation, however. In order to bring a bystander claim you must first meet three foundational requirements.
First, you must have been a close family member of the victim. This means that you could either be the spouse, father, mother, sibling, child, or some other close relation. Even if you are not biologically related to the victim, you may qualify for a bystander claim if you are an adoptive parent of the victim or if you are the legal guardian. If we cannot prove that you are somehow related to the victim, then you do not have standing for a bystander claim.
For example, let’s say you were walking with your friend on Fannin Street and your friend was hit by a Light Rail train. You would not have a bystander claim for damages because you are not closely related to the victim. The same would be true if the person hit by the Light Rail was your boyfriend or girlfriend. Since you are not actually related to your boyfriend or girlfriend you would not have a valid claim.
Close Proximity of the Witness
Second, you must have been near your loved one at the time of the accident. The logic behind this is that you must have been close enough to the accident to have experienced trauma. If you were actually a mile away, you may have been able to see fire trucks and that there was an accident, but you would not have been close enough to experience the type of emotional trauma deemed sufficient by the court.
There are exceptions to actually seeing the incident, however. There was a case in Texas where a man sued for bystander claims after finding his son after he fell down an elevator shaft at a hospital. The courts found that even though the father did not actually see his son fall, he still qualified for bystander damages because he personally found his son after the accident which resulted in emotional trauma.
Direct Correlation Between the Accident and the Emotional Turmoil
Finally, your emotional damages must have been the direct result of witnessing the traumatic accident. The accident you observed must have been so shocking that you suffered serious emotional trauma following the incident. Injuries may include depression, anxiety, insomnia, or other emotional based symptoms.
The key issue though is that they must have been caused directly by witnessing an accident. For example, if you are suing claiming that you can no longer work because you have developed crippling depression and insomnia, you will not have a successful bystander claim if you were previously treated for these ailments prior to your loved one’s injury.
Anytime you witness a loved one hurt or killed you will likely experience life altering trauma. Our attorneys can help you work through this traumatic time in your life and assist with your bystander lawsuit. We cannot change what happened in the past, but hopefully with our help you will be able to live a happy and healthy future. To schedule a meeting with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, call Our Law Office.
Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
We have Over 20 Years of Wrongful Death Litigation Experience
Many people die from old age and other natural causes, but many are killed due to the negligence of another person. If you watch the local news, you probably hear about these tragic events on a daily basis. If you have suffered the loss of a family member due to the negligence or fault of another person, you may be able to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. Texas law allows you to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or company who is responsible for your loved one’s death. But what exactly is wrongful death?
What Does Wrongful Death Mean?
The phrase wrongful death almost seems redundant, but it is actually a great legal tool for victim’s families to use when their loved one has died at the fault of another person. When you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you are claiming that if it were not for the negligent actions of another person, your family member would still be alive. Therefore, this claim is only available if the person died due to unnatural causes and was directly caused by the carelessness, recklessness, or negligence of another person.
For example, if your grandfather dies of old age while in hospice care, you likely would not have a wrongful death lawsuit against his physician or the care facility. It is unlikely that they were negligent in any way which caused his death. He lived a long life and his body simply stopped working.
However, if your father was hit and killed by an 18-wheeler truck, would you have a potential wrongful death claim? In this scenario, your father is probably in relatively good health and were it not for the negligent driver who hit his car, your father would still be alive. In this situation you may have legal standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Why Would Anyone Want to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
So even if you have a reason to file a claim, why would you want to? There are numerous reasons why a family member may choose to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. First, it is very important to realize that you are not filing a claim on behalf of your deceased family member.
Wrongful death lawsuits are not claims brought on behalf of the person who died since they are unable to defend their rights. In contrast, the lawsuit is meant to defend the rights of the family who lost the family member. In essence, you are not suing because the loved one was hurt or suffered in any way; you are suing because their untimely death has somehow hurt you as a surviving family member.
Sometimes family members decide that the actions of the defendant were so outrageous and egregious that they need to be held accountable for their negligence. For example, if the 18 wheeler truck driver was high on cocaine when he hit your father, you may want to make sure that the driver is punished.
On the other hand, maybe the trucking company who employed the driver knew that he frequently got high while driving and failed to take action. If you filed a wrongful death lawsuit you could potentially hold both parties accountable for their gross negligence and you may prevent them from causing harm to other families.
