| Read Time: 4 minutes | Injuries

10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

The legal process of personal injury claims is very complex compared to many other aspects of our day-to-day lives. Many people have never had to go through any sort of legal claim process before, so the prospect of filing a personal injury claim is often quite daunting. Sometimes, it is unclear what you should do next or even what you should do to get started. Luckily, when you hire a personal injury attorney, you hire not just an advocate, but a guide to take you through the claims process and help you get where you need to go. Before your lawyer can guide you through the legal process, however, you need to find the right one for you. Not every lawyer is the right lawyer for every person. Even for the same person, the right lawyer for a given legal claim is not always the right one for another. No two people are alike, and no two cases are alike, so to figure out whether someone is the right lawyer for you, you need to ask them some questions to get to know them and how they work in practice. Why a List of Questions Is Helpful Before consulting with any lawyers, it helps to prepare a list of questions you are going to ask them. Once you prepare your list of questions, you should ask those same questions to every attorney you consult with. That way, you can objectively compare the attorneys you speak with using the same metrics. To help you get started on your questions to ask a personal injury attorney, The Zimmerman Law Firm prepared this list of ten questions you should ask when hiring a personal injury attorney. What Questions Should I Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer? If you ask a lawyer in Texas all the following questions to start with, you will have a head start on getting to know them. That way, you can determine if they are the right attorney for your case and leave nothing to chance. 1. How Long Have You Practiced Law? Experience is critically important for any attorney. If the attorney you consult with has very little experience, they may not have the preparation necessary to successfully litigate your case. 2. Is Personal Injury Your Primary Focus Area? Some law firms handle just about any sort of claim that comes their way. This has its advantages but can also have its disadvantages. Notably, lawyers that lack a focus area can have a hard time keeping up with important developments in various legal areas. Conversely, a lawyer who focuses on personal injury will be well aware of any important changes in the law. 3. Do You Offer Confidential and Risk Free Case Consultations? This is a good question to ask before you consult with a given attorney. If the lawyers you speak to charge a fee for their consultations, you may not want to consult with them. After all, if you plan to speak with multiple attorneys, the consultation costs can add up quickly. Most personal injury attorneys do offer free consultations. 4. What Is the Value of My Personal Injury Claim? By asking each lawyer you speak with about the value of your personal injury claim, you can compare their answers. If one lawyer’s estimate far exceeds the other estimates, it may be a sign that that particular attorney has a habit of overpromising. 5. Have You Successfully Litigated Personal Injury Claims Similar to Mine? It always helps if your lawyer has successfully handled personal injury claims similar to yours. With that specific experience under their belt, they will know what to expect in your case, and can prepare accordingly. 6. What Fees Do You Charge? To avoid any nasty surprises when billing time comes, you should always ask any attorney about their fees before retaining their services. Furthermore, you can compare each lawyer’s fees to try to find the best value for your money. 7. What Happens If I Lose My Case? The answer to this question may come up in a discussion about attorney fees. Most personal injury lawyers work on the basis of a contingency fee. WIth a contingency fee payment arrangement, if you lose your case or it does not settle, your lawyer cannot collect a fee. By hiring a lawyer who works on the basis of contingency fees, filling your claim comes with very little risk. 8. Have You Faced any Disciplinary Action by Any Bar Association? If a lawyer has faced repeated disciplinary action, it may be a sign that they have questionable moral and ethical practices. You can avoid a potentially bad situation by steering clear of attorneys who were subject to repeated disciplinary action. Don’t just ask about Texas either; be sure to ask if they have faced disciplinary action from any bar association. You can also look up this information yourself online. If a lawyer lies to you about their disciplinary record, do not hire them.  9) What Case Was the Most Challenging for You? Why? Asking about what case was the most challenging for a given attorney will give you a window into their personality. You will get a glimpse into how that attorney reacts to adversity and how they work under pressure. It is a good omen if an attorney works well in difficult situations. 10) What Case Was the Most Rewarding for You? Why? This is another question that will help you get to know your attorney on a more personal level before hiring them. By asking this question, you can see what drives an attorney to do what they do. Furthermore, it can help you learn a bit about that attorney’s morals and ethics. It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive. You will always get to know someone better by asking them more questions. If you think of more questions after you consult with an attorney, you should make sure you ask those questions of the other personal injury lawyers you...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Work Injury

