Frequently Asked Questions
Generally, personal injury is a way for a person to seek compensation from another person or company who has done something that caused him or her harm.
When we talk about personal injury, we usually think of bodily harm. But other types of harm can also be covered by a personal injury claim, such as emotional distress. Claimants may also be able to recover economic losses connected to a personal injury, such as a loss of income that resulted from being unable to work or a loss of future earning capacity.
Most often, when one person causes harm to another, the harm was not done intentionally. But while intentional acts can certainly create liability, intent is not required to hold someone legally accountable for the harm they’ve caused. Unintentional acts that cause harm may create liability under the legal doctrine of negligence.
Negligence generally requires people to act with a certain reasonable level of care to avoid causing foreseeable harm. Most personal injury matters are based on negligence or related theories.
Since negligence is such a general concept, it can apply to a broad range of human actions. Car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products and slippery floors—all these things and many more can lead to claims of negligence.
In some cases, a third party can bring a claim based on harm that someone close to them suffered. For example, the spouse of an injured person may be able to bring a claim for loss of consortium to seek compensation for the effects of the injuries on their marital relationship. Other persons—usually close relatives of the injured person—may be entitled to compensation for their own emotional distress.
Product liability is a special area of law used to compensate persons who suffer harm when a product failed to perform as it should. These claims are usually brought against the manufacturer or seller of the product at issue.
Claims of product liability often attribute a product’s defects to errors in the product’s’ design or manufacture. Expert testimony may be necessary to prove errors like these.
Defects in the product’s marketing materials can also create liability, even if there’s nothing particularly wrong with the product itself. For example, an instruction manual that omits important safety information could lead to injury.
While many different legal theories could apply to a product liability lawsuit, three theories are particularly common:
- A negligence claim seeks to hold a manufacturer responsible for failing to exercise a certain basic level of care in the design and manufacture of its products. Negligence is a general concept that applies to all persons, not just manufacturers and sellers of products.
- A strict liability claim is based merely on the idea that the product is defective, without consideration of any fault on the manufacturer’s part. Strict liability is typically easier to prove than negligence, since it does not require the harmed person to prove fault. But unlike negligence, strict liability only applies in certain circumstances
- Claims for breach of warranty allege that the product at issue fails to meet certain standards of quality, reliability, and suitability for the use it was designed for. A warranty claim can be based on an express warranty offered by the manufacturer or seller, or it can be based on certain implied warranties that the law imposes.
Product liability claims can address different types of harm. A person may be harmed physically or mentally if a product has defects that make it unsafe. A consumer can also suffer financial loss if a product’s defect makes it worth less than what the consumer paid for it, if the defect makes the product fail to conform to the manufacturer’s representations of what it should be and do, or if the product causes an injury that puts a person out of work for a period of time.
When drugs cause harm, the damage can be catastrophic—and sometimes deadly. Like other kinds of manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies are under a legal duty to provide products that are safe to use, as well as the proper instructions on how to use them.
Approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is no guarantee that a particular drug is completely safe. In deciding whether to approve or reject a drug, FDA reviewers don’t just consider the risks associated with that drug: they compare those risks to the drug’s potential for clinical benefits. If the benefits outweigh the risks, the drug may qualify for FDA approval.
For the most part, this rigorous design and approval process keeps unacceptably dangerous drugs off the market. Yet even drugs that can be clinically useful can be dangerous if the manufacturer’s instructions, warnings, or clinical studies are inadequate.
Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies have an interest in understating the risks associated with their products. Since publicizing those risks could harm sales, companies tend to avoid providing any more information about those risks than they have to.
Some companies, however, take that withholding of information too far. Withholding the results of clinical studies and watering down the language in warnings can leave patients under-informed about the drugs they take, exposing them to risks they shouldn’t have to take unknowingly.
For that reason, failure to warn is a central claim in typical pharmaceutical products liability claims. Patients may be entitled to compensation if the manufacturer leaves essential safety information out of the drug’s promotional materials.
Other legal theories can also be used to hold pharmaceutical companies liable. Under strict liability, a manufacturer may be liable for harm if the patient can prove the drug was unacceptably dangerous. Companies may be liable for negligence if they fail to exercise a minimal level of care in the design and manufacture of their drugs.
