What Can I Do If a Sinkhole Has Caused Damage or Injury?

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Residents of San Antonio sometimes encounter a threat from sinkholes, which can damage property and injure or kill people. The holes occur more frequently in Texas than any other state. They occur naturally and can form without any obvious warning signs. Texas law includes protections for citizens and insurance companies, but many find these regulations complicated. Read on to learn more about sinkholes, the damages they cause and how the government classifies them, methods available to you for filing a claim, and what you should do in the aftermath of a sinkhole.

What Is a Sinkhole?

When water dissolves land forms of soil, sediment, or rock as foundation, a sink hole occurs. The ground may sink into an underground cave that forms from the water dissolution. Insurers are required to cover a catastrophic ground cover collapse when the ground collapses abruptly, a visible hole or depression appears, structures are damaged, and the government condemns the structures due to the damages.

If your home is damaged by a sinkhole but all four of those conditions are not met, and you do not have sinkhole coverage, an insurance company can deny a claim. All companies insuring homes in Texas must offer sinkhole coverage. However, if the company completes an inspection and finds sinkhole activity on the property or nearby, they may refuse coverage.

Methods for Filing Suit

When sinkholes occur, owners and those injured may file a claim for liability. These claims fall into different categories, based on the circumstances:

  1. Premises Liability

Visitors to a home or building who receive injuries because of a sinkhole may file suit against the owner claiming premises liability. Owners must make every effort to keep visitors to their property safe from harm. When an owner is aware of a potential sinkhole forming but does not take action to address the dangerous situation, the injured party can sue the owner for failing to fulfill his or her responsibilities.

  1. Real Estate Fraud

Home sellers must advise potential buyers of sinkhole threats. Although the warning signs of a sinkhole forming can be hard to spot, if a seller knows of a sinkhole and fails to inform the buyer, the seller could bear full liability for the damages. Most commonly these holes cause an injury that only a San Antonio slip and fall lawyer can help with.

  1. Neighborly Nuisance

Sometimes a company or entity near your home sets the stage for the sinkhole to happen, causing the damage to your home. A gas company may be doing maintenance on pipes, for example. A factory could do some work that affects an entire neighborhood. Suing a neighbor may prove the best way for a victim to seek damages.

What Should You Do

If you suspect a sinkhole may exist or be forming near your home, contact a professional service. They can fill some small holes as they form. Others require evacuation and may lead to massive damages.

In the event you suspect a nearby sinkhole caused damage, make sure you ask the local utility companies to inspect your lines. After that, call your insurance company to file your claim. You may want to call an inspector in to help you identify other damages like cracks in your foundation, walls, or ceilings.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 6:13 pm

A Guide to Safe Tailgating at Cowboys Stadium (AT&T Park)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Football season is more than a sport. It brings people together for good times at house parties and tailgating before games. People of all ages tailgate around the Cowboys Stadium, drinking a few beers and enjoying the game atmosphere. However, if you tailgate at the arena, you need to understand the rules so you don’t end up getting ticketed, kicked out, or banned. This is what you need to know to stay safe while tailgating.

Location, location, location

Tailgate only in designated areas. You can’t park your vehicle and tailgate just anywhere in Arlington. Only use designated spaces to set up camp up to five hours before kickoff. You’ll find spaces with grassy areas in Lots 4-7 and 10-15, all of which are first come, first serve. You may tailgate in private lots as long as you have permission from the owners. You’re tailgating if you have a chair, cooler, grill, or other items on the ground outside your vehicle, so make sure you’re in a designated space to do so.

Cleanliness

Throw away your trash and properly dispose of coals in clearly marked containers available in tailgating lots.

Do not

  • Fry foods or bring a deep fryer.
  • Use open flame.
  • Bring weapons or fireworks.
  • Campaign, protest, solicit, or distribute flyers or political material.
  • Save space for your buddies. Caravan and get there early if you have a group that wants to tailgate together.
  • Sell or advertise 3rd party products.
  • Play your music too loudly or through an amplifier.
  • Roughhouse, fight, or engage in otherwise disorderly conduct.