Injured by Faulty Equipment at Work—Who Is Liable?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 2.8 million reported workplace injuries per year. While many of these injuries happen due to falls or other common workplace hazards, many occur because of faulty equipment.  In 2020, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) listed unsafe machinery as one of the top 10 reported workplace safety violations. Even though most employers follow OSHA’s regulations for inspecting and maintaining machinery, there are many who disregard the safety of their workers. Even minor work equipment malfunctions can put workers at risk. You may be wondering, “What is the most common injury caused by working with machines unsafely? Who is liable if I get injured using work equipment?” When faulty machinery causes an injury, you may be able to seek compensation from whoever is responsible. However, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault. At The Zimmerman Law Firm, we have decades of experience representing clients injured on the job due to the negligence of another. Our Waco work injury attorneys can help manage your case and your workers’ compensation claim at the same time, so you can focus on recovery. What Counts as Faulty Equipment? Faulty equipment is any machine, either mechanical or electric, that is too unsafe to use. There are several things that may cause a faulty machine, including manufacturing defects, design defects, and improper maintenance. Manufacturing Defect A manufacturing defect is an error in the creation of the machine that occurs during production or assembly. Typically, this defect causes the machine to become dangerous to use since it doesn’t meet the intended design specifications. Design Defect A design defect occurs when a machine is too dangerous to use, even for its intended purpose. The faults often originate from the overall blueprints of the design rather than the manufacturing process. Improper Maintenance Not all machinery defects are caused by defective parts or manufacturing errors. Some machinery injuries happen due to an employer improperly maintaining their equipment. OSHA has published requirements for machinery and machine guarding listed in their guidelines. According to standard number 1910.212, machines with the following parts require point of operation guarding to prevent injury: Guillotine cutters, Shears, Power presses, Milling machines, Power saws, Jointers, Portable power tools, and Forming rolls. In addition to these guidelines, OSHA states that stationary machinery must be securely anchored so that it doesn’t move. Machines that do not meet these standards are unnecessarily dangerous to operate. What Is the Most Common Injury Caused by Working with Machines Unsafely? The most common injury caused by using a machine unsafely is laceration. However, there are other injuries that can occur depending on the type of machinery. This includes  Broken bones,  Burns,  Traumatic brain injuries (TBI),  Spinal cord injuries,  Eye injuries, and  Amputations. Machine injuries tend to be severe and life-altering. For this reason, workers’ compensation is often not enough to cover all the damages associated with the injury.  Employer vs. Manufacturer Liability Proving liability for a workplace injury involving machinery can be difficult depending on the circumstances. If the machine is faulty because of a manufacturing or design defect, it may be easier to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. However, if the machine malfunctions because of poor maintenance by your employer, you will likely be limited to pursuing a workers’ compensation claim except in very limited circumstances. Bringing a Case Against Your Employer In Texas, you can only sue your employer for negligence if they do not carry workers’ compensation insurance or if they intentionally harm you. However, if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you can file a claim for your injuries. Depending on your unique situation, this could include lost wages, rehabilitation, medical travel expenses, and more. Bringing a Case Against the Manufacturer Proving the liability of a manufacturer is a little different. In many cases, it’s possible to bring a product liability claim against a manufacturer for a defective machine. These defects can be caused by the manufacturer: Installing the machine incorrectly; Providing poor operation instructions; Designing the machine with safety flaws; or Building the machine using defective parts. For example, let’s say you are taking inventory in a walk-in freezer. When you try to exit the freezer, the door locks from the inside, causing you to suffer frostbite injuries. In this case, you may be able to sue the manufacturer for a defective door lock. Injured on the Job? We Can Help Workplace injuries can be devastating for workers and their families, especially when caused by faulty work equipment. The impact of the injury is usually life-long, requiring constant medical care or job changes. At The Zimmerman Law Firm, our work injury attorneys are dedicated to helping you maximize your recovery. We will help manage every aspect of your case from your workers’ compensation claim to your product liability lawsuit. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Waco personal injury lawyers.