Other times people file wrongful death claims because they have been financially harmed by their loved one’s untimely passing. If your father was the main financial provider for the household, you probably suffered financially due to their death. Your family may have been forced to default on your mortgage, or you may be late in paying your bills. And these are just immediate costs you may be suffering from the loss of your family member.
There are many expenses which you will likely encounter in the future which you may not have even thought of at this moment in time. By filing a wrongful death claim against the responsible party, the court may award you damages to compensate you for all of your immediate costs and future expenses.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be very complex and challenging. Our attorneys understand that if you have lost a loved one, you are probably struggling through one of the most difficult times of your life. We may be able to help your family through this unfortunate time and hold the negligent parties accountable for their harmful actions. To learn more about wrongful death claims and whether it applies to your personal case, call our office.
Houston Truck Accident Attorney – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
Have You Been Injured in an Accident With a 18-Wheeler Truck?
Our firm has dedicated 22 years of practice to helping truck accident victims in Texas. This makes us one of the most experienced truck accident firms, not only in Houston, but throughout the state. With our vast experience and a proven record of excellence, our dedicated legal team is devoted to helping you win your claim and receive the financial compensation you may be entitled to. We also believe that you should be well informed about what your truck accident lawsuit might entail and how we plan on specifically helping you.
How Truck Accident Cases Work
The most important thing you must understand about 18-wheeler accident cases is that they are some of the most complex and challenging claims an attorney can handle. We face numerous legal challenges and tons of technically based evidence which we must battle in order for you to win. Our attorneys fully understand the legal complexities of these cases and we also know that a successful outcome is crucial to your well-being. This is why we are so dedicated to helping you because we know that we have a special ability to fight the counter-claims of 18-wheeler truck companies.
Trucking companies spend huge amounts of money on teams of attorneys who are specialized in protecting and advancing their interests. They spend all of their time solely trying to defeat claims like yours. These companies have absolutely no interest in making the ethical choice and helping innocent victims like you with your recovery. Although trucking companies companies are required by law to retain a great deal of insurance, these companies will do absolutely everything they can to make sure you receive none of it.
Think about it. When you are involved in a car accident and you must pay through your insurance, your insurance premiums go up. This is also true for trucking companies when they are forced to pay your for damages they have negligently caused. They have absolutely no sympathy that you are no longer able to work following your accident, and they do not care that your loved one was tragically killed due to their negligence. They care about money first and foremost. Consequently, they will use every despicable and deceitful tactic in order to escape payment for your suffering even if it means deflecting the blame elsewhere, including you.
Examples of Trucking Companies Trying to Skirt Their Liability
Our firm was hired by a client who was severely hurt when her car was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler truck. Although she had debilitating back injuries caused by the truck driver’s negligence, the trucking company was initially only willing to offer her $900 for her pain and suffering. With the assistance of our team she was awarded more than ten times that amount. Luckily for her, even though she waited to contact us, we were still able to reach a successful outcome. Regrettably, not everyone is so fortunate.
Many trucking companies and insurance companies representing the trucking company do everything within their power to delay your claim by dragging it out until you have no other option but to take their inadequate and insulting offer. Many law firms will refuse to help you at this point because the evidence proving your claim will be destroyed or lost due to the amount of time that has passed. This is why it is so important that you call us immediately after your accident. We can make sure that your evidence is properly preserved and you ultimately receive a fair and just payment for your injuries.
Examples of Trucking Companies Trying to Shift Blame Elsewhere
The best defense, and probably the most frequently used defense, is the argument that another person is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, therefore, shifting the blame elsewhere. Trucking companies have no problem blatantly lying in order to deflect blame and often make false claims in an effort to defeat your allegations. For instance, we previously represented the family of a man who was sadly killed when his car was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler truck. The truck driver had driven well over his limited amount of hours in which he was allowed to operate the large vehicle, and he was high on illegal drugs when the accident occurred. The deceased driver was only trying to obey the law and give the right of way to an ambulance entering the freeway. The negligent truck driver failed to slow down and hit the car in front of him killing the driver. In an effort to shift blame the trucking company listed the ambulance as a responsible third party and attempted to argue that the ambulance was the actual cause of the accident. It was completely false, and the trucking company absolutely knew that to be true, but they still tried to use it as a defense in order to not pay the victim’s family. We sued the trucking company and won.