And as with other types of products, breach of warranty claims can be used to hold pharmaceutical products to basic standards of quality and reliability.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a life-altering injury, a personal injury lawyer will act as your guide through the court system and fight on your behalf for any damages you intend to pursue.
Before contacting or meeting with a personal injury lawyer, it is important to gather key items to aid in supporting your claims. Below is a brief description of the items you should collect prior to making the call.
- Medical bills
It is important to obtain these documents so as to enforce the evidence. These professionals should provide satisfactory evidence on the medical charges which necessitated in treatment. This will ensure full compensation for your injuries and treatment costs incurred.
- Police statement/reports
If possible, request a police report so as to have a document of what was recorded by the responding officer in their official report. The report can be vital in supporting the facts in your case.
- Gather witness statements and more information
No matter the type of accident, be it a slip, fall or car accident, there are typically people who witnessed the eve, therefore, therefore important, if physically able, to take note of these witnesses, get their names, phone numbers, and record what they saw. Witnesses can give a much needed lift to a case to support your claims.
- Get pictures of the scene and damage
Pictures are a clear proof of what happened to a person or their property. Pictures such as those showing swellings, bleeding or other injuries will always aid in conveying the impact of the experience. Also ensure that you get pictures of personal property such as cellphones or laptops that were destroyed.
- Doctor’s report
Different accidents will have different impacts on a person’s health. Hence the doctor report should detail the effects of the accident to the plaintiff’s health. The doctor’s report provides evidence of treatments received, the recovery time needed, and the loss incurred as a result of the time off work.The medical report is a vital piece of proof to document the injuries sustained.
- Automobile appraisal documents
In case of an accident, insurance companies come to inspect and appraise the vehicle. It is important to provide the settlement documents to your personal attorney before signing them. Insurance companies may offer an amount that is below what is needed to pay for the full cost of your repairs, and an experienced attorney can help make sure that you are getting a fair offer.
- Receipts of items purchased
It is important to provide the attorney with proof to all the items you bought, apart from those covered in the medical bill, and expenses incurred as a result of your injury. Get a good record of all those receipts involved in the process.
- Homeowner’s or renter’s policy
In case of an accident, such as those associated with structures; it is good to have the homeowner’s or the renter’s policy in hand, together with the coverage certificate or the declarations page before contacting your attorney. If it is not your property, you may not have access to those documents, and that is ok.
- Automobile insurance policy
Insurance policies vary and depend on the kinds of coverage purchased and the policy limits. Your attorney will need to know who your insurer is, and the details of your policy.
- Gather relevant information
Gather what information you can following your accident that may or not be pertinent. Information may include ambulance services, the name of the emergency room where you were brought, dates of admission, doctors who did the examination, and the names and number of people involved in the accident.
Majority of personal injuries cases are settled prior to trial. Hence, the need to prepare for the case to arm your attorney with the facts. When it comes to personal injury law, preparation wins cases. Do your part to ensure you receive the maximum compensation provided you under the law.
That being said, if you are having trouble obtaining all these documents, don’t let that hold you back from contacting a personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at McDonald Worley are experienced in this area of the law and can help track down the necessary documents and paperwork for your case.
Taking care of senior citizens’ day-to-day needs is a big responsibility. Unfortunately, some elder care facilities aren’t up to the task. From careless neglect to intentional mistreatment, the actions these businesses take can put them on the hook for elder abuse.
Proprietors of nursing homes, convalescent homes, assisted living facilities, and other elder care providers are under various legal duties to ensure proper care of their residents.
In addition to being subject to generally-applicable legal requirements, elder care facilities are also subject to numerous state and federal laws designed to prevent and penalize the mistreatment of older residents. Medicare regulations in particular lay out specific requirements establishing the standard of care that residents and their families can expect.
A business-wide policy or practice that leads to elder abuse can make the facility liable for any resulting harm.
Also, the actions of a nursing home employee may create liability for the business itself. Employees must be selected, trained and supervised so that they serve residents properly and safely. If a staff member neglects or abuses a resident, the facility may be liable for negligent hiring or negligent supervision.
