Tag

Personal Injury Archives | Page 2 of 2 | Fort Worth Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and Family Law

Accident Report Police Report

How to Obtain an Accident Report in Texas

By | Car Wreck

Accident Report Police ReportIf you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, an experienced Personal Injury Attorney can assist in obtaining all relevant records, including accident reports. Accident reports contain basic but necessary information needed to begin a personal injury claim.

Why Do Law Enforcement Officers Write Accident Reports?

Under Texas law, a law enforcement officer investigating a motor vehicle accident must submit a written report of any accident involving injury, death, or property damage believed to be greater than $1000 within ten days of the date of the accident (Texas Transportation Code, Subchapter D, Sec. 550). If no injuries occurred, or if the damage to property was less than $1000, no report is required.

Who Can Get an Accident Report?

The Texas Transportation Code states that accident reports can be made available to any of the following persons/entities after submitting a written request and paying any required fees:

  • any person involved in the accident;
  • a person authorized to represent any person involved in the accident;
  • a driver involved in the accident;
  • an employer, parent, or legal guardian of a driver involved in the accident;
  • the owner of a vehicle or property damaged in the accident;
  • a person who has established financial responsibility for a vehicle involved in the accident;
  • an insurance company that issued an insurance policy covering a vehicle involved in the
    accident;
  • an insurance company that issued a policy covering any person involved in the accident;
  • a person under contract to provide claims or underwriting information to a person with financial responsibilities for the vehicle or to an insurance company that issued a policy for a vehicle damaged in the accident or an individual injured in the accident
  • a radio or television station that holds a license issued by the Federal Communications
    Commission;
  • a newspaper;
  • any person who may sue because of death resulting from the accident;

How Can I Get My Accident Report?

If you were involved in an accident, and an officer prepared a report, you may obtain a copy of your report by going to the website of the county, city, or municipality in which the accident occurred and submitting a written request. If an accident occurred outside city limits, you can go to the investigating agency’s website, i.e. Sheriff’s Office or Department of Public Safety. Be advised, you may be required to pay a fee for your report. Included below are some helpful links to various DFW city websites where you can request your report or find out more information.

County Websites to Request Accident Reports

DFW Metroplex City Websites to Request Accident Reports

Accident reports are important in personal injury cases because they contain information about the at-fault party, their insurance company, and the responding officer’s determination as to how the accident occurred and who was at fault, all information that an attorney would need to begin pursuing a personal injury claim. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you obtain your accident report as well as provide you valuable information, support, and guidance while pursuing your personal injury claim.

Personal Injury Case Mediation

What to Expect When Your Personal Injury Case Goes to Mediation

By | Personal Injury

Personal Injury Case MediationAs a Fort Worth personal injury attorney, I have participated in hundreds of mediations where I represented victims of car accidents, work place negligence, defective products, assault, electrocution, and other manner of claims involving injury or death. In my experience, mediation may be the most effective tool for allowing all parties to best understand all aspects and perspectives about their case—the good, bad, and ugly—and to make an informed decision about whether to settle their case or move forward toward trial.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a guided negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party, the mediator. As defined by Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 154.023:

(a) Mediation is a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.

(b) A mediator may not impose his own judgment on the issues for that of the parties.

Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator does not have the power to decide a case or to enter a judgment or award. Neither can a mediator force the parties to accept a settlement. Rather, the role of the mediator is to help open the lines of communication between the parties in a confidential setting.

What to Expect During a Personal Injury Mediation

Mediations frequently begin with what’s known as a “joint session” or “caucus.” The plaintiff, his or her lawyer, the defense lawyer, the insurance adjuster, and the mediator will gather in a conference room. When meeting the defendant’s representatives, I encourage my clients to shake hands and politely introduce themselves. Once the introductions have been made, the lawyers may put on brief presentations emphasizing what they feel is important about their respective cases. The parties do not put on evidence and the plaintiff will not be asked to testify. The parties will then break off into separate rooms with the defendant’s lawyer and adjuster in one room and the plaintiff and his or her attorney in another.

The mediator then spends time with each group getting to know the case and the parties involved. As a neutral third party with no stake in the outcome of the case, a mediator is in the unique position to offer a new perspective on the case. Good mediators will challenge the parties’ assertions and help them look at the case from different angles.

At some point during the process, the mediator will begin to carry demands and offers from one room to the other. The party to make the first “move” will depend on whether a demand or offer was previously extended. If the plaintiff made a demand to which the defendant never responded, the defendant should make the first move and vice-versa. Each party will respond with a counter-demand or offer of their own until the case either resolves or the parties reach an impasse.

