Articles Posted in Personal injury laws

In an unanimous decision in Garcia v. City of Willis #17-0713, the high court dismissed a lawsuit Friday that would have eliminated the widely despised red light cameras in Texas. The plaintiff had filed a class action lawsuit to declare they were unconstitutional and sought to obtain a refund of the millions of dollars of fines Texas motorists have paid.

red-light-camera-sign

On procedural grounds, the Supreme Court found the plaintiff lacked standing, chose to pay his fine and avoid the required administrative hearing, and governmental immunity barred the reimbursement claim.

The decision follows other attempts to outlaw the cameras. For example, in February the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago called a similar argument “a dud” and noted that the advantages of the cameras outweighed other concerns.

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Medical bills after car or truck accidents often become financial nightmares. Money Magazine just wrote that a trip to an ER can destroy a typical family’s finances. But this is especially a crisis in Texas where exorbitant “surprise bills” are mailed at two times the national average. One third of Texans who go to a hospital get stuck with them. To combat this abuse, state lawmakers set up a medical bills mediation program ten years ago. The word is finally getting out and the demand for this invaluable service has overwhelmed the Texas Department of Insurance.

Why we need medical bills mediation

MRI

Obviously no one ever plans to be in a car accident or have any kind of medical emergency. He certainly doesn’t think he will be rushed to an expensive hospital and charged enormous amounts by the ambulance, hospital, ER doctors, radiologists, and specialists.

Most people don’t have the ability to pay these bills and assume they will be paid quickly by the at-fault driver’s liability company and his own health insurance plan.

But the injured person won’t know until months later which charges, if any, were paid — assuming he was insured and met his annual deductible. Many are not paid by the health insurance company because a provider was out of the plan’s network or the hospital was is in but the doctor was out of network so the physician’s bill has to be paid in full.

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What You Should Know about Texas Car Accident Laws

If you have been injured in a car accident in Texas, you might want to familiarize yourself with basic Texas car accident laws. This will give you a better understanding of how to recover your financial damages and know what questions to ask a personal injury lawyer who can assist you.

Texas Car Accident Laws

Reporting the Accident

People often confuse filing a personal injury claim with going to court. Most of the time, a personal injury settlement can be reached without ever filing a lawsuit. An agreement occurs when the two parties negotiate to reach a settlement amount that is reasonable. Sometimes the injured person attempts to handle the negotiation on his or her own. But they rarely get the best outcome when they handle the negotiations themselves. Insurance companies are known to use every trick in the book to take advantage of them.

Negotiating is a fine art that requires skill and experience. When it is used to settle something as important as a personal injury claim, it is best left to a trained professional. The process follows a fairly structured process that needs to be understand in-depth. There are many ways to do the case substantial harm. A personal injury victim only has one chance to get a fair settlement. He cannot afford to gamble on his own capabilities.

Before you talk to anyone about your personal injury settlement, you should talk with an experienced personal injury attorney who knows your rights. The first meeting is free and will be invaluable.

Getting injured in an automobile or truck crash can be very expensive. When you are rushed by an ambulance to an ER, have x-rays and/or or MRI’s performed, and go to doctor’s and physical therapist’s appointments, the car accident medical bills can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. You may not be able to work.

Car Accident Medical Bills

Getting your medical expenses paid can be one of most difficult and frustrating parts of being in a wreck.

Why? Although you might assume that State Farm is going to start paying your bills, the opposite is true. The other driver’s insurance company does not want you to get the medical treatment you need so it doesn’t have to pay for it.

So a friendly representative will often make vague promises to someone not represented by a lawyer, only to delay and even deny his or her claim. The injured person won’t think he needs to hire a lawyer and will then be forced to accept a low-ball offer —  and still have to pay back a stack of bills.

Read Top 10 ways insurance companies trick you after you are in a car accident.

If the company should decide to pay you, it won’t ever pay your bills right away. Texas law does not impose any deadlines and you can be sure that State Farm is not in a hurry to write you a check before it has to.

In the meantime, you need help. How can you get the medical treatment you need and pay for it?

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Many of us use Lyft and Uber to get around town. But how safe are we? You need to know about these recent horrifying crimes their drivers committed on passengers:

Yesterday, Uber once again promised its customers that it was working on making them safer.

Rather than rely on vague promises, here are seven good tips you can use to gauge your safety before you decide to get into an Uber of Lyft.

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New Fort Worth Case: Supreme Court Caps Recovery for Death Caused By City Bus.

