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Can I obtain punitive damages in a drunk driving injury claim?
If you are injured in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. This can include compensating you for the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you endured from the trauma of the wreck and your injuries. You may also be entitled to punitive damages if you can prove that the drunk driver engaged in gross negligence.
What Is Gross Negligence in Drunk Driving Accident Cases in Texas?
Punitive damages are also called exemplary damages and are awarded to punish the drunk driver, not to compensate you. They are not awarded in every case, and you must prove the driver’s gross negligence to be entitled to this type of damages. Gross negligence is defined in Texas as:
- A conscious and extreme lack of care that puts other motorists at significant risk. It is considered much more serious than a mere lapse in judgement.
- You have the burden of proving that the drunk driver engaged in gross negligence by clear and convincing evidence.
While more challenging to prove than negligence, gross negligence can be established. If you do so, a jury could award you significant punitive damages.
Is There a Cap on the Amount of Punitive Damages You Can Receive?
In Texas, there is a cap on punitive damages for drunk driving injury cases. You are entitled to the greater of these amounts:
- Two times the amount of economic damages, like medical bills and lost wages, not to exceed $750,000
- An amount equal to your noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, that is no greater than $200,000
Were you or a loved one injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver? The experienced drunk driving attorneys at The Hart Law Firm are committed to fighting for the compensation you deserve—including punitive damages. Contact us online or call our office at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We help injured victims of drunk drivers throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
Do I sue my manager, my non-subscriber employer, or both for my injuries caused at work?
If you suffered injuries at your job and work for a non-subscriber employer, you have a right to be compensated for your injuries as long as you can prove your employer’s negligence caused you to be hurt. You may know that you can establish this because you told your boss about the defective equipment or other safety hazard at work that caused your injuries but he did not take care of the problem. Who do you sue in this situation: your supervisor, your employer, or both?
Why Your Attorney May Sue Just Your Employer
You may be angry at your boss for not addressing the dangerous condition that you informed him about repeatedly and want to hold him accountable. However, your attorney most likely will not pursue a claim against your supervisor and instead will focus his efforts on settling your claim with your employer. There are very practical reasons for this decision that include:
- Your supervisor most likely does not have sufficient assets to pay you the compensation you are entitled to. It does not make sense to spend the time and expense of proving his liability when you will not obtain much or any money from him.
- Your employer is responsible for your boss’ actions even if his negligence and not your employer’s was the cause of your injuries. Under Texas’ non-subscriber employer laws, your employer would have to fully compensate you if your supervisor was even one percent negligent in causing your injuries.
- Your employer will most likely have an insurance policy to protect themselves from liability in situations such as yours. This does not mean that your employer or their insurance company will initially just pay you what is owed. However, once you file a claim and prove your right to compensation, the insurance company will be obligated and have the resources to compensate you.
If you suffered a workplace injury you need an experienced attorney who can investigate your claim, build your case of negligence against your employer, and negotiate your settlement with their insurance company. Contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to learn how our legal team can help. We help injured workers throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
How soon after a truck crash should I see a doctor?
Even if you feel fine after a truck collision, you should see a doctor right away. Of course, if you don’t feel fine, you want to seek medical care immediately. In other cases where the injuries seem “minor” or you think that you can tough it out, you are making a big mistake that could jeopardize your health and your claim for compensation if you do not seek prompt medical care.
Why You Should Seek Medical Treatment Even If You Do Not Think You Were Injured
In any crash with a truck, you should be checked out by your doctor or another physician within about 48 hours of your crash. Here is why you should do so:
Find hidden injuries.
Adrenaline from the wreck could mask symptoms of an injury or you could have an injury where the symptoms take days or weeks to develop. Conditions like back, neck, and spinal injuries, traumatic brain injury, or internal organ damage and bleeding can fall into this category. By the time you experience the symptoms, the injuries could have become more serious or even life-threatening.
Document your injury.
By seeking medical care right away, you document your concerns about your health and make it easier to prove the causal relationship between the injuries and your truck wreck. This is especially important when your symptoms take longer to develop.
Even when the liability of the negligent trucker is not in dispute, the insurance company will try to argue about the seriousness of the victim’s injuries when possible. By not going to the doctor right away, you give them arguments that your injuries were caused by another incident or that they are not as serious as you now claim or you would have sought treatment sooner.
