| Read Time: 4 minutes | Injuries

Punitive vs. Compensatory Damages: What Is the Difference?

If you experienced injury or loss due to the negligence of someone else, you may be entitled to compensation. The compensation should not only set you back to the financial position you were in before the injury or loss but should also make up for everything you went through. In a personal injury case, it is possible to receive punitive and compensatory damages. What Is My Personal Injury Case Worth? The amount you are owed should be a combination of the actual expenses you have incurred because of the loss or injury and the quantified amount of damages as they relate to stress, inconvenience, and other factors.  Texas follows a “modified comparative negligence rule.” This takes into consideration any partial fault on your part and assigns a liability percentage to you and the other party. The amount of compensation you are owed will be reduced by the percentage by which you were responsible for the loss or injury. As long as you are not more than 50% at fault, you may still be entitled to compensation for your personal injury claim. Punitive vs. Compensatory Damages  There are two different types of damages that you may be eligible to receive in your Texas personal injury case. Generally, you are entitled to compensation for all expenses incurred because of another person’s negligence. Compensatory damages also include non-economic (not monetary) compensation for what you have gone through. Though this sounds pretty straightforward, it can be complicated. Punitive damages are easier to understand if you know that the word “punitive” is derived from “punishment.” Though they can be a large part of your relief, they are more about preventing the other party from continuing to act in the way that caused the damage.  What Are Compensatory Damages? Compensatory damages are a type of relief that is available when some sort of loss or injury has occurred as a result of a negligent action. This compensation covers the actual cost of the injury or loss.  Types of Compensatory Damages   There are two different types of compensatory damages that you may be eligible to recover, depending on your circumstances.  Economic Damages Special damages or economic damages are a type of compensatory damage that serves to provide financial relief. Economic damages cover all expenses that you would not have incurred had it not been for the negligence that caused the injury or loss. These can include: Property damage; Medical expenses, such as hospitalization or surgical procedures; Ongoing treatment costs for injuries; Increased living expenses; Lost wages if you are unable to work; and Reduced earning capacity due to permanent injury. These are all expenses that you can put a price tag on. It is important to keep a detailed record of all costs you have incurred involving your injury or loss. Accurate records will help you achieve fair compensation.  Non-Economic Damages General damage or non-economic damages include compensation that does not involve monetary losses. This makes non-economic damages harder to define and prove. These may include: Pain and suffering, Emotional distress, Anxiety, Disfigurement, Depression, Mental anguish, Disability,  Post-traumatic stress, Humiliation, Emotional and psychological distress, Loss of enjoyment of life, and  Loss of consortium. These damages are generally ongoing and impact life in ways that extend beyond finances. Just because you have been financially compensated for expenses you would not have otherwise incurred, does not mean that your life has been or will ever be restored back to order. Though no amount of money can completely restore the damages that non-economic compensation addresses, it is certainly relevant to your claim and well deserved.  What Are Punitive Damages? Punitive damages in Texas are also called “exemplary damages.” They are designed to prevent others from being hurt by the same or similar activities through a financial deterrent. Punitive damages also serve as a warning to others who may engage in similar conduct. They are not limited to personal injury cases.  Examples of Punitive Damages Cases There are a number of ways punitive damages are applied. Some examples of cases where punitive damages may be appropriate include: A manufacturer continuing to sell a known dangerous product to keep making a profit; A nursing home engaging in elder abuse; Reckless driving that constitutes extreme negligence; and Drunk driving. Relief for punitive damages in Texas is not easy to acquire, but the help of an experienced attorney will increase your chances of a successful case. To be eligible for punitive damages in Texas, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant caused the damage through:  Fraud,  Malice, or  Gross negligence. The standard of proof is high. Punitive damages are not awarded for ordinary negligence. Gross negligence includes an extreme and probable risk of harm that the defendant was subjectively aware of. Texas does place limits on certain punitive damages.  What to Do If You Are Negligently Harmed If you have sustained serious injury or loss because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. Texas has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, which means you should act as soon as possible to have the best chance of success with your case. The experienced team at Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C., can help you evaluate your chances of receiving punitive vs compensatory damages and prepare the best strategy for your unique case. We have over 85 years of combined experience in representing the personal injury interests of central Texans. We understand that your financial situation and livelihood may depend on our effective representation, and we will strive to get you the most compensation possible for your case. Contact Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C., for your free case evaluation.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Work Injury

How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Pay in Texas?

