Texas Texting While Driving Ban Becomes Law

No more Texting and Driving in Texas!       

Governor Abbott signed the Texas ban on texting while driving into law today.  Here is an except from the law:

(b)  An operator commits an offense if the operator uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped. To be prosecuted, the behavior must be committed in the presence of or within the view of a peace officer or established by other evidence.

(c)  It is an affirmative defense to prosecution of an offense under this section that the operator used a portable wireless communication device:

(1)  in conjunction with a hands-free device, as defined by Section 545.425;

(2)  to navigate using a global positioning system or navigation system;

(3)  to report illegal activity, summon emergency help, or enter information into a software application that provides information relating to traffic and road conditions to users of the application;

(4)  to read an electronic message that the person reasonably believed concerned an emergency;

(5)  that was permanently or temporarily affixed to the vehicle to relay information in the course of the operator’s occupational duties between the operator and:

(A)  a dispatcher; or

(B)  a digital network or software application service; or

(6)  to activate a function that plays music.

You can read the complete bill on the Texas Legislature Online.

The criminal penalties under the law are not insignificant:

(e)  An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99 unless it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been previously convicted at least one time of an offense under this section, in which event the offense is punishable by a fine of at least $100 and not more than $200.

(f)  Notwithstanding Subsection (e), an offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant caused the death or serious bodily injury of another person.

(g)  If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the person may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.

Violation of the law should also constitute negligence per se in a negligence case involving a car or trucking accident.  This means the judge will instruct the jury that the failure to comply with this law is negligence in itself.

Please also see our post, Distracted Drivers Hurt People.

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with car and truck accidents and if you need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Five Rules in Texas Defining Relationship Between Texas Insurance Contract Claims and Insurance Code Claims

Relationship Between Texas Insurance Contract Claims and Insurance Code Claims

The relationship between insurance contract claims and Insurance Code claims in USAA Texas Lloyds Co. v.  Menchaca.  The case arose from jury findings that,  although USAA did not fail to comply with the terms of the insurance policy with regard to a claim, USAA did engage in various unfair or deceptive practices, including refusal “to pay a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation with respect to” that claim.  The jury then awarded damages  in the amount of the difference between the amount USAA should have paid  and the amount that was actually paid.

Thus, the question arose as to whether an insured can recover damages against their insurance company even though the insurance company did not fail to comply with its contractual obligations.  In answering the question the Texas Supreme Court “announced” five rules that address the relationship between contract claims under an insurance policy and tort claims under the Insurance Code:

  1. The general rule is that an insured cannot recover policy benefits as damages for an insurer’s statutory violation if the policy does not provide the insured a right to receive those benefits;
  2. an insured who establishes a right to receive benefits under the insurance policy can recover those benefits as actual damages under the Insurance Code if the insurer’s statutory violation causes the loss of the benefits;
  3.  Even if the insured cannot establish a present contractual right to policy benefits, the insured can recover benefits as actual damages under the Insurance Code if the insurer’s statutory violation caused the insured to lose that contractual right;
  4.  If an insurer’s statutory violation causes an injury independent of the loss of policy benefits, the insured may recover damages for that injury even if the policy does not grant the insured a right to benefits;and
  5. An insured cannot recover any damages based on an insurer’s statutory violation if the insured had no right to receive benefits under the policy and sustained no injury independent of a right to benefits.

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with cases involving insurance claims and if you need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

 

Fatal Workplace Accidents and Injuries, Texas Lawyer

Workplace Accidents and Injury Statistics

Fatal work injuries in the United States dropped by approximately  7%  to 4,383 deaths in 2012 according to results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Significantly, there were 138  deaths in the oil and gas extraction industries, a 23 percent rise in fatal injuries to workers in  2012.Fatal Occupational Injuries

Even though the number of fatalities dropped in the U.S.,work related deaths increased by over 20% to 531 deaths in Texas.  Oklahoma also saw a rise in work related deaths.  During the last 20 years, 1994 saw the highest number of work related fatalities in the US at 6,632, or approximately 35% higher than 2012.According the Texas Department of Insurance the deadliest occupation in Texas was driving heavy and tractor-trailer trucks. Texas also saw an increase in construction deaths. 2012 Texas Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. In Texas, there was a 57 percent increase in fatal injuries for heavy and tractor-trailer,truck drivers with 121 deaths, up from 77 in 2011. There were 82 construction trade worker deaths in Texas, up from  59 incidents in 2011.