Food safety

One of the best parts about tailgating is eating grilled foods on game day. However, raw meat can present an issue if you’re pretty far away from a bathroom. Bring disposable utensils and prepare as much as you can at home so all you have to do is plop the meat on the grill when you get there. Foodborne illness can ruin a game day experience.

Fight fire with…

Take a fire extinguisher and a water bottle. Although open flame isn’t allowed, you could still run into trouble with your gas or charcoal grill. Keep a fire extinguisher handy to prevent any serious trouble, and use a water bottle to take care of occasional flare-ups.

Designated driver

Find your designated driver. If you’re tailgating, that means someone drove. Make sure you have a legal plan for getting back home after the game. You can use a portable breathalyzer to monitor your intoxication levels, but these devices may not always provide accurate readings. If you’ve had more than 1 or 2 beers, you may want to consider getting a designated driver to be safe. Ballgames present the perfect opportunity for cops to pick up drunk drivers. Don’t give them a reason to pull you over. In the event of an injury or death due to drunk driving a Fort Worth drunk driving attorney can assist in getting you and your family compensation they deserve.

Take care of yourself

Hydrate, use the buddy system (it doesn’t matter if you’re a 22 year old female or a 45 year old male; let someone know where you’ll be and when you’ll be back), and wear sunscreen. Tailgating is often an all-day affair; avoid hangovers and sunburn pain by making smart choices.

Don’t be a menace

Cooperate with law enforcement and stadium security/staff. If a staff member catches you doing something against the rules, remain polite and cooperate. Don’t get thrown out of the park or arrested because you feel the need to win an argument against security personnel. Take the hit and move on. Nobody wants to get called to pick you up and take you home.

Etc

For more information about AT&T stadium rules, check out the website before you head over on game day. With common sense and a basic understanding of the rules, you can enjoy a fun day of tailgating before and/or after a fantastic game.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 11:52 pm

When Can I Sue for a Parking Lot Injury?

Friday, October 22, 2021

Parking lots are the scenes of a variety of harmful personal injuries in Texas every day. Customers may suffer slip, trip, and fall in public or private parking lots, as well as be victims of car accidents, physical assault, or theft. Never assume that because you aren’t inside of a store you don’t have the right to sue a property owner for parking lot injuries. Many parking lot injuries are preventable and are therefore the liability of negligent property owners. To learn when you can sue for a parking lot injury in Texas, work with a local personal injury attorney. Here are a few basic examples of when an injured party can sue.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slip, trip, and fall accidents injure thousands of people every year. People suffer serious injuries in slip and fall accidents in parking lots, such as broken bones, concussions, and head and brain injuries. Knowing when the property owner is legally responsible for your parking lot slip, trip, or fall injury can help you know when to file a personal injury claim. An icy parking lot, rough patch of grass, or uneven curb is only grounds for a lawsuit if the property owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dangerous issue but did nothing to prevent injury.

The Texas courts may hold property owners liable for accidents and injuries that occur on a property if proper care would have prevented the injury. For example, say a woman trips on an uneven sidewalk walking from the parking lot into the store and breaks her hip. If the owner of a grocery store should have noticed the dangerously uneven curb with proper routine maintenance checks, the courts may hold him or her liable for the woman’s injuries. In this example, the woman was an invitee to the property and the owner owed her the highest standard of care – including checking for and repairing unknown hazards. The woman would have to prove that a prudent property owner would have noticed the hazard and repaired or warned customers of it in the same circumstances.

Auto Collisions

If you get into a car accident in a parking lot, you may have a case against the property owner. If you suffered a personal injury such as whiplash or expensive property damage, a case against the other driver or parking lot owner may be worthwhile. The courts may hold a property owner responsible for parking lot collisions if the parking lot was in a state of disrepair or had known dangers that contributed to the accident, such as a downed light pole or inadequate/confusing signage. If the parking lot owner knew or should have known about car accident hazards and didn’t do anything to prevent a collision, an accident may be his or her responsibility.

