Negligence on Texas Worksite Leads to Severe Leg Injury

Those who let their attention slip on the jobv may inadvertently contribute to serious injuries or deaths.
Texas worksites are active accidents looking for a place to happen. Workers could easily suffer serious injuries if their coworkers are not following proper safety protocol. All it takes is a moment of inattention.

Edward Acclis, Jr. is employed by Newpark Resources Incorporated in Texas. In August 2013, he was involved in a workplace accident. While on the Texas Industrial Box Company and Transportation worksite, a trucker, backing his rig up to the loading docks, pinned Acclis’ legs up against the dock. The trucker, Edward Shaw, apparently did not see Acclis as he maneuvered the vehicle.

Evidence of negligence is central to a personal injury lawsuit of this nature. In this suit, the statement of claim has suggested that the truck driver, Shaw, was negligent in his work duties: he did not pay attention to his surroundings, and, in doing so, failed to maintain proper caution. The lawsuit seeks damages of up to $200,000.

Shaw’s distracted driving may have seriously injured Acclis, but such cases are not always clear-cut. Acclis himself may have played a part, failing to maintain the proper caution in watching for the truck. Given the circumstances, the court may find that Acclis played a contributory role in his accident, and any award may be reduced accordingly.

If the court finds that he was 10 percent responsible for his accident and that the trucker was 90 percent responsible, the trucker will pay 90 percent of the total award. Acclis would then pay 10 percent in return (or, more accurately, his compensation would be reduced by 10 percent).

Perlmutter and Schuelke actually handled a very similar case several years ago. In our tragic case, the trucker backed up toward the loading dock and crushed a worker on it, killing him. We were able to show that the truck did not have required safety features that were designed to prevent this type of accident. The case quickly settled after our expert provided a deposition explaining everything that the trucking company did wrong.

Texas workplace injury law is complex. Depending on the details of the case, a worker may pursue a variety of options. Do not guess what they may be. Only a competent Austin injury lawyer ia able to get you the compensation you deserve.

Posted on: January 31, 2014 | Tagged

Auto Accidents: Top 9 Mistakes When Buying Your Auto Insurance MISTAKE FOUR: Looking Solely To Price And Not Knowing What You Are Buying

You see or hear many insurance companies saying that you can save money simply by switching insurance coverages.  But prospective buyers shouldn’t just look at the price.

Usually, the price is lower because you’re not comparing the same products.  The new insurance company may be offering lower limits, not selling you the same coverages, or excluding drivers who you may need covered.

You certainly don’t want to spend more than you have to, but you need to make sure you understand why the price differences exist.

Auto Accidents: Top 9 Mistakes When Buying Your Auto Insurance MISTAKE THREE: Getting Burned By “Excluded Drivers”

Generally, when you buy auto insurance, the policy will cover you, your family, or anyone else who has permission to drive your vehicle.  Thus, if you or your child or your best friend are driving and cause a wreck, the insurance will protect all of you. This is a big benefit.  You never know when you might let someone borrow your car for something.
But today, many insurance companies are starting to offer policies that exclude drivers.  It’s not unusual to see low cost companies have a long list of people who they don’t cover.  Indeed, some new policies only provide coverage to those people specifically identified.

These kind of policies don’t provide near the protection that standard policies provide.  And they affect you in ways that you might not imagine.

Recently, we represented a woman who was estranged from her husband.  After they got back together, they were driving on a road trip.  Because she was getting tired, she let her husband driver her car.  While the husband was driving, they were in a serious wreck caused by an underinsured driver.

We settled the claim against the other driver and then pursued a claim against her underinsured driver coverage.  But the UIM carrier denied the claim because the husband, who was estranged when the policy was purchased, was specifically excluded under the policy.  Even though who was driving made no difference in whether the wreck would occur or how it occurred, the fact that the driver was excluded deprived my client of her needed benefits.

When you’re purchasing your insurance, make sure you understand the true implications of potentially excluded drivers.

Catholic Church Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Drug Overdose Case

The family of a drug overdose victim has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against an archdiocese of the Catholic Church.

Wrongful death lawsuit legislation differs from state to state, but the basis of that legislation is the same no matter where the suit is filed. While the details of this case are particularly relevant to the McIlmail family in Philadelphia, stories like this can come from anywhere in the U.S., including Texas.
Families and loved ones sue to obtain compensation for a loss when that loss occurred due to the negligence of others. The plaintiffs also send a message to the perpetrators and to the public: what happened to their loved one should never happen to anyone else.