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Car Accidents

What You Need to Know About Diminished Value Claims in Texas

When you get in a car accident, sometimes you suffer a personal injury. Other times, you experience loss in the form of property damage. Typically, the property damage that you suffer is some form of damage to your car. In Texas, the person who is to blame for an accident bears the liability for the damage that the accident causes. This means they are responsible for compensating you for medical bills, lost wages, and any property damage they cause.  A diminished value claim is a way to recover property damage from a responsible party. However, many people have never heard of a diminished value claim. Because diminished value claims are critically important in recovering damages, The Zimmerman Law FIrm put together this quick guide on diminished value claims in Texas. Texas Fault Rules and Liability Insurance Texas law looks at who caused an accident to determine who is liable for the damages the accident causes. The system is known as a modified comparative fault system. The system is comparative, as the law compares each party’s share of the blame to determine liability. Each party, with limits, can recover the amount of damages they suffered minus the percentage attributed to them. Because Texas is a fault state, the law requires all drivers to maintain a minimum amount of liability insurance. Then, unless a lawsuit is necessary after an accident, the responsible party’s insurance company compensates the damaged party. The system in Texas is called a modified comparative fault system instead of a pure comparative fault system. In a pure comparative fault system, regardless of percentage of fault, each party sees a reduction in compensation based on their own percentage of fault. If party A is 95% to blame for an accident and party B is 5% to blame, party A can still recover 5% of their total damages from party B.  The same result as outlined above would not happen in Texas’s modified comparative fault system. Instead, party A would not recover any damages from party B. This is because Texas’s modified comparative fault has a threshold of responsibility. If any party’s share of liability exceeds 50%, they cannot recover any damages from the other party. What Is a Diminished Value Claim? A diminished value claim is a way to recover property damages. When you are in an accident, the amount of damage to your vehicle can vary between minor scratches and other cosmetic damage on one hand, to rendering the vehicle entirely unusable on the other. In any case, the responsible party is liable for compensating you for that damage. If the car is unusable, that amount is the total value of the vehicle. If the car can be repaired, the amount is equal to whatever is necessary to restore the vehicle to its pre crash condition. There is one problem, however: even if a mechanic and body shop restore your vehicle to its pre crash condition, it is very likely that your car will lose value. That’s because car crashes often cause various underlying problems that inherently damage the vehicle but are not always visible. To rectify the situation, you can file a diminished value claim with the responsible party’s insurance company. The amount of your diminished value claim is equal to the difference between your car’s value before the accident and your car’s value after the accident. What Types of Diminished Value Are There? There are three main types of diminished value. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you will want to file one of the following claims: Inherent diminished value, Immediate diminished value, or Repair-related diminished value. Inherent diminished value refers specifically to the loss of a vehicle’s worth or market value. Inherent diminished value applies when you have made repairs to your vehicle but its value still decreases. Immediate diminished value refers to the difference in your vehicle’s resale value before the accident vs after the accident. Immediate diminished value applies only if you have not made repairs to your vehicle. FInally, repair-related diminished value refers to your vehicle’s loss in value because of faulty repairs, less reliable replacement parts, and any damage that has yet to be repaired. How to File a Diminished Value Claim You can file diminished value claims in Texas fairly easily. The process is similar to filing any other sort of insurance claim. To do so, you will need to gather evidence to demonstrate your vehicle’s diminished value. There are a couple ways to do this. Doing both will help to bolster your claim’s chances of success. First, you can look up your car’s Kelly Blue Book value before and after the accident. Second, you could go to a used car dealer for a valuation. Third, you could get a quote from an auto repair shop that accounts for all relevant damage. It always helps boolster your claim if you get more than one or two quotes on your vehicle.  Depending on the circumstances of your case, you should file one of two types of insurance claim. You will need to file either: A) a first-party insurance claim or B) a third-party insurance claim to recover diminished value damages. With a first party diminished value claim, you file the claim with your own insurance company because you were at fault for the accident. To do so, you need to have collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, or any other insurance product that covers property damage when you are at fault for an accident. You will need to file a third-party diminished value claim when someone else is at fault for the accident. You will do so through their insurance provider. What If the Insurance Company Denies My Diminished Value Claim? Sometimes insurance companies are quick to deny diminished value claims. One reason for this is that many attorneys do not take on diminished value claims unless they are already representing a party. Knowing this, insurance companies deny diminished value claims in hopes that the party making the claim will drop it. If...

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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 With 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: 4 minutes | Work Injury

