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Usually a blog about flooding would be the last thing on people’s minds in DFW during August. However, with our recent rain and flooding you may be wondering if there is anything you can do about newly found excess water on your property. If that water is causing damage to your property, you may be able to recover from your neighbors.

Section 11.086 of the Texas Water Code provides, subject to a few exceptions, that: no person may divert or impound the natural flow of surface waters in this state, or permit a diversion or impounding by him to continue, in a manner that damages the property of another by the overflow of the water diverted or impounded. It also creates a cause of action for a person whose property is injured by an overflow of water caused by an unlawful diversion or impounding. It states that the injured person will have remedies at law and in equity and may recover damages occasioned by the overflow.

Basically, all you need is, (1) diversion or impoundment of surface water by your neighbor, (2) that diversion or impoundment by your neighbor to cause damage to your property, and (3) to have damage to your property. Any unnatural diversion or impoundment by your neighbor may create a cause of action. Since the statute allows for legal and equitable damages a court can order your neighbor to fix the problem caused by their diversion (re-route the water so that it is not damaging your property anymore) and to pay for any damages that have already been caused.

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GuestandGrayPic-300x88Guest and Gray Law Firm is the largest, most highly rated local law firm in Kaufman and Rockwall Counties. Why? Because we are litigators who fight for our clients. We are not just a bunch of local guys who went to law school and decided to come back home to practice. We love where we live and we love the people here.

Our main office is located in old downtown Forney inside the old bank building. If you have driven through old downtown, then you know us. You’ve seen the big gray building with big “Guest & Gray” letters on the front. We also have an office near the Rockwall Court Courthouse in Rockwall to serve our growing needs in Rockwall. Both Rockwall and Forney are currently experiencing growth never before seen in this area. With unprecedented growth, both Rockwall and Forney are having to deal with problems they have never had to face before.

This growth has created a need for experienced local attorneys who know the lay of the land. When you have a local problem, you need a local attorney. Here at Guest & Gray we are proud to say that we have answered that call. Case after case, we effectively resolve the issues our clients are facing. No legal problem is too big or too small. No matter what your litigation needs are, they are important to us. Why? Because the people of Rockwall and Kaufman county are important to us.

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Personal-Injury-Law-300x149Between Soap Operas and the Price is Right, the other consistent day-time TV you see are personal injury attorney’s yelling at you about they will “get them the compensation they deserve” for their injuries in between scenes of car crashes and people looking strangely well groomed to be in a hospital bed after the aforementioned accident. I love those commercials. The acting is about as good as the Soap Opera episode it runs in between.

All jokes aside, the biggest hiccup that occurs between clients and attorneys is the concept of compensation. Many clients expect that since the accident was clearly not their fault, they should just get the money. Although that is quite often how it works, you have to “prove up” your damages, either during the claims process with the insurance company or by introducing admissible evidence of damages in court once a case has been filed.

Once a case has been filed, a party seeking recovery of past medical expenses must pay very close attention to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (TCPRC) §41.0105 that says, “in addition to any other limitation under law, recovery of medical or health care expenses incurred is limited to the amount actually paid or incurred by or on behalf of the claimant.” Easy enough, right? Actually paid and incurred means expenses that have been or will be paid and excludes the difference between such amount and charges the service provider bills but has no right to be paid, e.g., amounts that have been written off. Ahmed v. Sosa, 514 S.W.3d 894, 895-896 (Tex. Ct. App.–Fort Worth, 2017).

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I find that  potential clients here in North Texas are quick to use phrases like “negligent” and “gross negligence” because they’re terms used quite often in TV shows to portray the negligent acts of another person. However, knowing how to use the word correctly in a sentence and knowing what the term means according to the law are two different things. The point of this article is to shed light on the legal meaning of the term “gross negligence”. Adding the modifier “gross” to the legal term “negligence” denotes a greater level of negligence than your standard negligence claim. When you say someone was “grossly negligent”, the hearer assumes that the other person acted absurdly under the circumstances. The hearer is right and the law would support their conclusion, as long as you can prove the behavior was absurd at the time of the accident. This is the key distinction between the common meaning of a word and its legal meaning. To the hearer, it means what it means according to its commonly understood definition. However, in this case, the legal meaning given to gross negligence shows how you go about proving the behavior was absurd. As we will see, gross negligence is defined by the Texas Practice and Remedies Code (TPRC) and provides a blue print for proving a gross negligence claim.

Under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, “gross negligence” means an act or omission (1) which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and (2) of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.

The first prong of the gross negligence test focuses on the objective nature of the defendant’s conduct. A plaintiff may objectively prove gross negligence by proving that under the circumstances of the accident, a reasonable person would have realized that his or her conduct has created an extreme degree of risk to the safety of others. “Extreme risk” required for a finding of gross negligence turns upon the likelihood of serious injury to the plaintiff. This extreme degree of risk threshold is significantly higher than the objective reasonable-person test for negligence. Essentially, we must show that the person had some level of understanding that their actions were risky and involved danger not only to himself but to the public at the time of the accident.