Over the course of the mediation, the mediator will push both sides to consider potential weaknesses in their own cases while acknowledging the potential strengths of their opponents’. With each round of offers and demands, the gap between the parties will, ideally, begin to narrow until the parties are able to come together on a final number to settle the case.

What Happens if My Case Settles at Mediation?

If mediation is successful, the mediator will prepare an agreement for the participants to sign that generally sets forth the basic elements of the parties’ settlement agreement with the understanding that a more detailed and thorough agreement will be prepared by the lawyer for the defendant, subject to modifications made by the plaintiff’s lawyer. However, a mediation agreement is enforceable once signed, and either party to the agreement may require the other parties to be bound by its terms.

The mediation agreement will generally include a time frame for the defendant or its insurer to deliver checks to the plaintiff’s counsel for distribution. It is not uncommon, however, for this process to be delayed in order for the plaintiff’s lawyer to negotiate hospital liens, subrogation interests from health insurers, and outstanding medical bills.

What Happens if My Case Does Not Settle at Mediation?

When the parties are unable to reach an agreement at mediation, the mediator may make what is referred to as a “mediator’s proposal” in which the mediator proposes a settlement amount to each of the parties. The parties are instructed to confirm to the mediator by a certain date whether they accept or reject the proposal. The parties’ decisions to accept or reject are kept confidential and made known only to the mediator. Mediator’s proposals can be an effective tool when more time or settlement authority is needed to bring the case to a close.

Mediators will generally make a proposal only in cases where they feel there is at least some chance that both parties will accept. When the gap between the parties is too wide, a mediator’s proposal is unlikely to work and the parties are free to continue litigating the case or they may choose to continue negotiations with or without the assistance of the mediator. Depending on the case, the parties may choose re-mediate as the case gets closer to trial and fewer unanswered questions remain.

Even when a mediation fails to resolve the parties’ disputes, it has been my experience that almost all mediations are worthwhile experiences. The parties generally walk away from a failed mediation with a better understanding of the main issues in their case and are better able to focus their efforts going forward.

Natural Gas Home Explosion Injuries

Dallas Home Explosion Raises Injury Liability Questions

By | Premises Liability

The Dangers of Natural Gas in the Home

Natural Gas Home Explosion InjuriesUsing natural gas in your home can be very beneficial: it is more efficient than electricity, coming at cheaper cost, while getting more work done. However, gas does have some dangers associated with it. Natural gas is highly flammable and sometimes undetectable to the everyday person. This can lead to fires or even explosions in the home, causing thousands of dollars of damage.

Home Explosion in Dallas, Texas in February 2018

Natural gas is believed to be the related to a recent explosion at a home in Dallas. Current reports indicate that one person was tragically killed and others severely injured. Neighbors have evacuated their homes, while the city and the gas company look into the problem. Initial reports indicate that the explosion occurred near a gas heater in the house.

According to NBC DFW, the explosion prompted the evacuation of over 700 students from nearby Stephen C. Foster Elementary School.

For more on this story, click here.

For information on the Railroad Commission of Texas’ Gas Services, click here.
Pipeline Investigations from the National Transportation Safety Board, click here.

What to do if you have damage from a natural gas explosion/fire:

If you have suffered injuries or the loss of a loved one caused by a fire or explosion, it is important to know your rights.

Following a fire or an explosion, an investigation should be done to determine the cause of the incident. Depending on the cause, there may be several liability issues to address. For instance, faulty or leaking gas lines may implicate the utility company. If defective appliances contributed to the explosion, the sellers and manufacturers may be liable. These are complicated liability issues that should be discussed with your attorney.

Should you have damage from a fire or explosion that is caused by natural gas, contact your attorney to work through investigation and discuss your course of action.

Distracted Driving Injury Lawyers

The Dangers of Distracted Driving in Texas

By | Car Wreck

Distracted Driving Injury LawyersSince the invention of cellphones and the growing popularity of texting, car accidents resulting from distracted driving have increased year after year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives and injured 391,000 people nationwide in 2015. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports that 1 in 5 crashes in Texas are caused by distracted driving. This is a nationwide issue that is taking the lives of Americans every day. However, distracted driving is an issue that can be prevented.

What is Distracted Driving?