If you are injured on the job while employed in the state of Texas, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover the expenses associated with your injury. Not all Texas employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and it is important to understand your options. According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses across the U.S. in 2018.  What Is Workers’ Compensation? Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides benefits to employees who have suffered a work-related injury or illness. Depending on the nature of your claim, workers’ comp payout amounts can vary.  Texas Workers’ Compensation Not all Texas employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance. The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) reported that 28% of private companies in the state do not carry workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not carry workers’ comp insurance, you may consider filing a personal injury claim to receive relief for your injury. If your employer does have workers’ comp insurance, there are steps you should take immediately after you are injured or after you realize your injuries are associated with work: Report the injury directly to your employer, and File a DWC Form 041 with the Texas Department of Insurance.  The insurance company will reach out to your employer and review your claim after the form is submitted. Will I Get a Settlement for Workers’ Comp? Most insurance claims can be classified as settlements. You are not actually suing your employer. You are basically filing an insurance claim, similar to what you would do with your own health or auto insurance. According to Texas Labor Code Sec. 408.005, a settlement may not provide for payment of benefits in a lump sum except in specific cases. For a settlement to be approved, both you and the insurance company must come to a clear agreement on the terms of the settlement for workers’ comp. Once an agreement is reached and the settlement is approved, either party can still withdraw if they change their mind as long as it is before the effective date of the settlement.  How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Pay in Texas? Workers’ compensation payout amounts vary depending on your wages and your injuries. Each claim is different. When answering the question, How much does workers’ compensation pay in Texas? you must take into account the relief you need and the methods of calculation used by the state. One important number to know is your average weekly wage (AWW). This is the amount your workers’ compensation income benefits will be based on. In Texas, your AWW is the average wage you earned during the 13 weeks prior to your injury. This includes bonuses and other forms of income including: Car allowance, Health benefits, and Dry cleaning. If you have not been employed for 13 weeks prior to your injury, your AWW will be calculated using that of an employee with the same or a similar job.  Potential Workers’ Comp Payouts The severity of your injuries, paired with your AWW will be the biggest factors that determine how much workers’ compensation pays in Texas. Insurance companies will likely try to minimize both your injuries and AWW. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can ensure that you are getting what you are owed.  Medical Compensation Workers’ compensation payouts should cover all medical expenses related to your condition. This includes all hospitalization, treatment, medications, and follow up care approved by your doctor. Your employer may require you to see an “in-network” doctor, depending on their insurance plan.  Temporary Income Benefits  Injuries and illnesses can prevent you from performing your job in your previous capacity while you heal. Temporary income benefits make up for the difference in your income while you cannot perform your duties. Texas calculates temporary income benefits as 70% of the difference between the wages you are able to earn after injury and the wages you earned before the injury. This number increases to 75% if you were making under $10 per hour. Workers’ comp payout amounts for temporary income can last for 104 weeks from injury, or until you can return to work.  Impairment Income Benefits If permanent bodily damage occurs as a result of your work injury, you may be eligible for impairment income benefits. These are equal to 70% of your average wage and could continue even after you go back to work. A doctor assigns an impairment percentage point to your condition which reflects severity. Each point equals three weeks of impairment income benefits.  Supplemental Income Benefits Like impairment income benefits, your impairment rating has an impact on workers’ compensation payouts for supplemental income benefits. If you have significant permanent damage and receive an impairment rating of 15% or higher, you may receive supplemental income benefits. To be eligible, you must be earning less than 80% of your pre-injury wages, demonstrate you are looking for work, and have not accepted a lump sum payment for your injuries. You also have to re-apply for these benefits every three months.  Death and Burial Benefits According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2019. This is a 2% increase from the 5,250 in 2018. Eligible family members of employees who die on the job can receive 75% of lost income. Burial and funeral benefits may include up to $10,000.  Lifetime Income Benefits for Disability In severe circumstances, workers’ compensation payouts may include benefits for permanent disability. These benefits are equal to 75% of your average wages before the injury plus a 3% cost-of-living increase each year. Lifetime income benefits for disability may apply under these circumstances: A spinal injury that causes paralysis in at least one arm or leg; Third-degree burns that cover at least 40% of the body and require a skin graft;  Traumatic brain injury resulting in mental impairment;  Complete blindness; or Amputation or total...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Injuries

What Is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?

