Posts in: September


30Sep 2020

Tort claims are commonly known as injury claims wherein a person who suffered from damages or loss would file a lawsuit and the person responsible are obliged to make the victim ‘whole’. Tort claims are usually monetary compensation for damages encountered by the victim.

Lawsuits against the government or claims against government hospitals for negligence are most commonly forbidden by what is called “sovereign immunity”. The most common tort claims against the government are Legal Malpractice, Medical malpractice, or breach of Fiduciary duty. However, sovereign immunity is renounced in Texas where you can file a case under certain specific limited circumstances defined under The Texas Tort Claims Act.

The Act defines government as any agency or organization at either the state or a local level, including all state agencies and all departments, bureaus, boards, commissions, offices, agencies, councils, and courts.

Doctors since then became easier targets for lawsuits which led them to flee from Texas. But in 2003, a major tort reform bill passed which was meant to protect the entities by including caps on many personal injury lawsuits, with limits on punitive damages and medical malpractice lawsuits.

Liability is an important element that needs to be proven to validate the whole tort claim. It is a legal responsibility or obligation to do or make good while Civil liability is the term that is used when someone commits a tort (personal injury) and must face the consequences.

Tort claim indicators:

  1. You have to establish that someone has a duty and that they breached that duty to you.
  2. The breach resulted in harm or foreseeable damages.
  3. Causation – one incident leading to another incident that causes more harm or damage.
Three major types of torts leading to legal liability include:

Intentional torts

This is not an accident but an act that was committed with a clear plan and purpose of causing harm. It is applicable to a person or property.

Examples:

Battery – Hurting a person through physical acts or by using an object. Assault – Threatening to commit battery, although no injury occurred. Defamation – Speaking lies about another person that results in some kind of harm.

Negligence torts

It is the most common type of civil liability and can also be considered as accidents that occur when a person fails to take proper precautions.

Examples:

Criminal negligence – when someone gets killed unintentionally. Like when a person is driving at top speeds while texting or when drunk. Civil negligence – When a person does not exercise due diligence in their responsibilities or acts less responsible than the normal or expected. Ex. The landlord who failed to replace the broken stair railings that then collapsed and injured the victim.

Strict liability torts

Automatic liability for someone whose actions or product caused damage even if the incident was out of his control.

Examples:

Product liability – if a product causes damage or injury because of defective design, the company will be held strictly liable even though they had no direct hand in the accident. Animal/ Pet owner liability – If an animal gets out of the house and bites someone while the owner is not present, the owner will be held liable.

Exceptions to the Texas Tort Claims Act

Just like any other lawsuit, there are always exceptions to any lawsuit. To better explain this, let us use a car accident as an example. If a person is hurt by a negligent driver, there is no liability on the part of the government under these situations:

Emergency Exception – the actions of a government employee while responding to an emergency call to an emergency situation, is immune from liability unless they acted with disregard for public safety.

Safety Officer Exception – designed to protect police officers and firefighters in the execution of their duties.

Intentional Injury or Intentional Tort Exception – there is no waiver of governmental immunity for a claim arising out of assault, battery, false imprisonment, or any other intentional tort. This exception has been upheld with assault by members of law enforcement. This exception does not apply to instances where the police officer did not intend to kill or injure the victim but rather was negligently supervised or trained in the execution of his duties.

When a tort is committed by the government, you may sue them but there are strict rules and notice requirements you must follow. The State of Texas is entitled to a “notice of claim” before anyone pursues a lawsuit. Meaning, The plaintiff must notify the governmental entity within 180 days of the incident providing the following information:

  • Description of the damages incurred
  • Suffered Injuries
  • Identity of the parties injured
  • The incidents that led to the injury
  • Time, date and setting of the accident

The notice is a prerequisite or condition precedent, necessary to proceed with a lawsuit.

The Texas Tort Claims Act Limitations on Damages

There’s a maximum amount that the plaintiff may recover depending on what type of government unit is being sued. The state and municipalities allow up to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per incident. All other levels of government allow for $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident. There is no waiver of immunity for exemplary damages and does not apply to the government.

Who Benefits From Tort Reform?

Texas is a tort reform state which means It limits a person’s right to get full compensation for serious injuries, property damage, and loss of a loved one. This may sound devastating for the victims but one can also view it as a way to prevent the increase of frivolous lawsuits.

It aims to create a balance for the damage caps on medical malpractice suits in order to improve healthcare availability in Texas instead of scaring away health professionals and government employees. In return, support the economy by encouraging more people to invest, create businesses, and provide service in Texas.