These statistics should be analyzed by all safety personnel to help them understand what is occurring in the workplace and how to avoid future accidents and injuries.

Please also refer to our personal injury blog and our posts,  Accidents in the Workplace – Fall Protection,Premises Liability, Defective Products, Products Liability,Lockout Tagout, Texas Truck Accidents,Oilfield Accidents, Injuries and Deaths,and Workplace Injury – Texas Workers Compensation – The Exclusive Remedy?

Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

We have experience with workplace accidents and  injuries, and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a workplace accident, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990, 888-236-4878 (toll-free) for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Sexual Abuse, Texas Lawyer

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.

Child sexual abuse is particularly egregious.  In Texas, child sexual abuse is defined in the Family Code in CHAPTER 261. INVESTIGATION OF REPORT OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT.   Examples of child sexual abuse are fondling a child’s genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, and vaginal and anal intercourse.  Child sexual abuse also includes exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography.  Notably, “abuse” in the Texas Family Code  includes the failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child.

Sexual abuse often emotionally scars its victims for life.

If you or your child have been sexually abused, you should report it to the appropriate authorities and obtain professional help as soon as possible.

There are a number of resources for those that have been abused or are aware of abuse.  For example, see the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Texas Attorney General and other online resources.

Those with pedophilia – a sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object – are referred to as pedophiles.  Unfortunately, pedophiles are often clever at infiltrating organizations that give them exposure to their victims.  Parents should take steps to protect their children.  Child Safety for Parents has some interesting suggestions.

Examples of sexual abuse are not hard to find.  A popular camp in Missouri, Kanakuk Kamp, has been struck by pedophiles;  the first time by a Christian camp director that worked at the camp for 10 years, only to have another counselor charged with sexually abusing several campers less than 2 years later.   For as much good as they do, the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church have had to deal with pedophiles.  Colleges and schools have had pedophiles.  Businesses and governmental entities must protect their employees and customers from sexual abuse and sexual harassment.  Any organization that cares for children must concern itself with protecting those children from sexual abuse.

The schools, churches and various activities in which your children participate should have policies, procedures and background checks to help prevent sexual abuse.

Business and governmental entities should have policies, procedures and background checks to help prevent sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

An organization that identifies a pedophile or suspects child sexual abuse should report it to the proper authorities immediately.  The abuse should never be ignored.  A pedophile that goes unreported is likely to strike again.

We have experience with civil (as opposed to criminal) sexual abuse cases, and if you need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, or Michelle JonesBoard Certified in Labor and Employment Law a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Aviation Accidents, Texas Lawyer

Aviation Accidents

Aviation Accidents are relatively rare, but are usually catastrophic. Personal Injury Lawyer Chris Jones is a Private Pilot. Chris owned and operated his own airplane, and spends time around local airports and pilots giving him insight into the potential causes of an airplane crashes. Chris also practiced law with John Howie (deceased) in Dallas. John was one of the preeminent aviation lawyers of his time. The causes of most aviation accidents primarily fall with 4 general categories : 1. pilot error; 2. controller errors; 3. maintenance problems; and 4 product defects. The Federal Aviation Administration has an online Accident/Incident Data System (AIDS) database containing incident data records for all categories of civil aviation.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency that investigates and determines the probable cause of transportation accidents, including aviation accidents. The NTSB is now publishing the Aircraft Investigation Reports online.

