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.

Technically, the law takes effect September 1, 2017, but please act as though it is already in effect.

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.

 

Airbag Recall

Takata air bag recall

Does the Takata airbag recall apply to your vehicle?  You can use NHTSA’s Recalls Lookup by VIN using your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to find out.  NHTSA has a  Recalls Spotlight concerning the Takata airbag recall that has additional important information concerning the recalls, including a list of affected vehicles.

If your vehicle is subject to a recall, you should  contact your dealer as soon as possible to make an appointment to get it fixed.  All recalls are serious.

Hopefully, you and your family have not been hurt because of the recalled airbags.  If you have been injured, please see our personal injury blog posts on Defective Products, Products Liability.  You should immediately obtain control of your vehicle. The defective product (in this case the vehicle and its airbags) is important evidence in a products liability case.  Do not dispose, alter, or in any way spoil the defective product as evidence if you are considering legal action.

The history of the Takata airbag defects and recalls is troubling. According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, “for years, Takata has built and sold defective products, refused to acknowledge the defect, and failed to provide full information to NHTSA, its customers, or the public.”  He also said “the result of that delay and denial has harmed scores of consumers and caused the largest, most complex safety recall in history…”  Please refer to the Timeline of NHTSA Actions if you are interested in the history of the recalls.

East Texas Products Liability Lawyer

Chris Jones,is Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law and has vast experience in product liability and vehicle crashworthiness cases. If you or a loved one are a victim of the defective airbags, please do not delay in giving us call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

 

Burn Injury Lawyer

burn injuriesBURN INJURIES

Burns are a major cause of suffering and death in the United States.

According to the American Burn Association there are over 486,000 burn injuries each year requiring medical treatment. American Burn Association Burn Incidence Fact Sheet 2016. 43%  of the burns are caused by Fire/Flame, 34% by Scalds, 9% by Contact, 4% by Electrical, 3% by Chemical and 7%by other causes.  73% of the injuries occur at home, 8% in the workplace, 5% on streets and highways,  5% in recreational and sport activities and  9% Other at other locations. Approximately 30,000 of these burn injuries require treatment in hospital burn centers.

Many burn injuries are caused by unreasonably dangerous and defective products.  If you or a loved one has suffered burns as a result of a product, please see our post regarding products liability. Motor vehicle and trucking accidents can involve fires. Part of a vehicle being “crashworthy” includes avoiding post collision fuel fed fires.

Electrical accidents  often result in very serious burns.  Many of these accidents involve working around power lines or work in the oilfield. improper packaging and transport of flammable gases and liquids can cause other wise avoidable fires and burn injuries. The improper use of flammable material in clothing has caused a number of burn injuries.  This list can go on and on…

The pain and suffering, disfigurement and physical impairment caused by burns and other personal injury damages are often horrendous.  These damages should be documented from the beginning.

If you or one of your family members has been the victim of these horrible injuries, please do not delay in giving us call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Chris Jones of Longview, Texas is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law  is an experienced burn injury lawyer and passionate in the representation of those suffering from burn injuries as a result of someone’s negligence or dangerous and defective products.  Mr. Jones is rated as a preeminent Lawyer by his peers.

Head and Brain Injury Lawyer

Model of Human Brain

Experienced head and brain injury lawyer, Chris Jones of Longview, Texas is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and passionate in the representation of those suffering from head or brain injuries as a result of someone’s negligence or dangerous and defective products.  Mr. Jones is rated as a preeminent Lawyer by his peers.

Head Injury or Brain Injury

Head injuries are injuries to the head indicating damage to the skull, face, jaw or the contents of the jaw.  “Head injury” is a term which includes a “brain injury”.  “Brain injury” is a more specific term indicating damage to brain cells. Brain injuries are often referred to as an “acquired brain injury” (ABI) and ‘traumatic brain injury” (TBI). Medical records will also often refer brain injuries as a “closed head injury” (CHI) or “traumatic head injury” (THI).

One of the most difficult issues with Brain Injuries in legal claims is the often invisible nature of these injuries.  They are often undiagnosed after an accident and can be difficult to prove.  This is unfortunate, because these injuries are often the most disabling.

