Posts under: Our blog


28Oct 2021

Texas is a unique state in that on certain stretches of road, you may encounter your typical array of commuter vehicles like sedans and SUVs, but on other stretches, you may encounter a large truck hauling livestock. Texas attorneys assert that every year, thousands of accidents involving animals occur on Texas highways and result in damage, injuries, and even death. To better understand this context, it helps to be familiar with Texas’s history as an open range state, stock law exemptions, stock law considerations, highway exemptions, and legal liability considerations when pursuing legal advice related to automotive accidents caused by animals in Texas.

Open Range State

It may be hard to imagine, but just 150 years ago, Texas was a massive land without fences. Both animals and people could roam from the Gulf Coast through the Great Plains to the Basin with very little standing in their way. Driving down any roadway today, however, passengers will see that the Lone Star State boasts thousands of miles of barbed wire fences. Despite cattle being behind these fences, it is important to note that Texas has largely stayed true to its former self and has evolved to what is considered an open-range state.
Where open-range laws exist, the burden to put up a fence usually falls on the person or property owner who wants to keep animals off of their property. The Texas Supreme Court kept the state’s fence-free legacy intact for the first time more than a century ago. In fact, just 20 years ago, in 1999, the state supreme court refused to adopt a common law requiring livestock owners to keep livestock off of all roadways. While the open-range doctrine was reaffirmed by the Texas Supreme Court just 20 years ago, there are exceptions to this rule. Notably, the two major exceptions in Texas are local stock laws and highways with state or federal designations.

“Stock Law” Exception

In 1876, the Texas Legislature realized that it was impractical to have open range everywhere. As a result, they passed a law that granted counties to hold local stock law elections. A stock law is a specific law that forbids certain kinds of livestock from running through a county or designated area of a county. Stock laws typically serve the purpose of changing an area from open range to closed range. The Texas Agriculture Code permits local governments to hold elections aimed at preventing animals from running at large. Typically, local stock laws will prohibit the following animals from running at large:

  • Horses
  • Mules
  • Donkeys
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Jennets
  • Cattle

Stock Law Considerations

Because stock laws can be enacted countywide or in certain precincts or towns, Texas is a patchwork of open-range and closed range laws. In addition, there is no central database of where stock laws have been enacted. If you are driving in unfamiliar territory, you may be unsure of your rights in the event of a livestock crash. One way to find out is to contact a county clerk. Additionally, in some cases stock laws are unenforceable. The Texas Agriculture Code provides very specific rules on how stock laws can appear on a ballot. The code separates livestock animals into different subsections. When a local government enacts stock laws, it must ensure that the animals in different subsections are not combined on the ballot. In order for a stock law to be valid, the livestock on a ballot should come from the same subchapter in the Texas Agriculture code.

Highway Exemption

People who live in urban areas may not have a clue that Texas is an open-range state. In fact, many people don’t think to watch out for livestock while driving on high-speed Texas highways, which are more traveled and carry a much higher speed than farm-to-market roads. As such, requiring a person to control their livestock if their property is adjacent to a highway is in the interest of public safety. By law, owners have a responsibility to keep livestock from roaming on state and federal highways. Otherwise, owners may face a small fine. Further, when livestock owners fail to meet this duty, they open themselves up to liability claims when a person suffers an injury. The law prohibits the following animals from roaming freely along highways:

  • Horses
  • Mules
  • Donkeys
  • Cows
  • Bulls
  • Steer
  • Hogs
  • Sheep
  • Goats
Because of the state and federal highway and local stock law exemptions, landowners have a responsibility to keep cattle confined when the circumstances require it. The Texas Agriculture code states that a “person who owns or has responsibility for the control” of livestock “may not knowingly permit the animal to traverse or roam at large, unattended on the right-of-way of a highway.” Texas courts define that a landowner may act knowingly when:
  • The landowner was aware that the fences were unable to withstand inclement weather.
  • The landowner knew that cattle escaped through weak fences many times before.
  • Police previously informed the property owner of their loose cattle on the roadway.
  • The landowner failed to inspect fences.

Determining Liability

Determining whether livestock owners are liable for injuries from accidents caused by livestock can be challenging. While legal precedent on the issue may exist in some jurisdictions, other areas do not have court rulings making it possible for car accident attorneys to prove liability. A fine line of liability may exist given state laws and local ordinances which are often very fact-specific. Given the complexity of the application of laws and ordinances, Texas attorneys agree that anyone injured in an accident involving livestock should seek the services of car accident lawyers who are familiar with open range and stock laws. These two laws vary by county and dictate liability if an accident occurs. Who is responsible for the injuries sustained and the damage to the vehicle? That all depends where the accident occurred and which laws or statutes were in force at that location.

  1. If the location of the accident was a farm-to-market (FM) road where no stock laws were in existence, the open range rule of common law would mean that the owner of the animal would not be subject to any liability in the accident.
  2. If the location of the accident was a state or federal highway, it’s possible the animal owner could be held liable if it is determined they knowingly permitted the animal to run free on the roadway. It wouldn’t matter if there was a local stock law in effect or not.
  3. If the accident took place on a farm-to-market road where there was a stock law in effect, the stock law would determine whether there was any liability on the part of the livestock owner. Since there are differences in each local stock law, there would be a need to review the exact provisions that apply in the location where the accident happened.

Attorney Assistance

Texas has more than 80,000 miles of highway, and nearly 30,000 of that is US and state highways. It is important to understand that you have rights after any kind of crash—including those involving livestock. A qualified roaming livestock crash attorney can help you determine the following questions:

  • Does a stock law exist in the area of my crash?
  • What animals are covered by the local stock law?
  • Does the property permit the animals to run at large?
If you suffered injuries or a loved one was killed after a livestock crash, contact a qualified attorney to help you determine your rights. The Hadi Law Firm has extensive experience fighting for justice and protecting your rights. We can help you determine the next step in your recovery and get you the compensation you deserve.

28Oct 2021

The collateral source rule is a legal doctrine that prohibits the admission of any evidence of a plaintiff receiving compensation from another source besides the defendant from whom damages are being sought. Simply put, any compensation that an injured person has received from a source other than the person who is legally responsible for the injuries (the defendant) will not reduce the amount of damages recoverable from the defendant. In other words, the rule prevents payments from an independent source from reducing the amount that the defendant is “on the hook” for in a lawsuit. The “collateral source rule” is thus a powerful negotiating tool you can leverage to help maximize your recovery after an injury which was not your fault. Here we discuss insurance incentives and tort reform, legal precedents shaping the doctrine, a case study of the rule, the notion of reasonable value and its limitations along with exceptions and considerations.

Incentives and Reforms

In states like Texas that follow the collateral source rule, any compensation to an injured party from a source other than the injured party does not get deducted from the total amount of damages. The general idea behind the collateral source rule is that a defendant should not benefit from a victim receiving insurance payments from the victim’s own providers. The collateral source rule, in effect, encourages people to purchase their own private insurance policies in order to receive compensation regardless of personal injury actions. Other than insurance, collateral sources include worker’s compensation, Social Security or Medicaid, and services performed gratuitously that help the injured person. Some so-called “tort reform” advocates have complained about the collateral source rule because they feel it is unfair to make a defendant (the person who commits a tortious act) pay damages for which the victim has already been compensated. The other side of the argument is that the cost of negligent behavior should be imposed on the defendant as the at-fault party, in order to reinforce the standard of reasonable care that all members of a society should adhere to. And an injured person should not receive reduced compensation for injuries because he or she was prudent enough to purchase insurance prior to the injury.