I filed a lawsuit last week against a school district whose loaded school bus driver crashed into my client’s vehicle.

The Texas Supreme Court just revisited the maximum damages that an injured person or the family of the deceased can receive in these cases.

The Texas Tort Claims Act places a $100,000 cap on the maximum damages if a local governmental vehicle (like a city or school bus) is involved.

The Supreme Court refused to raise that limit, even though different facts and statutes could have changed the results.

What happened in this case?

A Fort Worth woman was crossing the street downtown in 2010 when she was fatally struck by a Fort Worth Transportation Authority bus.

It was driven by a woman who worked for two independent contractors, not the local government agency.

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How does someone recover damages when they are hit by an uninsured driver?  This is unfortunately a common question since here in Texas, 20% of drivers don’t have a liability policy, and from my personal experience, this number is much higher.

hit by an uninsured driver

That means there are at least four million uninsured drivers on our roads. Yikes!

And that doesn’t even count the huge number of highly restricted “junk policies” our state legislators allow to be sold where the driver has been excluded from coverage by the owner.

A good personal injury lawyer will chase down these subprime companies, their insureds, and drivers and demand proof that there is no insurance. We have been successful at making some of them change their coverage decisions and pay claims, and when this doesn’t happen, sue the driver (and by extension his company) for our client’s damages and collect money that way.

Usually the other driver will have liability insurance coverage, but probably in the minimum amount of $30,000 for any one person’s injuries, $60,000 for all people he injured, and $25,000 for all vehicle damage.

Of course, this is often insufficient, especially if there are serious injuries with large medical bills and lost wages and/or multiple vehicles involved in the highway chain-reactions we see far too often on the highways in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In this case, if you and your attorney can negotiate a successful settlement with his liability adjuster or you have to file suit and either settle at a later stage of the litigation (which happens 99% of the time) or go to a trial, you will be paid this amount.

But what happens if and when he or she didn’t have insurance — or didn’t have enough? If you file a lawsuit and take a judgment, how will you collect your damages?

This is a serious problem that Texas drivers often have to deal with.

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After having an affair with President Trump, then accepting $130,000 and signing a silencing agreement just before the election, the lawsuit the porn star filed last week went viral.

But since she chose to sign the agreement, how can she talk about the affair now? And what does this scandal have to do with my field of personal injury?

You know by now that the case involves a shadowy nondisclosure agreement between the comically named David Dennison and Peggy Peterson.

A clause in the agreement required the parties to resolve disputes through confidential arbitration, a provision common in whistle-blower contracts, and provides for enormous damages of $1 million if “Peggy” speaks out.

But Trump never signed the contract, so there is a legal question whether it is valid. And there is the moral issue of whether the most powerful man in the world can stifle anyone, especially a woman in this era of “me-too.”

The administration just indicated that it has already won a temporary restraining order and may try to to exercise prior restraint on the freedom of the press and prevent her interview with 60 Minutes from being broadcast.

Her lawsuit has lavished attention on this once obscure legal detail. Continue reading

An arbitration clause is the new normal in health care provider contracts that patients must sign. Why? They usually favor the big hospital over the little consumer and remove the possibility of a lawsuit.

arbitration clause

But what happens when a patient is better off trying to resolve a billing dispute in front of a jury of his peers, not a panel of businessmen?

On Monday an all-too-rare appellate decision allowed that to happen when it sided with an injured Texan in Cardon v. Goldberg.

Why did hospital file a lien against patient’s settlement?

Susan Goldberg received treatment at the Seton Healthcare Services emergency room in Austin for injuries she sustained in an automobile collision. Ms. Goldberg incurred $7,800 in charges which were billed to her health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. BCBS had the standard reduction contract with the hospital and the bill was reduced to $6,503.

BCBS agreed to pay its share of $4,600 and Ms. Goldberg was billed the remaining $1,903. She forwarded that to her own automobile insurance provider, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. So far, so good.

However, instead of just paying that lower amount, Nationwide somehow paid the full $5,000 available under her personal injury protection (PIP) policy.

You might think this situation could be easily corrected. After all, the hospital was paid in excess of the original bill, let alone the adjusted bill as negotiated by BCBS, and could simply refund the difference. Ms. Goldberg never agreed that all $5,000 of her PIP proceeds was to paid to the ER and had other medical bills and lost wages that she presumably wanted to pay with those funds.

But nothing is straightforward in the often Upside Down world of insurance (“Stranger Things” fans will quickly agree).

Stranger Things

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