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Personal Injury

Woman Files Massive Lawsuit in Continue Wake of 2015 Waco Restaurant Shootout
Woman Files Massive Lawsuit in Continue Wake of 2015 Waco Restaurant Shootout 150 150 admin

As Texans, most of us recall the 2015 national headline following the deadly shootout at a Waco-area restaurant involving rival motorcycle gangs. The legal fallout from the incident has been widespread, spanning from felony-level convictions and charges to significant personal injury lawsuits as a result of the fatalities and injuries sustained as a result of the unfortunate chain of events.

Criminal and personal injury litigation aside, one Texas woman has launched a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Waco, alleging major procedural side-steps leading to her arrest and incarceration – especially given her alleged non-involvement with the shootout. According to a lawsuit filed earlier this month, the plaintiff describes her experience in the moments following the Twin Peaks restaurant shooting, which she describes as complete “unmitigated hell.”

The allegations begin with an allegation that the plaintiff was not only not involved with the shooting, but was attempting to reach safety when she was suddenly arrested by Waco policy despite no probable cause that she had been involved in any way. From there, she was jailed for weeks and slapped with a $1 million bond, presumably due to the assumption that she was affiliated with one of the two rival gangs involved in the deadly altercation.

The plaintiff is seeking $350 million in total damages, and claims that she is completely unable to obtain employment as a result of her arrest record. In a statement by counsel for the plaintiff, “[w]hat is it worth to destroy someone’s life and their children’s life? You’re asking, ‘What do you mean?’ Well, these people can’t get jobs. When you Google someone and they’re associated with a mass murder, one of the worst crimes in the history of Texas, are you going to hire that person? No, you’re not….”

In support of her claims, the plaintiff points to the fact that she was not wearing insignia of either of the gangs involved, and arresting officers used a “fill-in-the-blank” warrant to arrest her – a notion which the District Attorney deems as “ridiculous.”

Contact an experienced attorney today!

Civil litigation is a practice area which requires unique experience and understanding of the law. To learn more, contact Chandler Mathis & Zivley today.

 

“Sovereign Immunity” Makes Texas Schools Virtually Bulletproof
“Sovereign Immunity” Makes Texas Schools Virtually Bulletproof 150 150 admin

Q: Is a Texas public school liable for personal injuries to students?

When you put your precious cargo on the school bus each day, you probably rest assured that the driver –and then later the teachers and staff –will keep your child safe from harm until they’re returned to your loving care.

You might assume that if your child suffered a personal injury due to the negligence of the school personnel, that you would be entitled to compensation for any damages and injuries from the school and its district through a personal injury lawsuit.

You might also figure that the doctrine of premises liability would protect your child if they were injured due to dangerous conditions or lack of proper maintenance on school property, just like it would if they or you were harmed on virtually anyone else’s premises.

But if you are in Texas, you’re living under a false sense of security.

The doctrine of sovereign immunity protects Texas public schools from lawsuits. “The only way a school and its district (including charter schools) can be successfully sued is if the injury occurred ‘out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle'”. And even then, rulings in several lawsuits demonstrate the courts’ tendency to practically bend over backwards in favor of the school district when interpreting what that phrase really means.

This immunity prohibits victims from recovering the type of compensatory damages typically awarded in personal injury lawsuits, including medical expenses, anticipated future medical expenses, lost income, mental anguish, and more.

In addition, this kind of blanket immunity could arguably increase incidence of unauthorized force with children, particularly special needs children who may not be able to verbalize what happened to them.

Such was the case for one frustrated special-needs parent whose five-year-old son suffered a broken jaw and had to have two teeth removed after reportedly “being carried through a hallway from the cafeteria to the principal’s office, while being held upside down by three adults, all employees of the school”. The school district has reportedly fought all of the father’s efforts to find out exactly what happened, including allegedly “accidentally” recording over video footage of the incident.

