| 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: 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: 2 minutes | Injuries

Eliminating Preventable Crashes

Car accidents kill thousands of people each year in Texas. That’s a pretty frightening statistic, but when you start to realize that number is only accounting for deaths and not injuries, it can be even more terrifying. Tens of thousands of people are injured throughout the state, and some of those injuries life-threatening and permanent. Crashes caused by alcohol or distracted driving are avoidable accidents, which can make the injuries sustained by innocent victims even more infuriating. Knowing that the driver was doing something illegal to cause the crash can make a horrible situation worse. The best way to reduce the number of people injured or killed is by preventing the crashes from happening in the first place. The stats According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 100,000 traffic crashes each year involve some type of distracted driving. A study conducted by Texas A&M Transportation Institution found that more than 44 percent of drivers admitted to reading or sending messages while driving during the past month. Distracted driving includes more than just cell phones These days, when you hear about distracted driving, you likely think of texting and driving. It’s important to remember, however, that distracted driving is more than just texting and driving. Distracted driving can involve anything that takes your attention off the road. Some of those things include: Adjusting the radio, CD or DVD player Eating or drinking Programming your GPS Fixing hair or makeup If you have kids, then you know that hearing their screams or cries over a lost toy or dropped pacifier may seem like the greatest distraction you face. You might think it would be better to find whatever it is they are looking for with one hand while steering with the other in order to stop the tears. All of that takes your attention from the road and ultimately puts your safety at risk. Just don’t The only way to avoid distracted driving is to not be distracted. You might read about different voice-to-text apps that are supposed to eliminate that concern. But another Texas A&M Transportation Institution found that those apps aren’t any safer. So the only way to make it safer is to just pretend your phone isn’t there. Ignore it while you are in the car. If you or a loved one were injured due to someone else negligence or bad decisions, you should talk to an experienced attorney. You deserve to be compensated for your suffering.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Injuries

How safe is your hayride?

Autumn is a time of outdoor fun for many Waco residents. When attending football games, trick-or-treating or going for a fall hayride, locals find the milder temperatures are a welcome respite from the summer heat. These fun activities can also increase the likelihood of accidents, however. Today’s post will address safety on hayrides. If you’re going for a hayride… Not all hayrides are the same regarding safety. Some are put on by local farmers and consist of Farmer Jones riding the neighborhood kids around on the back of his trailer amid some bailed hay. Farmer Jones may not have taken the proper liability insurance out to host a hayride. In the event of a catastrophic accident, his farm insurance policy could be quickly maxed out — or potentially nullified if he accepted cash for the ride. But there are plenty of legitimate businesses that conduct hayrides and have adequate liability insurance policies in place. They hire sober drivers with the required skills and certifications to operate farm machinery and carry passengers. They have personnel on-site to help riders off and on the equipment and to alert the driver in the event of an emergency. If you want to take the family out for an autumn hayride, it’s the latter version that will likely be the safest bet. If you’re hosting a hayride Hosting hayrides on your farm is a good way to earn some extra cash before the holiday season is in full swing. Just make sure that you take steps to protect yourself legally if a rider gets injured. Speak to your insurance agent about adding an agritainment rider to your policy or increasing your commercial liability coverage. Have all riders (and the parents of minors) sign liability waivers before climbing aboard. Then, take the steps to make sure that the route for the ride is free of debris or potholes that could dangerously destabilize the farm equipment. Clear any hanging brush from the route. Avoid spots with poor drainage and uneven paths. Also, make sure that if there is an accident, emergency vehicles have access to the hayride route, if necessary. Your route should be contained on private land without the need for crossing a public highway after dark. You will also need to do a thorough equipment inspection during the daylight hours before the ride to make sure that all tractor parts are running smoothly. Ditto for the wagon section. With the proper preparation, both riders and hayride hosts can have a great autumn season.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Injuries