To Sue or Not to Sue
While we can usually reach a successful and fair agreement outside of court, it is sometimes necessary to take your case to trial in order to make sure that you receive everything you deserve. As mentioned before, these trucking companies have entire teams of lawyers working around the clock dedicated to protecting their interests. They pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to these lawyers just so that they do not have to pay you that money. As a result, these lawyers extend the claim and delay your payment for as long as possible. The trucking company has absolutely no motivation to settle because they seem to have a never ending supply of money and have no incentive to settle your claim. They would rather drag it out as long as possible and then may be forced to pay you in court, but this rests solely on your ability to find a qualified attorney to represent you in trial. Our firm has a proven track record of winning big in court against these unethical trucking companies and we will do it again for you.
We have won hundreds of truck accident cases, including a claim in which a young woman suffered a crushed vertebra when her car was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler truck. A father of two was tragically killed when a disabled 18-wheeler blocked off the entire roadway. A young man lost his life when a commercial vehicle ran a red light. Four people were killed and numerous others injured when an 18-wheeler driver who was under the influence of cocaine crashed into numerous parked cars. In another case, a 22-year-old mother was killed when her vehicle collided with a disabled tanker truck that did not have any warning lights while blocking the highway at night.
What We Hope to Accomplish in Every Truck Accident Case
Our end goals in every case are to make sure that our client is happy, healthy, and can move forward in their life. For you this ultimately means getting you the money you deserve to adequately compensate you for your injuries. We want to make sure that you receive the medical treatment and ongoing healthcare that is necessary for your recovery. We want to make sure that you can pay your bills while the case is still ongoing. And we want to make sure that the negligent defendant reimburses you for any lost wages or lost future income since they are the sole reason why your life has been turned upside down. What we hope to accomplish in your truck accident case is to restore you to a level of health and well-being you enjoyed prior to your unfortunate accident.
Before we can do anything on your case, we need you to call us. We are anxious to get started on helping you with your recovery and are dedicated to performing all necessary research in order to prove your damages. For a free over-the-phone consultation, call our office.
Houston Drunk Driver Accident Attorney -Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
Our Attorneys Can Help You and Your Family Following a Serious Injury Accident With a Drunken Driver
Were you aware that you can sue both a drunken driver and the drinking establishment that over-served him if you’ve been injured in a drunken driving accident? When you bring a lawsuit against a drinking establishment, this is called a dram shop case, and this right stems from a section of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
What is a Dram Shop Case?
A dram shop case is a liquor liability case that allows you to sue bars, restaurants, clubs, and other establishments that serve alcohol under very specific conditions whereby they break rules regarding the service of alcohol set forth by the TABC.
What is the Concept Behind Dram Shop Laws?
Many years ago, the Texas state legislature recognized that drunken driving accidents and other intoxicated injuries are often the result of bars breaking the rules of safe alcohol service set forth by the TABC. Prior to the codification of the Dram Shop Act in 1987, the victims of drunken driving accidents could theoretically sue bars under a general negligence-based theory of liability, but our lawmakers decided this issue needed to be codified into law. The creation of the Dram Shop Act limited the injured parties ability to sue bars, but wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for plaintiffs. While the Dram Shop Act provided bars protection from all but certain types of lawsuits, it also specifically instructed plaintiffs when and how they may go about filing lawsuits.
From state-to-state, dram shop laws will differ, but in Texas, it’s codified. Much of the Dram Shop Act just took what had already been the practice in the common law and set it in stone, striking a balance between the rights of bars and plaintiffs and limiting the ability of plaintiffs to seek compensation to only those cases when the drinking establishment has broken specific rules.
Who Can Sue a Bar under a Dram Shop Cause of Action?
Anyone who is physically injured by virtue of a bar violating safe alcohol service rules as laid out by the TABC has the right to pursue compensation from the drinking establishment. However, the path to securing remedies for the harm done won’t be the same for all injured parties. Different classifications of plaintiffs will need to take different approaches to reach the same end of obtaining compensation, and they will face different challenges along the way.
What are the Different Types of Plaintiffs who Can File Suit in a Dram Shop Case?
