New Clients


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

This page contains several tools to help you with your accident claim.

I recommend that you review the first two items at your leisure.  You may have received the other items when you signed the contract with us.

You should have received an email with the password to access the content – call or email us if you don’t have it.

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  1. Common Questions and Answers About Your Personal Injury Case
  2. How to Increase and Protect the Value of Your Claim
  3. How to Take Photographs of Your Car
  4. Affected Activities Checklist

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Personal Injury Protection


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Claiming PIP

PIP is an extension of car insurance available in Texas which covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages and other damages. Personal Injury Protection or PIP is an insurance coverage for medical and other expenses resulting from an automobile accident, for people specified in the policy, regardless of who is at fault in the accident.  PIP usually covers the medical, hospital and funeral expenses of the insured, others in his vehicle and pedestrians struck by him.

The fact that blame does not have to be confirmed saves time and therefore allows medical payments to get into the pockets of the injured parties as soon as possible. It saves everybody from the cost of lawsuits being filed so that responsibility can be proved for an accident and therefore who has responsibility for the bills.

The person named in the policy as the “named insured,” and residents of the named insured’s household related by blood, marriage or adoption, step or foster children are covered for injuries incurred in an accident.  Also passengers or pedestrians are covered.  These people will be eligible for payments no matter who is at fault in the accident.

PIP covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses for injuries sustained in an automobile accident, and the amount varies from policy to policy.  Payments are made for costs that are actually incurred by the injured person.  If you carry PIP on your automobile it applies to all autos you insure, and companies charge a premium for every auto.

PIP does not cover injuries caused by using farm equipment, recreational or off road vehicles, mopeds or motor cycles (PIP coverage is available on motorcycle policies).  It will not cover intentional injuries to the insured person or if the person is injured in organized racing activities or committing a felony.

 

If you were involved in an accident in Texas, we’ll be happy to mail it to you (together with a host of other free stuff.) You can either email us, call us at (512) 343-2572, or fill in the form at right.

Pain and Suffering


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

What is it and how is it measured?

In a personal injury case, it is extremely difficult to determine the amount of pain and suffering inflicted upon the client.  Every injury, every injured person, every accident, and every case is different so it is difficult to “measure” the amount of pain and suffering in a personal injury case.  Two people can have the same injury and one can suffer little while the other suffers a great deal; or one offers better proof than the other with more complete documentation or better witnesses; or they can be in two different parts of the country and get completely different settlements or awards.

There are many factors that must be taken into account to determine how much money someone will get for their pain and suffering.  Juries and insurance companies look at:

  1. The credibility of the witnesses.
  2. Were the injured person’s actions consistent with those of someone who was in pain?
  3. Were there any pre-existing injuries?
  4. Were they able to do what they normally do in their everyday lives, or were they forced to change or reduce their activities.
  5. What is their tolerance for pain in general?
  6. What do they do for a living?
  7. What is their marital status and family situation?
  8. How sympathetic a witness do they make?
  9. How skilled is their attorney at presenting their case?

All these factors go into the evaluation of pain and suffering.

Job and income, age, community and lifestyle, attorney, geographic location, attitude and witness quality, pre-existing injuries or conditions, and amount of medical treatment are all factors in determining pain and suffering.  The amount of money awarded for pain and suffering is not just pulled out of a hat.  There are some tools that insurance companies and lawyers may use to help them arrive at a figure or at least a range for the purpose of determining how much to “demand” from the other party or how much to ask a jury to award.  As your experienced personal injury attorney I can help you to assess the value of your pain and suffering—what factors to include and what resources to utilize.

Medical treatment post-accident is extremely important. If the amount and type of treatment appears to be reasonable and necessary for the injury, the injured party comes across as much more honest to the jury.  More or less treatment does not necessarily mean more money for pain and suffering, but it’s definitely a factor that is considered.  Of course, running up the bills unnecessarily is looked at with a fair degree of suspicion.  Stretching out treatment for a minor injury may look like greed to a jury and certainly to an insurance company.  It is important, though, to continue treatment for as long as necessary.  If you are still in pain, a jury will still be less likely to award you a large amount if you did not continue to be seen by medical providers.