In October 2013, Sean McIImail, 26, died of an accidental drug overdose. After suffering alleged sexual abuse at Father Robert Brennan’s hands as a preteen, McIlmail struggled with substance abuse and addiction for years.

To memorialize his death and to make her own message clear to all, Sean’s mother has filed a statement of claim in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. She alleges that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia turned a deaf ear to her sexual abuse complaints against Brennan. Allegedly, more than 20 other families also attempted to bring the matter to light, each to no avail.

The current lawsuit names not only Brennan, now 75, but also 62-year-old Monseigneur William Lynn, the man once responsible for investigating molestation complaints filed against priests. Msgr. Lynn ran run afoul of the law on a separate occasion, and he is currently serving out a prison term of three to six years for child endangerment. At Lynn’s trial, it was alleged that he actively transferred Brennan to multiple parishes, where Brennan then sexually abused preteen boys.

The McIImail lawsuit is not the only suit on the record against the Archdiocese. It is the third to highlight allegations of child sexual abuse by Brennan. Grand jury records from 2005 show his name figuring prominently in reports of child molestation in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia beginning in 1988. Charges were never laid, as the reported cases were too old to pursue. Brennan was ordered to step down from his duties and chose to retire.

Twelve years after the alleged abuse, Sean McIlmail chose to come forward and accuse Brennan in court. In September 2013, the District Attorney’s office filed multiple rape and sex-abuse charges against Brennan for allegedly abusing McIlmail, beginning in 1998 when he was an 11-year-old altar boy and lasting until he was 14. But after McIlmail’s death, the criminal charges had to be dropped.

McIImail’s death terminated the criminal case, but not wishing to let the matter rest, the family chose to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful death lawsuits are never easy for the survivors of a catastrophic loss. However, a civil lawsuit makes their voices heard. It often allows families to move forward and deal with the loss, while seeking justice against defendants. For McIlmail’s family, the wrongful death lawsuit may finally prove Brennan’s egregious actions and prevent any other related deaths.

Auto Accidents: Top 9 Mistakes When Buying Your Auto Insurance MISTAKE TWO: Not Protecting You and Your Family

Many people who purchase insurance only purchase the liability insurance required by law.  As a result, you spend a lot of money on this insurance protecting other people.

But you are making a mistake if you’re not protecting your family through the purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection insurance.

On an almost monthly basis, I have to break bad news to potential clients that there isn’t anything I can do to help them because the driver who caused the wreck either didn’t have any insurance or didn’t have enough insurance.

Uninsureed/underinsured motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive and provide significant protection to you and your family.

The same may be said for personal injury protection insurance.  This coverage is relatively inexpensive, but it can provide big benefits to you.  If you’re in a wreck and have to make a claim against the other driver or even your own uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier, those claims take a long time.  It may be months (or even years) before the case is resolved and you see anything from the case.  PIP allows you to obtain funds almost immediately, to help pay for your medical expenses or to help with other living expenses.

Don’t make this mistake.  Buy the coverages necessary to protect you and your family.

Auto Accidents: Top 9 Mistakes When Buying Your Auto Insurance MISTAKE ONE: Purchasing Minimum Insurance

Most people think they only need to purchase the minimum insurance required by Texas law.  This is a huge mistake.

Generally, the more assets you have, the higher insurance you should purchase to make sure you’re protecting you and your assets.  But most people should consider purchasing significantly more than the minimum limits.

For property damage, the minimum required by the law is $25,000.00.  But today, the average new car costs over $30,000.00, and the prices go much higher than that.  If you are just purchasing the minimum limits, you are still leaving yourself exposed to significant liability should something happen.

Similarly, for personal injury claims, the minimum coverage is $30,000.00.  That might sound like a lot.  But when considering the cost of health care, that’s a small amount.  Whether you’re talking about liability insurance, protecting you against someone else’s claim, or uninsured/underinsured, protecting you and your family, a simple hospital visit might exceed that cost.  In that instance, by purchasing the minimum limits, you will have done a good job protecting the hospital or your health insurance company, but you won’t have done a good job protecting yourself.

People’s situations differ, but I generally recommend people purchase at least $100,000/$300,000 for personal injury claims and $50,000 for property damage claims for both liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  However, many people will be in a position where I’ll recommend much higher amounts.

Serious Personal Injury May Happen While Texting And Walking

No doubt you have seen the video of the woman texting and falling into a fountain at a shopping mall. While the video was funny and no one was serioiusly hurt, the ramifications for texting and walking have the potential to be fatal.