For members of a protected class, such as people with a disability, a federal lawsuit may be a way around the sovereign immunity obstacle. Clearly, it would take a skilled personal injury law firm to potentially overcome the obstacles that sovereign immunity places on the ability of injury victims to sue the school and school district.

If you or a loved one has been injured in any kind of accident as a result of the negligence of another person or entity, the attorneys at Chandler, Mathis, and Zivley, PC can help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to. Call us for a free consultation in Houston at 877-739-7744 or in Lufkin at 800-657-2230. We have been serving Texans and those injured while visiting Texas for over 40 years.

What to Do When the Insurance Adjuster Requests Your Medical Records
What to Do When the Insurance Adjuster Requests Your Medical Records 150 150 admin

If you are asserting a personal injury claim, your medical treatment and information regarding your recovery are going to be very important to your case. The doctor’s records about your care are perhaps the most important evidence of your treatment and potential long-term health effects of an accident.

If these files did not exist, the insurance company would have to just “take your word for it.” Instead, medical records provide summaries of details regarding the accident, follow up care, and medically supported opinions about your prospective recovery. Because of their value to your case, it easy to see why your insurance adjuster may want a copy of these records to review. Should you be concerned about sharing this information?

The Good and Bad of Sharing Your Medical Records

In many situations, you will want the insurance adjuster to see your medical records because that information explains in great detail all of your complaints and problems that may have been related to the accident. These files are a good way to corroborate your claims. However, medical records can also be troubling in some situations because they show all of your prior health complaints as well.

For example, imagine that you were in a car accident and severely damaged your knee. You had to have a complete knee replacement surgery after the crash. However, your medical records indicate that you also had some problems with your knee before the accident as well. Based on this information, the insurance company may try to argue that you would have had to have the knee surgery regardless or that the accident really did not cause your knee problems because you already had knee issues before the crash. You can see how simple information can be morphed into something that the insurance company may try to use against you.

When the Adjuster Requests Your Medical Records

If you think the adjuster’s request to see your medical records is reasonable and you have no problems sharing, you can certainly forward the documents that they seek. In some situations, your health care facility may charge you for a copy of these files, so be sure that the insurance company will pay for this cost on your behalf. Even if you obtain the extra records that they would like, you can still remove portions of the file that have nothing to do with the accident.

In some situations, adjusters may have less-than-honorable reasons for wanting to review your medical records, such as twisting old injuries or embarrassing you. If you think that is the only reason the adjuster wants your records, you are under no obligation to share before a legal case is filed. However, once you file a lawsuit, the rules change, and you will likely have to produce all of the records that they request at some point during the litigation.

Authorizations for Records

When you first assert a claim, it is standard practice for the insurance company to send you an authorization so they can begin to collect information regarding the case. These authorizations often contain blanket permission to obtain medical records. If you are concerned about sharing your medical records, read the document carefully before you sign. Do not sign it if you do not want to share all of your medical records.

When adjusters start digging further into your case, it may be time to call in a personal injury lawyer. CMZ Law can help. Call today to speak to a member of our litigation team.

Summer Boating Safety Tips
Summer Boating Safety Tips 150 150 admin

What are the top causes of boating accidents?

Boating is synonymous with summer.  As the temperatures rise and kids get out of school, many families take to the waterways across Texas on their boats or other watercrafts.  Recently, in Conroe, Texas, a 50-year-old man was killed after being thrown from a boat that crashed on Lake Conroe.  The accident happened during the nighttime hours.  Three other people were aboard the vessel when it crashed, throwing the accident victim off.  It is believed he suffered from cardiac arrest when thrown from the boat.  Our Houston, Texas personal injury lawyers offer a look at the causes of boating accidents and some tips to keep you safe while boating this summer.  

Causes of Boating Accidents

Boating accidents can occur for many reasons, with some of the top causes including:

  • Operator inexperience:  Operating a boat requires an understanding of the rules of boating and experience in the captain’s chair.  Inexperienced boaters could make critical mistakes, like failing to follow waterway rules and speed limits, overcorrecting, and more.