In addition to physical pain endured from an accident, there is also the calculating of lost wages.  If you work full-time and miss any amount of time due to the accident (i.e. doctors appointments, hospitalization, feeling ill, doctor’s orders etc.), you are entitled to be reimbursed for the wages you would have earned had you been at work.  All the insurance company wants is documentation to support your claim and you should be paid for your loss.  If say, your doctor tells you to take off two weeks, documents it with a signed authorization your employer writes a letter to say how much money you lost, and your doctor documents when you may return to work, even if you used vacation or sick time, you should be reimbursed for the time you lost from work.  It becomes more difficult when time off work becomes months or even up to a year or more.  In this instance, the company you work for may not be willing to hold your job.  So, it not only becomes an issue of your wages lost for your current place of employment but also your future earnings.

All these things factor into determining the amount of pain and suffering in a case.  The details of each case always differ from one case to another and so it is your job to keep as much documentation as possible.  Then, your attorney can do his/her best to get you the awarded settlement you deserve.

 

If you were involved in an accident in Texas, we’ll be happy to mail it to you (together with a host of other free stuff.) You can either email us, call us at (512) 343-2572, or fill in the form to the right.

Frequently Asked Questions Following a Collision


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

What Should I Do After a Collision?

The first thing you should do following an accident is to call the police so that an accident report will be prepared. Although the police do not always prepare an accident report they will always require the other driver to properly identify herself and her insurance company. This will ensure that the person who hit you correctly identifies herself. If for some reason the police cannot come to the scene of the accident, write down the license plate of the vehicle that hit you, the name of the driver and vehicle, the driver’s license number of the responsible driver, and her insurance company. Also get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses to the collision.

What Should I do if I am Injured?

The first thing you should do is seek medical treatment from the health care provider of your choice. It is important for you to try to receive treatment as soon as possible following the accident. You have the right to the treatment of your choice. For example, you may choose a medical doctor, a chiropractor, an osteopath, a podiatrist, or another type of health care provider.

What Losses can I Recover from the Person at Fault?

The types of damages for which you can seek a recovery from the person who caused the accident are expansive. The following is a list of some of the types of damages for which you are allowed to seek a recovery:

  • Damage to your vehicle
  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Impairment
  • Disfigurement
  • Punitive Damages

Does the Insurance Company for the Person at Fault Have to Make Me a Fair Offer?

Although the individual who caused the accident is responsible for your damages, his or her insurance company has no obligation to treat you fairly or in good faith. Insurance companies employ adjusters to handle these claims who are trained professionals. They are free to offer you arbitrarily low amounts of compensation and force you to either accept it or file a lawsuit. While the better adjusters attempt to maintain the appearance of a friendly and trusting relationship with their claimants, you should not interpret this as a sign that they are looking out for your best interests.

You should note that if the insurance company for the negligent driver fails to offer you adequate compensation for your injuries, you will be forced to file suit against the negligent driver if you want to fully recovery your damages. It is important that you recognize that your suit must be filed against the negligent driver and not his or her insurance company. In Texas this must be done within two years from the date of the accident (the statute of limitations applicable to personal injury claims). Although your suit would be filed against the negligent driver, the insurance carrier for this driver will hire an attorney to represent the negligent driver. The fact that this person has insurance will not be admissible at trial and the parties will be ordered by the judge not to inform the jury that the negligent driver has insurance.

Should I Talk to the Insurance Company for the Person at Fault?

You have no obligation to contact the insurance company which insures the person at fault. You also have no obligation to talk to this insurance company if they call you. In most cases the insurance adjuster for the person at fault will attempt to contact you immediately following the accident in order to take a recorded statement. This is usually the time that persons are upset or still in shock following the collision. When this is combined with the fact that you may be questioned in detail by an adjuster who is trained to ask questions which may benefit their denial or reduction of your claim, you may give an inaccurate statement which will severely affect your right to achieve a fair settlement of your claim. We recommend that you consult an attorney prior to contacting the insurance carrier (order our free report to learn more). There are many attorneys who are willing to give you a free consultation in order to assist you at this stage of your claim.

What Can I Recover for the Damage to my Vehicle?