Pilot Error

Title 14: Aeronautics and Space, PART 91 — GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT RULES of the Code of Federal Regulations prescribes rules governing the operation of aircraft within the United States, including the waters within 3 nautical miles of the U.S. coast. The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

Pilots receive extensive training and there are a number of certifications and ratings ranging from Private Pilot to Airline Transport Pilots. PART 61—CERTIFICATION: PILOTS, FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS, AND GROUND INSTRUCTORS sets forth the requirements for issuing pilot, flight instructor, and ground instructor certificates and ratings; the conditions under which those certificates and ratings are necessary; and the privileges and limitations of those certificates and ratings.  Furthermore, PART 67—MEDICAL STANDARDS AND CERTIFICATION prescribes the medical standards and certification procedures for issuing medical certificates for airmen and for remaining eligible for a medical certificate, which pilots must keep current.

Like drivers, there are a number of errors pilots can make that result in accidents. It would be impossible to list them all. However, there are some errors that show up time and time in accident reports – flying into bad weather, improperly loading the aircraft and fuel starvation.

Checking the weather before the flight leaves the ground is one of the most important pilot responsibilities. In private aircraft, bad weather is a killer and should be avoided if possible. Icing and thunderstorms have no mercy when it comes to bringing down an airplane. Overloading and improperly loading an airplane can make the airplane uncontrollable. Considering the fact that there are no shoulders on the highways in the sky, checking the fuel and managing it during flight is extremely important.

Pilots should always have and use aircraft specific checklists. Above all, pilots should take their time, avoid get “homeitis”, and refuse to cut corners. As a passenger, always let the pilot take his or her time and decide whether to take off or not. It may save your life.

Controller Error

Air traffic controllers work in control towers, approach control facilities, and route centers coordinating the movement of air traffic. They ensure that planes stay safe distances apart. Their job requires total concentration 100% of the time, making it stressful and exhausting. They are an important part of a safe aviation system.

Please visit the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the FAA Air Traffic 101 to learn more about controllers. Air Traffic Control Tapes is a very interesting FAA resource allowing you to listen to actual pilots and controllers during incidents and accidents.

Air Traffic Controllers are human and do make mistakes. Considering their responsibility to keep separation between aircraft, their mistakes can be catastrophic.

Maintenance Problems

Again, you cannot pull an airplane to the side of the road when there is a mechanical problem in flight. Preventive maintenance and discovering potential problems before they occur are some of the keys to airworthiness and avoiding crashes. The Federal Regulations require a number of inspections on an aircraft. In additional to the regulations and manufacturer recommendations, a team made up of manufacturers, owners, their representative organizations, and FAA engineers and inspectors wrote Best Practices Guide for Maintaining Aging General Aviation Airplanes to help owners of aging aircraft.

Only qualified mechanics should perform the inspections and do the maintenance. The regulations are very specific in requiring the inspection and maintenance records to be kept. The log books are critical when purchasing an aircraft or investigating a crash.

Products Liability

Aviation accidents can and do occur as a result of design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects. Please see our post concerning Texas Products Liability, with the understanding that the law of another state may apply to the accident.

To reduce crashes caused by product defects, the FAA issues Airworthiness Directives addressing the unsafe condition and product when the FAA finds that: (a) an unsafe condition exists in a product; and (b) the condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design. A look through the directives reveals some of the defects that can lead to problems.

Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer

Chris Jones is a Lawyer and Private Pilot and if you or your family member has been seriously injured or killed in an aviation accident and you need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 888-236-4878 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Premises Liability, East Texas Attorney

Premises liability claims arise from physical conditions or defects on property.  In a premises liability case, like any negligence case, the plaintiff must establish a duty owed to the plaintiff, breach of the duty, and damages proximately caused by the breach.

It should be noted that landowners may also be liable for negligent activities when a person has been injured by or as a contemporaneous result of the activity itself, rather than by a condition created by the activity.  Keetch v. Kroger Co., 845 S.W.2d 262 (Tex.1992).        

In premises liability cases, the scope of the duty turns on the plaintiff’s status.

Generally, store customers are invitees, and a property owner owes invitees a duty to use ordinary care to reduce or eliminate an unreasonable risk of harm created by a premises condition about which the property owner knew or should have known.