Following up on your doctor’s advice and continuing with your treatment is also important. Lengthy periods of time when you were not obtaining the medical care your doctor recommended can also lead to disputes regarding how serious your injuries really are.
Did a negligent truck driver cause your wreck? The experienced truck wreck attorneys at the Hart Law Firm are here to fight for the compensation you deserve. Get your questions answered and learn the next steps you should take, then contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident attorney?
A primary worry if you are considering pursuing a claim against the negligent trucker who caused your injuries may be the cost to hire an attorney. This is a legitimate concern when you are already struggling with expensive medical bills and the loss of your wages while you are off work recovering from your injuries. However, the good news is that you should be able to afford an experienced truck wreck attorney to negotiate your settlement for you.
How Do Attorneys Charge Their Fees in Truck Injury Claims?
Most truck accident attorneys charge their fees on a contingency basis. This means that they only are owed attorney fees if you receive money through a settlement or at trial. Here’s how contingency fee arrangements work:
- You would pay the attorney an agreed-upon percentage of your award at the time you are paid by the negligent party. This would be directly deducted from your settlement proceeds.
- If you lose your case, you would owe no attorney fees.
Fees and Expenses You Could Owe
In addition to attorney fees, you could owe fees and costs associated with filing your claim and lawsuit, if this becomes necessary. Some attorneys will require you to pay these fees and costs up front. Others will pay them for you and deduct what you owe from your settlement. Fees and costs that you may owe include:
- Fee to file your complaint with the court
- Service fees that are paid to a process server to serve the defendants with your summons and complaint
- Expert witness fees
- Fees to obtain copies of your medical records and other records
- Deposition fees and costs of deposition transcripts
Focus on Experience as Well as Cost in Selecting Your Attorney
While the cost to hire an attorney is a consideration in deciding who to retain, the attorney’s experience in handling truck wreck claims is more important. These claims are complicated because of the seriousness of the injuries, federal regulations that may have been violated, and the increased value of many victims’ claims. You need an attorney who is experienced in representing clients in these cases and has successfully settled them. You also want an attorney who you trust and communicates frequently and well with you.
If you or a family member suffered injuries due to a trucker’s negligence, review our case results to see how we have helped other clients like you. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
When can a social host face liability for serving alcohol to someone involved in a drunk driving accident?
Texas takes preventing drunk driving very seriously and, like other states, has passed laws to hold those who provide alcohol accountable when a drunk driver causes an accident. Texas Dram Shop law makes bars, restaurants, and other commercial providers of alcohol responsible for compensating victims of drunk driving collisions in certain situations. While this law primarily focuses on those who sell alcohol, it also contains a provision that holds private individuals who provide alcohol to others responsible, but the obligations are more limited.
What Is Texas’ Social Host Law?
A social host law is a law that makes people who allow others to drink alcohol in their homes or other social gatherings responsible when they get behind the wheel and cause a drunk driving accident. Texas’ law is fairly restrictive as it only applies when a minor was served alcohol. Under the law, an adult who is 21 or older is legally liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated minor under 18 years old in these situations:
- The adult was not the minor’s parent, guardian, spouse, or a person granted custody of the minor by a court.
- The adult knowingly served or provided the minor with alcohol that contributed to the minor’s intoxication or allowed the minor to be served with or provided with alcohol on property owned or leased by the adult.
It is sufficient under the law that the social host made the alcohol available to the minor. He did not have to physically provide it to him. A social host can be liable to the minor if he was injured and to victims injured by the minor’s drunk driving.
Were you the victim of a drunk driving accident? You want to hold all possible parties, including a social host, liable to increase the likelihood that you will receive all the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced drunk driving legal team. We help drunk driving victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
Is injury insurance for non-subscriber employers the same as workers’ compensation insurance?
Texas was the first state to allow employers to opt out of providing workers’ compensation benefits, and many employers have taken advantage of this and opted out. Some employers purchase an injury insurance policy to provide benefits to workers injured on the job. In some cases, the employer may deceive the worker into thinking that the insurance policy provides workers’ compensation benefits. However, these two types of insurance are very different.
How Are Injury Insurance Policies Different From Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
There are critical differences between workers’ compensation and injury insurance that affects workers’ rights to compensation and their claims. Some of these differences include:
- What they are. Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance program that employers purchase. It pays injured workers’ medical bills and some of their wage losses. An injury insurance policy is an insurance policy that non-subscriber employers purchase, and it provides some degree of protection for injured workers up to the policy’s limit of liability.
