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The Hart Law Firm

Our Attorneys Have Over 25 years of Experience, and Are Here to Answer All Your Questions After an Accident

You must be overwhelmed with questions after your Dallas car wreck.  Why not get the answers from a Texas board-certified personal injury attorney?

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  • What should you expect at your initial consultation with a truck accident attorney?

    Most attorneys in truck wreck cases in the Dallas/Fort Worth area offer a free initial consultation to potential clients, and you should definitely take advantage of this. This meeting is an opportunity for the lawyer to assess your case. The second purpose is for you to determine whether this person is an experienced truck accident attorney and whether he is someone you feel you can trust and who will aggressively fight for the compensation you deserve.

    What Could Happen at Your First Appointment With a Truck Accident Lawyer

    Once you have researched attorneys who handle these cases, you want to schedule a free initial consultation with your top two or three choices. Here is what you can expect to happen at your appointment:

    Discussion of your case

    The attorney will want to have a detailed conversation about your case. This can include questions about how your accident happened, your injuries, evidence you have collected, and any conversations you have had with the negligent trucker’s and trucking company’s insurance company.

    Legal advice

    Once the lawyer has a better sense of your case, he should provide you some general legal advice. This may include discussing who could be liable for compensating you, the types of compensation you may be entitled to, the importance of following your doctor’s treatment plan, and mistakes not to make.

    Explanation of legal process 

    The attorney may explain how filing a claim and filing a lawsuit differ, the steps involved in each, and how long he believes it may take to resolve your case.

    Communication process

    Good communication between you and your lawyer is important to the outcome of your case and your relationship with him. You should discuss how your attorney will be communicating with you, how often he will update you on your case, and how soon he will get back to you if you contact him with questions.

    Attorney fees

    A truck accident attorney should explain what attorney fees you will owe and whether or not he will handle your case on a contingency fee basis.

    Your questions 

    You should come to the appointment with a list of questions about the attorney’s experience in these cases, how many cases he has successfully settled and taken to trial, and any other concerns you have.

    Are you thinking about hiring a lawyer in your truck accident case? We have decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims. To learn more, contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced truck accident attorneys.

  • What Is A Non-Solicitation Agreement?

    When you start a new job, or sometimes when you leave and are receiving a severance payment, your employer may ask you to sign a non-solicitation agreement. Non-solicitation agreements are subject to the same rules as non-competes, regardless of what they are called. This agreement could be a separate contract between you and your employer, or it could be a clause in an employment contract. Before signing it, it is important to understand what you are agreeing to and to have it reviewed by an experienced employment law attorney to be certain that your legal rights are protected. 
     

    What Is a Non-Solicitation Agreement?

    A non-solicitation agreement prohibits an employee from soliciting clients or employees of a former employer. While a company may require a new hire to sign one, it can be entered into at any time during the worker’s tenure. It is often used by service and sales companies.
     
    Many people confuse a non-solicitation agreement with a non-compete agreement, but they are different. When a person signs a non-compete agreement, he is agreeing not to work in a particular job or industry. 

    Are Non-Solicitation Agreements Enforceable in Texas

    Despite this difference, agreements prohibiting solicitation must comply with Texas’ statutory requirements – the same laws that govern non-competes. Here’s what is required:
     
    There must be valid consideration for the agreement.
    The non-solicitation agreement must be part of or ancillary to an employment contract or other valid agreement.
    The employee must only be prohibited from soliciting employees or clients for a reasonable period of time.
    The non-solicitation must be confined to a reasonable geographical area. For example, an industry-wide prohibition most likely would not be enforceable.
    The scope of the non-solicitation must be reasonable.
     
    Is your employer asking you to sign a non-solicitation agreement? Are you thinking of leaving your job but are worried about the enforceability of a contract you already signed? Have you already left or been terminated, have you been sued or are you being threatened with suit for enforcement of a non-solicitation agreement? Walt Taylor is here to review your agreement and to answer your questions. He represents employees throughout the Dallas, Fort Worth, and Mid-Cities areas. 
    To schedule a consultation with Walt (sometimes for no fee, depending on the circumstances), call our office directly at 817.380.4888 or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation.

  • What is a severance agreement?