This law is more favorable to insurance companies and many people may ask why tort reform is constantly undergoing changes. Although the tort reform seems unfair for the victims, there’s still a chance to get compensation. This is why it’s important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer if you care for your personal injury claim in Texas.

23Sep 2020

Thousands of vehicles are damaged each year in traffic accidents. The cost of repairs can sometimes be astronomical. Even after you repair your vehicle the value of your vehicle dramatically drops. The only way to recoup those losses would be through what is known as a diminished value claim.

The term diminished value is any form of monetary value that was lost from your vehicle after an accident even after it has been repaired. The diminished value of a vehicle is the difference between the price of the vehicle after repairs and the price you would sell it if there had been no accident or damages. This value is considered a loss and can be added to the settlement claim.

Even after your car is repaired perfectly it would not hold its original value. In most cases, vehicles that have been in an accident will have some form of diminished value or “depreciated value”.

Insurance claims adjusters will do everything to manipulate, frustrate or stall claimants especially if they know that you still don’t have a personal injury attorney to process your settlement. Diminished value is not something insurance companies account for in their payouts after an accident and will never mention it to their customers. They will usually argue that proper repairs will return full value to the vehicle but the accident itself will always be present in the vehicle’s history which affects the vehicle’s resale value.

The 3 types of diminished value


1. Repair related diminished value

Cost for any flaws related to the substandard quality repair of the vehicle. This includes cosmetic or visual imperfections such as misaligned doors, dings, wrong color match, or mechanical repair flaws that fail to bring the vehicle to its standard operation. Some examples of mechanical repair flaws are difficulty in steering, electrical problems and more. The use of generic parts rather than OEM parts also lowers the value of the car.

2. Claim related diminished value

Cost for when insurance companies deny you of certain types of repair or parts necessary to restore your vehicle to perfect working condition.

3. Inherent diminished value

Cost for lost value in the resale market due to the accident. Nowadays, it’s easier for people to know the history of the vehicle they are planning to buy just by searching it on the internet. This means, even if it was only minor damage, the resale value can now be easily affected and potential customers would rather opt for cars without any accident history.

According to Texas state law, you are entitled to file an insurance claim for diminished value within 2 years from the date of your loss if you were the not-at-fault party in a car accident. Once you have filed your claim, you will need to prove that your vehicle has lost a specific amount of value. Your insurance company will need to pay for the diminished value of your vehicle.

If you want to know the true market value of your vehicle, you will need a professional automobile appraiser to determine the diminished value for your claim. They are able to take into account the full history of the vehicle and provide you with an expert opinion on the vehicle’s value that you can then present to insurance companies.

To solidify your claim, you must remember to keep receipts, estimates and other documents from the shop that did repairs on your vehicle.

All vehicles are different and the diminished value will also vary depending on the make, model and other factors that influence the calculation of your vehicle’s diminished value such as:

  • Prior accident history
  • The vehicle’s condition before the accident
  • Mileage of the vehicle
  • Age of the vehicle
  • Undamaged value of the vehicle
  • Marketplace demand

Sure, it may seem easy to calculate the diminished value but without legal support, it may be difficult for you to convince the adjusters of your claim compared to having an attorney experienced with car accident claims to properly calculate and battle it out for you.

It’s your right to protect your investment. Contact The Hadi Law firm and we will be glad to assist you with your diminished value claim.

16Sep 2020

Amazon has revolutionized how we buy goods on the internet. Just a few years back it would take a week or two for us to get our perfect sweater or that new iPhone. Today you can have your order in your hands the same day you ordered it. A few clicks from the comfort of your home and you can have whatever your heart desires the same day. Amazon’s gigantic selection of products and unrivaled delivery time definitely has its pros but an important question we should ask ourselves is how is all this possible. How does Amazon offer what we would have said is impossible a few years ago and still remain a viable business model? It’s called a “Hiring Frenzy.”

A major aspect of Amazons processes is the delivery drivers that get your product to you. Mostly, in part to its rapid growth, Amazon oftentimes acquires the services of independent contractors. Amazon’s drivers have full access to private customer information and are in constant contact with Amazon’s customers. You would think any job with so many sensitive functions has a strict and clear vetting system. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Amazon’s delivery drivers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every driver is not hard-working or that some individuals with criminal records don’t deserve a second chance but it’s important to understand the need for organizations to vet all working personnel; especially when it pertains to your personal home and life.

The horror stories of Amazon’s drivers are increasing daily. You’ve probably heard stories of frustrated, overworked drivers like 22-year-old, Derick Lancaster, who quit and left his truck full of packages at a gas station.

Ironically, there is a website devoted to Hiring Felons, that consider’ Amazon a good place to start when looking for a career as a felon.