Impairment Ratings in Texas Workers’ Compensation Claims

If you have a work-related injury, you may have heard of “impairment ratings.”  You might be wondering what impairment ratings are and why they matter.  Impairment ratings (also called “MMI ratings” in Texas) are a critical part of every workers’ compensation case. The wrong impairment rating can prevent an injured employee from getting the payout they deserve.  If you or a loved one has been injured on the job or assigned an impairment rating in Texas, take a moment to read this post. Our experienced Texas workers’ compensation lawyers discuss what impairment ratings are, how they’re calculated, and why they matter to your case.  For immediate assistance, please contact us online or call (254) 752-9688 to set up a consultation. What Is an Impairment Rating?  Impairment ratings in Texas are ratings that reflect how much a worker has been permanently affected by their work injury. Impairment ratings decide how much compensation an injured Texas employee should receive. It’s kind of like when people rate collectible items as “fair,” “very good,” or “mint” condition. Impairment ratings involve the same concept but apply to permanently injured workers.  How Is an Impairment Rating Calculated in Texas?  An injured worker receives an impairment rating in Texas only after they have reached “maximum medical improvement,” or “MMI.” Injured workers generally reach MMI when their doctor decides that their injuries are unlikely to get any better. An injured employee can also reach MMI when they’ve received temporary income benefits (TIBs) for two years.  When an injured employee reaches MMI, their doctor will conduct a special examination. During this examination, the doctor measures the workers’ physical condition by assessing things like pain levels, physical strength, and range of motion.  After the examination, the doctor assigns an impairment rating to the injured worker by referencing The Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Physicians use this book to compare their findings with defined impairment rating criteria. It’s kind of like a Texas impairment rating calculator.  Let’s use an example. Imagine you hurt your hand and back while working on the job. When you reach MMI, you still can’t bend a couple of your fingers on your injured hand. You also have lower back pain that just won’t go away. Based on this, your doctor assigns you an impairment rating of 25 for your hand and 10 for your back. This means that your hand has a permanent impairment of 25% and your back has a permanent impairment of 10%.  The higher your impairment rating, the less function you’ll have in that part of your body. Why Does My Texas Workers’ Compensation Impairment Rating Matter?  A Texas worker’ compensation impairment rating helps determine how much compensation an injured worker receives. Higher impairment ratings mean greater compensation. In other words, your impairment rating determines your payout in Texas.  How Much Compensation Can I Get?  Injured workers in Texas who have permanent work-related impairments can receive “impairment income benefits,” or “IIBS.”  State law creates a kind of Texas impairment payment rating calculator for these benefits. Each point of impairment allows an injured worker to receive three weeks of income equal to 70% of their weekly wage, provided that amount doesn’t exceed 70% of the state average weekly wage (SAWW). The SAWW varies every year and is available online.  Let’s use an example to show how this Texas impairment rating calculator works. Imagine that a worker named John has an average weekly wage of $1,000 before he injures himself at work. When John reaches MMI, his doctor assigns him an impairment rating of 30%. This means that John will receive IIBs equal to 70% of $1,000, or $700, for 90 weeks. Imagine another injured worker named Jane. Before her injury, Jane made an average weekly wage of $1,500. With the same impairment rating as John, she will receive $705 per week for 90 weeks because the 2021 SAWW is $1,006.71.  Injured workers can receive more than just IIBs. In fact, there are several other kinds of income benefits besides IIBs, including supplemental income benefits (SIBs) and lifetime income benefits (LIBs). These income benefits each have their own unique requirements. For example, injured workers can receive SIBs if they have an impairment rating of 15% or more and either: Have not returned to work; or Have returned to work, but earn less than 80% of their pre-injury weekly wage.  To sum up, your Texas workers’ compensation impairment rating may entitle you to several different kinds of benefits. That is why it is important for you to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to represent you.  What Should I Do If I Don’t Agree with My Impairment Rating?  If you don’t agree with your impairment rating, contact us right away. Although the Texas impairment rating evaluations system is supposed to produce consistent, unbiased impairment ratings, the truth is that it’s far from perfect.  For one, different doctors can have different opinions. One doctor might determine that a hand injury results in 10% impairment, while another will assign the same injury an impairment rating of 15% or 20%.  Second, workers’ compensation insurance companies often pay the medical doctors who make impairment ratings. Although doctors are supposed to be unbiased in determining impairment ratings, this financial connection often encourages them to assign lower impairment ratings to save the insurance company money. This in turn motivates the insurance company to help the doctor earn more money by sending more injured employees for evaluation.   Consequently, doctors often assign injured workers unfairly low impairment ratings. How Can The Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C., Help? Chances are, you now realize that an impairment rating is an important but complex issue. No one should have to navigate the complicated world of Texas workers’ compensation law alone. Our experienced Texas workers’ compensation attorneys at The Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C., can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Plus, we won’t charge you any legal fees unless you win your case.  Contact us or call (254) 752-9688 for a free consultation today, and let...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Injuries

