The folks at Texas Watch have put together this great story on Texas’s medical malpractice reform.
I often tell clients that they need to be on the lookout for brain injuries. For some head injuries, the problems are obvious. But in many cases, the problems are much more subtle. As a result, many concussions or brain injuries go undiagnosed because a doctor doesn’t know you well and doesn’t see the symptoms. Because of this, it’s important for you or your spouse or other family members to look for symptoms so you can convey that information to doctors.
Working on a case, I stumbled across this symptom chart from the Centers for Disease Controls that will help you identify potential brain injuries. Hopefully, this will help you recognize problems so you can get the treatment and care you need.
Motor Vehicle Accidents: Do I have to provide a release of medical information to the insurance company?
We recently received an inquiry asking, “Do I have to provide a release of medical information to the insurance company?”
Generally, the answer is “no,” but for a more detailed answer, I need to know the type of case.
If you’re making a claim directly against the driver who caused the wreck, the answer is clearly “no.” In that situation, we would almost never advise our clients to sign a blank release giving the insurance company full access to all of your medical records. Instead, we’ll gather all of your medical records related to your wreck and forward them to the insurance company.
Now, once a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will typically subpoena records from medical providers who you saw as a result of the wreck. Additionally, if you have a history of a condition related to your injuries from the wreck, the insurance company might try and get your records from before the wreck. But even in those situations, we’ll try and insist on a reasonable limit on what they obtain.
If you’re making a claim against your uninsured or underinsured motorist carrier or with your personal injury protection carrier, then you have a contractual duty to cooperate with the company. If you don’t, you could be risking your benefits. But even in those situations, when the insurance company asks for a release, we’ll try and work with them to provide a limited release. For example, we might limit the release to those doctors who provided treatment from the wreck. And if the insurance company wants past medical records, we might limit them to five years before the wreck. The insurance companies will typically work with us to find some reasonable limits.
Again, there may be situations where you have a long-standing condition that makes things a little different, but for those most part, this is how we try and deal with requests for a medical release.
If you know me, you know I’m a huge University of Texas sports fan. Because of that, I’m a huge fan of the Longhorn Network. Usually, the stories just relate to my sports passion, but in light of David Ash’s retirement from football due to his repeated concussions, the LHN ran a great piece that talked with three former UT players about their battles with concussions.
Watching it, one thing that stood out to me was something that we see in our practice (and which the science backs up), and that is, once you have had a concussion (or multiple concussions), it takes a smaller impact to re-injure the brain. Additionally, with a history of concussions, the symptoms appear to get worse.
If you have any interest in head injuries, concussions or sports, I highly recommend the story below.
We represent a number of clients who have brain injuries, and I received this infographic the other day describing the causes of traumatic brain injuries. I thought it was brilliant, and I wanted to share it here.
Yes. Texas law allows parents to sue a day care for neglect of a child.
Unfortunately, many kids suffer injuries while they are entrusted to care workers at day care. These injuries can occur from neglect, abuse or improper supervision of the children. Your rights and remedies often depend on the exact facts of your case.
Fortunately for those required to make claims, Texas law requires most day care operators to carry liability insurance that pays at least $300,000 per occurrence. However, there are some broad exceptions, including exceptions when a day care operator can’t purchase insurance for financial reasons or when the day care can’t find a company to underwrite its coverage. If you’re looking around at day cares, make sure to ask whether the day cares you are considering have insurance coverage.
This year, the Austin Police Department is helping remind us, and perhaps not the easy way. I heard a report this morning that for the next two weeks or so every Austin Police Department motorcycle officer would be deployed to school zones around the city.
Don’t have an unexpected meet-up with one of these officers. Obey the speed limits, stay off your cell phone, don’t pass buses that are loading or unloading children, and stay safe.
Don’t Let Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram, or other social media) Ruin Your Personal Injury Claim
An increasing trend in personal injury litigation is for insurance companies and their lawyers trying to gain access to your social networking sites. Sometimes this includes the use of trickery to get access to your information. Once there, they’ll take statements or photos entirely out of context to try and argue that you’re not as hurt as you claim.
I’ve never had a client harmed by social media, but I don’t want you to be the first.
Some attorneys suggest that their clients cease all use of social media while the client’s case is pending. While that would be nice, I also think it’s unrealistic. I know social media has become a part of culture and life.
So if you’re going to continue to use social media, here are a few guidelines that can help you not ruin your case.
1. Don’t discuss your case in any fashion on a social networking site.
2. Don’t mention activities you’re involved in; no talking about hobbies, vacations, etc.
3. Don’t post photos of yourself. Trust me, they’ll be taken out of context in ways you can never imagine.
4. Keep your privacy settings strong.
5. Don’t allow a new “friend” unless you absolutely know who they are and trust them. There are repeated stories of insurance company representatives trying to “friend” injured persons to get access to the injured persons’ social media sites.
These are just general guidelines. If you are injured and want more specific advice, feel free to call us or contact us.
I’ve written often about the lawsuits between the NFL and former professional football players regarding their concussions. Now, the NCAA is settling (or at least trying to settle) its own lawsuit about sports-related concussions.
Under the proposed class action settlement, the NCAA will fund a $70 million pool of money to pay for former college athletes to undergo testing to determine whether they have brain injuries. The settlement will also have the NCAA set mandated “return to play” policy that all schools must follow instead of letting each school have its own policy. This would obviously help protect athletes in the future.
The settlement does not pay the athletes any damages for their concussions. Instead, the athletes would still have to sue their former schools or other parties to recover those damages. The test results that the NCAA is funding might be able to play a part in the eventual lawsuits.
This settlement is a long way from being final. It has to be approved by a judge and there are a number of people who intend to object to the settlement on various grounds. We’ll try to keep you posted because I think these type of developments are crucial to bringing public light to head injuries and they also help lead to better protocol for all levels of sports, not just colleges.
Here’s an ESPN news story about the settlement.
This is another question I recently received.
A person was injured in a car wreck, they submitted a demand letter, and tried to negotiate, but the insurance company was stonewalling them. What are they supposed to do?
There isn’t a good answer for someone in this situation. Insurance companies may engage in stonewalling tactics that are designed to get you to accept less than the full value of your claim.
When you hire us, and this happens, our response is to file suit. That’s the alternative and the hammer you can use to get a new adjuster, get a new perspective to the insurance company from a lawyer and to prove that you can enforce the claim.
But if you’re trying to represent yourself, you don’t have that option. As a result, the insurance company, knowing that you don’t have a real alternative, doesn’t have an incentive to pay the full value of your claim.
This type of conduct is one of the reasons that insurance company studies find that claimants who are represented by lawyers do substantially better overall than those who try to represent themselves.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news to people in this situation.