Injured parties in a typical dram shop case fall into one of two categories: third party plaintiffs, or first party plaintiffs. A third party plaintiff is someone other than the drunken driver who was injured in a drunken driving accident – a passenger in the intoxicated motorist’s car, the driver of another vehicle, the passenger(s) of another vehicle, pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists. The dram shop act is not limited to motor vehicle accidents involving intoxicated motorists, but any type of alcohol-induced harm that an intoxicated patron caused. For example, you could pursue a dram shop lawsuit after being attacked and beaten by an intoxicated person who had been over-served in a bar.
On the other hand, a first party dram shop claim involves the drunken driver, either when the drunken driver sues the bar who over-served him following an injury sustained in a drunken driving accident, or the driver’s family files a wrongful death lawsuit after their loved one drinks past the point of intoxication at a bar and then dies in a drunken driving accident. Since Texas law considers negligent drinking establishments to be a cause of drunken driving accidents, then they can be held partially accountable even for harm done to the drunken driver.
What Makes a Bar Liable?
Although our dram shop laws allow you to sue a bar for contributing to the cause of a drunken driving wreck, you can only succeed with such a suit if the bar has violated very specific rules. So long as alcohol is legal to sell and consume, there must be some balance between a bar’s right to free enterprise and the public’s need to be protected from the dangers of drunken drivers. According to Texas’ dram shop laws, a bar is not actually liable for serving alcohol until a person becomes noticeably intoxicated, and there is no immediate assumption that a bar is liable just because an intoxicated patron left a bar and caused an accident. Rather, Texas considers the act of selling alcohol negligent only when a bar serves additional alcohol to a person who is already dangerously intoxicated.
What Constitutes a Dangerous Level of Intoxication?
Technically speaking, according to TABC guidelines in order to have a viable dram shop lawsuit, you must be able to show that the recipient of the alcohol was displaying obvious signs of intoxication such that he presented a clear and present danger to himself and others and the bar continued serving him. Now, these obvious signs of intoxication can include changes in the patrons’ physical characteristics, such as bloodshot eyes, an inability to balance while standing or walking, or a loss of control of bodily functions, or they can also include altered behavior. Some people are prone to violence when drunk, while others become more sexually uninhibited. While some people get loud and extremely extroverted when intoxicated, others become uncommonly quiet and withdrawn. Since some drinkers are more able to conceal the outward signs of intoxication than others, the sheer number of drinks ordered by a single patron can also be an indicator of intoxication.
How Can a Bar Recognize Obvious Intoxication?
First, a drinking establishment needs to make sure all of its employees have attended and completed TABC training. Not only is this required to avoid liability for harm caused by drunken patrons, but this training teaches servers how to detect obvious signs of intoxication in their customers. The most important thing is diligence – bartenders and wait-staff must keep a constant watchful eye on their patrons. If you’ve ever spent any time in bars and clubs, then you know that it’s usually not that hard to spot the intoxicated patrons. Usually, you only need to look for them. Although, as we mentioned, some drinkers can hide the signs of intoxication, so servers need a way of detecting when these customers are intoxicated. Just as with observing patrons, this isn’t that difficult either. To order food and drinks, most bars and restaurants now use some sort of computerized system. Thus, every time a patron orders a drink on his tab, a bartender just needs to be observant of how many drinks have been ordered by this person. Once the amount of beverages purchased has surpassed the amount it would take to make the customer intoxicated, then service should be cut off in compliance with TABC mandates on safe service of alcohol.
The fact of the matter is that until drunken driving accidents happen most drinking establishments are more concerned with making profits than protecting themselves against liability. Therefore, if you’ve been injured in a drunken driving accident, the chances are strong that the drinking establishment that served the driver wasn’t taking the necessary precautions to avoid liability.
What is a Plaintiff Required to Prove?
To win a dram shop case, it’s not enough just to know that the bar served an obviously intoxicated patron, but you’re going to have to be able to prove it, along with establishing that this act was a proximate cause of the accident and your injuries.
Eye-witness accounts from bar patrons and surveillance video from the bars can demonstrate that the drunken driver was obviously intoxicated before leaving the bar. Sometimes, our attorneys have even been able to use the driver’s phone records and social network page to track down drinking buddies who can help demonstrate the recipient’s level of noticeable intoxication while he was still drinking in the bar. Moreover, other bar patrons can testify as to whether not the bar habitually serves patrons past the point of intoxication. We’ve even sent private investigators armed with surveillance cameras into bars we are investigating to attempt ordering alcohol when they’ve already had enough to become intoxicated. Interviews with employees can reveal whether or not they’ve been properly trained according to TABC regulations. Sales records and/or debit and credit card receipts can show just how many alcoholic beverages the patron bought before leaving the bar. By questioning the arresting or investigating officer, your attorney can also demonstrate the driver’s intoxication and the role it played in the accident.