If you have sustained injuries in a personal injury accident in Texas, you may have a legal claim for relief.  However, it is important to note that your right to recovery does not extend indefinitely. Rather, there is a time limit on when you must file your personal injury lawsuit. This is what is known as a “statute of limitations.”  Failure to adhere to the statute of limitations can have significant implications for your ability to bring your claim. Thus, it is imperative that you know and understand the Texas statute of limitations for personal injury claims.  If you have questions about your personal injury case and how the Texas personal injury statute of limitations might affect you, contact The Zimmerman Law Firm today. Our experienced Central Texas personal injury attorneys can help you evaluate your case and determine your best path toward recovery.  Texas Personal Injury Statute of Limitations As a general matter, the statute of limitations for personal injury in Texas is two years from the date the cause of action accrues. This means that you must file your personal injury lawsuit in a court of law no later than two years after the event that caused your personal injury. What Happens If the Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Deadline Passes? Failure to bring your lawsuit within the prescribed statute of limitations time frame can result in losing your right to bring your claim at all. If you miss your deadline, then you may not be entitled to any compensation whatsoever, regardless of whether your underlying claims are valid.  Thus, it is absolutely crucial that you take action as soon as possible after your personal injury accident. Doing so can ensure that you preserve your rights and get the compensation you need and deserve.  Are There Any Exceptions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations Deadline? While two years is the standard statute of limitations for personal injury claims, there are a few exceptions. Some examples include personal injury claims arising out of or related to:  Sexual assault,  Asbestos-related injuries, or Silica-related injuries. The statute of limitations also may be longer for a person who is under a legal disability.  Speak with an experienced Texas personal injury attorney to discuss whether any of these exceptions apply to your case.  How the Deadline Changes When You Have a Case Against the Government Additionally, the statute of limitations deadline may change if you have a potential claim against the government.  Namely, a governmental unit must receive notice of a claim within six months after the date of the incident giving rise to the personal injury claim. This notice must describe the:  Damage or injury claimed;  Time and place of the incident; and  Incident itself. If you believe you may have a personal injury claim against a Texas governmental unit, timing is even more crucial than in other circumstances. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options moving forward. Questions? Contact a Texas Personal Injury Attorney Today  A personal injury accident can have a monumental impact on your life, but a personal injury claim can help you obtain the compensation you need to work toward your recovery. Don’t let the Texas statute of limitations for personal injury claims keep you from getting the recovery you deserve.  The Zimmerman Law Firm is a Texas firm dedicated to helping personal injury victims in need. We have offices throughout Texas and are equipped to handle a wide variety of personal injury claims. If you have questions about the Texas statute of limitations for personal injury cases, we want to help. Contact our team today to discuss your case and see what we can do for you. 

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Wrongful Death

What Is the Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?

Losing a loved one is devastating, especially when it is the result of someone else’s careless actions.  If you have lost someone you love due to the negligence or wrongful act of another, you may be entitled to relief. A wrongful death lawsuit in Texas can provide you with the compensation you need to begin the process toward recovery.  The Texas wrongful death attorneys at The Zimmerman Law Firm are standing by and ready to help you through this difficult time. Contact our team today to discuss your case.   Texas Wrongful Death Statute: An Overview Texas law defines wrongful death as the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” that causes the death of another person. While the definition appears relatively simple, proving a wrongful death claim can be more complicated than it might seem.  The most common type of wrongful death action is based in negligence. To prevail on a negligence claim, you must prove the existence of four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. 1. Duty The first element of a negligence claim is proving the existence of a legal “duty.” This means you must show that the opposing party owed your loved one a duty to use reasonable care to reasonably prevent harm under the circumstances. 2. Breach Next, a plaintiff in a wrongful death action must show that the opposing party breached their duty. This means that you must prove that the opposing party did not act as a reasonably prudent person would have under the same circumstances.  Examples of a breach of a legal duty in a wrongful death lawsuit might include: A driver speeding or failing to adhere to posted traffic regulations; A doctor not providing the level of care expected of someone of their skill and experience; or A business owner failing to ensure that no hazardous conditions exist on their premises. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Contact an attorney today to discuss whether a party breached their duty to your loved one. 3. Causation Third, you must show that the opposing party’s breach was the cause of your loved one’s death. This causal link can be one of the most difficult elements to prove. You have to prove that your loved one’s death occurred because the opposing party breached his or her duty. 4. Damages Lastly, you must prove that damages exist. Damages in a wrongful death action are those suffered by the victim’s loved ones. Examples might include:  Lost earning capacity of the deceased; Loss of or diminished inheritance; Lost care, support, companionship, and love of the deceased; and  Pain, suffering, and mental and emotional anguish caused by the deceased’s death. Some of these damages may be hard to quantify. However, an experienced attorney can help you calculate your potential Texas wrongful death damages in an effort to maximize your recovery.  Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas? One important thing to note about wrongful death claims is that not all loved ones may bring one. Only certain people may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. Specifically, Texas law states that the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased are entitled to bring a suit for wrongful death. These are the only parties that may bring such an action. Thus, even close friends, siblings, or grandparents of the deceased are not permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas.  However, if none of the statutorily permitted family members bring a wrongful death suit within three months of the death, the administrator of the deceased’s estate may then bring the suit. Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations The statute of limitations in Texas for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years. But what exactly does this mean?  What Is a Statute of Limitations? A statute of limitations is a statutory time period in which you must file a legal action.  The Texas wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of the victim’s death. This means that you must file your wrongful death lawsuit in Texas within two years after the death of your loved one.  Failure to do so within the Texas wrongful death statute of limitations deadline can result in losing your right to bring your claim at all.  Are There Any Exceptions to the Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?  In most cases, a wrongful death suit must be brought within two years of the date of the victim’s death. However, there are a few limited exceptions to this two-year timeframe.  These exceptions include situations in which: The plaintiff of the wrongful death suit is under the age of 18 at the time of the death; The defendant’s negligence was not known and could not have been discovered during the two-year time period; The plaintiff of the wrongful death suit has a mental or physical impairment that prevented the filing of the suit within the two-year period; or The defendant committed fraud. An experienced Texas wrongful death attorney can help you determine whether an exception exists and how this might impact your ability to bring a lawsuit.  Contact a Texas Wrongful Death Attorney Today If you have questions about the Texas wrongful death statute of limitations and how it applies to your case, contact an experienced Texas wrongful death lawyer today. An attorney can help you evaluate your case, assess your claims, determine what damages you might be entitled to, and fight for your rights at every step along the way. At The Zimmerman Law Firm, we know just how difficult it is to deal with the loss of someone you love. That’s why we work tirelessly to provide you with the support and representation you need and deserve.  We pride ourselves on the personal attention we are able to provide to each and every one of our clients. Your case is important to us, and we want you to know that you will be a priority with our team.  Contact us today for your free case review...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accidents