Legal Precedents

In 2003, the Texas Legislature enacted Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.0105, which establishes that recovery of medical or health care expenses is limited to the amount actually paid or incurred by or on behalf of the claimant. The Supreme Court of Texas stated in Brown v. American Transfer & Storage Co., “The theory behind the collateral source rule is that a wrongdoer should not have the benefit of insurance independently procured by the injured party, and to which the wrongdoer was not privy.” The Supreme Court of Texas, however, clarified how Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.0105 interacts with the collateral source rule in its decisions in Haygood v. De Escabedo, 356 S.W.3d 390 (Tex. 2011) and Daughters of Charity Health Services of Waco v. Linnstaedter, 226 S.W.3d 409, 412 (Tex. 2007). Consistent with its views in Daughters of Charity, the Supreme Court held in Haygood that the common law collateral source rule does not allow damages recovery of medical expenses a health care provider is not entitled to charge. As a result of Haygood, many people avoid submitting medical expenses prior to resolving their personal injury cases.

Case Study

Although collateral source compensation may not be introduced at trial for the purpose of reducing the total amount of damages, the defendant is generally permitted to investigate the source and amount of collateral compensation. Generally speaking, the collateral source rule states that in the event your case goes to trial, you are allowed to ask the jury to award you damages for your medical bills based on the amount the care provider billed you for the services, and not the discounted rate the care provider allowed your insurance carrier to pay. Consider the application of the collateral source rule in the context of a person who has Medicaid, and who is injured in an accident. Assume the medical bills are $700,000. In such a case, it is not unreasonable to learn that the Medicaid pay rate on those services is $250,000. If this case goes to trial in a state which has adopted the collateral source rule, this person would be allowed to present the jury with $700,000 of bills for their injuries, as opposed to $250,000 which the care providers actually accepted as full payment for their services.

Reasonable Value

As per the previous example, obviously there is a large difference between paying out $250,000 for medical bills, versus paying out $700,000 for medical bills. If you are the injured person in this example, and you are in a state where the collateral source rule applies, you can offer evidence of $700,000 of medical bills at trial. If the collateral source rule does not apply, you are going to be limited to offering evidence of $250,000 of medical bills. The law in every jurisdiction allows plaintiffs to recover the “reasonable value” of medical services to address such situations. Defining “reasonable medical expense” has become less clear, more contentious, and the subject of increased litigation and legislation. In limited situations, the collateral source rule may not apply. For example, if a third party covers your injury but you do not seek medical treatment or continue working after recovering from your injury, the rule may not apply. Another instance in which the rule might not apply is if there are damage restrictions, often referred to as “caps,” on the amount of money you can ultimately recover for a claim.

Exceptions and Considerations

One major exception to the collateral source rule is often an insurance company’s subrogation rights. Subrogation allows an insurer who pays to cover a victim’s medical bills to either sue the defendant or their own insurance company for those costs or from the victim themselves after they receive an award. Further exceptions can exist when victims do not receive medical treatment for their injuries or continue to work after suffering their injuries. Additionally, possible reductions that an injury victim could face concern any liens that were placed on their awards by creditors such as hospitals or other medical care providers. A lienholder may have a valid right to compensation in these cases, but resolving a lien can be negotiable. It is easy to see how you and your attorney can use the collateral source rule as leverage to induce the at-fault person’s insurance company to settle outside of trial for a larger amount of damages when you are in a state the applies the collateral source rule, than if you are in a state where the collateral source rule does not apply. Having an attorney who is familiar with the collateral source rule can pay off huge dividends for you when it comes time to negotiate a settlement of your case. The Hadi Law Firm is committed to helping injured people in Houston and the surrounding areas in Texas. Our lawyers are ready to review your case and answer all of your legal questions when you call our Houston car accident and personal injury lawyers or contact us online to receive a free consultation.

22Oct 2021

When it comes to personal injury cases or Texas car accident claims, there are several categories of damages that a victim can seek in an insurance claim. When proving a claim for personal injury damages relating to medical bills, the first thing you must do is get a copy of the medical bill from the medical provider. On the bill, you will find a few important items: (1) the total amount of the billed charges, (2) a listing of any payments that have been made, (3) a listing of any write-offs or adjustments, and (4) the total balance owed. What you will not find is that the Texas Supreme Court holds that a personal injury claimant may only make a claim for medical bills that have actually been “paid or incurred,” which means that if you do not owe a portion of a medical bill, you cannot make a claim for that portion of the bill because it is not owed. Understanding the basis of this legal framework, its progression through the courts, the types of claims it can possibly affect as well as the relationship between plaintiffs and insurance companies can help you better navigate the legal system with the right personal injury attorney.

Payment Recovery

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.
Under a densely worded Texas law passed in 2003, victims seeking payments for losses after injury due to someone’s negligence face a challenge: the murky concept of only “paid and incurred medical expenses” being admissible at trial. But what are paid and incurred medical expenses, and how does that apply to you?
The answer begins with a review of the 2003 law in question: Texas Civil Practice & Remedies CODE §41.0105. It held that, in an injury lawsuit, plaintiffs’ or claimants’ recovery or payments for medical care costs “is limited to the amount actually paid or incurred by or on behalf of the claimant.” The trouble is, that can fail to take into account the often vast difference between a hospital’s full rate and its actual, discounted rate.

Legal Precedent

In many cases, there are two different costs for medical care: there is the list price and the price that the medical provider accepts as full and final payment for the bill. While it can come up in a number of different situations, the typical situation involves health insurance. One of the benefits of your health insurance is that the insurance company has negotiated reduced rates with various medical providers.
Before the 2003 law, injured people got the benefit of their insurance. When the jury was asked to award medical expenses, that usually meant awarding the entire $10,000.00. But then the law was passed, and because it was worded so poorly, there was a great debate about what it meant. Finally, the Supreme Court issued a case in July of 2011 clarifying the meaning. That case was Haygood v. de Escabedo, 356 S.W.3d 390, 392.
It involved Aaron Haygood suing Margarita Escabedo for injuries he suffered in a car crash. His health care providers billed $110,069.12 for their services, though that was adjusted to $27,739.43 due to a Medicare agreement. In 2011, the Texas Supreme Court put out its opinion in the case of Haygood v. de Escabedo, 356 S.W.3d 390, 392 (Tex. 2011). The Escobedo case, in short, holds that a personal injury claimant may only make a claim for medical bills that have actually been “paid or incurred”. This means that if you do not owe a portion of a medical bill, you cannot make a claim for that portion of the bill because it is not owed. Where this really becomes complicated is when health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid is involved.

Reasonableness of Charges

Since those rulings, cases brought before courts of appeals have addressed the 2003 law’s ambiguity, caused by errors in its wording. It is believed that the Haygood v. de Escabedo ruling on the paid and incurred medical expenses law will spur additional motions and discovery in recovering past medical expenses, via claims made in appellate courts. When dealing with the ‘paid or incurred’ amounts in a Texas personal injury claim, another common issue arises when there is a dispute as to the reasonableness of a medical bill. Common personal injury claims that may be affected include requests for out of pocket expenses, medical bills, destroyed or damaged personal property, pain and suffering and mental anguish.

  • Medical Expenses

    Medical expenses are the most common costs you have as the result of a personal injury. The plaintiff may recover actual medical costs incurred because of the accident. You may also be owed the costs of any future expenses that may be incurred because of the accident.

  • Physical Pain and Suffering

    If you suffered a serious injury, you may be compensated for any future pain and suffering you might experience due to the negligent conduct of the person or company responsible. The treating physician’s testimony and records are powerful evidence for your case.

  • Mental Anguish

    Although you may have suffered anger, embarrassment, fear and disappointment, mental anguish is a subjective term. Your attorney will gather the evidence to prove that you suffered mental anguish due to the crash.

  • Lost Wages and Loss of Earnings Capacity

    You can recover any wages lost due to being unable to work because of the injury. You also may have loss of earning capacity compensation if the injury caused you to have a lowered ability to earn money.

  • Physical Impairment or Disfigurement

    If you have been permanently disabled or disfigured, you may have compensation for this loss of enjoyment of life. Personal injury claims are often resolved through negotiation with the insurance company. Your lawyer will review the details, gather important information and documentation and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.