Security Issues

Premises liability laws also encompass a property’s security measures. If the owner of a property has reason to believe there is a need for security measures such as a security guard, cameras, or extra lighting to prevent physical assaults and theft but fails to incorporate such measures, resulting in injury, the courts may find the owner guilty of negligence. A property owner may know of a security concern if the neighborhood has a high crime rate, if the previous owner had security problems, or if issues have occurred on the property previously.

Failing to make a parking lot as secure as the circumstances warrant is a form of property owner negligence that can result in serious physical, mental, and financial harm to property visitors. If you suffer as a result, speak to a personal injury attorney, file your claim, and prove your claim in the Texas civil court system.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 9:51 pm

What Happens If I’m Driving Without a License in Texas?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Anyone who operates a motor vehicle in the State of Texas must have a valid driver’s license. A license is proof of the legal authorization to operate a motor vehicle. Driving without a license in Texas is a misdemeanor that can come with serious penalties – especially if you cause an accident as an unlicensed driver.

Consequences for Driving Without a License in Texas

Driving without a license is a crime in Texas. This means you could face a criminal conviction, an arrest and even jail time. Under state law, your driver’s license must be legally authorized, valid, up-to-date and the correct class for the vehicle you drive. If you operate a commercial truck, for instance, you need a Class C license.

Operating a car without a driver’s license in Texas can lead to:

  • Impoundment of your motor vehicle.
  • A ticket for committing a moving violation.
  • A fine of around $200 for a first offense and more for a second offense.
  • A fine of $500 and up to six months in jail for a third offense.
  • An arrest and jail time for a misdemeanor crime.
  • A permanent conviction on your criminal record.

If you were driving with an expired driver’s license, the penalty is a fine of up to $200, plus a $100 surcharge for three years. You can avoid this fine, however, if you get your driver’s license renewed, pay a $20 fee and bring proof of the renewal to the courthouse. If you fail to follow up with renewal and miss your scheduled court date, however, you could face a class C misdemeanor on top of the traffic infraction.

If you were driving on a suspended or revoked license, the penalties can be even steeper. This is called Driving While License Invalid in Texas (Texas Transportation Code 521.457). It is a class C misdemeanor that can come with consequences such as a second suspension of your license, a fine of up to $500 and a surcharge of $250 for the next three years. These penalties can increase for a second or subsequent offense, up to six months in jail and $2,000 in fines.

What If You Cause an Accident While Driving Without a License?

You can face life-changing penalties for causing an automobile accident while driving without a license. You may get arrested for this offense, as it is a class A misdemeanor. The penalties for this crime include up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. If you cause a car accident that results in injuries or wrongful death to another person while driving on a suspended or revoked license, it is also a class A misdemeanor.

You will face civil liability for causing a car accident while unlicensed as well. Civil liability means financial responsibility for the injuries and losses suffered in the car accident. Your auto insurance provider will be responsible for covering the medical bills and property repairs of all injured victims. If you were also driving without auto insurance, these expenses may become your responsibility to pay out of pocket.

What Is Negligent Entrustment?

If someone negligently entrusted his or her vehicle to you while knowing you were unlicensed, that person could bear a portion of liability for a car accident. For example, it is against the law for a parent to knowingly allow a child who is unlicensed to operate a motor vehicle. If you get into a car accident in this scenario, the person who negligently let you drive may have to pay some or all of the financial damages through his or her auto insurance provider. This could lead to an increase in that party’s insurance premiums.

What to Do After an Accident While Unlicensed

Stop your vehicle at the scene of the car accident whether or not you were driving with a valid license. Fleeing the scene can result in much more severe penalties than driving without a license. Then, contact a lawyer for assistance. A San Antonio, Texas car accident lawyer can help you understand your options and rights after a collision while driving without a license.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 6:01 pm

Truck Accidents Caused By Driver Fatigue

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Commercial trucking companies and their drivers are responsible for the safety of their transports. Commercial trucks pose significant risks of injury and even a wrongful death to other roadway users. They are much larger and heavier than passenger cars, leading to catastrophic collisions. Unfortunately, truck drivers do not always fulfill their responsibility to drive safely. They often engage in dangerous driver behaviors, such as driving while fatigued.