You have the right to recover the cost of repairing your vehicle. You have the right to choose the repair shop and the brand, type, kind, age, or condition of parts or products used to repair your vehicle. Although the insurance company for the responsible driver may perform an estimate of the cost of repair, you should also have an independent body shop perform an estimate of the damage. Most body shops will do this free of charge. If the cost of repair is more than the value of the vehicle just prior to the accident you are entitled to recover the pre-accident value of your vehicle plus the amount you would pay in sales taxes and title transfer fees to purchase a vehicle of the same value.

What if I need Medical Treatment, but Can’t Affort It?

Although you have the right to recover the cost of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses from the person responsible for the collision, the insurance company insuring the person responsible for the collision has no obligation to pay for these medical expenses as they are incurred. This can place a severe hardship on an individual with no health insurance, personal injury protection insurance, or medical payments coverage. As a result, some persons feel forced to accept a low settlement of their claim in order to pay their medical providers. This does not have to happen. You should contact your doctor or an attorney for advice as to what programs and deferred payment plans may be available to allow you to complete treatment prior to settling your claim.

What if the Person who hit me has not Insurance?

Although the law requires every driver to have insurance, many do not. Unfortunately, if you are hit by an uninsured motorist your options may be limited. If your insurance policy contains collision coverage then you can recover the cost of repairing your vehicle or, if it is totaled, the value of the vehicle. If you have uninsured motorist coverage you can also recover that amount of your personal injury damages that does not exceed your policy limits. You should never accept a negligent driver’s statement that he has no insurance without first contacting a lawyer.

What if the Person who hit me was DWI, on Drugs, or Left the Scene?

If the police report or witnesses indicate that the driver of the vehicle that hit you was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or left the scene, then you also may be entitled to punitive damages. It is difficult to determine the extent of these damages but they may be substantial. In order to properly evaluate these damages it is recommended that you consult an attorney for his or her opinion as to how much this will increase the value of your claim.

What if my Damages Exceed the Amount of the Insurance of the Person at Fault?

Many drivers carry minimum liability insurance and your claim may exceed the value of these limits. When this occurs the negligent driver’s insurance company may offer to settle your case for the amount of the available insurance. This offer should not be accepted until a thorough investigation is completed. Often times, other insurance can supplement your recovery. We have found many creative ways to help our clients in circumstances where it appeared that the coverage was insufficient.

How is My Insurance Involved?

You may have a right to pursue a claim with your own automobile insurance company for all or part of your damages. Your rights in this regard are dependent on what coverage you had in effect at the time of the accident. After an accident you should look at a copy of the insurance policy in effect at the time of the accident which covered you and/or the car you were in at the time of the collision in order to determine what rights you have with regard to any of this insurance. Depending on this coverage you may have the ability to recover all or a portion of any damages to your vehicle, your medical expenses, your lost wages and other damages.

If you had collision coverage in effect, you will be able to recover from your insurance company for the damage to your vehicle less your deductible. This is true even if the accident was your fault. If the accident was not your fault you can still make a claim under your collision coverage. In such a case your insurance company will then have the right to pursue the responsible driver or his or her insurance carrier for these damages.

If your policy includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments coverage you will also be able to make a claim for medical expenses related to the treatment of injuries you received in the accident up to the limits of this coverage. If you have Personal Injury Protection coverage you may be able to recover 80% of your lost wages related to this accident provided that the combination of the medical expenses and 80% of lost wages submitted under your PIP coverage does not exceed the limits of your PIP coverage.

What is UIM and PIP Coverage on my Car Insurance and Should I Pay for the Coverage?

If you’re hurt in an auto accident, no matter who is at fault and no matter what vehicle you are in, your personal injury protection insurance (PIP) will pay your medical bills, expenses and up to 80% of your lost income up to the limits of your PIP coverage. Uninsured or under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage helps compensate you in the situation where the negligent driver had no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover you claim. In the case of an underinsured driver your UIM coverage will make up the difference between a negligent driver’s insurance policy limits and the total damages you suffered from your injuries, depending on the amount of your damages and the amount of your coverage. UIM coverage is important because the emergency room bill alone could easily be many times higher than the minimum coverage Texas drivers are required to carry. When buying car insurance, it is highly recommended to purchase this coverage. You may never need it, but if you do, it could make the difference in keeping your family afloat while you’re down. For more information, order our free guide to buying car insurance in Texas

What’s the Difference between PIP and Med-Pay Coverage?