The facilities themselves must be built and maintained in a way that minimizes hazards, and residents must receive adequate supervision and assistance to prevent accidents. If a particular resident’s condition calls for an increased amount of attention, those needs may translate to a legally-binding higher standard of care for that resident.
Unfortunately, proving a claim of elder abuse can be tricky. The evidence of such abuse may be hard to come by, and much of the available evidence may be under the control of the elder care facility itself. That’s why the best first step for families who suspect elder abuse is to get solid professional advice from a knowledgeable elder care attorney.
Denial of insurance claims is becoming a familiar problem for Texas homeowners. The past few years have brought an extraordinary amount of property damage from storms and flooding. One CNN report says that in May 2015, enough rain fell in Texas to cover the entire state in eight inches of water.
Some insurance companies may deny claims outright. More often, they may grant the claim only in part, denying other parts of the claim that the company says do not qualify for coverage.
Partial denials like these are made easier for insurance companies because certain types of Texas insurance policies cover only limited parts of the home. For example, wind damage on a roof may lead to water damage elsewhere in the house. But an insurance company may grant coverage only for the roof and deny coverage for the water damage, even though it resulted from the damage to the roof.
In Texas, insurance companies are under legal duties administer their policies in good faith, to investigate claims before denying them, and to pay granted claims promptly. Failing to inspect the damage before denying coverage may be grounds for a bad faith claim, yet many insurers continue to do just that.
Fortunately, the first step in resolving your disputed insurance claim is relatively simple. A consultation with a knowledgeable insurance attorney can give you a good idea of whether your claim was or wasn’t denied properly and what your legal alternatives are. Statutes of limitations may shorten the amount of time you have to act, however, so don’t delay in seeking out your consultation.
Like other states, Texas provides several possible grounds for contesting a will. Fraud, coercion or intimidation, lack of capacity, or technical defects like improper signatures all may be valid grounds for a challenge. Lack of capacity is a frequent basis for a challenge, as it may apply to situations where the deceased person had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease at the time they signed their will.
A will can be contested only by a person who has a demonstrable interest in that will. The challenger must either be named in the will or a previous will. Failing that, the challenger will have to give a good reason why they should have been named in the will.
Generally, it’s more advantageous to contest a will before it enters probate. A challenge issued before probate puts the burden on the executor and beneficiaries to prove that the will is legally valid. Once probate is opened, however, the burden shifts to the challenger to prove that the will is defective.
Statutes of limitation limit the time in which a challenger can contest a will. Challengers generally have a two-year window in which to contest the will. Exceptions to that two-year deadline may be available for circumstances like the discovery of fraud or forgery, the discovery of a second will, or incapacitation of an heir that prevents that heir from making a timely challenge.
These limitations periods can complicate an effort to challenge the will. And once that window closes, the opportunity to challenge the will is as good as gone. For that reason, it pays to contact a knowledgeable probate attorney sooner rather than later.
It’s not necessary for the client to pay any attorney fees up front. The attorneys at McDonald Worley work on a contingency basis. This means the attorney fees they collect are a percentage of whatever money is ultimately recovered either through a settlement or a final judgment.
If the case isn’t successful, the client doesn’t have to pay any attorney fees at all.
Contact McDonald Worley and schedule an appointment for a free consultation. An initial consultation will give you a useful understanding of your legal position and alternatives. With that knowledge, your attorney can help you decide how you wish to proceed.
When you meet with your attorney, you’ll want to bring copies of all documentation that could be relevant to your matter. That documentation may include paperwork, of course, but it may also include photographs, emails, text messages, call records, voicemails – any other records that could be relevant. The more documentation you bring, the better your attorney can advise you.
Many persons with legal issues are concerned about the expense of speaking with an attorney. Fortunately, McDonald Worley offers an initial consultation free of charge, with no obligation on the client’s part to continue the representation. Under our contingency fee agreement, we charge attorney fees only if and when we successfully resolve your matter.
You do not have to live in Texas in order to take advantage of the experience you will get from this award winning law firm. Contact the attorneys at McDonald Worley today for a FREE case evaluation.