What to Do if a Passenger Dies in a Car Accident

Losing a loved one is never easy. But losing someone in the aftermath of a car accident can make matters even more devastating.  If you have recently lost a loved one in a car accident resulting in death, you might be wondering, What happens when someone dies in a car accident?  When a loved one dies in a car accident, you may be forced to make difficult decisions in the midst of grieving. Additionally, you may be saddled with medical expenses and funeral arrangements, in addition to your regular bills and expenses.  This can all seem overwhelming and complex. However, having a car accident attorney can alleviate some of these burdens you will inevitably face. If you need help navigating the legal process regarding what happens when someone is killed in a car accident, contact a car accident attorney today.  The car accident injury attorneys at The Zimmerman Law Firm have been helping accident victims and their families recover for decades. We hope we can help you too. Contact us today to get the answers to your questions and start the process toward recovery.  What Happens After a Fatal Car Accident? An Overview of Texas Wrongful Death Claims Moving forward after a car accident resulting in death can feel overwhelming. Nevertheless, it is important to have a general understanding of the laws regarding what happens when someone dies in a car accident.  When Can Someone Be Held Legally Liable for a Car Accident Resulting in Death?  In Texas, surviving family members of a deceased car accident victim may have a right to bring what is called a wrongful death claim. However, such a claim can be brought only where the victim’s death resulted from the negligence or misconduct of another.  Specifically, Texas Statutes section 71.002 states that an individual is liable for a claim of wrongful death only if the victim’s death was the result of the individual’s:  Wrongful act,  Neglect,  Carelessness,  Unskillfulness, or  Default.  In theory, it might seem easy to show that a person acted wrongfully or carelessly. In practice, however, this can be quite difficult to prove.  Thus, make sure that you have an experienced wrongful death attorney in your corner who can help you prove your case.  Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action?  Texas Statutes section 71.004 specifies who can bring a wrongful death action.  While you may have many loved ones both within and outside your family, Texas law places limits on who may benefit from bringing a wrongful death lawsuit.  The law states that an action to recover damages for a wrongful death is for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased.  This is an exhaustive list, meaning that other family members, regardless of how close they were to the victim, may not bring a wrongful death action.  Examples of parties that may not bring such an action include the deceased’s:  Siblings,  Grandparents,  Grandchildren,  Cousins, and Close friends.  While this might be surprising to learn, it is important to know who can bring a wrongful death action. This way, you can avoid putting in the time and expense of pursuing a lawsuit only to discover that you are not legally entitled to do so.  Proving Wrongful Death Most wrongful death actions rely on the legal doctrine of negligence. To prevail on a wrongful death negligence claim, you must be able to prove four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.  Duty The first element you must prove is the existence of a legal “duty.”  Essentially, you must be able to show that the responsible party owed your loved one a duty to use reasonable care under the circumstances to prevent harm to another.  Breach The next element you must prove is that the party breached their duty of care. This means that you must show that the opposing party failed to act as a reasonably prudent person would have under the same circumstances.  Examples of a breach of duty in a wrongful death claim might include a scenario in which a driver: Speeds or violates other traffic laws; Operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or Fails to properly maintain his or her vehicle.  This is not an exhaustive list. In fact, there are many scenarios in which a driver might be found to have breached their duty of care.  If you have questions about whether a driver in your case breached a duty of care, a wrongful death attorney can help.  Causation Once you show that the opposing party owed a duty of care and later breached that duty, you must then show causation.  In short, this means you must prove that the opposing party’s breach caused the death of your loved one.  This element can be difficult to prove because there may be additional factors that caused the accident and subsequent death of your loved one. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can analyze your case and determine how best to prove causation.  Damages Finally, you must be able to prove that damages exist. Examples of recoverable damages in a wrongful death case include:  Lost income or benefits of the deceased; Lost earning capacity of the deceased; Loss of inheritance; Loss of companionship, love, and support of the deceased; and Emotional pain and suffering as a result of the loss of your loved one. If you have suffered damages in the aftermath of losing your loved one, reach out to a wrongful death attorney to work toward the compensation you need and deserve. Under the Texas statute of limitations for wrongful death, a claim must be filed within the 2-year time-limit or risk being barred from recovery. What Happens When Someone Dies in a Car Accident? Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney for Help So what happens when someone dies in a car accident? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, and it can often be a long and arduous process moving forward.  While this can seem overwhelming, know that you are not alone in...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accidents