There are two significant differences between Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Med-Pay. PIP will cover 80% of any lost wages while Med-Pay only covers medical bills. Also, PIP payments do not have to be paid back to your insurance company if you make a recovery from the negligent third party. However, with Med-Pay, if you obtain a settlement from the liable party your insurance company may seek reimbursement out of your settlement for any payments they made under your Med-Pay coverage. PIP is recommended over Med-Pay.

 

If you were involved in an accident in Texas, we’ll be happy to mail it to you (together with a host of other free stuff.) You can either email us, call us at (512) 343-2572, or request one of our free accident reports.

City to pay $250,000


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

City Council members voted Thursday to settle for $250,000 a lawsuit brought by two men who were struck in 2006 by an Austin police officer’s car while they were changing a flat tire.

The money will be used to cover medical expenses and be divided between Marvin Clayborne and Stephan Center, both of whom were injured when officer David Martin’s car hit their car, city officials said.

Clayborne, who suffered a leg injury and had to have a hip replaced, will get $150,000, said Anne Morgan, chief of litigation for the city. Center had a broken ankle and a head injury and will get $100,000 for his injuries and lost wages.

“I think it is a fair settlement,” Morgan said. “It was an accident, and we are sorry that it happened.”

According to a lawsuit that the men filed in April 2008, Clayborne had gone to help his son change a flat tire on a ramp connecting Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and U.S. 183.

Clayborne and Center, his nephew, remained with the car while his son went to get a spare tire from a nearby apartment.

The men stood beside the rear of the car, which had its hazard lights flashing, and waved their arms to get the attention of passing motorists, the lawsuit said.

“Most of the vehicles slowed down as they approached,” the suit said.
The suit said that Martin drove at a high rate of speed without a siren and without his emergency lights, and that Clayborne and Center were unable to get his attention. Martin was distracted by the on-board computer in his patrol car and failed to show adequate attention, according to the suit.

Martin was not disciplined in the incident.

Morgan said that such six-figure settlements are rare but that, the city rarely has such claims against it in personal injury cases.

How to Choose the Right Personal Injury Attorney


Last Updated on February 8th, 2019
personal injury lawyer

If you have been injured, you get only one chance to get the compensation you deserve. One of the most important decisions you make in your lifetime will be choosing the right personal injury attorney to represent you.

You must choose the right lawyer the first time

If you hire the wrong lawyer to represent you, you will soon come to regret it. If the lawyer is not experienced in your type of claim, if the lawyer is not tough enough to take on the large insurance companies, if the lawyer is not experienced at negotiating with the insurance companies, if the lawyer is not experienced in arguing before a jury, you could end up having your case returned to you by the very lawyer who promised to help you. This usually happens when the insurance company refuses to settle the case. Usually, the lawyer drops the case back on your shoulders with only a few months left on the statute of limitations – meaning you have to file suit right away or forever lose your claim. I have had plenty of people come through my door in just that situation.

Now, in addition to the short time to act, there’s another problem. Namely, a lawyer has already worked the file and then rejected it. That’s obviously a big, red flag to the next attorney. The next attorney could be walking into the prior attorney’s mess. Most attorneys will not take on the risk and you are left scrambling to file the suit on your own.

There are lots of lawyers out there who practice in transactional law (wills, trusts, contracts) but have no experience litigating. Make sure they have jury trial experience.

How many cases does the law firm handle at one time?

There are some personal injury lawyers out there who run a volume practice, measuring their results in numbers of cases and not in the quality of the cases. A lot of them have a throw it at the wall and see what sticks mentality. They hardly perform any investigation before taking on a case. They probably won’t ever file suit. They desperately attempt to settle, often for less than the case’s worth.

This type of practice is picked up on by the insurance companies who track everything. They know the lawyer’s can’t afford to file suit because that would bog down their practice, so the insurance company has a negotiating advantage from the start. I know of a “PI Mill” in Austin where one attorney with five staff members handles over three hundred cases at once. That same attorney has never tried a case in front of a jury. Obviously, they settle all the cases or drop them. What are the chances that all or even most of those cases settled for what they should have?

