Articles Tagged with Rockwall Personal Injury

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Scales-300x132Guest and Gray, P.C. is the largest full service law firm in Kaufman and Rockwall counties. One of the main areas of our practice is personal injury and wrongful death. Our very own Scott Gray is a Texas SuperLawyer in personal injury and is the highest rated personal injury lawyer in Kaufman and Rockwall counties with a perfect 10.0 rating on AVVO.

Wrongful death cases are some of the most procedurally complex and emotionally difficult cases to handle. Our wrongful death attorneys know that this is a very personal and difficult time for a family who has lost a loved one in an accident. We handle each wrongful death case with a personal touch and a dedicated attorney and staff is assigned to each case. At Guest and Gray, our clients are not just another number or file and our clients know that we are truly here for them. Why? Because the case represents the loss of human life and it is our goal to provide justice in the only way that the civil law provides: monetary relief. That fact, can seem very impersonal by simply trying to obtain money for the life of a lost loved one. However, often times the person who has died is a family provider, a young person who had a long life ahead of them, or a caretaking mother and because of that, the family that remains often will suffer a financial hardship as a result of their loss. Medical bills and loss of income are some of the main causes of financial hardships and it should not be left to the family to bear the brunt of those burdens. The responsible party should be made to pay for those losses and it is the goal of Guest and Gray, P.C. to help put the family back in a place where they can continue to focus on their own recovery during this difficult time.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was not their fault, you need the help of an attorney to help secure the financial relief that you need during this very difficult time. It is often quite difficult for a family member to make insurance claims with each responsible party and then try and negotiate a settlement because, lets be honest, how do you assign a value to a loved one’s life? At Guest and Gray, we know that it is impossible. Life is priceless. However, insurance companies may try to take advantage of the fact that you are not able to push hard for your recovery and try to pay you the least amount possible. You may not be a number to Guest and Gray, but to the insurance company, this is just another claim to add onto a pile of other claims and their goal is to pay the least amount possible. Do not let them get one over on you. That is insult to injury. Literally.

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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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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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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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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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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?