7 Common Car Accident Injuries

While we do our best to avoid them, car accidents inevitably occur. No matter what precautions you take, you can’t always avoid involvement in a car accident.  People are involved in car accidents every day throughout the county. In fact, according to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury in the United States.  Car accidents can range from minor to severe. Some result in no injuries or only property damage. Other accidents, however, can result in severe injuries, hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, and, in some cases, even death. Regardless of the severity, if you sustain an injury in a car accident, you may have a claim for relief. So what do you do if you’ve sustained car crash injuries in a motor vehicle accident?  Knowing what steps to take next is crucial to your physical, emotional, and financial recovery moving forward. And the first step toward your recovery is being able to recognize what types of car wreck injuries may entitle you to seek compensation.  Below are 7 common car accident injuries that you should be aware of. If you have sustained any of these car accident injuries, be sure to seek medical attention immediately. Then contact a car accident injury attorney to see what your options are for recovery. 1. Cuts and Scrapes Even in a minor car accident, occupants of the vehicle can sustain minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes. These types of injuries might result from debris, broken glass, or even airbag deployment.  Depending on the severity of the cut, you may need stitches to stop the bleeding. Even if you do not require stitches, be sure to properly care for your injuries. This can help to prevent infection and other complications that may lead to more serious car accident injuries later on. 2. Broken or Fractured Bones Broken arms, legs, and hips are some of the most common types of car crash injuries.  A simple bone fracture means that a bone breaks without an open wound. A compound fracture, on the other hand, occurs when a broken bone penetrates through the skin.  Broken or fractured bones can occur when a vehicle occupant braces themselves for the impact of the accident.  Rib bones are extremely fragile and can be broken by the impact of a seatbelt. Facial bones can also break if your face strikes part of the vehicle during the crash.  If you believe you suffered a broken or fractured bone during a car accident, seek medical treatment right away. 3. Internal Bleeding Internal bleeding may not be visible to the naked eye. However, it remains one of the most serious car accident injuries someone can sustain.  In fact, the seriousness of internal bleeding is due in large part to the fact that such injuries cannot be seen. Failure to promptly address internal injuries can lead to even more severe injuries.  Thus, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention even if you do not notice any visible car accident injuries. 4. Spinal Cord Injuries In car accidents involving blunt force trauma, spinal cord injuries are a frequent result.  According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Unfortunately, individuals who sustain a spinal cord injury during a car accident frequently end up partially or completely paralyzed.  The average yearly expenses for an individual with a spinal cord injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Commonly, annual expenses can range from approximately $350,000 to $1 million. However, this accounts for only the first year after the injury occurred, and expenses can increase in later years.  While a spinal cord injury can be devastating, there are ways to seek monetary compensation to help you move forward. An experienced car accident injury lawyer can help you assess your losses and expenses and determine what you may be entitled to recover.  5. Head Injuries The severity of head injuries sustained in a car crash can range from minor bumps and bruises to traumatic brain injuries.  Brain injuries can be caused when your brain forcefully makes contact with your skull. The brain is a delicate organ and can easily be injured during a high-impact car accident. However, head injuries can be difficult to detect and diagnose. Thus, it is crucial that you receive medical attention as soon as possible if you hit your head during a car accident. 6. Whiplash The Mayo Clinic defines whiplash as a neck injury that results from forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, much like the cracking of a whip.  Whiplash is incredibly common in car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. If you are experiencing neck pain after a car accident, you should consult with a medical professional to receive treatment and ensure that you don’t have any more serious injuries. 7. PTSD and Other Emotional Injuries Not all injuries sustained during a car accident are physical. But that doesn’t mean you can’t receive compensation for your non-physical injuries.  Even if you do not suffer serious car accident injuries that are physical in nature, you may still sustain emotional trauma in the aftermath of the accident. Car accident victims can experience emotional distress and severe anxiety about driving or even being inside a vehicle after being in an accident.  If you are feeling heightened anxiety or depression following your accident, be sure to seek the assistance of a mental health professional that can provide you with treatment options.  Questions About How to Move Forward? Contact a Car Accident Injury Attorney Today No matter what type of car accident injuries you suffered, the aftermath of a motor vehicle collision can be a stressful, time-consuming, and emotionally draining experience.  Of course, nothing can turn back time and prevent the accident from occurring. However, there are ways for you to recover.  If you have questions about your car accident injuries and whether and to what extent you might be able to recover compensation, we want to...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Work Injury