In Corbin v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 648 S.W.2d 292 (Tex.1983) the Texas Supreme Court set forth the elements of a premises liability in a slip and fall case:

(1) Actual or constructive knowledge of some condition on the premises by the owner/operator;

(2) That the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm;

(3) That the owner/operator did not exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk; and

(4) That the owner/operator’s failure to use such care proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

As far as licensees, the landowner owes a duty to warn of or to make safe hidden dangers known to the landowner and a duty not to intentionally, willfully, or through gross negligence cause injury.

As to trespassers, a landowner owes only a duty not to intentionally, willfully, or through gross negligence cause injury.

It should also be noted that Texas has a recreational use statute which limits the liability of who open their land for recreational purposes. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE §§ 75.001 -.004. 

A general contractor in control of the premises may be liable for two types of negligence in failing to keep the premises safe: that arising from an activity on the premises, and that arising from a premises defect.” Clayton W. Williams, Jr., Inc. v. Olivo, 952 S.W.2d 523 (Tex. 1997).

Examples of potential premises liability and negligent activity cases against landowners would be, among others, a slip and fall on ice as a result of an ice dispenser, falling objects or merchandise, failure to remove rowdy customers, misapplication of wax on a floor, unstable platforms or stairs, rotten wood allowing a fall through a floor.

In cases in which governmental vehicles are involved, you may find helpful information in Governmental Tort Liability.

We have experience with premises liability cases, and if you or your family member has been seriously injured or died on a dangerous premises or as a result of a premises owner’s negligent activity and need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Car Accidents, Negligent Driving, East Texas Attorney

Texas Car Accidents

Car Accidents are caused by negligent driving. Yes, this is obvious, but what exactly does negligent driving mean?

If you have a car wreck and end up in court, the question for the jury will be:

Did the negligence, if any, of DEFENDANT DRIVER proximately cause the accident in question?  YES or NO

” Negligence,” when used with respect to the conduct of DEFENDANT DRIVER means failure to use ordinary care, that is, failing to do that which a person of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances or doing that which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances.

The law requires ______________. A failure to comply with this law is negligence in itself.

It is safe to assume that “a person of ordinary prudence” will follow the Texas Drivers Handbook.  But when was the last time you looked through the Texas Drivers Handbook?  Take a look now.  You will find something you didn’t know about driving, or that you have forgotten.

Have you ever read the Texas Rules of the Road in Chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code?  There are specific requirements for drivers depending on the situation.  Do it wrong and you may not only receive a citation, but may also be found guilty of negligence per se if you cause an accident. Negligence per se is when a person’s expected standard of conduct is defined by a statute – instead of being judged by the ordinary prudent person test.  In other words, fill in the blank above with the law violated and the judge is now instructing the jury that the DEFENDANT DRIVER was negligent.

Did you know that there are also specific laws on what you must do if you are in an accident?  Please also review  CHAPTER 550. ACCIDENTS AND ACCIDENT REPORTS of the Texas Transportation Code.

NHTSA did a study in 2008 and found that motor vehicle traffic crashes were the leading cause of death for every age 3 through 6 and 8 through 34.  There many statistics,  but one death caused by negligent driving is one death too many.

Know the rules of the road,  keep your eyes on the road, put down the cell phone, do not drive if you are intoxicated or fatigued, and drive defensively.

To avoid car accidents the Texas Drivers Handbook recommends:

DEFENSIVE DRIVING
To avoid crashes, the defensive driver should:
1. Stay alert and keep his eyes moving so that he [or she] can keep track of what is happening at all times.
2. Look for trouble spots developing all around him [or her].
3. Have a plan of action if the other driver does the wrong thing.
4. Know that the law requires drivers to protect each other from their own mistakes.

You cannot drive defensively if you are DRIVING WHILE DISTRACTED.  According to NHTSA, you are 23 times more likely to be in a crash if you text while driving.  So “OMG” please put down the phone and watch the road while driving.

If the accident was caused by a distracted driver, please see our posts; Distracted Drivers Hurt People and Texas Texting While Driving Ban Becomes Law. 

This post was not meant to be the lecture it turned out to be.  Oh well, if it helps one person drive safer, then it was worth posting.

Please also refer to our personal injury blog and our posts, East Texas Auto Accident Lawyer, Truck Accident LawyerMotorcycle Accident Lawyer,  Documenting Personal Injury Damages and Motor Vehicle Crash, Now What?

