victims rights

If you or a family member has been involved in an accident resulting in injury or wrongful death, it is essential to learn about your rights as a victim.  Contact us to learn what Steven Laird, an experienced accident attorney, specializing in serious injury and wrongful death, can do to help you navigate the aftermath and achieve the best possible outcome.

What You Should Know Before You Speak to an Insurance Adjuster About Your Claim

What to do before speaking to an insurance agent after an accident with a semi truck
Posted by The Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C. – Truck Accidents

If you are injured in an accident with a commercial motor vehicle or a car, you will likely hear from the other driver’s insurance adjuster or lawyer soon after the accident. If this happens, it is essential to know that the adjuster or lawyer represents the parties on the other side, and is usually interested in minimizing their fault and your damages in order to prevent you from receiving a fair settlement.

In Texas, it is crucial that you retain an experienced personal injury attorney to represent your interests as soon as possible after you have been in an accident with an 18 wheeler or some other vehicle. Having an experienced law firm on your side helps to protect you against the insurance company’s efforts to minimize and devalue your claims, and their attacks on your reputation and credibility. They commonly do this in conjunction with the defense lawyers they hire.

Common Tactics used by Insurance Adjusters & Defense Lawyers to Help Minimize the Amount of Your Claim:
  • Calling you immediately after the accident: An adjuster or defense lawyer might call you immediately after the accident to record your statement and ask you questions “while the incident is still fresh in your mind.” These types of calls are likely not intended to “speed up the process”; rather, they are designed to gather the information that can later be used against you by:
    • Tricking you to admit that you were partially at fault;
    • Tricking you to minimize the extent of injuries, or getting you to state that you are doing fine after the accident;
    • Tricking you to recount the accident in hopes of developing information that can later be used against you.
  • Offering a minimal settlement before you fully understand the extent of your injuries. Some adjusters and defense lawyers will attempt to get you, the injured person, to settle before you have finished treatment and rehabilitation, and before you have had the chance to contact an experienced lawyer who can provide you with an understanding of what you are entitled to recover for all of your claims.
  • Denying your claim in hopes that you will simply give up. Reasons can include claiming that you were responsible for the accident, blaming another third-party for the accident, or attempting to convince you that your injuries are not consistent with your accounting of the accident and so forth.
  • Probing into your confidential past medical history in hopes of a preexisting condition that the adjuster or defense lawyer can use as an excuse for your current problems.
Bad Faith Tactics & Additional Liabilities

In addition to these common tactics, some insurance companies or defense lawyers employ bad faith tactics that may leave them open to additional liabilities. Our team of experienced Fort Worth truck accident attorneys, personal injury, and wrongful death lawyers, has handled many of these types of cases.

We understand the complexities of Texas commercial trucking laws and car wreck laws. We will always try to ensure that you are protected from bad faith tactics, and we will always be there to help you to recover the just and fair compensation that you deserve.


Trucking Industry’s Legislative Agenda

I’m hearing some troubling things about the proposed legislative agenda being pushed by the trucking industry, such as their desire to increase truck/trailer weight limits from 80,000 lbs. to 97,000 lbs. and to once again try to increase the hours a trucker may drive without rest.

With all the trucking activity around Texas and the Fort Worth/Dallas area, the last thing we need is to let the trucks drive heavier, faster and longer. Truck wrecks and deadly accidents happen all too frequently as is and too many carriers are cutting costs by scaling back on safety and maintenance. What we do need is smarter and more-effective regulation and increased law enforcement to adequately police for violators.

Hidden Costs of Tort Reform

A disturbing trend is emerging due to “tort reform” Fewer injured consumers are able to be fully compensated through the court system and more are being forced onto taxpayer-funded government and charity healthcare programs. For example, a baby injured by medical negligence can’t recover damages because of tort reform, and thus is cared for from now on by Medicaid. Or a worker is injured by a defective product but preemption shields the manufacturer from liability, so the worker goes onto Social Security Disability.

It is sad and ironic that one of the darlings of conservatives – tort reform and reduced access to the courthouse – is shifting this burden onto taxpayers, a burden which was once shared with the insurance industry.

Who Gets Hurt Most by “Tort Reform?”

Women, children, the elderly, minorities and those who are less-affluent, according to a study done by two professors at Emory University. Here is the abstract to the article:

“Tort reform may not affect all segments of society equally. Studies have shown that many tort reforms disproportionately reduce compensation to women, children, the elderly, disadvantaged minorities, and less affluent people. This study goes beyond tort reform’s disproportionate effect on compensation, to explore whether tort reform also has a disproportionate effect on accidental death rates. We explain that, theoretically, tort reform’s care-level effects and activity-level effects may disproportionately impact the accident rates of different groups. Using the most accurate, comprehensive data on medical malpractice tort reforms and state-level data from 1980-2000, we examine empirically whether tort reforms indeed have such a disproportionate effect. The results from our empirical analysis are consistent with our theoretical predictions. We find that the impact of tort reform varies substantially among demographic groups. When we consider the net effect of all the reforms in our study together, our results suggest that women, children, and the elderly do not enjoy tort reform’s benefits as much as men and middle-aged people. In fact, they might even be harmed by reform.”

Tort reform not working? Gosh, who knew?

Good article in the Texas Observer dispels one of the big myths foisted upon Texans by the insurance industry in pushing “tort reform” back in 2003.

Quote: “Proposition 12, and the far-reaching changes in Texas civil law that it dragged behind it, was built on a foundation of mistruths and sketchy assumptions. The number of doctors in the state was not falling, it was steadily rising, according to Texas Medical Board data. There was little statistical evidence showing that frivolous lawsuits were a significant force driving increases in malpractice premiums. Perhaps the most insidious sleight of hand employed by Proposition 12 backers was their repeated insistence that medical malpractice insurance rates were somehow responsible for doctor shortages in rural Texas…The campaign’s promise, that tort reform would cause doctors to begin returning to the state’s sparsely populated regions, has now been tested for four years. It has not proven to be true.”