Texas Auto Insurance: Liability Coverage

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Texas requires auto insurance.  Liability coverage meets the minimum State requirements of financial responsibility.

What it pays: The following expenses, up to your policy’s dollar limits, for the people in the other car involved in an accident that you or someone covered by your policy caused:

  • medical and funeral costs, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering
  • car repair or replacement costs
  • car rental while the other driver’s car is being repaired
  • punitive damages awarded by a court.

Liability insurance also pays your attorney fees if someone sues you because of the accident. If you are arrested following an accident, liability insurance will pay up to $250 for bail.

Who it covers:

  • you and your family members. (Family members include anyone living in your home related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption. This includes your spouse, children, in-laws, adopted children, and foster children.)
  • other people driving your car with your permission
  • family members attending school away from home
  • spouses living elsewhere during a martial separation might be covered.

You and your family members might be covered when driving someone else’s car – including a rental car – but not a car that you don’t own but have regular access to, such as a company car.

Some policies won’t cover other people who are residents of your household, including family members, unless they’re specifically named in the policy. Your policy’s declarations page should list the names of all of the people the policy covers.

The Morris Firm, info@themorrisfirm.net, (214)357-1782

Social Security: Definition of Disability

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To meet the definition of disability, the Social Security Administration will determine if the person is not able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that will result in death or for a continuous period of at least twelve months.

Substancial Gainful Employment:  significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both.  For:

  • for pay or profit;
  • of a nature generally performed for pay or profit; or
  • intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.

The Social Security Administration  generally uses the earnings guidelines to evaluate whether your work activity is SGA.   If your impairment is anything other than blindness, earnings averaging over $1,130 a month (for the year 2016) generally demonstrate SGA.  They adjust the amount every year based on increases in the national average wage index.

The Morris Firm, info@themorrisfirm.net (214)357-1782

 

Texas Criminal Charge for Public Intoxication

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Sec. 49.02. PUBLIC INTOXICATION. (a) A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.

A charge of Public Intoxication in Texas is a Class C Misdemeanor as long as the person is 21 years of age or older.  Minors are handled under Section 106.071, Alcoholic Beverage Code.

For the charge to be applied, the state must prove not only that the person was intoxicated, but that it was to a degree that they may endanger themselves of another.  It is also a defense if the person was administered the substance as a part of the person’s professional medical treatment by a licensed physician.

The Morris Firm, info@themorrisfirm.net, (214)357-1782.

Texas Workers’ Compensation: Extent of Injury Dispute

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Up to 80% of disputes in Texas Workers’ Compensation claims include an extent of injury issue.  Over the past few years it has become more difficult for injured workers to prevail at the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation when an insurance carrier disputes disputes any conditions beyond a contusion or a sprain/strain injury.

Most conditions beyond a sprain/strain or contusion require a medical provider to present a “letter of causation” to establish the diagnosis as related to the compensable injury.

However, getting a “letter of causation” is not as simple as it sounds.  Texas has now allowed employers to elect to be part of a care network.  Injured workers whose employers are in a network may only treat with doctors in the network.  Most of the networks are very restrictive on which doctors are allowed to enter the network and those who are in the network can be removed at the discretion of the insurance carrier.  Therefore, some doctors in the networks refuse to provide “letters of causation” when the insurance carrier has denied a diagnosis.

Even when a worker gets a “letter of causation”, the insurance carrier can have the worker examined by their selection of doctor to rebut the letter.  Some insurance carriers even hire doctors to testify at hearings who have never examined the worker; nor have they provided a report which the injured worker may have reviewed by a doctor.

In summary, if you are looking at a dispute of your Texas Workers’ Compensation claim make sure you have the evidence you need to establish the disputed condition.

Daniel L Morris, The Morris Firm, info@themorrisfirm.net, (214)357=1782

What is the Difference Between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

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People who request social security benefits before they reach the age of retirement may qualify for different kinds of benefits.  Although Social Security Disability  (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are terms that are used interchangeably by many people, they are very different benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a benefit based strictly on need.  Monthly payments are made to people who have low income and few resources, and who are:

  • Age 65 or older;
  • Blind; or
  • Disabled.

Social Security Disability (SSDI) is a benefit paid to people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or will result in death.  There is a strict definition of disability to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI).  Most workers must meet meet two different earnings tests:

  1. A recent work test, based on age at the time the person became disabled; and
  2. A duration of work test to show that the worker has worked long enough under Social Security.

If you have questions regarding Social Security Benefits, make sure you consult with an attorney who is experienced with Social Security claims.

The Morris Law Firm, info@themorrisfirm.net, (214)35-1782

 

Texas Auto Insurance: Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage

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Most drivers in Texas carry insurance on their vehicles to protect them from damage they may cause to others or their property.  However, Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP) is coverage for you and possibly the other passengers in your vehicle.

What does it cover:  Personal Injury Protection coverage pays medical payments coverage, plus 80 percent of lost income and the cost of hiring a caregiver for an injured person.

Who does it cover:  You, your family members, and passengers in your car, regardless of who caused the accident.

An insurance company must offer you $2,500 in PIP, but you can buy more. If you don’t want PIP, you must reject it in writing.  You should get the maximum amount of PIP coverage your policy will allow.  After an accident, PIP makes it a little easier handle your expenses.

The Morris Firm, info@themorrisfirm.net, (214)357-1782

Texas Penalty Ranges for Felonies

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Texas divides criminal charges into two categories misdemeanors and felonies.  Misdemeanors are for minor violations and felonies are more serious crimes.  Felony punishments are listed under Texas Penal Code Chapter 12, subchapter C.

State Jail Felony:  shall be punished by confinement in a state jail for any term of not more than two years or less than 180 days.  In addition to confinement, an individual adjudged guilty of a state jail felony may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Third Degree Felony:  Shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Second Degree Felony: Shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

First Degree Felony:  Shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the first degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Capitol Felony:  An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state seeks the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life without parole or by death.

An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state does not seek the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for:

(1) a sentence of life imprisonment is mandatory on conviction of the capital felony, if the individual committed the offense when younger than 18 years of age; or

(2) a sentence of life imprisonment without parole is mandatory on conviction of the capital felony, if the individual committed the offense when 18 years of age or older.

The Morris Firm, info@themorrisfirm.net, (214)357-17872