Is Drowsy Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving?

Drowsy driving is a deadly driver mistake. Truck driver fatigue is behind hundreds of fatal commercial vehicle accidents every year. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2018, 4,862 fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. involved large trucks. Investigations have shown that about 13 percent of truck accidents are connected to truck driver drowsiness or fatigue.

Studies have shown that driving drowsy is comparable to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, operating a vehicle after not sleeping for 18 hours impairs a driver the same amount as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.05 percent. Driving after being awake for at least 24 hours is the equivalent of a BAC of 0.10 percent. The legal BAC limit in Texas is 0.08 percent. The legal BAC limit for a commercial driver, however, is only 0.04 percent.

Both drowsy driving and drunk driving place a driver in a state of impairment that can impede the ability to safely control and operate a motor vehicle. Like drugs or alcohol, fatigue can reduce reaction times, affect coordination, weaken the muscles and make a driver less alert. This can increase the risk of a truck driver causing a serious accident, such as a rear-end collision, chain-reaction accident or jackknife accident.

Why Are Truckers More Likely Than Other Drivers to Drive While Fatigued?

Any driver in San Antonio could be guilty of driving while drowsy or fatigued. However, commercial truck drivers are especially notorious for making this mistake. They are more likely to drive while fatigued than most other types of drivers due to the unique conditions of their work environments. Some of the most common causes of truck driver fatigue include:

  • Long hours on the road alone
  • Reversed sleep schedules
  • Physical or mental exertion
  • Trouble sleeping/inadequate sleep
  • Time changes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Poor diet or obesity
  • Medical conditions
  • The use of stimulants such as coffee

Truck driver fatigue is so common that the FMCSA has a rule in place to try to prevent this dangerous driver mistake, known as the hours-of-service (HOS) regulation. The HOS regulation has a maximum number of hours that truck drivers are permitted to be on the road at a time.

No commercial motor vehicle driver may drive beyond 14 hours in a single day. Drivers must also take 30-minute rest breaks after 8 hours of driving time. Many trucking companies, however, encourage their drivers to break HOS rules to make deliveries faster. This can lead to preventable truck accidents.

Who Is Liable for Truck Accidents Caused By Driver Fatigue?

If driver fatigue causes a truck accident in Texas, the person or party most responsible for causing the collision will have to pay for damages. This is how Texas’s tort-based insurance system operates.

Although the drowsy truck driver is technically responsible for his or her dangerous mistake, the rule of vicarious liability may hold a trucking company financially responsible for the collision. Vicarious liability holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees who were performing job-related tasks at the time of an accident.

If a fatigued truck driver was an employee of a trucking company at the time of the wreck, the company could be vicariously liable for damages. The trucking company could also be directly liable if it contributed to the accident by encouraging a driver to violate safety rules. If the driver was an independent owner/operator, however, he or she may be individually liable for the crash.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you believe you were injured in a truck accident caused by truck driver fatigue, contact the San Antonio truck accident attorneys at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. We offer free and confidential consultations.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 11:33 am

What Happens If a Drunk Driver Hits You in San Antonio, Texas

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Driving while intoxicated is a dangerous and reckless driver behavior that causes thousands of injuries and deaths in Texas every year. In 2018 alone, 961 people in Texas lost their lives due to drunk drivers. This represented 26% of all car accident deaths in 2018. If you get into an accident with a drunk driver in San Antonio, Texas, find out what happens next to prepare for the process ahead.

The Drunk Driver Could Face Criminal Charges

First, the drunk driver could face criminal charges for breaking Texas’ driving while intoxicated (DWI) law. It is illegal in Texas to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content level at or above 0.08%. A driver could also be guilty of DWI with a lesser blood alcohol content level if he or she is too impaired to drive.

The driver may get arrested for drunk driving at the scene of your car accident. Call the police right away if you suspect the driver who hit you is drunk. If the driver is found guilty of DWI, your DWI accident attorney in San Antonio or a drunk driving attorney in fort worth can use the conviction as evidence during your civil case against the driver. However, there does not need to be an arrest for you to make a civil claim in San Antonio.