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with cases involving car accidents caused by negligent driving, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of negligent driving and need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Texas Truck Accidents

18 Wheeler Truck Accidents

Truck accidents accounted for 3,380 fatalities and 74,000 people injured in the United States in 2009.  296,000 large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) were involved in traffic crashes according the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Texas has one of the best systems of interstates and highways.  A map of the United States Interstate System reveals why there are a large number of 18 wheeler trucks on the roads of Texas.  Unfortunately, trucks on the roads ultimately lead to truck accidents, injuries and deaths and the need for an experienced Texas truck accident Lawyer.

Truck drivers have a difficult job.  They are subject to a number of laws and regulations.  Even though there are regulations concerning hours of service, truck drivers drive for long hours – and must be completely attentive the entire time. If a truck driver daydreams, texts or simply fails to keep their eyes on the road, they can quickly cause an accident.  Many truck accidents are catastrophic.

Although most 18 wheeler truck drivers do not understand physics formulas and calculations, they must respect the laws of physics if they are to avoid accidents. You do not need to understand Albert Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence equation (E = mc2) to realize that an 80,000 pound mass traveling at a speed of 55 to 75 mph is a huge amount of potentially destructive energy that must be controlled by the driver.

Federal Motor Carrier Rules and Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) provide rules and regulations that Federal Motors Carriers must follow. The Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook provides driver license testing information for drivers who wish to have a Texas commercial driver license (CDL). Thankfully, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) are being amended to restrict the use of hand-held mobile telephones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles. There are many rules and regulations which, if followed, will help avoid truck accidents.

Truck Accident Evidence

Every truck accident is different, but there is important evidence that should be collected after any trucking accident.  The regulations require the drivers to keep logs which can be examined.  The truck and its maintenance records are important evidence.  Some trucks may be equipped with GPS and other transmitters that allow the home base to locate the truck and monitor the speeds of the truck.  There should be fuel receipts that can be used to retrace the route taken, and may help determine the hours worked and speeds driven by the driver.  If documented soon after the accident, the scene will have clues as to what happened.  In more serious accidents, the highway patrol will often document the scene and perform an accident reconstruction. Eyewitnesses can be extremely important evidence.  There are many other types of evidence that may be important.  The trucking companies know this and start collecting evidence immediately.  For this reason, it is important to hire a lawyer with whom you are comfortable as soon as possible after an accident.

You may also refer to our posts, Truck Accident Lawyer, Documenting Personal Injury Damages and Motor Vehicle Crash, Now What?.

Experienced Texas Truck Accident Attorney

We have experience with truck accidents, and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident and need a Texas truck accident attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Oilfield Accidents, Injuries and Deaths

Oilfield accidents causing injuries and deaths are a risk that all oilfield workers must face.  A job in the oilfield can be lucrative and rewarding, but safety must be kept at the forefront.

East Texas has a strong oil and gas industry which is growing even stronger with recent discoveries in the Haynesville Shale and new drilling techniques.  East Texas County Clerks’ offices have been full of land men and land women searching title.  Mineral owners have been signing new leases.  Oil and gas companies know they must drill prior to the termination of the leases.  This means work in the oil field.

Drilling rigs are expensive.  Oil and gas operators want the job done fast.  When oil and gas prices rise,  the push to “get it done” gets even harder.  If not managed correctly, this can lead to oilfield accidents with injuries and deaths.

Unfortunately, when the push to get it done causes an accident in the oilfield, the results can be catastrophic considering the pressures that are involved, the size of the equipment used, the heights of a drilling rig, the harsh environment in which the equipment and workers must operate and the power and electricity required to operate the rig and equipment – not to mention the fact that the oil or gas being sought is flammable.

The Deepwater Horizon Accident is a good example of what can go wrong.  BP’s September report and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement report concerning the accident are interesting to read.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement report

If you work in the oilfield, resist the push to “get it done quickly” and get it done safely.

We have experience with oilfield accidents, and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

 

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Compensation

What is my personal injury or wrongful death claim worth?