10 Signs You Need a Workplace Injury Attorney

If you’ve suffered an injury after a workplace accident, you may be confused about what to do next. You know there are certain steps you should take, but you may not know exactly what they are. So you might be wondering, Do I need a lawyer for workers’ comp? In many cases, the answer is yes. The attorneys at The Zimmerman Law Firm are ready to help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve. When You Don’t Need a Workplace Accident Lawyer After an accident, many people wonder, Should I get a lawyer for workers’ comp? In some instances, you may not need the help of a lawyer. You may not need a lawyer if: Your resulting injuries are obviously work-related; You do not need extensive medical treatment; You do not suffer any disability forcing you to take time off work; or There are no permanent injuries. If your case involves any of the above-mentioned situations, an insurance company is unlikely to deny your claim. In other words, in these scenarios, you are likely to get the help you need without an attorney. When to Hire a Workers’ Comp Lawyer In other circumstances, you are much better off having a skilled workers’ compensation attorney on your side. The following scenarios can bring about challenges that only a lawyer will know how to handle. In any of the following situations, having a workplace accident lawyer can help you get a much more favorable outcome.  Your Employer Is Delaying the Claim After experiencing a work accident, you need to notify your employer as soon as possible. Once you have notified the employer, they must contact their insurance company and file a claim. If your employer does not act quickly enough, this can negatively affect you. A hurt at work lawyer can help get the process going to get you the benefits you need as soon as possible. Your Claim Is Denied Insurance companies can deny claims for many different reasons. Fortunately, if your claim is denied, you can appeal the decision. However, the need to appeal a denial adds a level of complication to your case that you are likely unprepared to handle alone. Every state’s appeals process varies, but most require filing paperwork and presenting compelling evidence at a hearing. A workers’ compensation lawyer will represent you to ensure your case is handled properly. Your Accident Results in a Permanent Disability There are two types of disability—permanent partial disability and permanent total disability. When there is a permanent partial disability, the employee is still able to work, but not at the same capacity as before the accident. On the other hand, a permanent total disability leaves an employee unable to work altogether. Disabilities are expensive, and insurance companies may push back. Your attorney will help ensure you receive the benefits you need after suffering a disability.  You Are Not Getting the Benefits You Need Depending on your injuries, you may be eligible to receive certain workers’ comp benefits. But not all injuries qualify. So how do you know if you qualify? The easiest way to determine what workers’ comp owes you is to speak with an attorney. They are experienced in workers’ comp cases and can help you fight to protect your rights to receive any benefits you qualify for. You Have a Preexisting Condition If you suffer from a preexisting condition in the same area you injured during your work accident, you can expect the insurance company to fight back and blame it on your condition. Your attorney can help produce evidence to show your injuries were a direct result of your accident. You Are Unable to Get the Treatment You Need Your injuries may require certain treatment, including surgery. The insurance company may delay approving or completely deny your required treatment, especially when the treatment is costly. A lawyer for work-related injury can take the necessary steps to get the insurance company to cover your treatment.  The Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer Does Not Cover All Your Medical Bills or Lost Wages After suffering a workplace accident, you will need to be examined by a doctor. You will receive an impairment rating that reflects how much you have been permanently affected by your work injury. Your rating determines how much compensation you receive, and if the rating is low, you may not get enough to cover all related expenses and lost wages. A workplace injury lawyer can help get you the appropriate rating. Your Employer Retaliates Against You for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim Employers are never allowed to retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Retaliation can take many forms, including demotions, a reduction in work hours, a transfer to a different department, or even getting fired. An attorney can help you fight against your employer’s retaliation. You Receive Other Government Benefits If you receive or plan to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), receiving workers’ compensation benefits may reduce the amount of these benefits. A workers’ compensation lawyer can work out a plan to help reduce the impact on your benefits to help ensure you are receiving the fairest amount of benefits all around.  You Have a Workers’ Compensation Hearing If you are unhappy with the result of your claim, or your claim is denied altogether, you can appeal the insurance company’s decision. In most states, this includes a hearing. A hearing is a serious event, and you are much better off having a lawyer represent you. You Have a Claim Against a Third Party By law, if you suffer an injury at work you can only file a workers’ compensation claim and you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer. Nonetheless, if a third party plays a role in your workplace accident, you are entitled to file suit against them. Your attorney can handle your third-party claim from beginning to end to help make sure you receive compensation for your injuries. What to Expect if You Handle Your Case on Your...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Car Accidents

How to Get Your Dallas, Texas Accident Report

Car accidents can be scary and stressful. It is typically a relief when officers get to the scene, as they provide care and attention during a challenging event. Officers are also responsible for gathering as much information as possible to include in their police reports. These accident reports can then serve as a valuable source of information while you work on your claim. If you’ve been injured in a crash, the experienced Dallas car accident lawyers from The Zimmerman Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call (254) 752-9688 today for a free consultation. What Are Dallas Police Accident Reports? If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you know police officers are always called to the scene. Officers serve a legitimate purpose, as they gather relevant information, ask questions, and make determinations regarding the accident. After they’ve collected important details, that information goes into a Dallas crash report. This kind of report typically includes: The date, time, and location of the accident; Information for those involved; Details regarding injuries sustained; Details regarding damage; Witness information; Laws violated and any citations given; Weather and traffic conditions at the time of the accident; and The officer’s opinion as to the cause of the accident and fault. Police reports can play a significant role in your car accident compensation claim. Therefore, it is important to obtain a copy as soon as it becomes available. Your Dallas auto accident attorney can use this collision report to help build a substantial case and pursue the compensation you may be entitled to after an accident. There Are Multiple Ways to Obtain a Copy of Your Dallas Crash Report You or your Texas personal injury attorney may request a copy of your crash report five to seven business days after the accident. In Dallas, there are multiple ways to get a copy of your accident report—in person, by mail, or online. Get a Copy of Your Dallas Accident Report in Person You may go to the Dallas Police Department records department in person to get a copy of your police report. The police department is located at 1400 S. Lamar Street, Dallas, TX, 75215. You must provide the name of a person involved in the accident, the location of the accident, or the date of the accident. There is a $6 fee for accident reports obtained in person. You may also call (214) 671-3345 for more information. Keep in mind, you cannot request a police report and the police department will not release information over the phone. Request a Copy of Your Dallas Car Accident Report By Mail You can seek a copy of your Dallas police report by mailing in a written request. To do so, you must submit a written request to the Dallas Police Department at 1400 S. Lamar Street, Dallas, TX, 75215. Be sure to include the $6 payment for your request. You may also call (214) 671-3345 if you have any questions regarding mail-in police report requests. Obtain a Copy of Your Dallas Crash Report Online You may also request a copy of your police report online through the Texas Department of Transportation’s Crash Records Information System website. Only a person concerned with the accident or an individual having a proper interest may request a crash report online. Online crash report requests are $6 for a regular copy or $8 for a certified copy. A Dallas Car Accident Attorney Can Get One For You While you can obtain a copy of your Dallas accident report yourself using any of the methods described above, your attorney can also request one for you. Your lawyer will do everything they need to do to build your case. They are interested in getting that report because it often provides essential details and information about the crash in Dallas. This information can be extremely useful when building your case for compensation. And the sooner they can obtain the report the better. Time matters because you do not have an indefinite amount of time to file a claim for compensation after someone injures you in a car crash. In Texas, you have two years after the date of the accident to file your claim. So the sooner you consult with a car accident lawyer, the sooner they can obtain your Dallas crash report and begin working on your case. Contact The Zimmerman Law Firm For Help Since 1962, The Zimmerman Law Firm has been helping clients get the help they need after suffering injuries due to someone else’s negligence. We provide qualified expertise, compassionate service, and exceptional legal representation, so our clients feel confident in their decision to work with us. Let us help you get the recovery you need. Contact us or call (254) 752-9688 today to request your free case review.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Injuries