Signs and Symptoms

In Facts for Physicians published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), the signs and symptoms of TBI are broken generally into four categories:

  • PHYSICAL
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Balance problems
    • Dizziness
    • Visual problems
    • Fatigue
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Sensitivity to noise
    • Numbness/Tingling
    • Dazed or stunned
  • COGNITIVE
    • Feeling mentally “foggy”
    • Feeling slowed down
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Difficulty remembering
    • Forgetful of recent information or conversations
    • Confused about recent events
    • Answers questions slowly
    • Repeats questions
  • EMOTIONAL
    • Irritability
    • Sadness
    • More emotional
    • Nervousness
  • SLEEP
    •  Drowsiness
    • Sleeping less than usual
    • Sleeping more than usual
    • Trouble falling asleep

ONLINE RESOURCES FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES

A few of the great online resources for those with brain injuries include:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers updates on the latest research and
statistics on traumatic brain injury, along with information on educational and outreach
campaigns.

The Mayo Clinic offers basic and in-depth information into the causes and symptoms of
traumatic brain injury. Mayo Clinic

The Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia – created by the federal Office of the
Surgeon General – offers information for soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries,
and helps link them to medical treatment facilities, health and wellness centers, and
civilian medical facilities.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes
of Health, supports research into traumatic brain injury and other neurological disorders.

Experienced Brain Injury Lawyer

We have experience with traumatic brain injury cases, and if you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury cases in an accident and need a lawyer, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, Longview, Texas a call at 903-236-4990, 888-236-4878 (toll-free) for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

GM Ignition Switch Recall

GM Safety Recall

GMGeneral Motors has issued a safety recall 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada), 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles because of a risk, under certain conditions, that the ignition switch may move out of the “run” position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine. See GM Ignition Switch Safety Information.

According to GM, the risk increases if the key ring is carrying added weight (such as more keys or the key fob) or if the vehicle experiences rough road conditions or other jarring or impact related events.  Significantly,  if the ignition switch is not in the run position, the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury or fatality.

GM advises that “Until the recall repairs have been performed, it is very important that you remove all items from your key ring, leaving only the vehicle key.  The key fob (if applicable), should also be removed from your key ring.

In response to the Question of whether the recalled vehicles safe to drive, GM reiterates that there is a risk, under certain conditions, that your ignition switch may move out of the “run” position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine and that the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury or fatality.  GM advises removal of all items from the key ring, but removal of the items alone does not address the risk of the ignition switch moving out of the “run” position if the “vehicle experiences rough road conditions or other jarring or impact related events.”

GM intends to replace the  ignition switch on the recalled vehicles when the parts become available.  General Motors March 11 letter to NHTSA is available on the NHTSA website.

It is important to note that GM states in a memo to its Dealers, that:

For situations where a customer may be concerned about operating their vehicle and is requesting alternate transportation, dealer service management is empowered to place the customer into a courtesy vehicle until parts are available to repair the vehicle.

There are concerns about the timing of the recall and NHTSA has issued a Timeliness Query investigation.

Please see our personal injury blog posts on Defective Products, Products Liability.

The defective product is important evidence in a products liability case.  Do not dispose, alter, or in any way spoil the defective product as evidence if you are considering legal action.

Experienced Product Liability Attorney

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

 

Fatal Car Accidents, Texas Lawyer

Traffic  Fatalities

fatal crashOne cannot turn on the news without learning of another fatal car accident.  Thankfully, we are usually comforted to know that none of our family members or people we know were involved in the fatal accident.  Although it is little relief for those that have learned of a traffic fatality involving someone they know, it appears the number of fatal accidents is on the decline.

According to the National High Traffic Administration,  traffic fatalities for the first half of 2013 are projected to show a  4.2 percent decrease with 15,470 people killed in early 2013 compared to the 16,150 fatalities that were projected to have occurred in the first half of 2012.  National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2013, October). Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half of 2013.(Crash•Stats Brief Statistical Summary. Report No.DOT HS 811 845). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you look back over the years from 1994, there has continued to be a drop in fatal accidents year by year – with 40,716 deaths in 1994 down to 32,367 in 2011.  These number are obviously still significant numbers, especially if one of the victims is your loved one.  FARS Encyclopedia: Trends.