What Amount Can You Sue the Bar For?
If you can prove the bar violated the TABC rules for the safe service of alcohol, and this violation caused your injuries, then you can sue the bar for damages. In a personal injury lawsuit, these damages may include compensation for:
Any property that may have been damaged in the wreck
Pain and suffering felt during the accident
Mental anguish experienced during rehabilitation
Lost wages during recovery time
Detrimental effects of lifelong disabilities that result from your injuries
If, conversely, your loved one is killed in a drunken driving accident, then you may be able to pursue both wrongful death damages and survival damages. Wrongful death damages can be sought by the surviving spouse, children, and parents and are intended to compensate these people for the harm done to them by virtue of the death of their loved one. These wrongful death damages may include compensation for:
Loss of monetary support
Loss of parental services for children losing parents
Loss of child’s services for a parent losing a child
Loss of spousal services
Psychological counseling for the surviving family members
Loss of companionship and society.
On the contrary, survival damages are intended to provide compensation for the losses of the decedent as a result of the accident and may only be pursued by the personal representative of the estate in the name of the closest living relative. Survival damages may include:
Compensation for the mental agony experienced due to the realization of imminent death
Medical bills charged prior to death
Compensation for the physical pain of the accident
Of note, when we begin an investigation, we send a spoliation of evidence letter to the defendant informing the bar that it’s being sued and instructing it not to destroy or tamper with evidence in any way. When a drinking establishment ignores a spoliation of evidence letter and tampers with any evidence covered by the letter, then the court will likely enforce Death Penalty Sanctions as punishment, increasing the amount of damages.
Also, damages in a drunken driving accident are split between the drunken driver and the negligent drinking establishment, provided the liability of both can be proven in court. The attorneys on all sides will present arguments as to the respective degree of liability for each party, and the damages owed by the liable parties will reflect this percentage of liability as decided by the court.
You Need Help with a Dram Shop Case
If you’ve been injured by a drunken driver whom you suspect may have been over-served by a bar or restaurant, then you will likely need the assistance of an experienced dram shop lawyer to successfully sue for the damages you deserve. You stand very little chance of finding the evidence you need to prove the drinking establishment’s negligence without the assistance of a professional investigator who has handled investigations like this on numerous occasions and knows what to look for. However, you also need an attorney who understands the wide scope of financial harm that can result from serious injuries and the importance of consulting with a number of different medical experts to accurately estimate the harm caused in your accident.
Finally, you need an experienced lawyer who knows what to expect from dram shop defense attorneys and how to overcome the challenges they will present, as well as, the importance of proving up the value of damages to allow you to hold all liable parties accountable and get maximum compensation.
Our lawyers have spent more than 22 years litigating dram shop cases, so we’ve worked hard to obtain the experience you need to help you get the damages warranted by the injuries you’ve sustained or the loved one you’ve lost. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with you dram shop case, then call us today for a free consultation.
Houston Workers’ Compensation Attorney – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
Houston Work Accidents, Injuries, & Workers’ Compensation Claims
If you need help recovering under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy you need an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Our lawyers are here to assist. You need to first understand the workers’ compensation that you are entitled to and the process of filing a claim to recover under this form of state regulated insurance plan.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Virtually every person is familiar with the term workers compensation but few understand that it is actually a system rather than just an abstract type of benefit. The system works as follows; a company chooses to buy into the workers compensation program that is run by the Texas Department of Insurance and they purchase insurance through a state-sanctioned private insurance carrier. As you can imagine this quasi state-run and quasi-private system is wrought with both the problems of the public sector and the private sector.
Why Your Employer Likes Workers’ Compensation Coverage
You employer likes workers’ compensation coverage because by buying into it, they are immune to a lawsuit related to your injury. The only recourse that you are left with is to pursue the workers’ compensation claim through an administrative process that will be decided by the state. You will basically have to enter into an administrative dispute resolution process that will involve hearings and reviews by a three-judge appeals panel. This entity was created for those situations when disputes over workers’ compensation claims could not be resolved informally.