Plaintiffs vs Insurance

Charges for health care, once based on the provider’s costs and profit margin, have more recently been driven by government regulation and negotiations with private insurers. A two-tiered structure has evolved: “list” or “full” rates sometimes charged to uninsured patients, but frequently uncollected, and reimbursement rates for patients covered by government and private insurance.
A hospital may charge its full rate for services, as when a patient lacks health insurance or may charge a discounted rate, as when contracts with providers or coverage from Medicare or private insurance is involved. Due to the 2003 “paid and incurred” law and later Texas court decisions, when plaintiffs seek payments for medical costs which have already been paid, the basis of their claim and the amount which can be recovered cannot be a hospital’s full charge, but rather only the costs already paid or incurred. This means that in some cases only the actual payments or legal obligations to pay hospitals are admissible at trial. Submitting evidence of the full rate of a hospital’s charge is only admissible if the bill has not been paid and is due in full.
Eliminating hospitals’ full charges at trial works against plaintiffs and benefits only insurance companies. Their exposure can be reduced at trial by allowing in evidence only the costs actually due or paid to a hospital and not the greater initial value of such costs — that is, a hospital’s full charges. To put it simply: plaintiffs’ lawyers believe the law’s “paid or incurred” language should include any amount billed by a hospital or medical provider. Defense lawyers hold that “paid or incurred” means only the amount actually due or paid to such hospitals or medical providers. In view of these circumstances, it’s vital that you engage a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer for your claim — an advocate such as “The Texas Torch” who can work to ensure that the “paid and incurred” law is properly interpreted and applied in court.

22Oct 2021

Unfortunately, truck accidents are more common than you’d expect and the financial impact can be tremendous for victims. It’s important to know your rights after a truck accident and the ways insurance companies try to avoid liability. The simple answer is trucking companies in Texas are required to have insurance coverage. The term “full coverage” does not exist. Instead, full coverage refers to a combination of coverages to protect a motor vehicle. The answer becomes more complicated because Texas trucking companies must abide by state and/or federal insurance laws. The questions to consider involve minimum coverage requirements, intrastate and interstate transport, commercial insurance coverage, insurance payouts and the recent House 19 Bill involving commercial motor vehicles.

Learn about Truck Accident Risk Management and Safety Tips here.

Minimum Coverage

Trucking companies, known as motor carriers, are required by Texas law to file proof of commercial automobile liability insurance for each registered vehicle. The insurance requirements for truck drivers and trucking companies ensure they are covered in the event of a serious accident or injury. In Texas, trucking insurance providers will ask three key questions to help determine the most appropriate truck insurance and liability limits:

  • How much does the truck weigh?
  • Where will the truck travel?
  • What will the truck transport?

All drivers, including commercial drivers, must carry at least the following coverage:

  • $30,000 bodily injury coverage per injured person
  • $60,000 bodily injury coverage total per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability coverage

If the operator fails to provide proper proof of insurance, an investigation could follow. This investigation can include:

  • Inspection of the all company trucks
  • Inspection of all company vehicles
  • Audit of all vehicle and driving records

Intrastate and Interstate Transport

The amount of truck insurance for intrastate is set by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). It sets the minimum amount of commercial insurance coverage at $500,000. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the laws regarding how much coverage is needed by a Texas trucking company. The amount of coverage depends on the weight of the commercial truck and type of materials they transport.

  • $750,000 in coverage when carrying nonhazardous materials and weighing more than 10,001 pounds.
  • $1 million for trucks transporting oil, hopper-type vehicles or cargo from or to Texas to another state.
  • $5 million for trucks carrying hazardous materials.
FMCSA requires that all commercial trucks under its auspices prove financial responsibility by one of the following methods:

  • Purchase liability insurance

  • Purchase a surety bond

FMCSA also requires that proof of insurance be kept in two places; in the vehicle itself and in the carrier’s office. These documents can serve as proof of insurance:
  • Form MCS-90 – Proof of insurance issued by the carrier

  • Form MCS–82 – Proof of an existing surety bond

Commercial Insurance Coverage

In addition to the minimum insurance a trucking company must carry, it can obtain additional insurance coverage. The four main types of commercial insurance coverage are:

  1. General Liability Insurance:

    The minimum coverage requirement.

  2. Extended Liability Insurance:

    Offers more than the minimum coverage.

  3. Eroding Policy:

    Allows trucking companies to subtract cost of defense from coverage.

  4. Self-Insured Retention Policy:

    Adds $250,000 to trucking company insurance policy.

Trucking companies must also have accidental insurance coverage or workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. Coverage must be at least:
  • $300,000 for medical expenses for a minimum of 104 weeks
  • $100,000 for accidental death and dismemberment, including 70 percent of an employee’s pre-injury income for at least 104 weeks when compensating for loss of income
  • $500 maximum weekly benefit

Insurance Payouts

Negligence is the legal term to describe who was responsible for a truck accident. This means proving the trucking company or its driver failed to act as a responsible person would and cause the accident. Proving negligence, or fault, requires your attorney showing you were a victim, how the accident occurred and why you deserve money. In Texas, several elements are used to help prove your case:

  • The driver or trucking company owed you a legal duty. This legal duty was to protect you from harm. This means they were legally responsible for ensuring your safety while the truck was on the road.
  • The driver or trucking company breached their legal duty by causing the truck accident.
  • The actions or inactions of the driver or trucking company led to your injuries that occurred in the accident.
  • You deserve money to cover your bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

House Bill 19

The Texas legislature has passed House Bill 19, a law that will impact lawsuits involving commercial motor vehicles commenced after September 1, 2021. The bill defines “commercial motor vehicles” as vehicles being used “for commercial purposes in interstate or intrastate commerce to transport property or passengers . . . .” The bill applies not only to 18-wheelers, but also to Uber and Lyft vehicles, delivery trucks and any other vehicle being used for commercial purposes.
Under the law, an owner or operator may move to bifurcate (or separate) the trial of claims against an employer defendant relating to a commercial motor vehicle accident predicated upon the liability of the employee (i.e., negligent entrustment) and otherwise concerning a demand for both compensatory and exemplary damages.
Overall, the law provides commercial motor carriers and their counsel a multitude of new procedures and considerations to limit the admissibility of highly prejudicial evidence and causes of action at the time of trial. This makes it more important to work with an experienced attorney familiar with the tactics of commercial carriers and insurance companies to deny your rightful reimbursement.

Your Texas Truck Accident Attorney

Trucking companies must have insurance for their vehicle to be on the roadways. That does not mean they are willing to pay if they are responsible for injuring you. Contact the Texas truck accident attorney about your case. We offer a free case evaluation. You have the right to receive money for your injuries regardless of the type of insurance coverage the trucking company has.

2Sep 2021

The damages available in personal injury cases are either compensatory damages or exemplary damages. A court awards compensatory damages to put the plaintiff in the situation they would have been had the collision never occurred. Compensatory damages are to make the plaintiff whole and include economic and non-economic (not monetary) damages, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical impairment
  • Mental impairment
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Emotional distress

In contrast, a court will award exemplary (punitive) damages in Texas to provide the claimant with recovery above and beyond compensatory damages in order to punish the wrongdoer for egregious conduct and to deter the wrongdoer and others from similar conduct in the future. Overall, economic and non-economic damages can be pursued for compensatory damages within cap limitations, exemplary damages have their own host of situational limitations, allegations of malicious conduct entitle the exemplary damage claimants to obtain information about a defendant’s financial status,Texas law establishes that it is against public policy in Texas to insure against exemplary damages yet The Hadi Law Firm is here to help you win fair compensation if have been hurt because of another’s negligent, reckless or intentional conduct.

Compensatory Damages and Caps

In Texas, when someone is injured as a direct result of another person’s (or entity) negligence or wrongful conduct, the injured party has the legal right to file a lawsuit or a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. In typical personal injury cases, the injured party may seek economic and non-economic damages to compensate them for their losses.