As a personal injury liability lawyer I can not help but to attribute the reduction in deaths to the many years of trial lawyers fighting for crashworthy vehicles, airbags, safer seat belts, better warnings and instructions on vehicles, tires and child seats.

If you are one of one of those whose life has been turned upside down by a fatal accident, please feel free to review our personal injury blog and our posts Automobile Insurance Made Easy, 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 and trucking accidents caused by negligent driving, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of  a negligent driver 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.

Car and Trucking Accidents – Making an Insurance Claim

East Texas Car and Trucking Accidents

Experienced Car and Truck Accident Lawyer, Chris Jones of Longview, Texas is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and passionate in the representation of the victims of Driver Negligence.  Mr. Jones is rated as a preeminent Lawyer by his peers.Interstate 20 Auto Accident

It is very important to seek health care for your potential injuries caused by the accident.  Often, injuries are not noticed immediately after an accident because of the excitement surrounding the accident.  If you have any doubt as to whether you have been injured in a truck or car accident, you should immediately see  a health care provider.  It is also important to make sure the scene of the truck or car accident are documented.

We encourage you to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer before attempting to handle your trucking or automobile accident claim on your own.  In Texas, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies Personal Injury Trial Lawyers. Lawyers with experience handling trucking and automobile accidents should understand how to deal with the insurance company and help you avoid the potential pitfalls of handling your claim on your own.  Please remember, the insurance adjuster has been trained to handle accident claims, works for the insurance company and has experience dealing with  claims involving automobile accidents and trucking accidents on a day-to-day basis.  The less the insurance company pays out in claims, the higher the potential bottom line for the company.

Please feel free to review our personal injury blog and our posts Automobile Insurance Made Easy, 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 and trucking accidents caused by negligent driving, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of  a negligent driver 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.

Safety Tips from over 27 years of Practicing Personal Injury Law

Personal Injury LawyersBuyer Beware see a lot of death, pain, suffering and horrible injuries.  The immediate goal is to obtain redress for our clients.  The ultimate goal, however, for every lawyer, should be to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths so that others may avoid what our clients have suffered.

In this regard, I am sharing my list of things I’ve learned over the years to help keep me and my family  safer:

  • Keep your eyes on the road;
  • Driving while intoxicated is just plain stupid and can ruin your life and the lives of others;
  • Driving while using a smart phone to text, surf the internet, or use social media may be as bad as driving while intoxicated;
  • Do not drive or fly if you are fatigued;
  • Slow down;
  • Maintain sufficient space between your vehicle and others;
  • Before purchasing a vehicle, look at the safety data; (see Crashworthiness – Protect Yourself)
  • Wear your seatbelt;
  • Nothing good happens after midnight;
  • Use nose plugs when submerging you head in warm fresh water;
  • Use distilled water in products that force water up your nose;
  • If you drop a tire off the road, slow down before you try to correct back onto the road;
  • Vehicles are not designed for aggressive turns;
  • Read and follow the instructions, especially the warning labels;
  • Never fly into weather;
  • Always do a preflight check;
  • Never remove safety guards from equipment;
  • Read your safety manual, and follow it;
  • If you are concerned that someone doesn’t understand, they probably don’t;
  • Keep the car doors locked while driving;
  • If it can happen, assume it will;
  • Never point a gun in a direction where it is not safe to fire;
  • Never drive a vehicle in a direction in you cannot see;
  • Never rely on backup alarms alone;
  • Use lockout tagout;
  • Wear your safety equipment – hard hat, steel toe shoes, safety glasses, etc…
  • Use fall protection;
  • Better done safely than done quickly;
  • Any risk of serious injury or death that can be reduced or eliminated using means that are technologically and economically available is an unreasonable risk.

NFPA offers free safety tip sheets on a variety of fire and life safety topics.  OSHA has a number of publications that are specific to a variety of situations.

Please feel free to comment with your suggested additions to this list.

We have experience with many types of accidents, and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one and need a Texas 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.

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.

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