How many cases are handled by each staff member?

Remember the PI mill I just mentioned? If you were their client and each employee was handling sixty or more cases, what kind of attention to your case do you think you would receive? When too many cases are worked on by each staff member, things fall through the cracks and clients are ignored.

Anything more than 15 cases per staff member is a warning sign. I limit my litigation docket to no more than 12 cases. Yes, I have turned down cases because my litigation docket was full. When I take on a case, it is with the expectation of going to trial and not of settling – if it settles, then that’s a bonus.

Does the lawyer get personally involved in your case?

Some lawyers have so many cases, they hardly ever look at the file and they hardly talk to their clients! Just try to get one of these busy lawyers to return your phone call.

The bottom line is no matter how big or small your case, it’s important to you! You need to have a lawyer on your side that is 100% committed to providing quality personal service and detailed attention to all of his clients. You need to know that your lawyer is personally involved in the preparation, evaluation, and resolution of your case. A lawyer who will treat your case with the utmost importance it truly deserves.

Does the lawyer carry malpractice insurance?

While it might seem obvious, I know of at least two attorneys who do not carry malpractice insurance. Well, that’s about the same thing as being struck by a driver who doesn’t carry car insurance! In a car accident, you can obtain uninsured motorist coverage, but what about your lawsuit? If your lawyer screws up and he doesn’t carry malpractice insurance, you’re screwed.

Does the lawyer have jury trial experience?

I already mentioned the lawyer who has a high volume practice but no jury trial experience. Arguing in front of a jury is not the same as arguing a bench trial in front of a judge. You have to convince more people and have better persuasive skills. Be careful. Just because they say they are a trial attorney, doesn’t mean that they take cases in front of a live jury.

How did you hear about the lawyer?

Remember, just because you see a lawyer on TV doesn’t mean he is qualified to handle personal injury cases. Some lawyers work hard at becoming TV stars. Amazingly, some lawyers who advertise on TV have never tried a personal injury case! Please don’t be fooled by those slick commercials.

Some lawyers are referred by chiropractors (who are the only medical practitioners who can legally chase accident victims). Again, just because they are referred by a chiropractor doesn’t mean they are tough and experienced, it just means they have a good relationship with that chiropractor.

I hate to admit it, but incompetent and inexperienced lawyers hurt their clients all the time. They don’t file the correct paper work. They miss critical deadlines. They don’t know how to research their client’s case. Even worse, many lawyers have never taken a case to trial and so they don’t know what their client’s case is worth.

It’s a jungle out there, and if you are going to successfully travel through it, you need the right guide. A guide who has been there before, who is not afraid of the lions, and who has the proper weapons to protect you. Do your homework and choose the right personal injury attorney for you.

Click here to download a copy of How to Choose the Right Personal Injury Attorney for You.

Before You Speak to the Insurance Company, Learn About Your Rights


Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Anchorage, Alaska personal injury lawyer Michael Schneider has a great story about a client who lost a personal injury case because the client spoke to the insurance adjuster, trusted the adjuster, and apparently followed the adjuster’s bad advice, which ended up hurting the claim.

Mr. Schneider doesn’t have specifics but only says that at trial the client couldn’t explain to the jury why the client did and didn’t do certain things because to do so would violate a rule of evidence that prohibits the parties from mentioning that the defendant has insurance. (Just speculation, but he suspects the plaintiff wanted to tell the jury that the reason he didn’t immediately seek treatment is because the insurance adjuster told him he didn’t need to go see a doctor because the pain goes away after a few days, etc)

Sadly, this all could have been prevented if the personal injury plaintiff had spent a little time and done a little research about the process of making a personal injury claim.

In this day and age of the internet, plaintiffs have access to all types of resources that can help them protect their claim or even pursue their claim on their own. For example, we offer a free report “The Five Deadly Sins that can Wreck Your Car Accident Claim” which you can order without any obligation.

But I’m not alone. There are literally hundreds of websites offering free advice about all aspects of personal injury claims. If an injured person just takes a few minutes, they can learn a lot of information that will minimize the amount of damage that they do to their own claim.

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