  • Economic damages refer to “measurable losses,” the types of losses that are easily supported by things like receipts or bills, such as medical bills, vehicle repair bills, etc. Examples of economic damages include compensation for lost income (because that’s easy to measure based on a victim’s normal pay before the injury), medical bills, property damage, and funeral bills.
  • Non-economic damages compensate people for the things that are harder to measure, such as pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, loss of love and companionship. For example, if a man died in an amusement park accident, his widow and children may be awarded non-economic damages for loss of his love, support, companionship, and guidance – these all fall under the category of non-economic damages.
Originally, there were no caps — limits to the amount of money you can recover in damages from the negligent party — for the amount of damages a plaintiff could recover from injury. Over time, caps were introduced to curb frivolous suits that were congesting the court system. These suits were filed not by people who were legitimately injured but by people with ulterior motives. Damage caps barred that. However, the caps were introduced only for certain cases:

  1. Medical malpractice suits

    For injuries resulting from medical malpractice, you can sue for the entire amount of economic damages. However, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 against doctors and $250,000 against a healthcare provider. Furthermore, damages caps are curbed at $500,000 for all medical care providers involved. That means the maximum non-economic damages a person can recover in a medical malpractice suit are $750,000.

  2. Suits against public entities

    Government entities are majorly immune from personal injury liability in Texas. However, in the few times they are open to personal injury liability, damages are capped at $250,000 for a single person and $500,000 for a single event.

  3. Punitive damages

    Recognized in Texas statutes as exemplary damages, punitive damages are damages awarded to punish a person for injuries caused by malice or gross negligence. They are capped at the larger of:

    • $200,000 or
    • Two times the amount of economic damages plus an equal amount of non-economic damages up to a maximum of $750,000.
    For example, if the accident you were involved in was caused by the defendant’s gross negligence and it resulted in you breaking your leg, you can sue for punitive damages. If you are awarded economic damages amounting to $150,000 and non-economic damages amounting to $200,000, your punitive damages will be capped at $500,000.

Exemplary Damages Limitations

Texas has several limitations to exemplary damages. Specifically, these damages are precluded if only nominal damages are awarded (i.e. proof of actual damages is a prerequisite) or if the plaintiff elects to have their recovery multiplied under another statute. Nevertheless, the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, § 41.003, outlines when a court should award Texas exemplary damages. Due to their specific nature, a court will only award exemplary damages in certain situations. The plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the harm the defendant caused, for which the plaintiff seeks recovery, resulted from:

  • Fraud
  • Malice
  • Gross negligence
The Code states explicitly that the plaintiff will not satisfy this standard by showing that the defendant acted out of ordinary negligence, bad faith, or deceptive trade practice. In cases where the plaintiff requests exemplary damages, the jury must be unanimous about both the defendant’s liability and the amount of exemplary damages. The high standard, as well as the requirement for the jury to be unanimous, makes it very challenging for plaintiffs to obtain punitive damages in Texas.

Financial Disclosures

Because exemplary damages are assessed to punish and deter the wrongdoer, allegations of malicious conduct entitle the claimant to obtain information about the defendant’s financial status. According to the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, § 41.011, in addition to the defendant’s financial position, evidence about the following factors is presented to the jury to consider in determining the amount of exemplary damages:

  1. Nature of the wrong
  2. The character of the conduct involved
  3. Degree of culpability of the wrongdoer
  4. Situation and sensibilities of the parties concerned
  5. The extent to which such conduct offends a public sense of justice and propriety
  6. The net worth of the defendant

Courts generally are sensitive and place confidentiality provisions on any disclosure of information; they are also likely to limit what needs to be produced. If a case that involves a request for exemplary damages goes to trial, the defendant is entitled to a bifurcated trial. This means that the case is first tried on the issue of liability, compensatory damages, and whether or not there was malicious conduct. Because the jury is not asked to address exemplary damages at this trial, no information is put before the jury as to the defendant’s financial position. In the event that malicious conduct is found to exist, a second trial, immediately after the first trial, is held solely to determine the appropriate amount of exemplary damages.

Public Policy

While any malpractice lawsuit can be frightening, a claim that alleges conduct was malicious and that seeks additional punitive or exemplary damages may magnify a defendant’s anxiety. This anxiety is likely to increase exponentially when upon learning that exemplary damages are not covered by insurance policies. Yet although claims for exemplary damages should certainly be respected, they are not a factor in the overwhelming majority of liability claims.

Texas law establishes that it is against public policy in Texas to insure against exemplary damages. As a result, once a defendant’s insurance company becomes aware of an allegation of exemplary damages, the defendant will receive a reservation of rights letter notifying them that a claim for exemplary damages exists, that this claim is not covered by their professional liability insurance policy, and that they have the right to retain personal counsel to defend those allegations.

In any event, the counsel assigned to their case by the insurance carrier will continue to represent them and defend all claims that are being asserted, including the claim for exemplary damages. The insurer has to send them this notification, however, for it to stand on its rights to not cover them for any exemplary damages that may be awarded.

Fair Compensation

If you have been hurt because of another’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct, you deserve compassionate and skilled representation from the beginning. This could be the difference in getting the compensatory or exemplary damages you are rightfully entitled to by law. The Houston personal injury lawyers at The Hadi Law Firm can help you evaluate your chances of receiving punitive vs compensatory damages and prepare the best strategy for your unique case. Our legal team has decades of experience helping accident victims secure the maximum compensation possible, including numerous multi-million dollar recoveries. We understand that your financial situation and livelihood may depend on our effective representation, and we will strive to get you the most compensation possible for your case.

2Sep 2021

If you are a native to Houston or have lived here for years, it will not surprise you to learn the city’s traffic is getting worse. Houston consistently ranks as a growing city. It is popular for its well-paying jobs and relatively low cost of living. Unfortunately, that means there are a lot of people trying to get to and from work each day, leading to congestion, delays, and accidents. It is only natural then that Houston traffic apps have become the saving grace for commuters.

Various apps offer real-time information about delays, enabling you to choose the safest and fastest route through traffic. Yet as an experienced commuter, you know there may come a time that you are in an accident. It does not matter how much you check the traffic and avoid congestion or construction — other people’s negligence behind the wheel can cost you time, energy, and health. An understanding of the traffic app ecosystem, issues with interoperability, as well as the long-game toward enhancing the technology ecosystem via public-private partnerships helps us contextualize the future roadmap of traffic mobility solutions.

App Ecosystem

Today, traffic jams are popping up unexpectedly in previously quiet neighborhoods around the country and the world. The problem began when smartphone apps like Waze, Apple Maps, and Google Maps came into widespread use, offering drivers real-time routing around traffic tie-ups. An estimated 1 billion drivers worldwide use such apps. And the problem is getting worse. City planners around the world have predicted traffic on the basis of residential density, anticipating that a certain amount of real-time changes will be necessary in particular circumstances.

Here’s how the apps evolved. When navigation capabilities moved to apps on smartphones, the navigation system providers began collecting travel speeds and locations from all the users who were willing to let the app share their information. Originally, the system providers used these GPS traces as historical data in algorithms designed to estimate realistic speeds on the roads at different times of day. They integrated these estimates with the maps, identifying red, yellow, and green routes—where red meant likely congestion and green meant unrestricted flow.

As the historical records of these GPS traces grew and the coverage and bandwidth of the cellular networks improved, developers started providing traffic information to users in nearly real time. Estimates were quite accurate for the more popular apps, which had the most drivers in a particular region. And then, around 2013, Here Technologies, TomTom, Waze, and Google went beyond just flagging traffic jams ahead. They began offering real-time rerouting suggestions, considering current traffic on top of the characteristics of the road network. That gave their users opportunities to get around traffic slowdowns, and that’s how the chaos began.

Platform Interoperability

Now online navigation apps are in charge, and they’re causing more problems than they solve. The apps are typically optimized to keep an individual driver’s travel time as short as possible; they don’t care whether the residential streets can absorb the traffic or whether motorists who show up in unexpected places may compromise safety.