You Have the Right to File a Civil Suit Against the Drunk Driver

A civil lawsuit can reimburse you and your family for the economic and noneconomic damages connected to a drunk driving accident. A civil lawsuit is different from a criminal case against the defendant. A civil case can make you whole again by providing financial compensation for past and future losses, while a criminal case punishes the defendant.

A successful civil lawsuit against a DWI driver could lead to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Emotional anguish
  • Disability
  • Lost wages and capacity to earn
  • Vehicle repairs or totaled car replacement
  • Lost enjoyment of life

In Texas, the driver at fault for causing a car accident is financially responsible for damages. It is up to the victim, however, to prove the defendant was negligent or reckless and caused the collision. You or your attorney must demonstrate using evidence that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and that this caused the crash to recover compensation.

You May Be Entitled to Punitive Damages

Compensatory damages are available to help you pay the bills, recover and move forward after an accident. Another category of damages, punitive damages, is meant to punish a defendant for gross negligence or egregious wrongdoing.

You may be eligible for punitive damages after a drunk driving car accident due to the nature of the defendant’s error. Even if the driver is not convicted of a DWI, you could receive punitive damages for the driver’s reckless decision to drink and drive.

You Could Also Hold a Negligent Bar or Restaurant Accountable

Texas has a dram shop law (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2) that may entitle you to hold a bar or restaurant accountable for your drunk driving accident in addition to the intoxicated driver. This law places liability with establishments that overserve their patrons if those patrons proceed to injure others.

If an establishment knowingly served a visibly intoxicated person or minor alcohol, and that person went on to cause a drunk driving accident, the dram shop may be held financially responsible for resulting injuries and property damage. The dram shop could be liable for contributing to the DWI accident by overserving the culprit.

Learn Your Rights After a Drunk Driving Accident in San Antonio, Texas

If a drunk driver hits you in San Antonio, Texas, you have legal rights as an injured accident victim. Consult with a car accident attorney in San Antonio for more information about your rights and legal options. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the intoxicated driver and/or other parties, such as the dram shop.

A lawyer can explain your rights, provide legal advice, and represent you during a car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Contact a car accident lawyer in Texas as soon as possible after a DWI crash for assistance.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 5:54 pm

What Can I Do if My Child Was Injured in a Haunted House?

Monday, October 11, 2021

Creepy music, dimly lit passages, and eerie décor set the stage for paying customers seeking to feel startled and scared in the classic Halloween-time haunted house. As costumed employees jump around corners and faux guillotines drop right in front of guests, people suffer premises-related injuries every year. In certain cases, haunted house owners bear responsibility for resulting injuries, and parents should take swift action to protect their children’s rights.

Types of Haunted House Injuries

Owners often lay out haunted houses in a way that disorients customers, creates sensations of unease, and directs the flow of traffic. If the owners and operators do not use extreme care during construction and employee training, they can create accident hazards and increase the overall risk of injury. Some of the most common types of haunted houses injuries include:

  • Actor-caused accidents. In character, some haunted house employees take their roles too seriously. They may grab guests or run into them with force. These actions can cause a child or adult to fall backwards, into other customers, or into a safety hazard.
  • Trampling incidents. In a particularly frightening moment, crowds may run together to get away from the startling image and knock down and/or trample unsuspecting children. Many reputable haunted houses limit the number of visitors allowed inside at one time to prevent these kinds of accidents.
  • Unsafe premises incidents. Haunted house operators must use reasonable care when constructing and maintaining the venue for the season. Improper ventilation, poorly secured props, rides, and exposed construction materials can all contribute to preventable injuries onsite. These oversights can result in injuries including carbon monoxide poisoning, lacerations, burns, and broken limbs.

The causes of these incidents are outside a visitor’s control. They can happen despite a visitor’s individual safety precautions.

Scare Related vs. Premises Liability Related Injuries

Haunted house owners are liable for injuries that arise from onsite hazards and negligent actions. However, all haunted house visitors assume a certain amount of risk the moment they walk through the entrance. If your or your child’s injury resulted from normal, safe, and age-appropriate haunted house conditions, the courts will likely side with the haunted house. Anxiety attacks and other fear-related injuries will generally not stand up as fair personal injury arguments in court. The most common type of injury is slip and fall injuries.