Bus Stop Safety Tips For Parents And Kids

A bus stop is considered a safe place for children to gather before going to school. But, the central location of bus stops on busy roadways can also create a danger for children. Parents want to know their kids’ wellbeing is assured at a bus stop, but a lack of supervision at the stop and distracted drivers on the road can create a precarious situation. The potential danger became a reality last fall in Texas, when a driver failed to stop for a school bus at a bus stop. Fortunately, the students were ok, but the incident served as a reminder about the dangers surrounding drivers’ inability to follow the rules. As parents, how can you ensure your child’s safety at a bus stop? Here are a couple of bus stop safety tips for parents and kids from SafeKids.org. Parents help kids establish good habits Parents may not have time to supervise kids at the bus stop every morning, but they can still take steps to help kids have safe habits. Before the school year starts, take kids to the bus stop and point out potential dangers. Help the kids measure out a safe distance from the street by taking three big steps away from the curb. Show kids how to operate crosswalk signals and safely walk across the street. Cross the street when it is safe Passenger vehicle drivers may be unaware that a bus stop is in the area and may be unprepared to stop. If there is not a designated crosswalk in the area, this can create issues with visibility for both the driver and the kids. Children should wait until the school bus is completely stopped with its crossing arm fully extended before walking into the street. Kids make eye contact with the school bus driver and other vehicles on the road before crossing the street. Encouraging eye contact helps kids establish visual safety cues and ensures that they look both ways before crossing. Parents can’t predict the unexpected, and if your child was injured due to someone else negligence, you will need to consult with an experienced attorney. By teaching your kids safe bus stop habits, however, we can do our best to prevent it.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Injuries

How Do I Know When I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

A shocking amount of people are injured in accidents that are not their fault but sometimes they dont reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to get advice about their legal rights. So how do you know when you need to call a personal injury attorney? Short Answer: If you suffer an injury, you should call an attorney! There are countless ways that you could suffer an injury, but here are some that we see more often: Car Crash Semi-truck Wrecks Motorcycle Accidents Work Accidents Slip-and-Fall Accidents Dog Bites This is not a full list. If you have an injury, remember, we are here to help. For most injuries, it is beneficial to hire an injury lawyer. Don’t forget that we only charge a fee if we are able to recover for you! How can we help you? A good attorney can help your case in the following ways: Obtaining copes of medical records and bills Negotiating with insurance adjusters Filing a lawsuit Representing you at a mediation or arbitrartion Taking a case to trial Recovering what is fair, not what the insurance company first offers you Personal injuries can be very serious and can affect every aspect of your life. If you or a loved one are injured, we are here to help.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Injuries

For pedestrians, intersections pose a high risk

In theory, you should feel incredibly safe every time you walk across the street in a crosswalk. That walking symbol tells you that you have the right of way. Cars stop and wait for you. Other pedestrians cross in a safe, controlled manner. When everyone is out of the way, the signs change and cars start moving through the intersection again. The reality, of course, is far more dangerous. You get things like: Drivers trying to rush through before pedestrians start crossing. Drivers turning right on a red light, perhaps watching traffic and not watching for pedestrians at all. Drivers turning left on a flashing red light, with the same problem as noted above Drivers who feel like the flashing warning sign telling pedestrians not to cross gives them permission to cut these people off or drive far too close to them. Drivers honking their horns to move pedestrians out of the road. Other drivers honking at cars that actually do stop to wait for pedestrians. Drivers who run red lights. Drivers who speed up to make it through yellow lights, even when that means they actually run the red. Pedestrians who run to try to make it to the crosswalk in time. People who simply refuse to cross at the crosswalk and jaywalk near the intersection. Pedestrians who start crossing right as the walk signal ends. Drivers who try to slowly push their way through crowds of people. Distracted drivers who never see pedestrians. Distracted pedestrians who cross at the wrong times or step right out into traffic. Cyclists who do not follow the rules of the road and cross at any time they want. Cyclists who attempt to share the sidewalk and the crosswalk with pedestrians. In short, you almost never get the safe, orderly crossing that you should get if everything worked the way designers planned it out. It’s far more chaotic and confusing, and one mistake by either party can lead to a serious accident. Experts warn that pedestrians need to stay cautious, even when the signs tell them that they have the right of way and that it is their turn to cross. However, this is somewhat unfair. As long as pedestrians obey the law, they have no obligation to watch out for drivers who break that law. Of course, everyone should err on the side of caution, but no one should imply that it is somehow the pedestrian’s fault for not being careful enough. If you do get hit at an intersection, leaving you with significant medical bills and a long road to healing ahead of you, make sure you understand all of the potential options you have to seek out financial compensation.

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