The other reason why employers like workers’ compensation is ultimately because the benefits you can receive are much less than what you would receive in a negligence case. They are happy because the amount they have to pay in premiums is relatively low and they are essentially bullet proof in terms of liability.
Why you Like Workers’ Compensation
In workers compensation cases you theoretically do not have to dispute whether or not you are covered. Virtually the simple fact that you are on the job and injured means that the workers compensation insurance company will have to pay you some benefits. So in other words there is almost guaranteed coverage.
Concerns/Issues With Workers’ Compensation
If your employer subscribes to workers compensation as we just stated, you get guaranteed coverage. This brings the question, why does anyone need a workers’ compensation lawyer and why do they have hearings?
The reason for hiring an attorney is because, even though the law clearly states you are entitled to guaranteed workers’ compensation benefits if you are within the course and scope of your employment, the employer does not have to cover you if they think you were horse-playing, doing something outside of your normal work duties, or under the influence of any type of intoxicating substance. As you can imagine, these are all vague concepts and many workers are denied simply because the employer will state that the accident was the fault of someone else and therefore you should take up your grievances with them.
To illustrate, imagine you are a machinist and you injure your hand on the job. Clearly workers compensation should apply to you. However in some cases they will say that it was because of a fault in the machinery. Basically they will attempt to deflect your claims by stating that you should file a claim against the manufacturer of the product and not against them.
Additionally a lot of employers take liberties with interpreting what does and does not constitute normal job functions. Many of the clients that have called us have been injured on the job while helping another employee and the employer tried to argue that the conduct leading to the injury was not a job duty and therefore they were not covered.
Additionally, workers compensation insurance carriers make all of the decisions in your case, not your employer – so even your insurance carrier may attempt to deny your claim for coverage. The main way they can limit your ability to receive compensation is not by disputing that you are not covered, but by downplaying your injuries. A doctor would say you need surgery but someone working for your workers compensation insurance carrier would say that you need physical therapy.
What a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can do For You
A workers compensation lawyer will appear on your behalf in any administrative hearings to decide benefits and will work to make you get the full amount of benefits that you should receive. Most importantly, a workers compensation lawyer will fight to see that your impairment rating is accurate.
What is an Impairment Rating and How Does it Work?
If you have sustained injuries and will likely have long-term effects, you may be eligible to receive a lump sum payout at the completion of your case. The amount that you are paid is based on your maximal medical improvement rating, otherwise known as an impairment rating. It is an appraisal of the nature and extent of your injury and how much it affects your ability to perform your job. For every one percentage point of impairment you have you will be paid some quantity of money. For every one percent of impairment you receive approximately three weeks of pay.
Therefore, the more accurately your impairment rating is, the more money you will receive. In order to maximize the amount of money that you can potentially be rewarded it is so important that you have an attorney representing you in your workers’ compensation claim. You should not be injured on the job under any circumstances and in the event that you are, your employer should be held financially responsible for any ensuing injuries. If you believe that you have a potential workers’ compensation claim, contact an experienced attorney at office for a free consultation at.
Nonsubscriber Work Injury Attorney – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
Injury and Death Claims Against Workers’ Compensation Nonsubscribing Employers in Houston
About 45% of Texas companies do not participate in the state run workers’ compensation program. This classification of employer is called a nonsubscriber. If you have been injured on the job and your employer is a nonsubscriber you will not get automatic compensation as you would if your employer subscribed to workers’ comp. In fact, your rights are quite different.
This article will explain your rights, the compensation you can receive, and how to successfully pursue that compensation. The Houston nonsubscriber workers’ injury attorneys of our firm have been winning these cases for over 20 years. Please feel free to contact us to further discuss your work related accident.
Where Do Nonsubscriber Laws Come From?
Technically, there is no such thing as nonsubscribers work injury law. The way it works is that our legislator has passed very specific laws regarding the rights of an injured worker whose employer does subscribe to workers’ compensation and these laws are codified in the Texas labor code. When the employer opts out of this system there is no hard and fast set of rules that says an employer can do X, Y, and Z; instead your rights are derived from the common law. As such, your rights mirror the natural rights that a plaintiff would typically have in any other personal injury case.
What is So Different About Nonsubscriber Cases?