On its face, real-time rerouting isn’t a problem. Cities do it all the time by changing the signal, phase, and timing of traffic lights or flashing detour alerts on signs. The real problem is that the traffic management apps are not working with existing urban infrastructures to move the most traffic in the most efficient way. To compound the “selfish routing” problem, each navigation application provider—Google, Apple, Waze (now owned by Google)—operates independently.

Each provider receives data streamed to its servers only from the devices of its users, which means that the penetration of its app colors the system’s understanding of reality. If the app’s penetration is low, the system may fall back on historical traffic speeds for the area instead of getting a good representation of existing congestion. So we have multiple players working independently with imperfect information and expecting that the entire road network is available to absorb their users in real time.

The Long Game

We may have recently benefited from these shortcuts, but it’s doubtful that we’re winning the long game. To do that takes thinking about the system as a whole and perhaps even considering aggregate fuel consumption and emissions. Only then can we use these rerouting algorithms for the benefit of all citizens and our environment. What we really want is a socially optimum state in which the average travel time is minimized everywhere.. How do we merge the app-following crowds with an engineered flow of traffic that at least moves toward a socially optimized system, using the control mechanisms we have on hand?

We can begin by pooling everyone’s view of the real-time state of the road network. But getting everybody in the data pool won’t be easy—some players like Google and Apple have massive back-office digital infrastructures to run these operations, while many cities have minimal funding for advanced technology development. Without the ability to invest in new technology, cities can’t catch up with these big technology providers and instead fall back on regulations, such as lowering the speed limits on residential streets.

Public-Private Partnerships

The real challenge with traffic control is the enormous scale of the problem. Using the flood of data from app users along with the data from city sensors will require a new layer of data analytics that takes the key information and combines it, anonymizes it, and puts it in a form that can be more easily digested by government-operated traffic management systems.

Solving both the technical and non-technical issues will require research and public-private partnerships before we can assemble this cooperative ecosystem. We must convince the app makers that if they share information with one another and with city governments, the rerouting algorithms could consider a far bigger picture, including information from the physical infrastructure, such as the timing schedule for traffic lights and meters and vehicle counts from static sensors, including cameras and inductive loops.

This data sharing would make their apps better while simultaneously giving city traffic planners a helping hand. As a first step, we should form public-private partnerships among the navigation app providers, city traffic engineering organizations, and even transportation companies like Uber and Lyft. Sharing all this information would help us figure out how to best reduce congestion and manage our mobility. If you happen to be in a car accident due to such conditions, do not hesitate to reach out to our car accident lawyers at The Hadi Law Firm. We have years of experience helping individuals recover the maximum compensation for their injuries through insurance settlements or winning personal injury claims in court.

HOUSTON TRAFFIC APPS

2Aug 2021

Having the right attorney can be the difference between securing a settlement or suffering under the weight of medical bills and lost wages following an accident. Whether you were involved in a car crash, suffered a slip and fall, or were involved in any other form of accident, choosing the right personal injury lawyer is a critical decision. However, choosing a personal injury lawyer does not need to be as complex as you may think. At The Hadi Law Firm, our trusted personal injury attorneys have connected with countless clients in need of legal representation. Now, we want to help you understand how to deal with insurance adjusters, navigate attorney consultations, consider the factors involved in going to trial, how incentives are aligned between stakeholders, lawyers that typically settle versus lawyers that usually go to trial, and the overall benefits of working with a personal injury attorney.

Insurance Adjusters

Insurance companies employ adjusters and claims representatives in order to reduce their losses. They do so by minimizing the amounts that the companies pay out in injury claims. If you are contacted by an insurance company representative who asks you for recorded statements, medical records, your story, releases and other information, you should tell them that you are contacting an attorney. Insurance adjusters will often try to get you to make statements that are ultimately harmful to your claim, and you should never sign releases without an attorney’s review. The releases insurance companies frequently ask for are blanket authorizations that allow them to dig through your entire medical history.

The reason they want to do this is so they can blame your injury on a pre-existing incident. This can result in your claim’s value being substantially reduced. It is also important for you to understand that the reason adjusters contact you is because their company believes that you likely have a valid claim. They want to get the information that they need in order to help them with their goal of either minimizing your payout or denying it all together. This is true even when you are dealing with your own insurance company in a case involving an uninsured motorist. Don’t fall for their tricks and instead, consult with a personal injury attorney.

Attorney Consultation

After you have discussed the facts of your case and the history of your negotiations with the insurance company, an attorney may give you a general opinion of how much your case is worth and how difficult it may be to get the insurance company to pay something in that range. This is when you should discuss the different ways your case could be approached, and whether the lawyer would be willing to handle it in the way you prefer. Find out a little bit about the lawyer’s background and experience.

  • Have you tried these types of personal injury cases before?
  • Have you tried or settled similar cases in my city or county?
  • Do you have the time necessary to actually work on my case right now?
  • If not you, who will be responsible for my case?
  • How will you let me know what is happening in my case?
  • What is your negotiation history?
  • Do you think we will need to go to trial?
  • What is your comfort going to trial?
  • Do we have other options?
  • What will my participation in the claim be?
  • What is your contingency fee and costs?
  • Will I be responsible for any advanced costs if we lose?
  • What do you believe is the likely outcome of my case?

Insurance companies will sometimes use dirty tactics to try to avoid paying the claims of injured people. These tactics may include unreasonable delays in your claims process, refusing to pay you even though liability is not in dispute or making unreasonably low offers despite your extensive injuries. A personal injury attorney understands these tactics. Insurance companies that engage in bad-faith negotiations may be liable to you for doing so. A personal injury lawyer may put an end to such tactics and seek the recovery that you should rightfully receive.

Trial Considerations

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This arrangement means that their fee is a percentage of what the client ultimately receives in compensation. And if the amount is small, most lawyers will not take on the claim because their overhead is too high to make small cases economically worthwhile. However, even if a case is too small to have a lawyer take over the entire claim, it may still be possible to hire the lawyer on an hourly basis to give advice on particular aspects of a claim.

By hiring a lawyer willing to go to trial, the insurance company will likely end up paying the full value of your claim. At the same time, the insurance company incurs the additional expense of defending the case. From a business standpoint, it’s in the insurance companies best interest to pay the trial lawyer fair value for the claim. Because in the long run, they will save money. The insurance company will obviously value a person’s claim much higher when that person has a lawyer who knows how to try a case and can win. Learning how to choose a personal injury lawyer can save you and your family time and money.

Incentive Alignment

Insurance companies are not on your side. These massive corporations like to control the entire personal injury case process, which is why they have teams of lawyers and adjusters to handle claims. Their goal is to make money, not to make sure that you get a fair settlement that represents the true value of your losses. The one thing that creates a risk to insurance companies that causes them to make higher settlement offers quickly is which lawyer you hire. Insurance companies consider your lawyer’s skill, education, reputation, and, most importantly, their track record of filing lawsuits and taking cases to trial.

On average, settlements for injury victims are 40% higher when represented by a lawyer compared to when they represented themselves. Similarly, insurance payouts are as much as 3.5 times higher for people with attorneys than people who represent themselves. The insurance company may offer you a settlement that appears to be generous. But after you accept it, you may quickly realize that it won’t come close to covering all of your losses or future medical treatment. The bottom line is that in most personal injury cases, an attorney will fight for your best interests and help you get the highest possible compensation.

Case Settlements

Lawyers who never go to trial are not much of a threat to the insurance company. Imagine you work for an insurance company and you decide how much to pay injured people. Your goal is to pay as little as possible because this is how your performance is measured. The less you pay out in claims, the more money you save the insurance company, which will increase your chance of receiving raises and bonuses. You have two similar cases with similar injuries and liability. The only difference is the lawyer who represents the injured people. Let’s assume that one lawyer settles every case, and the other is an experienced trial lawyer.