This is the question asked by those with personal injuries or a wrongful death claim resulting from wrongful conduct, whether from negligence in a car accident or truck wreck, injury in the oilfield, or as a result of a defective product, etc..  It is the question that the Defendant, Insurance Adjuster and Defense Lawyer must consider in determining whether to settle a personal injury claim.

The answer to the question is that the claim is worth whatever the trier of fact (judge, jury or arbitrator) may ultimately decide after considering the elements of damages available in a particular claim – if their decision is allowed to stand after any available appeals are exhausted. Accordingly, documentation of personal injury damages is extremely important.

Every client is different.  Every claim is different.  Every judge and jury is different and every lawyer presenting the case is different.  Without a crystal ball, there is no certain answer.

Often, it is the uncertainty and the desire to control the outcome that leads to the settlement of cases.

Personal Injury Damages

You must understand what types of personal injury damages are available for your case (known by lawyers as the elements of damages).  Looking at the questions that will ultimately be decided by the trier of fact (judge or jury) is a great way to start understand what you may or may not be entitled to receive. In Texas, we have the Pattern Jury Charges, which are a good resource to see what the trier of fact will decide.

Generally, these are the elements to be considered in a Texas personal injury case:

Damages to Injured Person

  • Physical pain and mental anguish sustained in the past.
  • Physical pain and mental anguish that, in reasonable probability,
    will be sustained in the future.
  • Loss of earning capacity sustained in the past.
  • Loss of earning capacity that, in reasonable probability, will be
    sustained in the future.
  • Disfigurement sustained in the past.
  • Disfigurement that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in
    the future.
  • Physical impairment sustained in the past.
  • Physical impairment that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained
    in the future.
  • Medical care expenses incurred in the past.
  • Medical care expenses that, in reasonable probability, will be incurred
    in the future.

Damages to the Spouse of an Injured Person

  • Loss of household services sustained in the past.
  • Loss of household services that, in reasonable probability, [Spouse of Injured Person] will sustain in the future.
  • Loss of consortium in the past.
  • Loss of consortium that, in reasonable probability, [Spouse of Injured Person] will sustain in the future.

Survival and Wrongful Death Damages

In Texas, the estate of a deceased or heirs may be able to recover compensation for the deceased under the Survival Statute.

Survival Damages

  • Pain and mental anguish.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

In addition, there is a Wrongful Death Statute that allows the spouse, children and parents of someone killed by a wrongful act to recover compensation for the loss of a loved one.

Wrongful Death Damages

  • Pecuniary loss sustained in the past.
  • Pecuniary loss that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the
    future.
  • Loss of companionship and society sustained in the past.
  • Loss of companionship and society that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future.
  • Mental anguish sustained in the past.
  • Mental anguish that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future
  • Loss of inheritance.

Exemplary Damages

In certain cases exemplary damages may be awarded as a penalty or by way of punishment but not for compensatory purposes. Exemplary damages include punitive damages.

There is much law on what and when personal injury and wrongful death compensation is available. This post is simply to give you are general idea of what types of damages may be available.  For further information on this topic, please  refer to the article by Stephen M. Horner. Assessing Economic Damages in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation: The State of Texas. Journal of Forensic Economics 20 (1), 2007, pp. 49-71.

If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident, please do not hesitate to give Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Electrocution Attorney

Experienced Electrocution Attorney

Chris Jones has handled electrocution and electrical contact cases on both the Plaintiff and Defense sides of the docket. Using the experience learned defending the utility, we now represent the victims of electrocutions and electrical burns against Electric Utilities.

We recently successfully represented the family of a young man who was electrocuted on an oil rig, and another family of a man who was electrocuted while trimming trees.  We also recently represented a young  man who lost his arm when he contacted a distribution line that was hanging too low.

Early in hisdanger electricity career, Chris defended an electric utility against a case involving a young man who was electrocuted in his front yard while checking on his dog. The dog was whining in the rain. As it turned out, the dog was chained to a metal spike driven into the ground. Unfortunately, the spike was contacting live electrical wiring that once fed an electric light, and when the gentleman grabbed the chain, making all of the links come together, he and the dog were electrocuted. The case went to trial and resulted in a defense verdict, probably because the wiring was on the customer side of the meter, and the gentleman likely knew there was wiring in his front yard before he drove the stake into the ground. Chris also defended the utility in a trial where a utility distribution line fell on a residential service drop causing high voltage to blast through a home.