    If you are being terminated or laid off from your job in Dallas, Fort Worth or the Mid-Cities area, your employer may ask you to sign a severance agreement. This is an agreement between you and your company where the employer offers you a certain sum of money in exchange for your release of certain legal rights spelled out in the contract (typically all of them or nearly all of them). Unless your employer agreed to pay you severance pay in an employment contract,, an employer’s offer of this monetary compensation is usually completely voluntary, although occasionally the employer may offer it to avoid claims the employer believes you may have..
     

    Terms That Can Be Included in a Severance Agreement

    Severance agreements can contain many different terms, depending on the employer. Some terms that might be in yours include:
     

    Release of Claims

    A release of claims clause will generally be an agreement by you to waive your right to sue your employer for any claim you have (whether you know about it or not), such as for any type of discrimination, retaliation, overtime or wage claims, etc. 

    Non-Compete Agreement

    This agreement would prevent you from working for a competitor for a certain period of time in a specific geographic area; if you have not already signed a similar non-compete with this employer, you may be giving up significant rights.

    Confidentiality Agreement

    A confidentiality clause may prevent you from disclosing the specific terms of the severance agreement, or it may prevent you from disclosing certain confidential information of the old employer to a new employer or anyone else.
     

    When Is a Severance Agreement Not Valid?

    In most cases, a severance agreement signed by a business and its employee is a binding contract between them. However, in certain situations, some or all of the agreement may not be valid. 
     
    Here are a few circumstances in which it would likely not be valid:
     
    The severance payment is money that you are already owed, such as your last paycheck.
    You were coerced into signing the agreement or did so under duress. You must meet certain legal proof requirements to prevail on these claims.
    If you are over 40 years old, you cannot waive your rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) or the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA).  For example,certain language must be in the agreement, and you must be given a review period after signing it and a short period of time right to revoke it after signing.
    The agreement may violate the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which provides protections to employees when medium to larger employees make large layoffs or close plant locations. 
     
    Before you sign a severance agreement, it is important to have it reviewed by an experienced employment law attorney to protect your legal rights and be certain that it is in your best interests. Attorney Walt Taylor will review severance agreements in advance and meet with you to discuss the specific facts of your case, for a reduced flat fee from his normal hourly billing rate. To learn more about these agreements and to get other questions answered, call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a consultation with Attorney Walt Taylor.

  • I had a contract with my employer, but I was fired. How do I know if the firing was legal?

    Most people in Dallas-Fort Worth and the Mid-Cities are at-will employees who can be fired from their jobs or can quit for any reason. However, some employers will enter into an employment contract that governs many of the terms of the employee’s employment, which may sometimes include the right to be terminated only for cause. If you are working under such an employment contract and are discharged, you may have a claim of breach of contract against your employer.

    What Is an Enforceable Contract?

    For any contract to be valid in Texas, something of value must be exchanged by the contracting parties. In the employment context, the employer offers wages, and the employee is providing his or her services. Employment contracts may be oral or written; however, for an oral contract to be legally binding, the terms of the contract  be performable within a year. Otherwise, Texas’ statute of frauds requires that the agreement must be in writing. It can be very difficult to prove the existence of an oral contract. 
    A contract may be a formal written agreement that has the title “Employment Contract,” but it doesn’t have to in order to be considered a legal contract. Offers of employment contained in letters, emails, and faxes can be considered contracts, if they provide a fixed term of employment or the right to be terminated only for cause. An employee handbook with such terms can in limited situations create an employment contract, although most employee handbooks expressly disclaim creating any contract.
    An employment contract does not need to include every term of employment. However, it should include enough material terms and sufficiently definite terms to make it enforceable. These provisions generally include:
     
    Job title and/or job description and duties
    Wages and benefits
    Length of employment
    Grounds for termination of the employment if it is not for a fixed period of time
    An express disclaimer that nothing in the agreement alters the at-will nature of the employment may negate all of the above, except possibly an “only for cause” termination provision.

    What Are Your Rights If Your Employer Terminates You in Breach of Your Employment Agreement?

    If you are working under an employment contract, your employer must comply with its provisions when terminating your employment or altering your compensation. If your company failed to do this, you could have a claim for breach of contract that entitles you to compensation for your lost wages and attorney’s fees. 
     
    You also must be certain that you comply with the terms of your contract if you decide to leave your employment, or if you are considering trying to enforce it while still working for that employer. For example, you may be required to give a certain amount of advance notice before your resignation takes effect. If you break the contract, you may forfeit benefits or be liable for damages to your employer.
     