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Texasoilfields-300x191We don’t need to tell you that an oilfield is a dangerous place to work. There are drilling rigs, work-over and completion rigs, gas plants and compressor stations, hot oilers, oilfield trucking, roustabout and other oilfield services require the use of heavy and dangerous equipment.

On top of all that, the operations must be carried out in an environment surrounded by highly explosive and dangerous chemicals. In order to ensure a safe workplace for an oilfield worker demands constant attention to the details of safety policy and procedure. Failing to adhere to policy can set the stage for accidents resulting in catastrophic, and even fatal, injuries.

Negligence, error, and defective machinery are the most common causes of oilfield injuries. During these times of boom or bust, calls from corporate require increased production from the field in the name of profits. This can create a dangerous combination of shortcuts, employee exhaustion, and an overall failure to adhere to the set safety and procedure guidelines.  This is type of renegade work environment is how oilfield workers become injured. Its that wildcatter, can-do attitude of the workers and the corporate attitude towards profit margin that puts the oilfield worker at great risk of injury. Whether they are working offshore, or working in the Permian basin or elsewhere in this oil rich state, the general attitude remains the same: drill that oil, make that money. Oilfield workers are some of the hardest working men around. They work in dangerous conditions for long hours and often with very little sleep for days.

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(photo credit: inForney.com- Mathew Richards)

via inForney.com: FORNEY, Texas — A reported reckless driver fatally struck a motorcyclist head-on Monday night forcing the closure of westbound U.S. Highway 80.

The crash occurred at approximately 10:40 p.m. on westbound U.S. Highway 80 just prior to the Farm-to-Market (FM) 548 exit ramp.
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Insurance-Claim-PictureThe insurance company is not your friend. I feel like I say this to every potential client, and I get the same response “they’ve been really friendly so far.”

Then we get into the claims process and get down to brass tacks and the client quickly realizes that, had they gone into this without an attorney, what would have been considered “fair” by the insurance adjuster’s definition would have been much different and less zeros on it.

Case in point, I was speaking to a friend recently I had not seen in nearly a decade and it came up that he had been involved in an 18-wheeler accident a few years back. He told me how he had tried to go it alone for a while against the insurance company, in part because they seemed to be on his side and they accepted liability right away. He was hurt pretty bad in the accident and required shoulder surgery and weeks of rehabilitation.  However,  in his initial meeting with the insurance company’s adjuster, they offered him $1,500. He said he couldn’t believe it and as he said it, he seemed to think that I should be surprised too, but I wasn’t.

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Crash-on-80-300x129TERRELL, Texas — Eastbound U.S. Highway 80 is closed at Spur 557 due to a major head-on collision. TDPS spokesperson Kyle Bradford said the wreck involves at least three-vehicles. The wreck occurred when two vehicles collided head-on in the eastbound lanes. One of the vehicles overturned and a person became entrapped in another. Firefighters have since extricated that individual.
The crash happened around 8:20 p.m. on eastbound U.S. Highway 80 at Spur 557.  Traffic is being diverted off the highway at the Terrell exit on Highway 80 and Spur 557 is closed.
There is an AriEvac Lifeteam medical helicopter and a CareFlite helicopter on scene.
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Fatality-Crash-Rockwall-300x225Time is of the essence if you or a loved one has been involved in an 18-wheeler wreck. The trucking company and the insurance company is going to take steps to eliminate evidence of wrongdoing on their part. You need to hire an attorney and get them working on protecting the evidence related to the accident because it has a very funny way of disappearing.

For instance, there was a fatal 18-wheeler accident involving Forney resident, Latonya Child, in Fate, Texas near Rockwall off of Interstate 30 just the other day. Absolutely horrific tragedy. The driver of the truck obviously did not stop. Although this information is generally applicable to all accidents, but if I were advising this family as a lawyer, or even as a friend, I would say: hire an attorney and do it now. I have handled too many 18-wheeler wreck cases involving incapacitating injuries and deaths to say any different. That family, and any other family involved in such a tragic accident needs someone to tell them that the insurance company is not their friend and does not have their best interests at heart, no matter what the insurance company says. They need someone to protect their rights and make sure that the person who decided to be negligent on that day and take away their loved one pays for what they did. Period.

It is vitally important to the injured party’s case that an attorney take certain actions to protect evidence in the days and weeks following an 18-wheeler wreck. The three main things an attorney needs to for anyone in such a situation send spoliation letters (evidence protection letter), get an accident reconstruction specialist out to the scene of the accident, and get ahold of all the witnesses and take their statements.

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Photo Credit: inforney.com/ Mathew Richards

FORNEY, Texas — via inforney.com: There are two separate wrecks are causing delays on eastbound and westbound Interstate 20 near Farm-to-Market (FM) 740.