Guide to Calculating Pain and Suffering in Texas

Pain and suffering is an important subcategory of general damages in any personal injury case. However, determining how much pain and suffering is worth in a Texas claim can be challenging. One reason is that non-economic damages are not easily quantifiable as tangible economic losses like medical expenses and lost wages. Understandably, prospective clients want to know, How much is pain and suffering worth? To accurately determine a value for your specific case, speak with a professional San Antonio personal injury attorney at the Zimmerman Law Firm today. Damages Covered Under Pain and Suffering in a Texas Personal Injury Claim Before calculating a figure, it’s crucial to understand what makes up pain and suffering in a personal injury claim. Examples of pain and suffering include: Physical pain and suffering, including chronic pain complaints; Permanent damage that results in losing an important bodily function; Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological trauma; Permanent scarring, disability, or disfigurement; Loss of consortium; Emotional distress; Anxiety and depression; and Loss of enjoyment of life or diminished quality of life. Pain and suffering values will be higher for victims who have severe injuries. Cases involving catastrophic injuries or wrongful death claims have the highest value. For example, if a plaintiff had minor injuries that resolved in two or three months they would not have the same pain and suffering as someone who has lost the use of their leg. Calculating Pain and Suffering There is no pain and suffering calculator in Texas that every adjuster or jury uses when evaluating your claim’s value. However, two popular calculation methods are often used when calculating a fair value for pain and suffering at trial. The first is the multiplier method. This method starts with calculating your total amount of economic damages. Your economic damages are quantifiable losses, such as your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, etc.  Then, the jury might multiply that total amount by a specific number, usually somewhere between 1.5 and five. The worse your injuries are, the higher the multiplier. For example, take a plaintiff with $20,000 in economic damages. Using a multiplier of two, pain and suffering damages would be $40,000. For someone with permanent injuries, a jury might use a multiplier of five. Then the total amount for pain and suffering would be $100,000. The second method is based on the per diem method. This calculation method assigns a specific dollar amount to every day you are healing from your injuries. A common dollar amount is what you would typically receive from your salary for that day. You would receive this amount for each day until you reach a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). If someone took 50 days to reach MMI, and they made $100 per day on average, pain and suffering might be $5,000 in this case. Juries often lean toward the per diem method for cases where the plaintiff has a recovery date. In contrast, the multiplier method may be a more common option for cases involving long-term injuries or permanent damage. How Claims Adjusters Value Pain and Suffering You might be wondering how claims adjusters calculate pain and suffering if your case doesn’t go to trial. Depending on the company, they may have claims software programs, such as Mitchell, Colossus, or Claims Outcome Advisor. These programs are popular for minor injury claims, especially soft tissue injuries. The adjuster may be prohibited from extending an offer that falls outside of the software’s suggested range unless you can bring them “new” information that changes the value. Adjusters enter injury codes, medical billing codes, and other information so the program can calculate an acceptable settlement range. Insurance companies minimize your medical expenses, and then using the software can be a way to reduce their potential payout. Most claims software programs severely undervalue general damages, which is why jury verdicts are often significantly higher. Insurance adjusters rely on the fact that you don’t handle claims for a living, so you may not realize how low their offer is. Retaining a skilled San Antonio personal injury attorney can eliminate this problem. Factors That Impact Pain and Suffering Pain and suffering is a very subjective value. You are likely to place a higher value on your own pain because you are living it, and it’s personal. A jury will look at a variety of factors when determining what method or multiplier to use. Some of these factors include: The nature of your injuries; The severity of your injuries; How your injuries impact your life now; How your injuries will impact your future; Your age, health before the accident, income level; and How your injuries affect your family life. To maximize your value for pain and suffering, it’s a good idea to keep a journal where you log your pain and detail how your injuries impact your life. It will make it easier when you’re preparing for a deposition or testimony at trial. Texas caps general damages in certain instances, such as in medical malpractice cases. Special cases involving malicious intent or gross negligence could be eligible for punitive damages. Those damages are also capped in Texas unless the injuries resulted from a felony. Contact a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer If you need assistance resolving a personal injury claim in Texas, speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys right away. We have years of experience handling San Antonio personal injury claims. We know the tactics that insurance companies use to undervalue claims. And we know how to counter these tactics by building a strong case for pain and suffering damages. To learn more about how we can help you get the maximum compensation for your pain and suffering, contact the Zimmerman Law Firm today.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Accident Reports