We know how to handle electrocution cases.  They are not easy cases and you need an attorney experienced in these cases.

One thing is for sure, and everyone asked in depositions agrees, electricity is dangerous! Not all electrical contracts are deadly, but electrical burns are painful and devastating injuries.  It needs to be treated with respect and the electric codes and electrical safety standards must be followed. The IEEE publishes the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). The NESC sets forth standards for the practical safeguarding of persons during the installation, operation, or maintenance of electric supply and communication lines and associated equipment. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes the National Electrical Code (NEC). The purpose of the NEC is ” the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity.” The NESC basically applies to electric supply (power) and communications utilities and is used primarily by utility engineers and utility lineman. The NEC covers wiring in buildings and is primarily used by engineers and electricians. At times, the NEC and NESC overlap. Safe work practices and compliance with OSHA regulations and use of safe equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions can reduce the risks of electricity. There are also electrical devices that may help reduce risks. The use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in the home and workplace should always be considered. Use a qualified electrician for electrical work. The discovery of electricity completely changed civilization. We use it every day. Even so, we need to respect it and do everything we can to make sure its only effects are beneficial, and not harmful or deadly.

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with cases involving electrocution and electrical contact accidents, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of an electrical contact and need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Crashworthiness – Protect Yourself

Crashworthiness – the degree to which a vehicle will protect its occupants from the effects of an accident. The easiest way to understand “crashworthiness’ is to imagine that you are in the grocery store buying eggs. They are stacked in a basket and you need carry them to the register and then take them home without breaking them. How are you going to do it? You need to put them in a container that will protect them. Thankfully, Joseph Coyle of British, Columbia invented the egg carton. The carton keeps the eggs enclosed, keeps the eggs from contacting each other and absorbs energy and shocks, and doesn’t collapse when stacked. The more crashworthy the carton, the safer the eggs. Thank you Mr. Coyle.

The same principles apply to protecting us. If the automotive and child restraint manufacturers apply these principles in their designs, it can help prevent catastrophic injuries and deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a website dedicated to Vehicle Safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is also “dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation’s highways” and also publishes vehicle safety information. Another NHTSA website to research is safercar.gov.

What can we do with this information? Since crashworthiness is about preventing injuries and deaths, the time to learn about it is before you or you family members are in a crash. Research the vehicles you drive. Research before you buy new vehicles. Research child restraints before you buy them for your children. Understand how to use them. Always take them time to make sure you and your passengers are buckled, and bucked properly. Even the best seat belts and child restraints can not protect you if you do not use them.

Finally, if you or you loved ones have been seriously injured in a crash and the vehicle failed to protect you please see our post Defective Products. We have handled a number of vehicle crashworthiness lawsuits against the automotive manufacturers, and have hopefully helped make vehicles safer. If you need an experienced Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Car Accident, Now What?

You have been involved in a car accident.  Now what?

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE CRASH from Chapter 11 of the Texas Driver’s Handbook provides:

1. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of a person, you must immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash (or as close as possible to the scene of the crash) without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. If your vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the crash, you must immediately return to the scene of the crash. You must remain at the scene of the crash until you have complied with the following:

a. Give your name and address, the registration number of the vehicle you were driving, and the name of your motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;

b. Show your driver license (if requested and available) to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; and

c. Provide any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangement for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.

Failure to stop and comply with the above requirements is an offense punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for up to 5 years; confinement in the county jail for up to 1 year; a fine not to exceed $5,000; or both the fine and imprisonment or confinement. (This is for the 1st offense. Second and subsequent offenses have enhanced penalties.)

2. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting ONLY in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person, you must immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close as possible to the scene of the crash without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. If your vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the crash, you must scene of the crash (or, if the crash occurs on a main lane, ramp, or shoulder, median, or adjacent area and each vehicle involved can be normally and safely driven, each operator shall move their vehicle as soon as possible to a designated crash investigation site, if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location) until you have complied with the following:

a. Give your name and address, the registration number of the vehicle you were driving, and the name of your motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;

b. Show your driver license (if requested and available) to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; and

c. Provide any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangement for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.

3. If you are operating a motor vehicle that collides with and damages an unattended vehicle, you must immediately stop and;

a. Locate the operator or owner of the unattended vehicle and give that person the name and address of the operator and owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle; or

b. Leave in a conspicuous place in (or securely attach in a plainly visible way to) the unattended vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the operator and the owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle and a statement of the circumstances of the collision.

4. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting ONLY in damage to a fixture or landscaping legally on or adjacent to a highway, you must:

a. Take reasonable steps to locate the owner (or person in charge) of the property and to notify them of the crash and of your name and address and the registration number of the vehicle you were driving;

b. If requested and available, you must show your driver license to the owner or person in charge of the property; and

c. If the crash is not investigated by a law enforcement officer and the crash resulted in injury to or the death of a person or damage to the property of any one person to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more, you must make a written report of the crash and file the report with the Texas Department of Transportation not later than the 10th day after the date of the crash.

Failure to comply with the above requirements is an offense. If the damage to ALL vehicles is less than $200, this offense is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. If the damage to ALL vehicles is $200 or more, this offense is a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000; confinement in jail for up to 180 days; or both such fine and confinement. (This is for the 1st offense. Second and subsequent offenses have enhanced penalties).

5. If you are operating a vehicle involved in a crash that results in injury or death of a person or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be normally and safely driven, you must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the crash to the: local police department if the crash occurred in a municipality; local police department or the sheriff’s office if the crash occurred not more than 100 feet outside the limits of a municipality; or sheriff’s office or the nearest office of the Texas Department of Public Safety if occurs elsewhere.

6. When you give your name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance information to anyone who was involved in the crash, if requested and available, you must also show your driver license to the other driver(s) involved in the crash. Be sure to get the same information from the other driver(s). Record the insurance company name and the policy number exactly as shown on the driver’s proof-of-insurance card. Similar company names can cause confusion. If you have the name of the driver’s company, call the Texas Department of Insurance toll-free at 1-800-252-3439 to get the company address and telephone number.

7. Remember, if you are involved in a crash and the crash is not investigated by a law enforcement officer and the crash resulted in death or damage to the property of any one person to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more, you must make a written report of the crash and must file the written report with the Texas Department of Transportation not later than the 10th day after the date of the crash. The written report must be on the appropriate form approved by the Department.

8. If you are involved in a hit-and-run crash, report this to a law enforcement agency for investigation. The Texas Department of Insurance advises that uninsured motorist coverage will pay for damage in hit-and-run crashes reported to a law enforcement agency.

AIDING THE INJURED

When calling a doctor or ambulance, state the place of the crash clearly and correctly.  Do not assume that people are not injured simply because they say they are not. Send for skilled help as quickly as possible. Unskilled handling can do more harm than good.

Do not move or lift the victim unless it is absolutely necessary. If victims must be moved get help and try not to change the position in which they were found.

Stop serious bleeding with thick cloth pads, as clean as possible, applied with pressure by hand or by bandaging.

Keep the victim comfortable. If it is hot, cool the victim and provide shade as much as possible. If it is cool, cover the victim with blankets or coats if necessary and if available.

After obtaining health care, you should consider hiring a lawyer.  You will also want to notify your insurance company of the accident.   You should seriously consider hiring a lawyer before giving  statements, allowing anyone to record you or signing anything.

There are also specific laws on what you must do if you are in a car accident.  Please also review  CHAPTER 550. ACCIDENTS AND ACCIDENT REPORTS of the Texas Transportation Code.

If the accident involved a 18 wheeler truck, please see our post Texas Truck Accidents.  Please also see our Negligent Driving post.

Please see our page Hiring a Lawyer for more information. We have experience with car  accidents, and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a car accident and need an East Texas  attorney, please do not hesitate to give Longview Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

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