Articles Tagged with Dallas County Personal Injury Attorney

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pain-and-suffering-1-300x227Here at Guest and Gray, that is a common question when talking to new and potential clients. Pain and suffering is a real thing. It can be the pain from recovering from a broken arm, but also the suffering you feel as your body tries to heal. So, if you have been injured in a motor vehicle or motorcycle accident, and it was not your fault, you are likely going to be able to recover for not only your injuries sustained in the accident but also for the pain and suffering associated with those injuries. David HagEstad and Scott Gray, our Dallas, Forney and Rockwall county personal injury attorneys are well versed in the area of pain and suffering and have successfully obtained favorable settlements for our clients over the years and have put together this short guide to help you understand the process of recovering monetarily for your pain and suffering.

How Much is My Pain and Suffering Worth?

The funny thing about Texas law is that there is no set method for calculating pain and suffering in any given case. It is determined on a case by case basis. Some firms may try to get you to click their website because of a calculator they supposedly have to determine how much you should get for you injuries. Those are likely not going to be accurate because no attorney can ever guarantee how much you should get in any given case. This is especially true early on when the full extent of your injuries, and the overall time period of your recovery, are still unknown. However, as experienced personal injury attorneys, we can tell you that the two main indicators of pain and suffering that you should be aware of are the extent of your injuries and the amount of your medical bills. These key indicators will help guide us in determining a fair dollar figure for your pain and suffering, i.e. calculating your pain and suffering.

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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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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.

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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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fender-bender-300x216Let’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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TxDOT_Color_LOGO-300x190According to recently released crash data from TXDot, both Rockwall and Kaufman counties are experiencing significant increases in commercial traffic accidents. The data just released is from 2015, so 2016 statistics are not known. However, the number of commercial vehicle accidents increased by 34.5% year-over-year from 2014 to 2015 for Rockwall and Kaufman county increased by 20.3% over the same time period.

We know that Rockwall and Kaufman counties are experiencing extreme growth, with cities like Rockwall, Royse City, McClendon-Chisholm, and Heath as well as parts of Dallas, Garland, and Rowlett located in Rockwall county, it is no wonder that Rockwall county has experienced large year-over-year growth in commercial vehicle accidents. But over 34%? That is a crazy statistic.

In Kaufman county, what is really the most surprising is that it had more commercial vehicle accidents that Rockwall county in 2014 (113 in Kaufman county and 107 in Rockwall county). What may be surprising to hear is that Kaufman county has a larger population that Rockwall county, thanks to large growth in cities like Forney, Terrell, and Kaufman. That may partly explain the higher number of accidents, but Rockwall county is smaller in geographic size and is more densely populated, so the statistic is still a little surprising. Forney’s population alone grew by over 25% from the 2010 census to the last released data in July 2015, and Kaufman county’s growth over that same period is at exactly 11.0%.

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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.