How should you pay these two identical claims with the only difference being the lawyers? What will the lawyer who never goes to trial do if the insurance company adjuster only offers 50% of the value of the case? Well, knowing they won’t file a suit, or won’t go to trial, this lawyer has no leverage or ability to fight for you to increase the value of your case. So the lawyer’s only option is to encourage you to take the low offer. Or the lawyer has to tell you to hire another lawyer and get less or no fee.

Trial Lawsuits

Now look at the contrast between the lawyer who settles all of his cases and never files a lawsuit. The insurance adjuster must decide how much to pay the injured victim with the lawyer who consistently files suit and takes them to trial. If the adjuster offers this lawyer 50% of the value of the case, this lawyer will file a suit, let a jury decide what your case is worth, and seek the full value of your case.

Because the injured person hired a trial lawyer, you as the adjuster knows the insurance company will have to spend a lot of money to pay for a lawyer to defend the case. Now the case just got a lot more expensive for the insurance company with the added costs of the defense lawyer. Also, now they have to pay “Insurance Doctors” to examine the injured person. They pay the “Insurance Doctor” to come to court and testify about your injuries.

Attorney Impact

If you handle your own case, you will need to have a good understanding of the legal underpinnings of your claim as well as the settlement process. Receiving a fair amount in the settlement may involve savvy negotiation skills combined with knowledge of both the statutory laws and case law. Some injury cases are highly complex. For example, if you were injured by a defective product or by what you believe was medical negligence, you may need the help of experts in order to uncover the evidence that you will need to prove your claim. Auto accidents may require accident reconstruction, witness interviews and a solid understanding of physics. You’ll also need to be able to decipher your own medical records so that you can appropriately value your claim.

If you are not comfortable with doing these things, consulting with a personal injury attorney is in order. An attorney who is experienced with personal injury cases may be better-equipped to value your claim. Your case’s worth will include all of your economic and noneconomic losses. Insurance companies often do not volunteer offers that include money for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium and others, on their own. The Hadi Law Firm is able to negotiate the recovery for both your economic losses as well as your more intangible ones. Committed to the field of personal injury, we strive to obtain justice for our clients through the entire case while demanding fairness and adequate compensation. Let our firm assist you with developing an aggressive and winning strategy for your case while providing you with competent representation.

2Aug 2021

The statute of limitations outlines a time limit for a plaintiff to submit their lawsuit to the courts, and it varies depending on the type of case being presented. Enforcing statutes of limitations keep things moving through the justice system more efficiently by prompting claimants to file as soon as possible. Without laws requiring plaintiffs to file their personal injury claims by a certain time, a plaintiff could feasibly wait as long as he or she wanted to file. This delaying of justice might not be fair for the defendant, who could lose opportunities to defend themself with the loss of evidence over time. Committed to the field of personal injury, The Hadi Law Firm strives to obtain justice for our clients within the two-year statute of limitation norm for Texas lawsuits along with the notable exceptions related to minors, adult sex crimes, the discovery rule, medical malpractice, first-party auto insurance, comparative negligence, maritime claims and asbestosis and silica-related illnesses.

Two Year Limit and Exceptions

In the criminal courts, statutes of limitations set time limits by which prosecutors must bring charges against a defendant. In the civil courts, statutes of limitations limit how long a plaintiff has to file a claim to damages against a defendant. In Texas, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of your personal injury or property damage to get your lawsuit onto a court schedule in order for it to be heard by the court. A two-year statute of limitations is the norm for a Texas lawsuit, and It’s important to note the statute of limitations because if the time has expired, then the court can refuse to consider a complaint, no matter how valid it is. Texas has identified a number of different scenarios that might delay the running of the statute of limitations “clock,” or pause the clock after it has started to run, effectively extending the filing deadline:

  • Minors
  • Adult Sex Crimes
  • Discovery Rule
  • Medical Malpractice
  • First-Party Auto Insurance
  • Comparative Negligence
  • Maritime Claims
  • Asbestosis

Minors

The two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases is tolled for minors until they reach the age of maturity (18). Thus, when a minor sustains an injury, their statute of limitations generally does not run until their 20th birthday. However, this tolling provision also does not apply if the injury results in the death of a minor because the law generally affords extra protection to children. Aditionally, under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 16.0045(a), there are specific statutes of limitations for sexual assault and abuse claims against minors. A person must bring suit for personal injury not later than 15 years after the day the cause of action accrues if the injury arises as a result of conduct that violates certain provisions of Sections 21 and 43 of the Texas Penal Code that prohibit:

  • sexual assault of a minor
  • aggravated sexual assault of a minor
  • indecency with a minor
  • promoting prostitution of a minor
  • continued sexual assault of a minor
  • sexual trafficking of a minor

Adults

A person must bring suit for personal injury not later than five years after the day the cause of action accrues if the injury arises as a result of conduct that violates certain provisions of Sections 21 and 43 of the Texas Penal Code that prohibit:

  • sexual assault of an adult
  • aggravated sexual assault of an adult
  • promoting prostitution of an adult
  • sexual trafficking of an adult

Discovery Rule

The “discovery rule” is another exception to the usual statute of limitations for filing injury cases. The victim may not reasonably discover the injury until a considerable length of time has elapsed after the negligent act was committed. The discovery rule allows the plaintiff to file the claim within a reasonable time once the injury is discovered. When the discovery rule applies, the statute of limitations is tolled until the plaintiff discovers, or through the exercise of diligence should have discovered, the nature of their injury and its cause in fact.

By hiring a lawyer willing to go to trial, the insurance company will likely end up paying the full value of your claim. At the same time, the insurance company incurs the additional expense of defending the case. From a business standpoint, it’s in the insurance companies best interest to pay the trial lawyer fair value for the claim. Because in the long run, they will save money. The insurance company will obviously value a person’s claim much higher when that person has a lawyer who knows how to try a case and can win. Learning how to choose a personal injury lawyer can save you and your family time and money.

Incentive Alignment

Insurance companies are not on your side. These massive corporations like to control the entire personal injury case process, which is why they have teams of lawyers and adjusters to handle claims. Their goal is to make money, not to make sure that you get a fair settlement that represents the true value of your losses. The one thing that creates a risk to insurance companies that causes them to make higher settlement offers quickly is which lawyer you hire. Insurance companies consider your lawyer’s skill, education, reputation, and, most importantly, their track record of filing lawsuits and taking cases to trial.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice cases are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. However, tort reform in Texas has placed additional limits on medical malpractice claims that limit what and when exceptions may apply. There is a 10-year statute of repose that prevents even minors from bringing claims more than 10 years after the incident occurs. Additionally, statutory limitations on damages only apply to medical malpractice cases in Texas. Non-economic damages (such as those meant to compensate for “pain and suffering”) are limited to $250,000 per defendant, and $500,000 overall. For medical malpractice cases involving wrongful death in Texas, there is a cap that is indexed for inflation. The cap started out at $500,000, but with the inflation adjustment it is now around $2,000,000 (Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code section 74.303 (b)).

First-Party Auto Insurance

The statute of limitations on first-party claims are typically two to four years in Texas. An uninsured motorist claim, underinsured motorist claim and personal injury protection claim are filed as first-party claims against insurance companies pursuant to a written contract. If they fail to pay after a claimant has made a presentment of their claim, the claimant has the right to sue for breach of contract and/or a declaratory judgment action. The statute of limitations for breach of contract and the declaratory judgment is generally four years from the date of the accident. The personal injury protection claim statute of limitations is often defined by an insurance contract. They are commonly three years, but one should always check for changes or alterations. Additionally, if an agent commits negligence in the handling of the claim, that negligence claim may have a two-year statute of limitations.

