Does The Guy Who Hit Me Have Liability Insurance?

Standard

In Texas just over 14% of drivers do not carry auto insurance.  If you are caught driving without insurance, you will receive a fine plus an annual surcharge.  Even for a first time offense, the charges will be over $1,000, and they increase each time.  It is cheaper to carry at least a minimum liability policy.

In Texas, the minimum liability policy will cover up to  $30,000 bodily injury per person, up to a total of $60,000 and will provide coverage for property damage up to $25.000.  Some drivers carry larger policies.  But, these are the minimum standards required by law.

If you have been in a serious accident, you will quickly discover that these minimum policies do not cover the cost of you vehicle, let alone you medical expenses and losses.  Additionally, most people do not have other assets or money which you can recover in a lawsuit.  They are what we call judgment proof.

To protect yourself, we advise that you carry insurance to protect you and your passengers, from not only the uninsured drivers, but the under insured drivers out there.  Both Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Un/Under Insured Motorist are coverage worth having on your insurance policy.  These policies are in place to protect you and your passengers and not the other vehicle.

Advertisements

Texas Workers’ Comp, Who is My Employer?

Standard

Employment in the last 20 years has changed greatly.  In the past you finished school, found a job and then worked until you retired at the age of 65.  In today’s market, employees are laid off with every down turn of the economy.  Others have jobs where they are permanently employed through a temporary service or are called independent contractors.

When an injury occurs at work, who is your employer?  Most modern companies are actually a number of companies handling different aspects of the business.  The first thing to do is to look at your pay stub.  Most will have the name of the payer.  This is a good start on establishing the actual name of your employer.

The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation defines employer as a person who makes a contract of hire, employs one or more employees, and has workers’ compensation insurance coverage.  However, when there are multiple potential employers, you may run into problems that some are subscribers to the Texas Workers’ Compensation system and some are not.  Finally, the law defines an independent contractor not just your employer calling you one.

Temporary Service:

Many workers are now employed by Temp Services.  If you work for a temp service, file the claim against them.  If you find out that they are a non-subscriber to Texas Workers’ Compensation (they have an alternative form of insurance), you can possibly file a claim against the company that the temp service sent you to.

When deciding which company is liable for your claim, the Division of Workers’ Compensation will look at who had the right of control over the employee’s activities.  The Borrowed Servant Doctrine is when you work for one employer, but get injured while under the control of another of another company.  This will allow you to receive benefits from the employer controlling your activities.

Independent Contractor:

In general an independent contractor is not an employee.  However, the determination is not made by the employer.  The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation will determine if the employer had a right to control the details of the work performed.

To be considered an independent contractor, it must be shown that the person:

1)  acts as the employer of any employee of the contractor by paying wages, directing activities, and performing other similar functions characteristic of an employer-employee relationship;

2)  is free to determine the manner in which the work or service is performed, including the hours of labor of or method of payment to any employee;

3)  is required to furnish or to have employees, if any, furnish necessary tools, supplies, or materials to perform the work or service;  and

4)  possesses the skills required for the specific work or service.

The IW has the burden of proof to establish that he/she was an employee of the employer for purposes of the Act at the time the injury occurred.  However, you should always use an attorney familiar with workers’ compensation issues.  If you have any questions about your workers’ compensation contact, call the Dallas office of The Morris Law Firm at (214)357-1782 or via email at info@themorrisfirm.net.

 

Texas Workers’ Compensation: Maximum Benefit Amount

Standard

If you have been injured in a work related accident in Texas and are now unable to work, how are you compensated?

If your employer is a subscriber to the Texas Workers’ Compensation system, you are entitled to Temporary Income Benefits (TIBs) if you are disabled due to your compensable injury up until you are returned to work or found to be at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

But, how is the amount of your disability (TIBs) check determined.  The insurance carrier pays you according to your Average Weekly Wage (AWW).  We provide a video on how the AWW is determined.

However, some injured workers’ pre-injury wage exceeds the maximum amount a party can receive for TIBs.  The maximum amount of TIBs can not exceed the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW).

The State Average Weekly Wage is is equal to 88% of the average weekly wage in covered employment computed by the Texas Workforce Commission. The amount is adjusted beginning on October 1st and running till the end of the following September.

Benfit rates are paid according the the SAWW on the date the injury occurred.

Temporary Income Benefits are paid up to 100% of the SAWW

Impairment Income Benefits are paid up to 70% of the SAWW

Supplemental Income Benefits are paid up to 70% of the SAWW

Lifetime Income Benefits are paid at 100% of the SAWW for the first year the injured worker qualifies for LIBs

Death Benefits are paid at a rate up to 100% of SAWW.

The SAWW for October 2016 through September 2017, is $913.00.