The Hadi Law Firm is currently handling a case against Kirkland Demouchet, a dangerous member of the Gremlin Gang in Abbeville, Louisiana, was indicted on charges of Racketeering, Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, and Engaging in a Criminal Street Gang. Demouchet is represented by AKERMAN, who has done a great job of hiding him through the entire 19 month litigation process. We suspect they have no idea where he is and are posturing to intimidate the firm. Kirkland Demouchet delivered for Amazon through Teal Logistics, LLC. Teal Logistics is just one of Amazon’s many contractors who were obviously not properly vetted by Amazon; let alone prepared and organized to work with Amazon. Every business has its bad employees but it seems like this has become a trend with Amazon’s delivery drivers. No matter how large a corporation, Amazon, like every other business, needs to be held accountable for its negligence and endangering people’s lives. Kirkland Demouchet currently has an open Failure to Appear charge for a weapons arrest pending. If and when he presents for his deposition, he will be arrested.

What’s worse is that Amazon seems to turn a blind eye to the plight of its own customers. When Will Brown’s Amazon packages were stolen by the driver delivering them, Amazon sided with its driver asking Brown “How do you know it’s our driver?” Brown found video evidence of the theft and the Philadelphia police are currently investigating. Amazon was quick to point out that the driver is a contractor and not a direct employee, but businesses are responsible for vetting their contractors just as they are for their employees.

Amazon’s lack of vetting practices and refusal of accountability puts its own customers in peril. Want to read more Amazon horror stories? Check out the links below.

https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-delivery-drivers-reveal-claims-of-disturbing-work-conditions-2018-8
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brittainladd/2018/09/13/hell-on-wheels-what-its-like-to-be-a-delivery-driver-for-amazon/#34fa6927219a
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/amazon-drivers-part-10-million-theft-ring-fbi-says-n1038421
Sources
https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-driver-quits-tweet-leaves-delivery-van-at-gas-station-2020
https://kpel965.com/monday-night-shootings-in-abbeville-thought-be-linked/
https://archive.vermiliontoday.com/local/another-alleged-gremlin-arrested
https://6abc.com/amazon-delivery-driver-online-shopping-steals-packages/5836562/

9Sep 2020

Driving becomes second nature after a few years behind the wheel and most drivers become easily distracted while operating their vehicles. It only takes a second of distracted driving for an accident to happen that could change your whole life. In 2019, there were 377 people killed in crashes involving distracted driving in Texas alone. On September 1st, 2017, texting and driving was made illegal in Texas and currently every state prohibits the use of a cell phone while driving except for Montana and Missouri.

Distracted driving is defined as “any activity that takes your attention away from driving. Distractions can include anything from texting and talking on a mobile phone to eating and drinking, putting on makeup, shaving, reading, programming a navigation system, watching a video and even adjusting the radio.”

Texting is easily one of the most dangerous things you can do while operating any vehicle. It takes the driver’s eyes off the road, their hands away from the steering wheel and their focus shifts to their phones. The Texas texting while driving law prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices for sending, reading or writing messages behind the wheel. The law includes texting as well as emails, instant messages, Facebook chats and other forms of text communication.

What are the exceptions to the Distracted Driving Laws in Texas?

  • Drivers under 18 and adults with learner’s permits are permitted to use wireless devices for making emergency calls to the following:
    • Emergency response service
    • Hospital
    • Fire department
    • Health clinic
    • Medical doctor’s office
    • Individual to administer first aid treatment
    • Police department
  • Texting is permitted only when using voice-to-text hands-free technology.
  • Using GPS or other navigation systems is permitted.
  • Drivers can use their devices for the purpose of playing music.
  • The state’s distracted driving laws do not apply to drivers who are operating an authorized emergency vehicle and using their device while acting in an official capacity.
  • How does Texas enforce the Distracted Driving Laws?

    Primary enforcement: Police can pull you over if they see you violating state distracted driving laws.

    Secondary enforcement: Police can cite you for violating distracted driving laws only if you break another law while doing so.

    In Texas we use primary enforcement, meaning the police officer does not need another reason to stop the driver. Having a reasonable suspicion of texting while driving is enough.

    Penalties for Distracted driving laws in Texas.

    1st offense: $25 to $99
    2nd and following offense: $100 to $200

    There’s also an additional amount for court costs and fees. Anyone convicted of texting and driving who happened to also cause serious injury or death to others may face one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

    There are some debates regarding the effectiveness and enforceability of these laws but data shows that do deter drivers from texting and driving. Distracted drivers are 5.36 times more likely to cause a car crash than other drivers. That text can wait, Drive Safe!