Comparative Negligence

In shared-fault injury cases, Texas follows a “modified comparative negligence rule,” meaning that the amount of entitled compensation will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault. Texas law includes a proportionate responsibility rule, which dictates that a claimant may not recover damages if their percentage of responsibility is greater than 50%. If they are less than 50% responsible for their injuries, damages are reduced in proportion to their amount of responsibility (V.T.C.A, Civil Practice & Remedies § 33.001).

Maritime Claims

While three years is common, maritime accidents have numerous statutes of limitations that may apply under state and federal law. They vary depending upon whether the case is onshore or offshore, on a waterway, dock, or the ocean and other factors. Depending upon how and where the accident occurs, the case may fall under state personal injury law, state worker’s compensation laws, the federal Longshore and Harbormen’s Act, or the Jones Act.

Asbestosis

Pursuant to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 16.0031, a cause of action for personal injuries or death caused by asbestosis or silica-related illnesses has an extended statute of limitations. The cause of action accrues on the earlier of: the date of the exposed person’s death, or the date that the claimant serves on a defendant a required report. This means that the two-year statute of limitations will not begin until the earlier of the two above events occurs.

Attorney Impact

If you handle your own case, you will need to have a good understanding of the legal underpinnings of your claim as well as the settlement process. Receiving a fair amount in the settlement may involve savvy negotiation skills combined with knowledge of both the statutory laws and case law. Some injury cases are highly complex. For example, if you were injured by a defective product or by what you believe was medical negligence, you may need the help of experts in order to uncover the evidence that you will need to prove your claim. Auto accidents may require accident reconstruction, witness interviews and a solid understanding of physics. You’ll also need to be able to decipher your own medical records so that you can appropriately value your claim.

The Texas Torch

The “takeaway” from this very general outline is that the statute of limitations can be very complex in certain circumstances. If you or a loved one have been the victim of negligence, The Texas Torch is an experienced personal injury trial lawyer who is familiar with the various statutes and case law pertaining to the particular circumstances. The last thing you want is to miss out on your chance to obtain compensation, so do not risk the statute of limitations expiring for your case. At The Hadi Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys are committed to fight for you and ensure you receive fair compensation so that you focus your energies on full recovery.

29Jun 2021

Trucking has played a major role in supporting American economic expansion and ensuring consistent supply chains for American businesses for decades. Unfortunately, as the number of large trucks on America’s roadways increases, so too do the risks from truck accidents that occur each year. Even when truck drivers make mistakes, act recklessly, or have negligent employers, there are truck accident prevention steps you can take to stay farther out of harm’s way. Knowing when the risks are greatest and how to avoid them can increase the chances of you and your family making it to where you want to be safely and reliably. People who want to stay safe on the road around trucks — even reckless ones — can use the following safety tips for truck accident prevention in light of a typical range of injuries that can be mitigated by crashworthiness tests yet are hedged by trucking insurance requirements that can be leveraged by expert advice from our experienced truck accident lawyers.

5. Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR): Centered on the need to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking altogether. The organization currently has a presence in all fifty states as well as the nation’s capital. Currently, the organization meets these aforementioned goals through educational resources, which are available on the site as well as through various social media platforms. In addition, the organization also offers countless research considerations and opens up a dialogue so that students and adults alike can be more responsible when it comes to drinking.

  1. Allow Enough Time
    • Due to a truck’s size, a driver’s reactions won’t translate as quickly as they would in a car. Lane changes, turns, and stops need to be performed with more than enough time with a truck driver to react accordingly. You should never merge in front or behind a truck suddenly or make a risky turn in front of an oncoming truck. If you do not give a truck driver ample time to react, you could be putting both your and their safety at risk.
  2. Avoid Blind Spots
    • Semi-trucks essentially have four blind spots, which are located in the front, the back, and on either side of the truck. There’s a reason why these spots are actually referred to as “no man’s land” — they’re very expansive and extremely dangerous. The blind spots on either side of a truck can actually extend across several highway lanes and further back than you’ll find with a regular car.
  3. Be Patient
    • It’s easy to become anxious when you’re driving near a truck, particularly when you’re on a busy highway. But you must remember to exercise patience and refrain from rash behavior. You may simply want to get out of the situation, but erratic driving behaviors will likely make things a lot worse. Pay attention and realize that the 10 seconds you might save by making a risky move won’t be worth the damage it could cause.
  4. Rest
    • A well-rested driver is a safer driver. Pull over to take naps if needed, and make sure to get a full night’s rest before driving. Knowing your limits is key, don’t push yourself past your driving capabilities, your life and the lives of other drivers is more important.
  5. Watch Your Speed
    • Always drive the speed limit, do not risk causing an accident just to get to your location faster. If an accident occurs because you’re speeding, you will end up being more behind than you would have been had you gone the speed limit to begin with.
  6. Pay Attention to the Weather
    • Don’t push your luck when it comes to the weather, accidents during poor road conditions can be that much more dangerous.
  7. Inspect Your Vehicle
    • Make sure that your commercial truck is properly maintained and well inspected before beginning your journey.
  8. Avoid Distractions
    • Keeping distractions to a minimum is key to not causing an accident. Don’t use your cell phone, wear ear buds, or eat while driving. These are all things that can be done during a break. If you need to listen to music, try to choose one channel until you are stopped.
  9. Use Turn Signals
    • Make sure that you’re using turn signals when changing lanes and give the vehicles behind you optimal time to move out of the way before switching lanes. Check mirrors thoroughly before making the lane switch along with blind spots.
  10. Beware of Problem Drivers
    • Just because you’re following the rules of the road doesn’t mean everyone else will be. Watch out for other drivers who appear to be drifting in between lanes or swerving. More than likely these drivers are not paying attention to the road and extra caution should be taken to make sure an accident doesn’t occur.

Types of Injuries from Truck Accidents

Because accidents involving large trucks can often be devastating to people traveling in passenger vehicles, trucking accidents cause a wide variety of traumatic injuries. Some of the injuries commonly caused by trucking accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Concussions
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Internal injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Scars and disfigurement
  • Paralysis Nerve damage
  • Whiplash Neck injuries
  • Dislocated or amputated limbs
  • Cuts, bruises, and abrasions

Crashworthiness

As the number of motor vehicles on America’s roadways increases, a certain number of accidents will inevitably occur; accordingly, involvement in a crash is largely considered part of the normal and expected use of a vehicle, rather than an extraordinary event. Because of this, most states require vehicles to meet certain crashworthiness standards. The term crashworthiness refers to a vehicle’s ability to protect its passengers in the event of a collision; each vehicle is manufactured with certain crashworthiness features designed to help minimize the effects of vehicular accidents on the people within, even during an accident involving a large truck. When these safety features do not function properly or a vehicle is not up to crashworthiness standards, a wrongful death or traumatic injury can result from a trucking accident that otherwise might have been far less damaging.

Crashworthiness Testing

Several types of tests are performed to assess a vehicle’s crashworthiness. These tests typically involve placing crash test dummies in a vehicle and replicating representative crash situations to evaluate the vehicle’s ability to protect passengers from damage. Crashworthiness tests frequently performed include:

  1. Frontal Impact
    • Involves driving a vehicle into a solid wall or stationary vehicle to evaluate the effects of a head-on collision.
  2. Offset
    • Similar to frontal impact crashworthiness tests; however, the area of impact is offset so that only a portion of the front of the car impacts another vehicle.
  3. Side Impact
    • Evaluates the ability of a vehicle to protect passengers from side impact collisions, such as often occur at intersections.
  4. Rollover
    • Measures a vehicle’s ability to support itself and protect passengers when turned upside-down or on its side, and is frequently performed on sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

Defective Crashworthiness Features

Vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States are required to have a number of standard crashworthiness features to protect passengers’ safety. However, these safety features can be vulnerable to manufacturing and design defects which reduce crashworthiness. Among the automotive defects which may be found to be detrimental to a vehicle’s crashworthiness are the following:

  • Malfunctioning airbags
  • Insufficiently supported roof
  • Improperly placed or poorly welded fuel tanks
  • Ripped or otherwise damaged seat belts
  • Malfunctioning seat belt latches or retractors
  • Seat backs that crumple upon impact
  • Doors that spring open upon impact

Trucking Insurance Requirements

Because most large trucks are operated as commercial vehicles, they are subject to a different set of insurance requirements than typical automobiles. Federal regulations currently require that all commercial freight vehicles carry liability coverage to compensate for the heightened risk of injury in collisions involving this type of vehicle. Additionally, vehicles which carry certain types of hazardous materials are required to carry liability insurance or a bond for public liability or property damage. Furthermore, each state has its own set of additional insurance rules and regulations that may surpass the federally-mandated minimums.