The primary difference between nonsubscriber and workers’ comp cases is that in a nonsubscriber case you typically have to litigate against the employer in order to force them to accept responsibility and force them to pay you. Whereas in a workers’ compensation case there is the presumption that the employer is inherently liable and the benefits you get are automatic.
Is My Employer Inherently Liable?
No. Since a nonsubscriber work injury case is based on common law principles, you are required to prove that your employer was negligent in some fashion. If you cannot prove that the employer was negligent then you simply do not have a valid claim. In other words, just because you were injured on the job it does not mean your employer was responsible in a nonsubscriber case. You must prove they caused your injury directly or indirectly.
How Much is My Case Worth?
Again, in a nonsubscriber case you can sue your employer for all your damages, rather than receive just the paltry benefits that someone who has a workers’ compensation case is eligible to receive. To determine the value of your case you must simply add up all of your individual damages and weigh that against known jury verdicts. Damages that are compensable in a nonsubscriber case are:
Loss of earning capacity
Both future and past medical expenses
Compensation for suffering
In Houston, juries are not particularly bias against plaintiffs. So in most nonsubscriber work injury cases we can typically recover the entirety of your damages because a jury is likely to award the entirety of your damages. (On the contrary, in certain parts of Texas, even if you win your case, a jury will pay you less money that what your case is worth.)
How Does a Nonsubscriber Case Work?
Step 1: Talk to an attorney. The very first thing you need to do is speak with one of our attorneys so that we may discuss your individual accident.
Step 2: We will do research in the matter which might include an onsite inspection, accident recreation, and product testing. The initial methods that we use to better understand your accident and why it occurred largely depends on the nature of your injury and what we primarily believe to have caused your accident.
Step 3: We will present to you your options and discuss what we think the case is worth, whether we think it is worth you pursuing, and what we think you may stand to gain when it is all said and done.
Step 4: We will then attempt to settle the case out of court and file suit if the defendant does not offer an adequate payment. All of our attorneys are skilled negotiators; however, we are not willing to compromise on your well-being. We will do our best to reach an adequate payout, but if we feel you are not being offered a fair sum, we will have no problem holding the defendant accountable in court.
Step 5: Now the case is in litigation so we will go through a process where we use subpoenas to obtain documents and information from the company and we will use this to build the case against them. This is where we will find the crucial evidence which can undeniably prove the defendant is responsible for your damages.
Step 6: Once we have gathered additional information, both parties will again meet and discuss the case face to face. A new round of negotiations will begin and if these negotiations fail we will go to trial.
Voluntary Benefits Paid by the Employer
As we mentioned above, your employer does not have to compensate you when they are not a subscriber to workers’ compensation; you must pursue them to get the compensation you need. But, some of you reading this may think “But my employer is paying me voluntarily. Do I still need to file suit against them?” The answer is some employers will purchase insurance that provides proactive payment of injury benefits that functions very similar to a workers’ comp plan; however, this is all done on a voluntary basis and they can cut your benefits off at any time.
As a general rule of thumb, if your injuries are very minor, it is not worth it to sue. If your injuries are minor and your employer is giving you voluntary benefits, you should probably take the money and run. On the contrary, if you have severe injuries they may simply be paying you enough to string you along and ultimately cheat you out of money you deserve. They are only paying you for medical costs and potentially a small amount of your lost wages; however, often you will go months without working and you will require ongoing treatment and surgeries to fully recover.
Unfortunately, through voluntary benefits many employers will only pay for your initial surgery cost and maybe a month of lost wages. This means you have damages for lost wages, medical treatment, and other damages like suffering all of which voluntary benefits will not cover. Your employer is not paying you what they owe you, but they are paying you enough that no attorney will want to sue because you will only be able to recover a limited amount of damages, but you still have the same cost to pursue the claim. Generally, employers who offer voluntary benefits have ulterior motives and they may intentionally mask their nonsubscriber status as workers’ compensation. This also typically prevents you from getting an attorney and resulting in the statute of limitations passing before you even realize you have a claim for further damages.
What if the Accident is Partially My Fault?
The primary benefit to employees who have a nonsubscriber employer is that they only have to show that the employer is partially liable. So unlike every other personal injury case where you have to show the defendant is more liable than you, the nonsubscriber only has to be at least 1% responsible for your injury. As a consequence, the only thing they can do is try to put the blame back on you.
If you’ve been injured in a workers’ comp nonsubscriber case call our office.