Six Types of OilField Accident Injuries

The Texas oil industry plays a critical role in the state’s economy. Contributing 14% of the total state economy and 40% of total US crude, it’s safe to say that our way of life depends on Texas oil workers.  However, employers don’t always provide workers with safe working conditions. In fact, the oil and gas industry is one of the most dangerous places to work. Investigative reporters analyzed US Department of Labor Data to find some disturbing statistics: From 2008 through 2017, 1,566 workers were killed in oil field jobs; 552 accidents killed oil workers during this time; The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines for an oil accident that killed a worker averaged $16,813; From 2008 to 2018, OSHA cited companies in the extraction industry for 10,873 violations; and 64% of OSHA citations were for serious violations, meaning hazards likely to result in death or serious physical harm. While the number of oil field fatalities may seem shocking, these statistics don’t even account for injured workers. In 2011, there were 1,400 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in oil and gas extraction, with 8,500 more injuries and illnesses from supporting activities. After the media attention given to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, people assumed that the oil industry would clean up their act. As these statistics show, that safety overhaul didn’t happen. The meager OSHA fines prove that government action is not likely to prompt safer working conditions. Instead, victims of oil industry negligence must speak up and take legal action. In exposing the oil industry’s bad actions and holding them accountable through a lawsuit, you can create safer working conditions for other workers. Types of Oilfield Injuries Since the oil field is such a dangerous place to work, workplace accidents often lead to life-changing or fatal injuries. Accidents can happen for a variety of reasons—from human error to equipment malfunction—causing severe oilfield injuries before a worker has time to react. So what types of injuries do these accidents cause?  Slip and Fall Injuries When working on high platforms among oil and chemicals, workers encounter the potential for serious slip and fall accidents. A slip and fall can lead to these injuries: Broken bones,  Strained muscles,  Neck or spinal cord injuries, and  Concussions. Sadly, a fall from a high platform or around moving machinery can result in death. Equipment Malfunction Injuries The heavy equipment that is powerful enough to extract oil from deep beneath the earth can cause severe injuries if it malfunctions. Either a manufacturing defect or human error can lead to catastrophic equipment accidents, causing any of these injuries: Crushed limbs, Severed limbs, Broken bones, Neck and back injuries, and Traumatic brain injuries. Workers injured by equipment malfunction may lose the ability to work and provide for their families. Rig Collapse Injuries Oil rigs weighing thousands of tons balance power and stability. Sometimes, quick construction using sloppy methods produces an unstable rig. When a rig collapses, these oil field injuries might result: Broken bones, Traumatic brain injuries, Severed limbs, and Back injuries. Workers who are high up on a collapsing rig or trapped beneath it may not survive the accident. Fire and Explosion Injuries The high heat and volatile chemicals used in the oil industry create the potential for fires and explosions. These horrific accidents have cost many oil workers their lives. Workers who survive oil fires and explosions can suffer these injuries: Burns, Head injuries, and Nerve damage. Oil fires and explosions receive much media coverage, but the oil industry has not improved safety standards to prevent these terrible disasters. Poisonous Gas Injuries The oil extraction process can release poisonous gases, such as hydrogen sulfide, which poses a lethal hazard to unprotected workers. The colorless gas collects in enclosed spaces where it awaits unsuspecting workers. This Center for Public Integrity article discusses the lax inspections and regulations that leave workers vulnerable to gas injuries, such as these: Nausea and vomiting, Headache, and Unconsciousness. Sadly, workers exposed to poisonous gases are often provided no respiratory protection, resulting in them being killed instantly. Electrocution The electricity required to power oil equipment poses a hazard to oilfield workers. Also, workers in the vast Texas desert, surrounded by towering metal equipment, are vulnerable to lightning strikes. Electrocution can injure workers in these ways: Burns, Shock, and Unconsciousness. An oil worker who suffers electric shock may not receive prompt emergency response due to the remote location of oil fields. Thus, many electrical accidents kill workers. Types of Compensation Available If you were injured or a loved one was killed in an oilfield accident, you may be able to sue. Texas workers who experience oilfield injuries have access to several potential forms of compensation. Workers’ Compensation Texas employers are not required to cover workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does carry this insurance, you can file for workers’ comp, but you can’t sue your employer. Workers’ compensation will pay your medical bills and provide you with a portion of your salary for a limited time, depending on the extent of your injuries. This insurance program may also pay for job retraining if you cannot work at your oil field job due to your injuries. Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuit However, if your employer does not subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance, you can sue for a personal injury, survival claim, or wrongful death. An injured worker brings a personal injury lawsuit. The family or estate of a worker who was killed may be able to file a survival claim for the workers’ oil field injuries or a wrongful death claim for the family’s harm. Also, if your oil field injury was caused by a third party—not your employer or a coworker—you may be able to sue that company or individual. For instance, if the oil field equipment malfunctioned and caused your injury, you may be able to sue the manufacturer. How an Oil Field Lawyer Can Help You Navigating the best path to injury compensation can be confusing and difficult to handle...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Work Injury