    Before signing an employment contract, you should have it reviewed by an experienced employment attorney to be certain that your rights are protected or that you at least know what the agreement means and what it requires of you to avoid a breach. A lawyer can also pursue your claim for breach of contract if you are wrongfully terminated in breach of the contract. To have your contract reviewed, or to learn more about your legal rights and options, call our office to schedule a free consultation with attorney Walt Taylor today.

  • Can I be fired for refusing to commit a criminal act in Texas?

    If you are like most workers in Texas, you are an at-will employee, which gives your employer the right to terminate you for no reason or for a completely arbitrary reason. However, you may fall into a narrow exception to this rule if you are discharged because your employer asked you to engage in a criminal act and you refused to do so. In this situation, you may have a wrongful discharge claim against your employer and be entitled to compensation for your losses.

    How the Criminal Act Exception to At-Will Employment Works

    This type of claim is a public policy exception created by the Texas Supreme Court in a case called Sabine Pilot and is designed to encourage employees to follow the law and to discourage employers from asking them to commit illegal acts. But the exception only applies in limited situations. Here’s what must be established to have a valid wrongful discharge claim:
     
    An employee must show that he was fired or constructively discharged solely because he refused to commit a criminal act. If there is any other reason for the discharge, such as the worker’s age or job performance, this exception does not apply.
    The act that the person refused to perform must have violated criminal, not civil, law. 
    The employer must have requested that the worker commit the criminal act. No advance, express threat that he would be fired if he refused the request is required for this exception to apply.
     
    Examples of illegal termination under this rule include being fired for refusing to violate environmental laws or refusing to sign false insurance forms. However, reporting a criminal act—even if asked not to by a supervisor—would not be grounds for a wrongful discharge claim (except possibly for public employees, who may have the benefit of the Texas Whistleblower Act.
     
    Do you believe you were fired because you refused to commit a criminal act? Attorney Walt Taylor can help you hold your employer accountable for compensating you for your lost wages and the other damages you may be entitled to. He represents clients throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth and Mid-Cities areas. To learn about his extensive experience fighting for the rights of workers wrongfully terminated, call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation today.

  • What happens if I was partially at fault in causing my truck accident in Decatur?

    Texas is a fault state that requires negligent drivers to compensate the victims of a passenger vehicle or truck accident. In many cases in Decatur, the truck driver’s and trucking company’s liability for causing a collision is clear cut. However, in some situations, the fault may be divided among more parties. Here, we explain your rights to compensation if you are found to be partially to blame for causing your crash.

    The Hart Law Firm Truck Accident Lawyer

    How Texas’ Comparative Negligence Law Could Apply in Your Case

    Texas follows the modified comparative negligence rule in vehicle accident cases. If a party is partially at fault, he will still be entitled to compensation for his injuries as long as he was not more than 50 percent to blame. Here’s how comparative negligence works:

    • If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault, you would not be entitled to any compensation from the truck driver.
    • If you are less than 50 percent to blame, the amount of compensation you receive would be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if your damages are $200,000 and you were 20 percent at fault, you would still be entitled to $160,000 from the negligent trucker and trucking company—a substantial amount of what you would otherwise be owed.

    Because it is a way to reduce their liability for compensating you, you should not be surprised if the insurance company for the trucker and trucking company tries to claim that you were partially negligent even if this was not true. An experienced truck crash attorney will have strategies to defeat these unjustified claims and can protect your legal rights so that you receive what you are entitled to in your settlement.

    Are you worried about how your own fault could affect your truck injury claim? Contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation today. A member of our skilled truck accident legal team will discuss your crash with you and advise you how modified comparative negligence could impact your legal rights to compensation for your injuries.

    We help injured truck wreck victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.

  • When must the Texas Board of Nursing suspend or revoke a nurse’s license?

    In Texas, you must maintain your license in order to practice as a registered nurse. The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) issues and renews licenses, enforces the Texas Nursing Practice Act, and conducts investigations of complaints against nurses. As part of its enforcement powers, this regulatory agency must suspend or revoke a nurse’s license if he or she is convicted of committing certain crimes. If you are a nurse in the Dallas-Fort Worth or Mid-Cities area, and you are worried about losing your professional license, attorney Walt Taylor may be able to help.