- Cost. Injury insurance can cost significantly less than workers’ compensation insurance—approximately 30 percent less.
- What they cover. Workers’ compensation is a benefit like unemployment compensation or disability payments. It pays all related medical bills, a portion of the employee’s lost wages, and legal fees. An employee is not entitled to pain and suffering damages generally and cannot file a lawsuit against his employer for additional compensation. When purchasing an injury insurance policy, an employer can control the type and amount of coverage to provide to injured workers. It covers the worker’s medical bills and lost wages up to the insurance policy limits. However, the employer remains liable for the full amount of compensation that is owed to the employee for medical bills, lost and future wages, pain and suffering, and in some cases, punitive damages as a non-subscriber employer. An employee can file a lawsuit against his employer.
Did you suffer a workplace injury and work for a non-subscriber employer? Start an online chat or fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and obtain advice on the next steps you should take.
Why would my employer deceive me about whether he is a non-subscriber employer?
In Texas, employers have the right to opt out of providing workers’ compensation benefits and to become a non-subscriber employer. This gives them the benefit of not paying for workers’ compensation insurance, which can be expensive, and paying any workplace injury claims regardless of who was at fault in causing them. However, being a non-subscriber employer has drawbacks, and your employer could lie about his status to avoid his responsibilities for your injuries caused on the job.
Why Your Employer Might Lie About Being a Non-Subscriber
Some employers deceive injured workers and tell them that they have workers’ compensation insurance when they do not really have it. In some cases, they have an insurance policy that they purchased that provides fewer benefits than true workers’ compensation insurance. Here’s why employers—including yours—could be lying about being a non-subscriber:
- Employers want the protection of not being sued that workers’ compensation gives them and the fixed amount of medical expenses and wages they would pay to a worker. They may claim to have this insurance to dissuade an injured worker from filing a claim for additional compensation.
- Employers do not want the negative consequence of being a non-subscriber employer in terms of liability for fully compensating workers for injuries suffered at work. Injured employees could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, all of their back and future wages, and pain and suffering in a non-subscriber employer case. Your employer would be responsible for fully compensating you if your employer was as little as one percent to blame for your injuries.
What Should You Do If You Suspect That Your Employer Is Lying About Having Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
If you are concerned that your employer is being less than truthful about having workers’ compensation insurance, you want to contact an experienced workplace injury attorney right away. He can help you determine whether your employer is a non-subscriber and assist you in pursuing your rights under Texas’ non-subscriber employer laws.
At the Hart Law Firm, we understand the complexities of Texas’ non-subscriber employer laws and the challenges in resolving these claims. If you were hurt on the job and want to learn about your legal options, call our office today to schedule your free consultation.
Who Is Responsible for Compensating You for Injuries Caused in a Truck Blowout Accident?
When a truck tire suddenly ruptures or bursts in a tire blowout wreck, the truck driver could lose control and jackknife across lanes of traffic or leave tire shreds strewn across a highway or roadway in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. These tragic accidents happen for a number of reasons. If you are injured by a tire blowout, you want to be compensated for your injuries. However, determining who the responsible parties are may not be as black and white as you imagine.
Who Is Liable in a Truck Tire Blowout Accident?
Some of the reasons these accidents happen include lack of truck maintenance, improper loading, defective tires, or negligent inspection of the tires. The precise reason for your collision will determine the parties you pursue a claim against. In addition, there could be more than one party to blame. Here are some of the potentially responsible parties in these cases:
- Truck driver. Truckers are required to conduct a pre-trip and post-trip inspection of the truck, including the tires, under federal regulations. They are not allowed to drive trucks with repair issues that may result in the truck breaking down or causing a crash. The truck driver may have violated these rules or could have noticed the low or defective tire while on the trip and chosen to drive anyway.
- Trucking company. The trucking company has its own federal regulations that it must follow in regards to inspection and maintenance of a truck and its tires. These rules could have been broken in your case. In addition, the trucking company may be vicariously liable for the truck driver’s negligent actions.
- Maintenance company. Some trucking companies contract with a maintenance facility to perform maintenance of their trucks. If the trucking company in your case did this and lack of truck maintenance was the cause of your injuries, the maintenance company could face liability.
- Shipper. If the cargo was improperly loaded or secured by the shipper or another company other than the trucking company, this party could be responsible for compensating you.
- Tire manufacturer. If the tire was defective, you may also have a claim against the tire manufacturer. Tire tread and belt adhesion separation problems are common defects that have resulted in tire recalls.