What to Do After an Oil Field Accident in Texas

A Texas oil field accident can happen in an instant, changing your life. An accident may leave you injured, out of work, and wondering how to pay your bills. Even worse, an oilfield accident could claim the life of someone you love.  When an accident occurs, you may feel helpless and unsure of whether you deserve compensation. If you need assistance, you’re in the right place. At The Zimmerman Law Firm, our attorneys can help evaluate the circumstances of the accident and let you know what compensation may be available. Know that you’re not alone in this experience. Thousands of other families have suffered oilfield accidents, and our lawyers have represented many of those victims. As our attorneys have learned through years of helping oil field accident victims, you should do a few things to prepare for a possible injury lawsuit. Take the following steps to give yourself the best chance of obtaining maximum compensation. Seek Medical Attention Your priority must be getting medical treatment for serious injuries. By delaying medical treatment, you risk worsening your injury. You also put your ability to recover compensation in question. If your employer assumes you are uninjured, it may be hard to claim otherwise later.  Don’t hesitate to take care of yourself, and let our investigators gather key accident evidence. Your employer may request that you visit a company doctor. This is fine as a first step, but a company doctor may attempt to minimize the extent of your injuries. If you doubt a company doctor’s medical evaluation, you can obtain a second opinion from a neutral doctor.  Don’t feel pressured to return to work before you have recovered from your injuries. That could make things worse. Instead, get the treatment you need, and save all medical reports and invoices. Report Your Accident to Your Employer Inform your employer of your accident and any potential hazard to other employees. Document these details when you notify your employer of the accident:  Date and time of notification, Who you notified, and  Your employer’s response. Complete an incident report, a written account of your accident on a form provided by your employer. Describe the facts of your accident to your employer in an honest manner, but don’t hesitate to contact an attorney for advice if your employer’s questions seem hostile or make you uncomfortable. You usually have a limited time to inform your employer of an accident if you want to qualify for workers’ compensation. Make this report right away. When your employer reports the accident to workers’ compensation, this begins a formal accident investigation. Once the accident investigation is underway, you should not speak to investigators without advice from an attorney. Gather Accident Information If you don’t need immediate medical attention, gather any available accident evidence. Take photos of the accident scene and surrounding work environment. Write down the names and contact information for witnesses to the accident. Write down what you remember about the accident, including details like the time of the accident and sequence of events before the accident.  If you’re hurt and unable to gather these details, don’t worry. Write down anything you remember once you’ve received medical attention. Our investigators can gather other needed details from the scene of the oil field accident. Note others at your workplace who have experienced similar oilfield accidents, and our attorneys can follow up with them. Contact an Oil Field Accident Lawyer You should contact an oilfield accident lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. An attorney can help you get appropriate medical care and advise you on steps to recover compensation. An experienced oilfield attorney also knows the tactics your employer may use to try to deny your claim.  Our attorneys can coach you on questions to expect before interviews or other interactions with your employer or the insurance company. We always advise you to give honest answers, but we help you think through your experience so that you don’t feel intimidated or caught off guard. Our law firm employs skilled investigators who will gather and review all available evidence from your accident. We can determine who was responsible, which may be a different conclusion than your employer asserts. Our attorneys will fight for your just compensation and help you explore all legal options to get the money you need. What Compensation Is Available? When you meet with our attorneys, we’ll inform you of possible strategies to obtain injury compensation.  Workers’ Compensation The most straightforward and first step usually involves filing for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system of recovery, meaning that even if you caused your accident, you can still file a claim.  In Texas, if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, it will pay for your medical treatment and a portion of your average weekly wage. Texas workers usually receive from 70 to 80% of their average weekly wage on workers’ compensation, with required maximums and minimums. For instance, you cannot earn more than $971 per week through workers’ compensation, even if that amount is less than 70% of your average weekly wage.  However, you can only receive workers’ compensation benefits for so long. Your workers’ compensation will cease when any of these events occur: You reach maximum medical improvement, meaning further medical treatment won’t help you recover; You return to work (at the same wage as before the accident); or You received temporary wage compensation for 104 weeks. There are some exceptions to these limitations. For instance, if you can’t return to your previous job, you may be eligible for retraining that would allow you to work another job. Also, if you need spinal surgery, you may receive wage benefits for longer than two years. If you are permanently injured, you will be eligible for additional payments. Family members of an employee who was killed on the job may be able to receive workers’ compensation death benefits for a limited time. Workers’ compensation provides the money you need to pay some of your bills while you seek medical...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Car Accidents

How Does Texas Auto Insurance Work After a Wreck?