  • Boat malfunctions:  Boats are comprised of numerous parts, the malfunction of any of which can result in serious injury to boat passengers.  The makers of defective boats can be held accountable for injuries that result due to defects.

  • Intoxication:  It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol, but many people drink while boating regardless of the laws and dangers.  Intoxicated boat operators may speed, miss obstacles, overcorrect, or otherwise cause accidents on the waterways.  

Boating Safety Tips

Following some simple safety steps can help to keep you and your family safe while boating this summer.  Consider these tips:

  • Watch the weather carefully and do not set out if storms are expected;

  • Be sure you have adequate life vests aboard the boat;

  • Never drink while operating a boat;

  • Stay alert at all times;

  • Inform family members or your local marina as to where you are heading, your contact information, and what communication equipment you have aboard your boat;

  • Take a boating course so you are prepared;

  • Consider having your boat inspected for free by the US Coast Guard.

Anyone injured in a boating accident that may have been caused by someone else’s negligence or a manufacturer defect should contact a personal injury lawyer right away.  

Traumatic Brain Injury Basics
Traumatic Brain Injury Basics 150 150 admin

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur any time the head suffers a blow, jolt, or bump. The most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries is personal injuries, such as auto accidents and falls.

Every year, millions of Americans suffer from brain injuries, and over half of those are severe enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. TBIs can be very serious and result in long-term damage, health concerns, and even death.

Because TBIs can lead to very severe, long-term health issues, it is important to know and understand the basics of this type of injury. Being able to spot the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury will be helpful in addressing the damage quickly, which may reduce the overall effect of the wound.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries

TBI symptoms vary widely from person to person. Many people assume that you must lose consciousness to suffer a traumatic brain injury. However, this is not the case. You may lose consciousness, but that is not required for all TBIs.

A concussion is the mildest type of TBI, but it is also perhaps the most well-known kind. You may suffer from headaches, neck pain, ringing in the ears, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue when you suffer from a concussion. Again, you may or may not lose consciousness even when you have a concussion.

More severe forms of TBI may include the following symptoms:

  • Headaches that get worse or do not go away
  • Inability to wake from sleep
  • Dilated eye pupils or sensitivity to light
  • Slurred speech (or other sensory problems such as having a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell)
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • loss of coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Numbness or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Confusion, agitation, or other unusual behaviors

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, it is a good idea to seek immediate medical attention.

You should also keep in mind that symptoms of TBI sometimes do not arise for hours or even days until after the physical damage occurred. Keeping a close watch on loved ones who may have suffered from a TBI is extremely important.

Tests and Treatment for TBIs

Acute TBI’s will need emergency treatment. Medical professionals use a variety of neurological tests and exams to determine whether a TBI has occurred, including an MRI or CT scan. Sometimes, acting quickly can prevent long-term damage or death, particularly if you have a brain bleed or bruising.

Depending on the severity of the TBI, treatment can range from simple rest to taking steps to ensure that the brain has enough oxygen and maintaining blood pressure. In severe cases, those with a TBI also often have other injuries that need to be addressed.

Some medications may be appropriate for severe TBIs. These often include diuretics, which reduce the amount of fluid in tissues and increase urine output. This type of medicine is used to lessen the pressure inside the brain. Anti-seizure medication may also be appropriate, and it is often administered during the first week after a TBI to avoid additional brain damage.

Because TBI’s are often associated with accidents, your personal injury may be compensable under the law. Contact our team to discuss your legal options if you are a loved one has suffered from a TBI after an accident.

Dealing with the Insurance Company After an Accident
Dealing with the Insurance Company After an Accident 150 150 admin

Even minor car accidents can be traumatic. It is not uncommon for victims to be unsure of what to do next after an accident. Insurance companies are often the first contact after an accident, especially if the crash was not your fault. Even though they may seem like a helping hand in a confusing time, the other driver’s insurance company does not have your best interests at heart. Instead, they may try to take advantage of your confusion and manipulate you into saying things you did not mean to settle for far less than what your case is worth.