The Need for Expert Advice

Many lawyers incorrectly believe that handling a case involving a tractor trailer accident is the same as handling a case involving an automobile accident, but nothing could be further from the truth. Trucking accidents are very different in many ways from accidents which involve automobiles alone: hundreds of state and federal regulations govern the ownership and leasing, insurance, operation, repair, maintenance, loading, and use of commercial vehicles.

In addition, there are regulations to address recurring problems such as hours of service violations, driver training and supervision, drug and alcohol testing, improper loading, and hundreds of other issues. Defense lawyers and insurance companies fiercely litigate tractor trailer accident cases, and they know the laws inside and out. It is imperative that your attorney have exceptional experience and training to protect your rights.

Call an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

After a truck crash, seek any necessary medical treatment first and foremost. Then, it is important that you contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Once hired, our experienced truck crash attorneys at The Hadi Law Firm will preserve vital pieces of evidence, secure the scene of a tractor trailer crash, and take necessary photographs and witness statements. This is critical because evidence can be lost, misplaced or purposely destroyed by the trucking companies. The preservation of that evidence is crucial to proving liability in the collision.

If you or a close family member has been hurt, you have the legal right to pursue a personal injury claim against all at-fault parties. “At-fault parties” can include a truck driver, their employer, a negligent maintenance company, or someone else on the road who caused a wreck. The Hadi Law Firm can represent your case and help you file a strong claim for all of your accident damages. We gather evidence for you and investigate fault to identify all potentially liable parties. We negotiate with insurers on your behalf. If we cannot reach a fair settlement agreement, we have the ability to help you recover your damages in court. Find out about your legal options and the next best steps you can take to pursue compensation when you contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review now.

27Jun 2021

Anti-Drunk Driving Awareness

Driving under the influence of alcohol (also termed driving while intoxicated, drunk driving, drinking and driving, drink-driving), is the act of operating a motor vehicle after having consumed alcohol, medication, drug or other substance, to the extent that mental and motor skills are impaired to the degree that the driver is unable to drive a motor vehicle with the caution and care of a sober person. The specific criminal offense may be called driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while impaired (also DWI), operating while intoxicated (OWI), operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OMWI), driving under the influence of alcohol, medication or other drugs (DUI), driving under the combined influence of alcohol and/or other drugs (DUID), or driving under the influence per se (DUI). The following organizations represent some of the strongest platforms in the fight against drunk driving which shed light on the root causes of drunk driving as well as the need for proper representation in DUI cases:

1. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD): The organization has three goals: to stop drunk driving, to support the victims of drunk driving, and to prevent underage drinking. With the help of MADD volunteers, changes have been made to the legal drinking limit and the legal drinking age. MADD has saved at least 300,000 lives over the last 30+ years. The organization meets this goal head-on through its core educational efforts, victim assistance, advocacy for specific legislative policies, and helping victims of drunk driving, including families of victims.

2. Fathers Against Drunk Driving (FADD): The organization hopes to reduce and eventually eliminate all deadly alcohol crashes on US highways, as well as stop underage drinking. With associate chapters, veterans, students, teachers, high schools and law enforcement agencies the organization implements educational awareness prevention campaigns, programs and events. Veterans Against Drunk Driving (VADD) is an affiliate organization that was established to bring awareness to those brave men who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America and their families about the dangers of drinking and driving.

3. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD): The primary mission of SADD is to educate students using “the best prevention and intervention tools possible to deal with issues of underage drinking, other drug use, impaired driving, and other destructive decisions.” The organization currently comprises over 350,000 active student members across the nation and holds chapters in middle school, high schools, as well as colleges. The organization includes projects such as student-focused forums, leadership training, media outreach, fundraising, peer-led classes, and more. All of these are designed to help students get into the mindset of leadership excellence so that they can make the appropriate decisions in any given situation.

4. Recording Artists Against Drunk Driving (RADD): Non-profit organization that was started in 1986 as the entertainment industry’s answer to road safety. RADD’s target audiences are teens from ages 13-18 and young adults from ages 21-34. Because vehicle crashes are the number one killer of those age groups, RADD is dedicated to “solution-based, age appropriate messages” to promote safe and sober driving. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk”, you have been exposed to the brilliance of RADD.

5. Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR): Centered on the need to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking altogether. The organization currently has a presence in all fifty states as well as the nation’s capital. Currently, the organization meets these aforementioned goals through educational resources, which are available on the site as well as through various social media platforms. In addition, the organization also offers countless research considerations and opens up a dialogue so that students and adults alike can be more responsible when it comes to drinking.

Root Cause Analysis

All 50 states now have two statutory offenses for what is commonly called drunk driving. The first offense is the traditional common law offense, variously called driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) or operating while intoxicated/impaired (OWI). The second more recent offense is the so-called per se offense of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater. While there is not a simple solution to preventing people from drunk driving, what is clear is there are some ways that actually get to the root of the problem that have shown to be effective. What we know is that getting through to people about the dangers of drunk driving takes more than awareness campaigns. The Center for Disease Control gives the following methods as proven ways to prevent drunk driving:

  • Enforcement of the minimum drinking age (21 in most states)
  • Sobriety checkpoints
  • Community-based programs for education and prevention
  • Enforcement of lower blood alcohol content level (currently in most states, 0.08 is the BAC level for drunk driving arrests. Some states are passing laws to lower this rate to .05)
  • Raising the price of alcohol
  • Requiring mandatory substance abuse treatment for DWI offen ders
Penalties for driving under the influence commonly include jail or community service, probation, fines, driver’s license suspension or revocation, and mandatory attendance at driving under the influence schools. In some cases, a person will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their car which will prevent the car from being started if the driver has any measurable amount of alcohol on their breath. It is also a criminal offense in all states to drive a vehicle while under the influence of medication or drugs (DUID), or under the combined influence of alcohol, medication, drugs or other substances. Notably, the drugs themselves need not be illegal, but can be prescribed medication or even over the counter medication such as cold or flu medication. Interventional programs range from drug treatment facilities to incarceration to alcohol and drug education classes, and include the following types of agencies:
  • DWI Service Providers
  • Alcohol and Drug Counseling
  • Residential Treatment Facilities
  • Drug Rehab Facilities
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Law Enforcement and Sobriety Checkpoints
  • DWI Attorneys

DUI Representation

The anti-drunk driving movement has been innovative, as advertising and lobbying campaigns have been directed at raising awareness of social and legal issues related to the dangers of driving while intoxicated. The various versions of “driving under the influence” laws generally constitute misdemeanor offenses punishable by up to one year in the county jail. However, a DUI offense may be elevated to a felony and punished by a longer term in state prison if the incident caused injury (felony DUI), death (vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide), or if the defendant has a designated number of prior DUI convictions within a given time period.

It is important to confirm that an attorney or law firm regularly takes driving under the influence cases to trial. Additionally, it is important to confirm that the attorney or attorneys at a DUI law firm are members of professional organizations and regularly attend seminars focusing on training lawyers in the latest developments in DUI defense and prosecution. Finally, it is wise for an individual considering hiring an attorney or law firm to represent them in a DUI case to actually visit the office and meet the attorneys, investigators and staff. The attorneys and staff of The Hadi Law Firm welcome you to call our office, speak with and meet members of our firm.