After a car wreck, one of the first things you may be wondering about is whose insurance covers an accident. This depends in large part on who is at fault. In Texas, you have the right to seek damages from the person that caused your accident. It’s essential to understand, when filing Texas auto insurance claims, the rights you have and how to protect them. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and whose insurance pays in a car accident.  What Does Auto Insurance Cover? Every car insurance policy consists of several different components. Each of these components provides slightly different forms of protection. When you apply for car insurance, the options provided offer limits and deductibles for each component. Recommendations suggest obtaining more than the basic coverage amounts required by law. If involved in an accident, out-of-pocket expenses become very high if your coverage is basic. However, it’s important to note that your premium costs will be higher as your coverage limits increase.  Texas auto insurance laws require drivers to purchase minimum liability insurance of 30/60/25 coverage. This basic liability insurance covers injuries up to $30,000 per person and $60,000 per crash. It also provides up to $25,000 in coverage for property damage. Despite sounding like a lot of money, these coverage limits are minimal and likely will not cover all costs in a severe accident.  Bodily Injury Liability  Bodily injury liability represents the part of insurance covering medical bills if you’ve injured someone in an accident. If you don’t think you can afford to risk having to pay high medical bills out of pocket, you may want to increase your coverage limit in this component of your auto insurance policy.  Property Damage Liability Property damage liability represents insurance covering the cost of property damage you caused to another vehicle in an accident. As with bodily injury coverage, if you don’t want to risk paying additional costs out of pocket, you should consider increasing your property damage coverage limit. Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments Personal injury protection (PIP) covers medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident. Insurers must offer Texas drivers at least $2,500 in PIP coverage. PIP serves as a form of no-fault coverage. In other words, you can seek coverage under your PIP policy regardless of who was at fault for the accident.  PIP covers medical costs associated with an accident in addition to lost wages due to loss of work as a result of your injuries and funeral costs. Texas law does not require the purchase of PIP coverage. Another option that might be available to you is medical payments insurance (MedPay). Insurers are not required to offer MedPay, but if they do and you elect coverage, it can help you pay for things like health insurance deductibles and copays. It does not cover lost wages. Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage  Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UMI) coverage covers your expenses if you are involved in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver. Even if the other driver was at fault, their insurance coverage may not provide enough to compensate you for your losses adequately. When this occurs, your UM/UMI insurance may make up the difference. Although Texas law does not require underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, it’s a good idea to obtain this coverage in case you are involved in an accident with a driver who has inadequate insurance.  Collision This type of insurance covers damage to your car after an accident. You may need this coverage if you are in a solo accident, such as hitting a tree or divider or if you were at fault in an accident with another driver. Collision insurance does not cover damage caused to another’s vehicle, only your own. Comprehensive Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your car that happens when you are not driving it. Comprehensive coverage involves events out of your control, such as extreme weather, fire, falling objects, riots, vandalism, and animal damage. Comprehensive coverage also protects you in the event your car is stolen and subsequently damaged.  Carefully choosing your auto insurance coverage options ensures your costs after an accident don’t cause more distress than your actual accident. Speaking with an auto insurance representative may provide clarity and recommendations on auto insurance coverage components to protect you and your property.   What Type of Auto Insurance Claim Should I File After My Accident? Filing a claim with your auto insurance aids in coverage for your losses and any damages suffered by others involved in the accident. Whose insurance pays in a car accident depends on which party was at fault.  When Your Car Is Damaged The process of filing a claim for damage to your car depends on the cause of the damage.  You’ll need a comprehensive claim to cover damage for stolen cars, vandalization, or severe weather events. If you caused an accident, you will need to file a collision claim. File a liability coverage claim with the other party’s insurance if your car suffers damage in an accident caused by another. If their insurance is insufficient, you may also need to file a claim under your UM/UIM insurance.  If fault is not apparent, file a claim with both your insurance company and the other driver to determine whose insurance covers an accident. When You Are Injured  When injured in a car accident, file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Texas auto insurance claim rights permit you to recover from the at-fault driver. However, if the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient, you may need to file a UM/UIM claim with your own insurance.  If you have PIP or MedPay insurance, you may also file a claim under those policies. Both of these claims are no-fault, meaning that you can seek compensation under the policy no matter who was at fault for the accident. When There Is Minimal Damage and No Injuries It may be difficult to know if you truly escaped an accident without injury. Injuries do not always...

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Car Accidents

What causes a person’s blood alcohol level to increase?

When you read a media report about a drunk driving crash, it generally mentions what the negligent motorist’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was when it occurred. Stories that make it on the news are often the ones in which a motorist had a BAC two or more times Texas’ legal limit of .08%. What you may be unaware of are the many factors that can affect your BAC. A bartender generally pours five ounces of wine when they serve you. A regular bottle or can of beer is generally 12 ounces. A shot of tequila, vodka or another liquor is generally 1.5 ounces. While these are standard sizes of most products that you purchase at the store or the bar, there are exceptions to the rule. The alcohol content that different drinks have can vary as well. How much and what you drink can impact how long it takes your body to metabolize it. This may result in you not feeling the full effects of what you’ve consumed until your fully intoxicated. Mixing alcoholic beverages is a bad idea. It can leave you feeling more intoxicated than you otherwise would have felt had you only had a single type of drink instead. Individuals who mix liquor with sweet beverages such as sodas may forget the fact that they’re consuming alcohol. By the time it absorbs into their bloodstream, they may find themselves overly intoxicated. Even if individuals drink exactly the same thing, their bodies may process what they consume completely differently. Females and males tend to metabolize alcoholic beverages at two distinct speeds. A person’s weight can affect how quickly they can process drinks too. Individuals who are new to drinking may not have built up as much of a tolerance for alcohol as more seasoned drinkers have. Although Texas’ legal limit is .08 %, the American Association for the Advancement of Science argues that individuals can face significant impairments with a BAC of as little as .05 %. Motorists may have difficulty steering their vehicle, processing information and reacting quickly. This may make them more vulnerable to crashing into others. Motorists in Waco who’ve been struck by drunk drivers should consult with an attorney. They can aid them in recovering the compensation necessary to cover medical bills, lost wages or funeral costs.

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