Determining who the liable parties are following a truck accident is never easy. The experienced legal team at the Hart Law Firm is here to investigate your wreck and identify all parties you can pursue claims against. Call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation to learn why we’re the right attorneys for your case.
What is the Safe Harbor Defense that a business can raise in a claim for compensation under Texas Dram Shop Law?
Under Texas Dram Shop law, a business, such as a bar, restaurant, or liquor store, can be liable for compensating a victim of a drunk driving crash for his injuries. The victim must be able to show that the drunk driver was so obviously intoxicated that he was a danger to himself or others when he was sold the alcohol. In addition, this must have been a proximate cause of the victim’s injuries. A minor under 18 years old who was illegally served alcohol may also have a claim for the injuries that he suffered. However, the business is not without defenses under the Dram Shop Law.
What Is the Safe Harbor Defense?
Unlike other states’ dram shop laws, Texas’ law does not hold a business strictly liable for compensating a victim once it is shown that the drunk driver was served alcohol. Liability must be proven, and the business is only liable for its proportionate share of fault in causing the person’s injuries. In addition, the business can raise the Safe Harbor Defense—also known as the Trained Server Defense—to avoid responsibility to the victim. Under this defense, the bar or restaurant would need to show the following:
- The business requires its employees to attend a Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) approved class to become certified by the Commission.
- The business follows through by making sure its employees take the class and are certified.
- The business cannot directly or indirectly encourage its employees to ignore TABC rules.
Just because a business claims that its employees are certified does not mean that it is true. In some cases, the business does not adequately train employees under the TABC certification program. In other cases, managers or other employees may help a fellow employee cheat on the exit exam.
The experienced legal team at the Hart Law Firm have helped many victims of drunk driving accidents obtain justice and receive the compensation that they deserve. To learn how we can help you if you were hurt in a drunk driving accident, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
How does a non-subscriber employer injury claim differ from a workers’ compensation claim?
Texas was the first state to allow employers to opt out of providing workers’ compensation insurance to become non-subscriber employers. If you are injured on the job, whether your employer provides workers’ compensation benefits or is a non-subscriber employer, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, your claim will be governed by different laws, which will affect your claim for compensation in many ways. Here, we discuss some of the key differences between these types of claims.
What Are Important Differences Between Workers’ Compensation and Non-Subscriber Injury Claims?
Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of insurance that employers purchase to pay workers’ claims when they are hurt on the job. If your employer provides workers’ compensation benefits, you would file a claim for benefits with the insurance company for workplace injuries. When your employer has opted out of providing workers’ compensation benefits, you could still be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but you may have to take your employer to court in order to obtain what you deserve. Here are some key differences between the two systems.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefit, and you do not have to prove your employer’s fault to receive benefits. In addition, you still receive benefits if you caused your injuries.
In a non-subscriber case, you must prove your employer’s fault in causing you to be injured to be entitled to compensation. However, if you can show that your employer was at least one percent at fault in causing your injuries—even if you were 99 percent to blame—you could obtain the full amount that you are owed.
The compensation you receive in each type of claim is very different. In a workers’ compensation case, you can be reimbursed for your medical bills and approximately 70 percent of your lost wages. If you become permanently disabled or must switch professions, you would not be entitled to any lost earning capacity for the wages and benefits you could lose and would only be able to receive partial long-term wage benefits if you suffered a catastrophic injury.
If your employer opted out of workers’ compensation, you would be entitled to full compensation for your medical bills and your lost wages. In addition, you may be entitled to lost earning capacity damages and future wage losses if your injuries result in your partial or complete disability.
Pain and suffering and punitive damages
You are not entitled to any pain and suffering compensation in a workers’ compensation claim. You could only receive punitive damages, which are awarded to punish your employer, if a loved one died from his injuries.
In a non-subscriber case, you would be entitled to compensation for the emotional trauma you suffered. To receive punitive damages, you would need to show gross negligence in causing an injury as well as a fatality.
If your claim for workers’ compensation benefits was denied, you would file an administrative appeal, which is a somewhat streamlined legal proceeding. When your employer refuses to pay you the compensation you are owed in a non-subscriber injury case, you would need to file a lawsuit and possibly go to jury trial to hold your employer accountable.
Did you suffer a workplace injury? The experienced attorneys at the Hart Law Firm are here to explain your rights and negotiate your settlement for you. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.