Dealing with the insurance company after an accident can be tricky. It is often a good idea to let your personal injury attorney talk to the insurance company to avoid any potential that they may try to take advantage of you. Below are a few reasons why.

  1. The insurance company is not obligated to be fair or fast-acting.

The other driver’s insurance company only has an obligation to their insurer. They have no responsibilities when it comes to treating you well or addressing your needs. Instead, they may even ignore your needs completely in favor of their insured. Unfortunately, there is virtually nothing stopping an insurance company from doing this. They may offer you a settlement that is far lower than what your case is worth, delay payments, and even deny your claim. It can be difficult to stick up for yourself in these situations.

  1. Insurance adjusters negotiate for a living.

Insurance adjusters see cases like yours every day of the week. They know what most cases are worth just by reading the facts. They also know how to negotiate with victims who are not represented by an attorney. Unfortunately, this experience, combined with the desire to pay as little as possible, sometimes means that adjusters will take advantage of victims. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can help even the playing field and help you get the compensation you deserve after an accident.

  1. You do not have to use the body shop that the insurance company recommends.

Some insurance companies will try to tell you that you must use a particular body shop to receive compensation for your property damage. In most situations, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, you may want to avoid the shop that the insurance company recommends because they sometimes undervalue your vehicle or provide decreased estimates on how much it will actually cost to get things fixed. If you have a body shop that you like better, it may be a good idea to use them instead.

  1. You likely do not want the first settlement offer.

In most situations, the first settlement offer is an opening point. It gets the bargaining process going. However, some victims will take the first offer, so the insurance company may try to low ball you first, just to see if it works. Unfortunately, some victims see mounting medical bills, vehicle repair bills, and time away from work, so they are eager to accept anything the insurance company will give them.

Getting an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine what your case is really worth. He or she will also help you get the most out of your car accident. After all, you were injured, and you deserve to be compensated for your losses. Call CMZ Law for more information.

Driver Who Hit a Texas Church Bus Admits to Texting, Taking Medication
Driver Who Hit a Texas Church Bus Admits to Texting, Taking Medication 150 150 admin

Who is at-fault in the Texas church bus accident?

A horrific bus crash in Texas recently left 13 dead and two injured. Now, as new details emerge about the accident, it appears the driver of the pickup truck that collided with the church minibus was distracted and potentially under the influence of medication.  The accident happened when the 20-year-old driver of a pickup truck crossed the center marker on U.S. 83, striking a bus head on.  The bus was carrying several senior citizens on its return venture from a church retreat.  Tragically, the bus driver and all but one passenger perished in the crash.

Distracted Driving and Fault

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the driver of the pickup admitted to texting at the time of the accident.  Several witnesses have come forward and stated that they saw the truck swerving prior to the accident.  There are also reports of the potential involvement of medication in the crash.  In light of this evidence, the family members of some accident victims have already filed personal injury lawsuits seeking compensation for their losses from the young driver.

Texting while driving is a common but dangerous practice in Texas and elsewhere across the nation.  As a country, most of us are increasingly attached to our smartphones.  For many, it is difficult to put the phone away, even when driving.  However, texting while driving costs thousands of lives each year.  The National Safety Council reports that texting while driving is six times as likely to cause a car accident than driving drunk.  This incredibly hazardous practice will draw your eyes away from the road for at least five seconds, which is more than long enough to cause an accident.

It can be difficult to determine whether a driver who hit you was distracted at the time of the crash.  Cell phone records are often a powerful means of gathering evidence of distraction.  Your personal injury attorney will assist you in uncovering evidence in support of your personal injury claim.  If you can establish that the driver who hit you was distracted at the time of the crash, then the driver will typically be deemed at-fault and liable for your damages.