    When Is the Texas Board of Nursing Required to Suspend or Revoke Nursing Licenses?

    Under the Nursing Practice Act, the Texas Board of Nursing is required to suspend or revoke a nursing license if the nurse is convicted of certain crimes. A nurse must have pled guilty or nolo contendere, or been convicted of the criminal offense. Here are some crimes where a nursing license must be revoked or suspended:
     
    Murder, capital murder, and manslaughter
    Kidnapping or unlawful restraint if the crime was punished as a felony or state jail felony
    Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault
    Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children or indecency with a child
    Aggravated assault
    Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly injuring a child, elderly person, or disabled person
    Robbery and aggravated robbery
    Aiding suicide if the offense is punishable as a state jail felony
    Entering into an agreement to abduct children from custody
    Any offense that requires an individual to be listed as a sex offender

    What to Do If You Are at Risk of Having Your Nursing License Revoked or Suspended

    If you have been arrested or convicted of a crime that puts your nursing license in jeopardy, you need to contact attorney Walt Taylor as soon as possible. He has helped many nurses and other medical professionals in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Mid-Cities area and around the State of Texas facing disciplinary proceedings at the Texas Board of Nursing and other medical licensing agencies, and he has extensive knowledge of the laws and procedures that are applicable in these administrative cases. To learn more about your legal options and defenses, contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free initial consultation today.

  • What is constructive discharge in Texas?

    Constructive discharge is a specific type of wrongful termination claim in Texas. It occurs when an employer does not directly fire an employee, but instead makes the working conditions so intolerable that the person is forced to quit. These claims are very challenging to prove, and you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney right away (and before quitting) if you believe you have a constructive discharge claim against your current or former employer.
    The Hart Law Firm Constructive Dismissal

    What Constitutes Constructive Dismissal in Texas?

    Under Texas law, constructive discharge occurs when working conditions become so abhorrent that a reasonable person in the employee’s situation would have felt compelled to resign his job. Courts use an objective standard in determining what an ordinary person would do. Constructive discharge does not arise from every bad working condition, such as verbal abuse, never being given a raise, or being denied a promotion. 
     
    Constructive discharge only protects an employee if the discrimination is based on an employee’s status in a protected class or the employee’s having engaged in a protected activity. Examples include:
     
    Age discrimination
    Discrimination based on race or national origin
    Sexual harassment
    Disability discrimination
    Retaliation for filing a worker’s compensation claim, complaining about discrimination, wage and hour law violations, or safety hazards

    Factors That May Establish a Constructive Discharge Claim

    The courts look at many factors to determine whether a worker has established a claim of constructive dismissal. Some of the facts include:
     
    Past or future demotion
    Reduction in pay
    Reduction in the person’s job duties or a large increase in responsibilities that would have resulted in unpaid overtime
    Assignment to a different supervisor
    Verbal abuse or discrimination by the employer or co-worker with the goal of termination of the victim
    Request that the victim engage in illegal activities
    Change in employment to a less favorable status
    Offer of early retirement
    Depth of the investigation of any complaint by the employee
    Time between the employer’s actions and the employee’s resignation
     
    While it can be very difficult to prove a constructive discharge claim, and one of these factors standing alone is not likely to be sufficient, constructive discharge claims can be successful, which is why you need the assistance of an experienced employment law attorney.
     
    To discuss your situation and your possible legal claims of wrongful termination against your employer in the Dallas/Fort Worth or Mid-Cities area, please contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 today to schedule your free consultation.

  • How do I begin the process of filing a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit against my employer?

    In Texas, most people are at-will employees who can be fired for any reason—including a bad or false one – or even for no reason at all. However, individuals have protections from wrongful termination for reasons prohibited under federal and Texas laws. If you were fired illegally, you may have a wrongful termination claim against your former boss. However your claim is based on discrimination or retaliation, you may need to comply with state and federal laws that require you to file an administrative complaint with the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commissions Civil Rights Division first, in order to have the right to file a lawsuit for compensation for your losses.
    The Hart Law Firm Wrongful Termination

    Filing an Administrative Complaint: The First Step in Many Wrongful Termination Case

    There are many grounds for wrongful termination cases in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Some of the common illegal practices that can be the basis of a claim include:
     
    Breach of contract
    Discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, and other protected classifications
    Retaliation for asserting legal rights, such as filing a workers’ compensation claim, reporting a workplace safety issue, or taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    Being a whistleblower (for public employees and certain designated private sector employees)
     
    In many cases, the first step an employee must take before filing a wrongful termination civil lawsuit is to file an administrative complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency. The agency you need to report to and the time period to do so—which is often relatively short—depends on the particular grounds for the illegal firing claim. It is critical to retain an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to ensure that a complaint is filed with the appropriate agency within the deadline for doing so.