The concept of assumption of risk will only protect a haunted house up to a point. You may want to discuss a scare related claim with a personal injury attorney before writing off legal action.

What to Do After a Haunted House Injury

Always make sure younger children visit haunted houses with appropriate adult supervision and that older children go in groups. As soon as you learn of the injury, take these steps:

  • Gather information. If you weren’t present at the time of injury, visit the area where your child was injured and take pictures. If you were with your child at the time of the incident, take pictures/video and ask people nearby for their account of what happened, while collecting names/contact information.
  • Report the injury to the haunted house manager or owner. Ask to file an incident report as soon as possible, and record the names of employees who talk to you about the incident. A haunted house employee may even serve as a valuable witness.
  • Take your child to a medical provider. Tell the physician about the incident and keep all medical records associated with the injury. A swift evaluation can link the injury to the haunted house and serve as a basis for your personal injury claim.

Most reputable haunted houses carry liability insurance to cover premises liability claims that arise onsite. Before you speak to an adjustor, accept a settlement, or let the case go, speak to an attorney. Your child deserves justice in incidents that involve haunted house negligence or malicious conduct, and taking action can prevent similar incidents in the future.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 10:18 am

Common Defenses in Trucking Accident Cases

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Tractor-trailer accidents can lead to catastrophic property damage, severe injuries, even deaths. These accidents can happen for any number of reasons, including driver errors, faulty vehicle parts, poor maintenance, or aggressive driving. When a person suffers an injury in a trucking accident, he or she may attempt to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver or trucking company. While some cases are open and shut, others are more complex, may involve multiple defendants, or there may simply be a lack of evidence that could help reach a speedier conclusion.

Trucking companies carry insurance coverage for personal injury claims and often employ response teams that travel to accident sites to gather evidence. These responders look for any evidence to protect their employers from legal entanglements with plaintiffs injured in trucking accidents.

Common Defenses for Trucking Companies

The first step in handling any type of personal injury claim is establishing fault. While the plaintiff must prove the trucking company is at fault for his or her injuries, the trucking company will look for any reason to disprove or cast doubt upon a plaintiff’s claims. Some of the most common defenses these companies will use include:

  • Plaintiff fault. Some states follow comparative negligence laws that allow plaintiffs to secure compensation for damages even if they are partially to blame for those damages. In trucking accident cases, the trucking company will likely look for any evidence that the plaintiff is at least partially to blame for an accident.
  • Third parties. A trucking company may claim that a third party unrelated to the plaintiff or the trucking company caused the accident in question. In these cases, the trucking company must be able to prove a third party had a hand in the accident and may need to collect evidence such as traffic camera data.
  • Honest accidents. If the trucking accident occurred due to an unavoidable accident or honest mistake, the trucking company may be able to prove the driver was not negligent and the accident was inevitable. In these situations, the trucking company’s liability coverage may go toward the plaintiff’s damages, but the trucking company may escape liability for negligence.
  • Plaintiff exaggeration. Plaintiffs can only sue for actual harm suffered or measurable losses. The trucking company may argue that the plaintiff overestimated his or her losses or did not suffer any actual damages.
  • Lack of evidence. A trucking company may cite lack of proof of injury as evidence that the plaintiff lied or exaggerated his or her injuries. Plaintiffs should be certain to secure as much evidence as possible to prove the extent of their injuries and other damages. This also means providing evidence that a plaintiff’s medical treatment was appropriate, given the situation and the plaintiff’s injuries. Additionally, if the plaintiff claims lost wages as damages in a lawsuit, the plaintiff must be able to provide evidence of the lost income.

Plaintiffs injured in trucking accidents should work quickly to secure legal representation if they feel a truck accident lawsuit is necessary. The right attorney will help build a strong case with all the necessary supporting evidence for reaching a satisfactory verdict and help hold negligent trucking companies and drivers accountable for their actions.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 6:29 pm