How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim in Texas?

How long do you have to file a car insurance claim in Texas after an accident? That depends on the identity of the at-fault driver.  If a driver hits you while performing government work, you have six months to notify the government of your claim. If the at-fault driver is a civilian, you have two years to sue for personal injury. Regardless of the identity of the at-fault driver, you should start a lawsuit or a claim early to protect your rights. When it comes to a car accident claim, Texas has many deadlines and timelines that close soon after your injury. An experienced car accident attorney can meet your deadlines and put you in the best position to win all you deserve in your case. You Must Report Accidents Involving Personal Injury or Significant Vehicle Damage Immediately If you are contemplating filing suit for a car accident, you likely suffered physical injury and/or serious damage to your car. If you suffered bodily injury or damage to your car that is so severe that your car is inoperable, Texas law requires you to report your accident to the police immediately. If the accident caused personal injury or damage worth at least $1,000, an officer must file a report quickly. The officer must file their written report with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident. These reports can also be helpful for any claim you make with the at-fault driver’s insurance or your own insurance. Immediately after the accident, you should exchange information with the other driver, take pictures, collect names and contact information for any witnesses, and seek medical attention. You should also make a claim on an at-fault driver’s insurance policy as soon as possible. Having this information and making a claim as soon as possible keeps the events fresh and accurate in everyone’s minds. A detailed and accurate account of the events can help you obtain a more favorable outcome in your case.  Do Not Hesitate to Pay Out of Pocket Immediately for the Medical Care or Car Repairs You Need You may not be at fault for the car accident, but you should not wait for the at-fault driver to pay your bills up front. While a lawsuit against an at-fault driver could be your best option for maximum recovery, it could take a while to recover your damages at trial. Paying for repairs and care immediately is good for the health of your body, finances, and case.  You Could Receive Payment from Your Insurance Company Within One Month For your immediate needs, you can quickly make a claim on your own insurance’s personal injury protection (PIP) policy. Your Texas auto insurance policy must include PIP coverage unless you opt out of the coverage in writing. When you make a claim on your own insurance, Texas law requires your insurance company to review your claim and respond quickly.  Under the Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights, your auto insurance company has 15 days to acknowledge receipt of your claim and to ask for additional information. Your insurance has an additional 15 days to accept or deny your claim and five days after approval to pay. Sometimes your insurance company can extend this deadline by 45 days if it notifies you with a reason. You can collect 18% annual interest and attorney fees for any other delays in payment.   Filing Your Claim Immediately Establishes a Stronger and More Accurate Reflection of Your Damages Filing your claim immediately increases the likelihood that you receive payment earlier and the likelihood that you receive adequate damages. Your damages should cover your medical care, lost wages, repair or replacement of property, and pain and suffering. I f your insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance pays for medical care immediately, you can receive regular, monitored care early. Regular care can produce multiple reports explaining your medical needs. Reports explaining your present and future medical needs are important evidence to prove your economic damages at trial. These reports are also useful in settlement negotiations.  The longer you wait to file a claim, the higher the likelihood that you could suffer a subsequent, unrelated injury. The at-fault driver’s insurance wants to find ways to argue that your injuries are not related to your accident. Even if your symptoms stem from the accident, insurance companies use subsequent “intervening injuries” to argue that the at-fault driver didn’t cause your damages and isn’t liable. You should present to the insurance company evidence of your injuries’ connection to the accident and your treatment needs early. This makes your damages harder to deny. Making your claim and presenting evidence early might also inspire the insurance company to settle with you fairly and quickly. Contact an Attorney Immediately to Handle Your Claim How long do you have to file a car insurance claim in Texas after an accident? You should know that the answer is not long. You should call a car accident attorney immediately to make the most of your time and maximize your damages.  The attorneys at The Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C., have 85 years of combined experience. We strive to improve the lives of Central Texans with our legal expertise, and we want to help you. Contact us online or by phone at 254-272-3296 for a consultation.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Injuries

