Articles Tagged with Auto injury attorney

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guestandgray-300x300At Guest and Gray, we understand that customer service and client satisfaction is key to our success. Keeping clients happy is business 101. However, it is easier to do that when you are genuinely happy to provide the service. It is easier when you have a top notch team in place that has been working together for years. It is easier when you care about the service you are providing. When people come to my office, they are hurting. They are worried about their medical bills as well as their light bills and putting food on the table for their family. Here at Guest and Gray, we do not lose sight of that fact. We focus our personal injury practice locally in the Rockwall, Kaufman and Dallas county areas. Why? because we care about this community and the people in it. We care because we live here. You are our neighbors. What a cool job to get to fight for your neighbors when someone has negligently harmed them!

It is a job with a lot of responsibility. Many local Rockwall, Terrell, Forney and other local residents come see me every week and tell me the story of how they have been injured and how that has affected them and their families. Accidents don’t just hurt the person, it hurts their families too. It effects everything they do. Spouses and parents have to spend additional time caring for an injured family member. Watch them receive treatments in the hospital. The worst is when a loved one has been lost due to an accident. That is truly a life-changing event for that family.

It is our goal to show this community the other side of personal injury attorneys. Not the side you see on TV that brags about cherry-picked cases where the clients have received large sums of money. Yeah, we have those but you are not just a dollar sign to us, and we hope we are not that for you either. The law only provides so much remedy to an injured party and the end result of each case is a cash-payout, but our goal is to make sure that you are brought back to where you were or as close to that as possible. We look at every avenue of recovery. Every angle.

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gavel1-300x169Rockwall and Kaufman counties are major trucking routes with highways such as Interstate 30, Interstate 20 and Highways 80 and 175 passing through those counties respectively, along with other major highways intersecting them. Commercial trucking accidents are some of the most severe and potentially fatal types of accidents imaginable. An 18-Wheeler truck loaded with thousands of pounds of cargo can weigh upwards of 40,000 tons, or 80,000 pounds. That is a massive amount of destructive force which is why trucking accidents often result in debilitating, life-altering injuries and even death.

Truck Accidents Can Be Fatal

Data from the US Department of Transportation shows 2,485 passenger vehicle occupants died in “large truck accidents” in 2014. The most deaths happened in 1979, when 4,226 people in passenger vehicles died in large truck accidents. That’s a 41.1% drop from 1979, which represents good progress, however, the number of deaths per accident has risen. This is true despite increased federal regulations on trucking companies and truck drivers, respectively. Quite often the cause of trucking accidents is due to a trucking company forcing drivers to violate federal regulations and drive for longer periods of time without sleep than allowed by law, truckers going against their own companies rules and regulations to meet strict delivery deadlines, and driver fatigue or equipment failure.

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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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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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personal_injury_law-300x215We get this question a lot from our clients and potential clients here in Forney, Rockwall and Dallas. The question often boils down to “how long do I have to sue the other driver?”

The easy answer is two years. But, that is not the legal answer. The legal answer involves a review of  a state statute and a little bit of case law.  The limitations periods in Texas are set out in the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. So, that is where we start.

Chapter 16 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code provides in pertinent part that a person must bring suit for personal injury not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues. Pretty simple, right? Almost. The statute does not say when the cause of action accrues, it only says that you have two years from the accrual date.

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Let’s be honest for a minute. Car wrecks suck. They really do. They hurt our bodies. They destroy our property. We miss time from work. Insurance companies. Hospital bills. Rental cars. Rehabilitation. Did I mention insurance companies? Because they suck, too.

Hold on a second….

Sorry, I just went and asked an associate who was in an accident last August and she confirmed it. Accidents suck. See, its unanimous.

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fender-bender-300x216Hospital bills piling up? We know how that goes. Literally. After you are injured in an accident, you will probably have several different kinds of bills related to medical services that were provided to you after the accident. You will likely have hospital bills, ER doctor’s bills, and emergency services bills, such as the EMS ambulance that treated you and transported you to the hospital. You will have the emergency room bill for the treatment you received there. Additionally, you may have subsequent treatment from your family doctor, or you may need to have additional treatment by a specialist. All of these providers will want to place a lien on your recovery, or put your account under a letter of protection to protect their right to recover money for the services they provided you once your case settles or goes to trial.

The job of a personal injury attorney is to determine which of these liens has priority and to settle these liens with the providers once your claim has been settled or a judgment has been paid. We often hear questions from injured clients and injured potential clients when they come meet with us in our Forney, Dallas, or Rockwall locations about how their doctor’s bills will end up affecting their recovery. In order to understand how these liens will affect your recovery for injuries you received here in Forney, Dallas, Rockwall or anywhere else in the State of Texas, you need to have a basic understanding of how the liens work and how they are perfected by the hospitals. Only then can we begin to understand how much they will affect your recovery.

How Do Hospital Liens Work?

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Scales-300x132So often we hear legal terms such as “negligence” and “wrongful death” used by attorney’s and non-attorney’s alike. It is almost common place for people to use the word when describing an accident or a person’s behavior. If you listen to some of the local radio stations here in Dallas-Fort Worth you will probably hear a few commercials for attorneys asking the question “have you been injured because of someone else’s negligence?” The word is thrown around almost nonchalant. But, under the law, negligence has a very deep and complex meaning. Using the word as a broad stroke “that was negligent” does not afford the word its due, and under the law, may not actually be so, as you will see below.

For attorney’s and legal professionals, these terms have significant meaning beyond the common understanding of the words. In law, these are called “legal terms of art”. For the practitioner of law, terms of art such as negligence, wrongful death, and the thousands of other legal terms of art have a meaning beyond just a Webster’s Dictionary definition. So, in this article we ask “just what does the word ‘negligence’ mean?”

Terms of art can have different meanings in different jurisdictions. For the most part, the term “negligence” has the same legal definition in all 50 states. However, what may be different is how it is applied in certain situations. For instance in Texas, up until 2015, evidence of a plaintiff’s own negligence by failing to wear a seat belt was not admissible to show that the plaintiff was partly or wholly the cause of their own injuries. However, that all changed with the Supreme Court of Texas’ decision on Nabors Well Services, Ltd v. Romero.  Now, it is admissible, so you have yet another reason, other than the obvious, to wear your seat belt. The Supreme Court now says that if you fail to wear a seat belt it can be used against you to limit your recovery in a personal injury lawsuit. Many other states allow such evidence to be used to establish a plaintiff’s own negligence, but there are others states who still do not allow this type of evidence to prove plaintiff’s negligence.