The NHTSA defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” There are three types of distractions, according to DMV.org; visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road, for example looking at something in the vehicle or an event taking place on the side of the road. Manual distractions include removing one or both hands from the steering wheel, such as adjusting the air conditioning controls or radio. Cognitive distractions take your mental focus and attention away from driving, for example, day dreaming or deep thinking. Common distractions include eating, drinking, smoking, talking on the phone, talking to a passenger, adjusting the radio or air conditioner, looking in the mirror, applying makeup or shaving, watching a video, responding to emails, and texting. Using a cellphone or texting while driving is incredibly dangerous because it combines visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. To send a text while driving, a driver takes his eyes off the road to look down at his phone screen, he takes at least one hand off the steering wheel to hold the phone, and stops paying attention mentally to think about what he is typing. Looking down at the phone just for 5 seconds while going 55 mph means that the vehicle traveled the distance of a football field without the driver paying any attention. In that distance, many things can happen, including an accident with devastating effects.

Distracted Driving Impact on Texas

Distracted driving is a growing problem in Texas. In 2016, TxDOT reported that distracted drivers in Texas caused:

  • 109,658 crashes (a 3% increase from 2015),
  • 3,000 injuries, and
  • 455 deaths

In Tarrant County alone, distracted drivers were responsible for 8,210 crashes, 23 of which were fatal crashes in 2016.

Texas Laws Regarding Texting While Driving

Laws regulating cellphone use while driving differ between states and cities. As of September 1, 2017, the use of a “wireless communication device for electronic messaging” while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited in the state of Texas after the adoption of House Bill Number 62. The offense is considered a misdemeanor and punishable with a fine between $25-$99, however it may increase to between $100-$200 if there is a prior conviction for the same offense. This includes texting and emailing while driving. The Texas Transportation Code Title 7. Sections 545.424, 545.425, 545.4251, 545.4252 provides, in relevant part:

  • If the driver is under 18, they cannot use a wireless communication device.
  • A bus driver may not use a wireless communication device while operating the bus if a minor is present.
  • All drivers are prohibited from using handheld devices while driving in school zones.

Exceptions to these laws exist for cases of emergency, reporting illegal activity, using a hands-free device, using a global positioning system, playing music, or when the device is permanently affixed to the vehicle and is part of the operator’s duties.

Ways to Bring About Change in Distracted Driving

Distracted driving isn’t someone else’s problem. It’s our problem and it could impact you or your loved ones. There is no badge of honor for multitasking while driving. We all share the road and when we are distracted while we are driving, we endanger the lives of everyone around us. Here some things you can do to prevent distracted driving and make a difference on the road:

1. Eliminate Distractions

Before you start driving, enter your destination into the GPS, adjust the air conditioning, find the right radio station or queue up your songs, and send your last text or email. Secure loose objects that might roll around once you start driving so you aren’t temped to reach for them and so they don’t roll under your feet. Take care of grooming and eat at home. Get everything done before you start driving. If you absolutely need to respond to something, pull over to a safe spot on the side of the road.

2. Some Apps are Good

Recent iPhone software iOS 11 has a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature that can be manually or automatically enabled or be activated when connected to a car Bluetooth system. This feature can sense when you are driving and silences notifications such as text messages. It can even send an auto-reply to people who have messaged you, telling them that you are busy driving. Phone calls will only come in if connected to a Bluetooth hands-free system. The customizable feature can be found in the “Settings” app under “Do Not Disturb.” An app with similar functions is “LifeSaver,” which can be downloaded in the App Store or in Google Play.

3. Speak Up When You are Riding With a “Distracted Driver”

While we can only control our own actions, we can encourage those we ride with to avoid distracted driving as well. When you’re a passenger in a vehicle and the driver is distracted, speak up and remind them about the importance of focusing while driving. Offer to take care of the distraction for them. Politely tell them that you’re uncomfortable riding in their car while they’re distracted. Talk to your friends and family about the dangers of distracted driving and hold each other accountable.

4. Make a Pledge

Hold yourself accountable by making a pledge not to drive distracted. There are many websites with pledges, some where you can donate to different foundations or dedicate your pledge to someone, such as the “Just Drive” pledge with the National Safety Council.

Injured By a Distracted Driver? Free Case Evaluation

If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, contact our personal injury attorneys for a free case evaluation. We have offices in Fort Worth and Keller or we can send one of our attorneys to meet with you if you have a difficult time traveling. We do not charge any fees for injury cases unless we win a damages award for you. Contact us today at (817) 993-9249 or send us a message.