Texas Maximum Amounts Awarded for Personal Injury Cases

You should not commence litigation without thought and a solid strategy. In weighing your decision about whether to initiate litigation in a personal injury case, one question likely comes to mind above others: What is the maximum amount you can be awarded in a personal injury case in Texas? The answer to this question is key because it can help you determine whether litigation is worthwhile, and/or whether a settlement offer from the defendant is just. Generally, the maximum amount you can be awarded depends on the facts of your case and what kind of injury is involved.  There are three kinds of damages you can receive in almost any personal injury case:  Economic damages, Non-economic damages, and  Punitive damages. Together, economic and non-economic damages create your compensatory damages, and punitive damages are a reflection of how egregiously an at-fault party behaved at the time of your injury. Each of the three types of damages mentioned above are subject to different kinds of award limits, depending on the type of personal injury case.  Maximum Awards for Economic Damages or Total Damages Your economic damages are pretty straightforward in a personal injury case. They consist of the money you paid out of pocket for medical care, the cost of property repair/replacement, lost wages, and future financial losses. In most cases, personal injury damage limitations in Texas do not limit your award of economic damages. But there are exceptions. Award Limits for Injuries Occurring on Agricultural Recreational Land If you suffer injury while on agricultural land used for recreational purposes, there is a maximum award you can receive in a suit against the private landowner, lessee, or occupant of the land. Texas law allows each person to recover up to a maximum of $500,000 for bodily injury and a maximum of $100,000 for property damage. The liability of a landowner, lessee, or occupant cannot exceed $1 million for a single occurrence. These limitations apply only if the party to be sued has applicable insurance coverage. Award Limits for Injuries Caused by State Government Employees and Agents If a state government employee or agent caused you damage or deprived you of a right while they were performing work for the government, the maximum total amount you can recover is $100,000. This limitation applies only if the government has an obligation or authorization to indemnify the employee or agent, or if the employee or agent has insurance coverage. This limitation does not apply to cases brought under federal law or the United States Constitution. Award Limits for Placing Burdens on Religious Beliefs Generally, the government may not substantially burden your free exercise of religion. If a state government actor infringes on your right to freely practice your religion, your compensatory damages cannot exceed $10,000. This kind of suit applies only to government actors who infringe upon your rights while acting in official capacities.   Award Limits for Wrongful Death and Survival Lawsuits Against Healthcare Providers If you lost a loved one due to the careless actions of a healthcare provider, money does not bring much comfort, but you should be compensated. A wrongful death or survival action can award you damages for economic losses, damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages for a provider’s especially heinous behavior. The maximum award each claimant can receive is $500,000, regardless of how many providers are at fault. Though the law limits total damages in these cases, it does not limit damages for medical care, including future care.  Maximum Awards for Non-Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Your non-economic damages are for injury-related losses that can be hard to quantify with receipts. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, damage to your reputation, disfigurement, physical impairment, and other non-pecuniary losses. In addition to laws setting maximum recoveries for total damages, Texas specifically limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Non-Economic Damage Award Limits in Cases Against Physicians and Healthcare Providers The maximum amount of non-economic damages you can recover in an action against a physician or healthcare provider is $250,000. The same limit applies even if multiple healthcare providers were at fault or your claim is based on multiple causes of action. Non-Economic Damage Award Limits in Cases Against Healthcare Institutions The maximum amount of non-economic damages you can recover in an action against a single healthcare institution is $250,000. If more than one healthcare institution is responsible for the same injury, the maximum amount of non-economic damages you can recover is $500,000.    Maximum Awards for Exemplary or Punitive Damages Exemplary/punitive damages punish a defendant who behaves particularly poorly at the time of the actionable incident. You cannot recover exemplary damages in cases involving infringement of your right to freely exercise your religion. In all other cases, you can recover punitive damages only if you can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant committed fraud or acted with malice or gross negligence. In general, you can recover exemplary damages only up to an amount equal to twice your economic damages plus your non-economic damages, or up to $200,000, whichever is greater. Regardless of the calculation method, your exemplary damages generally cannot exceed $750,000. If your case involves methamphetamine or certain felonies, there are no limits to your exemplary damages.  There Are Minimum Awards for Personal Injury Cases Involving Methamphetamine The typical question is, What is the maximum amount you can be awarded in a personal injury case in Texas? Sometimes it is important to ask about minimum awards. If your case involves the manufacture of methamphetamine, you can recover at least $20,000 for each exposure to the substance or its byproducts.  Contact an Attorney for Maximum Recovery There are many complicated legal factors that determine how much you can recover in a personal injury case. An experienced personal injury attorney can determine your best options for recovery and negotiate the best settlement on your behalf. An experienced attorney can also bring you peace of mind by doing the heavy lifting in your personal injury claim. The Zimmerman Law...

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