Personal Injury FAQS
What should I do if I’ve been involved in an accident?
It is understandable that after a traumatic event, such as a motor vehicle accident, most people may be too scared or hurt to think clearly. However, it is important to call the police and get the insurance information of the other person(s) involved. It always helps to take photographs of the vehicles involved and the accident scene, as well as to get the contact information of any witnesses who saw the incident. Most importantly, get medical attention as soon as possible. Some injuries, due to shock or other factors, may not be immediately apparent after the accident. Making sure you are healthy is paramount. Talking to a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can may make all the difference in protecting your claim and ensuring you can proceed in recovering your damages.
I don’t think I can afford an attorney. How does the attorney get paid?
A personal injury lawyer should not charge you unless there is a settlement and recovery. Generally, most expenses should also be paid up-front by the lawyer. This type of arrangement is called a contingency fee, which means the attorney will be paid a percentage of the total settlement. This percentage is usually determined by the risk involved, the settlement amount and the work required, but should not be more than 33 to 40%. It is a good idea to talk to your lawyer to see if a lower percentage is possible.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?
For personal injury cases in Texas, a lawsuit must generally be filed no later than two years from the date of injury, although there are some types of cases that must be filed sooner, or require some type of prerequisite action or notice that must be filed prior in order to preserve your claim. It is vital to meet with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Will I need to go to court?
On average, most personal injury cases will settle without having to go to trial. Unfortunately, however, there are times when an insurance company is simply unreasonable or refuses to value your case for what you feel it’s worth. At that point, filing a lawsuit may be the only way to seek justice for your damages. It is critical to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Once my case is settled, how long does it take to get my settlement injury check?
It may be as soon as two to four weeks to complete the settlement process. However, there may be important matters that arise that must be completed before any monies can be distributed and varies depending on the issue. Larger settlements can sometimes require additional steps that must be taken so these types of cases may take a little longer.
What kind of compensation can I recover for my damages?
The type of case will determine what damages will be recovered in your particular circumstances. Generally, however, you may recover the actual cost of your medical bills and associated expenses, surgery, in addition to disfigurement / physical impairment, pain and suffering, as well as emotional distress or mental anguish and other damages. Lost wages and loss of earning capacity may also be recovered. Again, the type of case and available evidence will ultimately determine what you recover.
What if the other side is saying it was partly my fault? Do I still have a claim for recovery?
In many instances, yes. Even if you may be partially at fault, you may still be entitled to some percentage of recovery. However, it depends on the percentage of responsibility that is ultimately attributed to you. You should consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to help you evaluate your case and counsel you on what to do next.
I was involved in an accident while at work, what should I do?
Report the injury and get medical attention as soon as possible; and follow your employer’s guidelines. Generally, you may be barred (legally prohibited) from filing a claim against your employer if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. Even so, you may still have a claim against the person that caused your injury if that person was not working for the same employer at the time of the accident. However, if your employer does not carry workers’ comp insurance, your employer may be liable to pay for your damages. It is very important to speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine what needs to get done.
I was involved in a motor vehicle accident but the driver that caused it does not have insurance. What do I do?
Review your own insurance policy to determine whether you currently have uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage. UM/UIM insurance protects you when the other at-fault driver either has no insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all of your damages. We can research the other driver’s information to determine whether there is insurance to cover your damages.
What exactly does negligence mean anyway?
Negligence is the standard you must prove against the person at fault to prevail on your claim. Negligence means someone had a duty to act more carefully than they did, and breached that duty by their actions. If that action caused your injuries, you may have a viable claim against that person. Proving the person acted intentionally is not necessary.
Employment Discrimination FAQS
Are there time limits that affect my legal rights?
Yes, and each different type of case has its own limitations and deadlines. In Texas, you must generally file an EEOC complaint within 180 days from the date of discrimination. However, there may be other shorter deadlines. It is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected and all available evidence is preserved early.
What is employment-at-will?
Texas law says that absent a specific agreement to the contrary, employment may be terminated by the employer or the employee at-will, with or without cause. To defeat the presumption of at-will employment, the employee has the burden to show that the employer unequivocally indicated a definite intent to be bound not to terminate the employee except under clearly specified circumstances or conditions. Absent specific exceptions and discrimination laws, employers retain broad rights over the decision to terminate in most circumstances.
Must an employer provide notice to an employee prior to discharge?
Generally, no. If the employee has a written contract requiring notice, or if there is a collective bargaining agreement with a notice requirement, then the employer must provide notice. The law requires notice in specific situations, such as a mass layoff or plant closure.
What is discrimination?
Discrimination occurs when you treat someone differently on the basis of some characteristic, such as race, gender, hair color, height and so on. Although some forms of discrimination are legal, many forms are not legal.
Can an employer fire or discipline an employee for complaining about discrimination?
Most anti-discrimination laws contain a provision that forbids employers to retaliate against employees who assert their rights to a workplace free of discrimination. Both firing and discipline may constitute a form of retaliation under certain circumstances.
What do courts consider when determining if one employee was subjected to discrimination when compared to another employee?
Generally, the standard used to assess whether a plaintiff was subjected to discrimination is to compare the plaintiff with a "similarly-situated' employee and determine if the two employees were treated differently because of a protected characteristic. For instance, if a female employee alleges she was terminated for sleeping on the job, the court will consider whether a man, working in the same department with the same job duties, who was also caught sleeping on the job was treated differently.
What is sexual harassment?
Harassment is a type of discrimination. The same laws that prohibit discrimination of protected characteristics (such as race, gender, religion and so on) also prohibit harassment on the basis of those characteristics. Harassment occurs when an employee endures a work environment that is hostile, offensive or intimidating to them because they have a protected characteristic.
Sexual harassment is a type of gender discrimination. It is any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct on the job because of that employee’s gender that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
How does an employer know if an applicant or employee needs an accommodation based on a disability?
Generally speaking, it is the responsibility of the applicant or employee to inform the employer of the need for an accommodation. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require the employer to provide an accommodation if it is unaware of the need for one. Also, the employer may ask for documentation of the need for an accommodation where the disability may not be an obvious one.
Does my employer have to provide family and medical leave?
It depends on the size of the business. Generally, under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your employer is required to let employees take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a new child, care for a seriously ill family member or recuperate from a serious health condition. However, this law only applies if your company employs more than 50 people within a 75-mile radius. However, even if the business is covered by the FMLA, only employees who have worked for at least a year, and at least 1,250 hours during that year, are eligible for leave.
What is a whistleblower?
A whistleblower is a government employee who in good faith reports to a law enforcement agency that there is a violation of state or federal law occurring in his workplace. The whistleblower statutes prohibit employers from firing a worker who is a whistleblower and also prohibits employers from firing employees who participate in government investigations and hearings relating to violations of law at the workplace. There is an equivalent law for private employers when the employee is retaliated against/terminated for refusing to perform an illegal act.