It used to be that everyone got to where they were going by just walking there. If they had anything to say to the person when they arrived, that was when the conversation took place. Cell phones had not yet been invented, and no one seemed to miss being out of touch with others. It was just the way life was back then. Now, with the advent of cell phones that do just about everything, staying in touch is not only easy, it may also kill.

Many people do not see the harm in texting while walking. After all, they are safe on the sidewalk, mall or wherever they happen to be headed. But, are they? Consider the case of the young teen who was texting her boyfriend about their planned date, when she walked out between two parked cars, right into the path of an 18-wheeler. The cell phone survived the impact. The young girl did not. Was her life worth texting dangerously?

What about the case of the young man who was walking down the stairs at work and texting his buddy about their weekend plans? Because he was not paying attention to where he was walking, he missed the last two steps, fell hard and hit his head on a cement floor. His cell phone survived the impact. He sustained traumatic brain injury. Was his forever altered life worth texting dangerously?

If you do not think texting and walking is a big deal, because maybe, nothing has ever happened to you, consider the emergency room statistics across the U.S. that show over 1,000 pedestrians have needed emergency medical care because of texting and walking accidents. Each year, the numbers go up, not down. While texting and walking is not a smart thing to do, texting and driving is markedly worse, as you can kill someone else by negligently not paying attention to the road. Be smart and above all, be safe.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at Civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Auto Accidents: Understanding Texas Auto Insurance: MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE

Medical payments, or MedPay, is similar to PIP.  However, MedPay only pays for medical expenses (and not lost earnings).  The other significant difference is that MedPay does have a subrogation interest.  If you’re in a wreck and make a recovery against another party who caused the wreck, then you would have to reimburse your insurance company for any MedPay the company paid you.

All in all, MedPay is often priced very similar to PIP, but MedPay is a much inferior product.  We recommend to our friends and family members that they purchase PIP instead of MedPay.

AUTO ACCIDENTS: Understanding Texas Auto Insurance: PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION

Personal injury protection coverage (PIP) provides benefits to you, your family members, or others riding in your car when you’re in a wreck.  The coverage will pay for your medical expenses and 80% of your lost wages caused by injuries sustained in the wreck up to the limits of your policy.

Unless you specifically reject PIP coverage in writing, you will have $2,500.00 of coverage.  However, you can purchase much higher limits.

One significant benefit of personal injury protection coverage is that there is no subrogation interest.   Most insurance, such as health insurance or Medicare, has a subrogation interest.  That means that they might pay for your medical bills, but if you recover for those amounts from a third party who caused the injuries, then they will claim that you  must reimburse the health insurance company for the amounts they paid on your behalf.  However, PIP does not have a subrogation interest.  If they pay you benefits, you do not have to reimburse them if you make a recovery.

uto Accidents: Understanding Texas Auto Insurance: UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE

WHAT IS UM/UIM? What do you do if you’re in a wreck caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages?

In Texas, the best answer is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), a type of coverage you can buy as part of your automobile coverage.  If the other driver doesn’t have any insurance at all, then your uninsured motorist coverage will compensate you for your personal injury damages and/or your property damages up to the limit of your policy.

If the other driver has some insurance, but it’s not enough, then the underinsured motorist coverage will compensate you for the difference up to the limit of your policy.  For example, if you have a personal injury claim that is worth $50,000.00, but the other driver only had the minimum $30,000.00 insurance required by Texas law, then your underinsured motorist coverage would cover the additional $20,000.00.

Notice that the coverage will pay the damages “up to the limit of your policy.”  Like liability coverage, your UM/UIM coverage also has limits, and the insurance company will not usually be required to pay more than the limits of the policy.  Thus, the more coverage you purchase, the more protection you’re buying for you and your family.

As a personal injury attorney, I highly recommend that you purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to protect you and your family.

UNUSUAL WAYS UM/UIM PROTECTS YOU.  Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can protect you in a number of situations that you might not think about:

  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage can apply when you’re in your car or truck and you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance.
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage may apply in a hit-and-run accident if there is contact between your vehicle and the other vehicle.
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage may apply if you are a pedestrian and are hit by a car or truck with a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance.
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage may apply if you are on a bicycle and hit by a vehicle with a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance.
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage may apply if you’re a passenger in another car that is hit by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance.

In many cases, more than one uninsured/underinsured policy may apply. For example, if you’re in a friend’s car and hit by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance, you might be able to make a claim on your own insurance and on the uninsured/underinsured policy covering the car that you’re in.

Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke

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