    Where Do You File an Administrative Complaint for Wrongful Termination Based on Discrimination

    One of the most common claims of wrongful termination is discrimination under federal civil rights and Texas anti-discrimination laws. If this is the basis of your case, you must file an administrative complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission-Civil Rights Division (TWC-CRD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies have an agreement to work together in processing these claims, so you do not have to file a complaint with both agencies, as long you state in the agency where you file that you want to “cross-file” the complaint with the other agency. You have 180 days from the date of the discrimination to file and assert state law claims, and 300 days to file with the EEOC to assert federal claims.  If your retaliation claim arises out of your or someone else’s discrimination complaint, your deadlines are the same and run from the date the retaliation occurred.
     
    Were you wrongfully terminated from your employment in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? Attorney Walt Taylor has years of experience fighting for the rights of employees who were illegally fired. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about your legal options.

  • How much is my non-subscriber workplace injury case worth?

    If you were injured at your workplace in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you will not be able to apply for workers’ compensation benefits if your employer is a non-subscriber employer who does not provide these benefits. Fortunately, you do have options. You can sue your negligent employer for compensation for your injuries. When considering whether to do this, you most likely want to know how much your claim is worth. While there is no exact formula for figuring this out, you can get a sense of how much you might receive by considering the types of compensation you could receive and factors that affect these settlements.

    Types of Compensation That You May Receive in a Work Injury Case in Dallas

    If you are able to prove that your employer’s negligence contributed to your injuries, you are entitled to receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Types of compensation awarded in these cases include:

    Medical expenses.

    You are entitled to be compensated for your doctor bills, hospitalizations, surgeries, physical therapy, medications, and any other medical treatments you need. This includes both past and future costs.

    Lost wages.

    You can recover the wages you lost and will lose while you are off work recovering from your injuries. If you must change jobs due to your injuries or are permanently disabled, you may be entitled to lost earning capacity damages.

    Pain and suffering.

    While wages and medical bills can be estimated, it is hard to put a dollar amount on the pain and suffering and emotional trauma you suffered due to your injuries. An experienced workplace injury attorney can help you value this portion of your claim.

    Punitive damages.

    Punitive damages are a rarer type of damages and are awarded to punish an employer whose actions are grossly negligent. This is another type of compensation that would be hard to get without the assistance of a skilled lawyer.

    Factors That Could Influence the Value of a Workplace Injury Claim

    Every workplace injury case is unique, and the factors that can affect the value of a claim vary. However, here are some factors that can influence how much your claim is worth:

    Disputes.

    When there are legitimate disputes as to the employer’s negligence in causing your injuries or whether a defense, such as the routine job defense, is applicable, this could reduce the value of your claim. However, the key issue is whether the dispute is valid or one simply raised by the insurance company to try to deny your claim.

    Severity of your injuries.

    If you suffered serious injuries or a permanent disability, this will entitle you to more compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering—and increase the value of your claim.

    Insurance company.

    When you file a claim for compensation after being injured at work, there is always some negotiation between the insurance company and your attorney. This is true even if your non-subscriber employer’s liability is clear cut. However, in some cases, the insurance company will not be reasonable, and you could have to fight harder to obtain the settlement you deserve.

    Jury.

    While many of these cases settle out of court, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit and litigate your claim. If you must take your case to a jury trial, there is no guarantee of how the jury will decide your case. However, if you have strong proof of your employer’s negligence and your injuries, this will increase the strength and value of your claim.

    Your attorney.

    Having an experienced workplace injury attorney who has a record of success in settling and trying cases against non-subscriber employers will also increase the likelihood that you will receive what you deserve either in settlement with the insurance company or through a jury verdict.

    If you suffered a workplace injury in Dallas or Fort Worth and are employed by a non-subscriber employer, our skilled attorneys are here to collect the evidence you need to win your case and to fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more about our extensive experience in these cases and your legal options, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation.

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