Texas Woman Gets Walmart Premises Liability Lawsuit Filed in the Nick of Time
Texas Woman Gets Walmart Premises Liability Lawsuit Filed in the Nick of Time 150 150 admin

A recent personal injury lawsuit involving mega-retailer Wal-Mart serves as an important reminder of the importance of the state statute of limitations. The lawsuit, which was filed just days before the two-year deadline for injury claims, sets out a series of factual allegations against the store which could possibly result in a lucrative resolution for the plaintiff. However, had the plaintiff missed the deadline – no matter how inadvertent – the law generally imposes a bar on recovery, provided certain “tolling” defenses are not available.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff was shopping in a Beaumont-area store in April 2015 when she suddenly toppled to the ground after stepping in water in the entryway. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff reportedly broke her hip and had to endure a great deal of pain during her recovery. While the store maintains it properly warned guests that water was present on the ground, the plaintiff asserts that these warnings were placed inside the store such that a shopper would not have seen them in time.

Under Texas law, an injured plaintiff has two years from the date of an alleged incident to file a claim for damages. If the injury occurs as a result of medical malpractice, the statute begins to run on the date the plaintiff discovered the mistake (or reasonably should have discovered the mistake).

As mentioned above, the concept of “tolling” works to “stop the clock” with regard to a statute of limitations in certain limited circumstances. For instance, if a plaintiff is mentally incompetent for a period of time following the injury, that period of time will not “count” towards the total time period. Likewise, in many cases, statute will not begin to run with regard to a minor plaintiff until the plaintiff reaches the age of majority.

If you recently experienced an injury, don’t delay – speak to a reputable personal injury attorney right away!

Contact Chandler Mathis & Zivley today!

To make an appointment to discuss your recent experience, please call us right away: 1-877-739-7744.

 

Jones Act Compensates Qualified Seamen for Offshore Accident Injuries
Jones Act Compensates Qualified Seamen for Offshore Accident Injuries 150 150 admin

Q: Are there special laws that cover workers who are injured at sea?

On land, employees who are injured on the job are prohibited from suing their employers for damages but may collect certain compensation for medical expenses and lost income through Worker’s Compensation.

But employees injured in Off Shore accidents– such as fisherman, tugboat workers, and others–are covered under maritime accident laws, and some worker’s claims may also fall within the protection of the Jones Act.

Maritime and Offshore Accident lawyers with Jones Act experience are able to help those workers who work on or near the water recover much more than their onshore counterparts in the event they are injured at sea.

The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, applies to qualified “seamen” who are injured or become sick while working at sea. Unlike Workers’ Compensation, it allows injured workers to sue their employers for injuries that resulted from the negligence of the captain, crew, or vessel owners.

Jones Act claims are very complex –not every worker meets the qualifications of a “seaman” – and they require representation by personal injury attorneys with particular experience in this niche of maritime law.

Damages recoverable may include economic and non-economic losses like past and future medical expenses, lost income, diminished or lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages, depending on the particular case.

Last year, a fatal tug accident occurred on the San Jacinto River just outside Houston, Texas. According to a National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) Marine Accident Brief on the incident, the “probable cause’ for the capsizing and sinking of the uninspected tug vessel with a relief captain at the helm  was his decision to perform an “ill-advised ‘downstreaming’ maneuver without implementing the operating company’s risk mitigation strategies or other safeguards” in high water. The capsizing and sinking of the vessel, which caused the death of one of the five crew members, was captured on video.

“Downstreaming” maneuvers–where towing vessels go down river to land on another object like a barge or dock–present a “significant risk” of “rapid down flooding, capsizing and sinking” during certain river conditions such as the high water.at the time of the accident near Houston. The Coast Guard had reportedly issued advisories– which included restrictions on downstreaming– that were in effect at the time of the accident.

If you have suffered offshore injuries while working on a shipping vessel, boat, barge, tanker, yacht, fishing boat, or offshore oil rig,– or if you’re a non-covered worker who received an offshore injury – – the experienced maritime attorneys at Chandler Mathis and Zivley can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 877-739-7744 to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in Lufkin and Houston, we’ve been serving clients throughout Texas and nationwide for over 40 years.