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

Texas Workers’ Compensation: Impairment Rating DRE Category IV

Standard

Image result for spine

If a worker in Texas suffers an injury to their neck or back and receives a Impairment Rating which includes a DRE Category IV, it will be for “Loss of Motion Segment Integrity or Multiple Neurologic  Compromise.”

Loss of Motion Segment Integrity:  Translation of one vertebra on another segment that is 11 degrees more that the angular motion at an adjacent motion segment; along with documented history of muscle guarding and pain.

Multiple Neurologic Compromise:  There must be bilateral radiculopathy or radiculopathy at multiple levels per the requirements of a DRE Category III.  This must include a documented history of muscle guarding and pain.

If a claimant receives a DRE Category IV for a cervical injury, they will receive a 25% whole body impairment rating for that condition. If the claimant receives a DRE Category IV for a thoracic or a lumbar injury, they will receive a 20% whole body impairment rating for that condition.

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

 

 

Texas Workers’ Compensation: Accident Resulting in Death

Standard

In Texas when an employer subscribes to the Texas Workers’ Compensation system, the Texas Labor Code states that the exclusive remedy (for the injury) is the recovery of the Workers’ Compensation benefits.  The only exception to this statute are claims against the employer for gross negligence resulting in death.

When an employee dies as the result of a workers’ compensation accident, their spouse, dependent children and possibly parents may be entitled death benefits as the result of being a beneficiary of the deceased worker.  If the accident resulting in the workers’ death resulted from the gross negligence of the employer, the surviving spouse or heirs the body have a cause of action against the employer.

You first must establish that the worker was in the “Course and Scope” of their employment when the accident occurred.  Next, for the workers’ compensation claim, the person seeking benefits must establish that they are a legal beneficiary of the deceased worker.  To have a separate “Cause of Action”, the surviving spouse or heir’s the body of the deceased must show that the death was caused by an intentional act or omission of the employer or by the employer’s gross negligence.

Gross negligence is an act or omission “which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.  What lifts ordinary negligence into gross negligence is the mental attitude of the defendant . . . The plaintiff must show that the defendant was consciously, i.e., knowingly, indifferent to his rights, welfare and safety.

If one of your family members has died as the result of a Texas Workers’ Compensation accident, make sure that you do not make any agreements with the insurance company or the employer before you consult with a licensed attorney.  If you have any questions about a Texas Workers’ Compensation claim, contact the Dallas office of the Morris Law Firm at (214)357-1782 or via email at info@themorrisfirm.net.

TEXAS WORKERS COMPENSATION INJURIES FROM THERAPY

Standard

Image result for pt exercise pictures

Many workers injured at work in Texas go through extensive physical therapy.  What happens when a patient is treating for a workers compensation injury and suffers another injury going through therapy?

In a Texas Workers’ Compensation claim, the injury is not limited to the conditions affected at the time of the injury.  But, includes any conditions naturally arising out of the compensable injury.  This includes medical treatment for the compensable injury which causes damage to the physical structure of the body.

If you are injured during physical therapy, or while receiving medical treatment for your compensable injury, your insurance carrier is liable for the treatment to relieve the effects of the injury.  Additionally, if this portion of your injury creates a permanent impairment, make sure it is included in your impairment rating.

If you have any questions about your workers compensation claim, contact the Dallas office of the Morris Law Firm at (214)357-1782 or via email at info@themorrisfirm.net.

WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO DURING ARREST

Standard

If you are ever arrested, there are some common sense “Do’s and Don’ts” to remember.  It is not a pleasant experience, but you will get through it ok with a little patience.

DO:

-Remain polite.

-Provide your name, address, date of birth and politely let them know you are invoking your 4th Amendment right to remain silent. Then REMAIN QUIET.

-Request that your family or friend that is present take vehicle or personal items into their possession.

-Provide your Driver’s License.

-Stay alert on your ride to the jail (you are likely be video taped).

-Have your lawyer present whenever you are questioned.

-When they ask you to sign your property slip, read it to make sure what is on it.

DO NOT:

-Do not resist arrest (likely to add additional charges).

-Don’t let your friends or family argue or become combative with the police. (It could reflect upon your case).

-Do not try and explain your side to the officer (not likely to help and may hurt your defense).

-Get the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene.

-Do not give them permission to search.  If there are witnesses express your refusal loud enough for the witnesses to hear.

-If the police are searching, do not assist them in the search.

-Do not allow police to enter your vehicle or home, even if it is to retrieve items such as your clothes or personal items (they will naturally search any area you allow them into).

-Do not talk about your case with your family and friends while you are in jail (assume your conversations are being monitored).

-Do not talk with other inmates about your case (you don’t know who they really are).

Daniel L. Morris, The Morris Firm, (214)357-1782, info@themorrifirm.net