What to Do If You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver this Holiday Season?

Personal Injury LawChristmas and New Years—the time of "good cheer." Unfortunately, too often that "cheer" comes in a bottle or a glass and too often it leads to disastrous results. Alcohol, after all, is a depressant—it will make you tired and it will slow down your reaction time. It is no surprise, then, that four out of every ten nationwide traffic fatalities during the holidays involve drunk drivers. But what if you have had the good fortune (if you want to call it that) to have been in a holiday crash with a drunk driver and survived. What steps should you take to protect yourself?

Contact the Authorities


In the aftermath of any motor vehicle accident, you want to contact the police, but it is particularly important to do so when the other driver is intoxicated. If you seek damages in a court of law, the jury will base its ruling on a finding of fault. If you can introduce evidence in court that the other driver was drunk, that is powerful evidence of fault. In addition to the arrest record, you may also have testimony gathered by police officers.

Get Medical Care


Whether you have to leave the scene in an ambulance or are able to drive away under your own power, you want to seek medical care as soon as possible. Often, the most debilitating injuries are the ones you cannot see and that take a couple days to manifest. For example, if you have strained muscles, you may not notice it very much at first, but may be in significant discomfort in a day or two. It is important that you get immediate medical care, that you tell the doctor exactly what happened, and where you feel any pain or discomfort. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that opposing attorneys will argue your injuries were either not severe or were caused by an intervening event.

Identify Potentially Responsible Parties


Often, the biggest challenge after an accident involving a drunk driver is getting compensation for your injuries. It is a fact that many drunk drivers are repeat offenders and are often driving without adequate insurance or without insurance at all. In such a situation, you should look first to your own insurance policy, to determine if you have a rider for "uninsured or underinsured motorists." Insurance companies are required to offer this in most states, but you should not expect them to tell you that you have coverage—get an attorney to do that for you.
Another potential source of recovery is the person or establishment that served the alcohol. In most states, if the person being served was visibly or obviously intoxicated when served the alcohol, or was served a quantity that would reasonably cause intoxication, the person and/or the establishment may have liability. That can also hold true for social hosts at private parties.
Other potential sources of recovery include:

  • There may have been roadway defects that caused the accident

  • There may have been defects in your vehicle or the at-fault party's vehicle that caused the accident

  • There may have been wrongdoing by a third party that contributed to the accident

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    At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas Personal Injury Attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Watch the Holiday Cheer!! DUI Enforcement is Up at the Holidays

Criminal LawIt's the holiday season—time for Christmas and New Years parties. That usually means a few beers or a couple of cocktails. But you want to be particularly careful this time of year. Law enforcement officials are aware of the increase in parties and partying around the holidays, and typically beef up their DUI and DWI enforcement to try to ensure a higher level of public safety.

Tips for Avoiding a DUI This Holiday Season


The most obvious solution to avoid a drunk driving arrest after a Christmas or New Years party? Don't drink and drive:

  • Find an alcohol free holiday drink—Leave the booze out of the eggnog this year or sip on some non-alcoholic champagne. Consider that it's the company that makes the party, not the liquor. You can celebrate without drinking.

  • Volunteer to be the designated driver—You'll be a hero with your friends and you'll know that you won't be riding in a vehicle with a drunk driver


But let's say you really want to have a toddy or two—you can still do that and be safe. It may be a simple matter of pacing yourself, understanding your capacity to absorb alcohol. You can bring your own designated driver, or arrange to stay at a nearby hotel, or with a friend. Another good option—call a cab or use mass transit to get home. Here's what won't work, though—no amount of coffee or food will sober you up; only time can do that.

Other Ways to Minimize the Risk of a DUI


If you've had a few drinks and have no choice to get on the road, there are still a few tips to help minimize the risk of being pulled over:

  • Turn your cell phone off until you get home—Even when you haven't had a few drinks, your phone is a distraction. In fact, the National Safety Council says that more than 1.5 million accidents, and 330,000 injuries every year are tied to cell phone use by drivers.

  • Practice safe driving techniques—Pay close attention to traffic signs and signals and obey the laws. There's no rush to get home, but don't drive way below the speed limit, either, as that will draw the attention of law enforcement officials.

  • Maintain your vehicle—Too many drunk driving arrests result from poor vehicle maintenance. The police only need reasonable cause to pull you over. If your tail light is broken or your turn signal doesn't work, that's a motor vehicle infraction and you can be stopped. Never put off even minor vehicle maintenance.



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At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Estate PlanningThere are a great many ideas that fill the holiday season. Manger scenes are meant to remind us of the incarnation celebrated by Christians. The Jewish Hanukkah celebration symbolized by the menorah. The television commercials, the hustle and bustle and the desperation that sometimes accompanies it. The nostalgic seasonal specials and the programs that present the year in review. I am reminded more frequently as the years pass of the fleeting nature of time. Our lives are described as a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. With shorter days we are called to contemplation and renewed priorities. With the coming of the new year we resolve to act consistently with those priorities. My advice is to value time over money and to invest both wisely.

May this season bring you time well spent with friends and family.

We look forward to working with you in 2018!

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To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. For your convenience, we answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet with you.

Child Custody During the Holidays

Family LawIt seems every year about this time people lose their minds. The Possession and Access schedule listed on most Divorces and Suits Affecting the Parent Child Relationship list a holiday schedule. Every year people seem to have trouble understanding of following it.


There are a few things to keep in mind.




  1. The object of the order is to ensure BOTH parents get to participate in raising the child. The Child will almost always benefit from spending time with both parents. - Sec. 153.001.  PUBLIC POLICY.  (a)  The public policy of this state is to:


(1)  assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;


(2)  provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child;  and


(3)  encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.


    (b)  A court may not render an order that conditions the right of a conservator to possession of or access to a child on the payment of child support.


 



  1. If you and your EX agree to something that is ALWAYS OK, even if it varies from the Standard Possession and Access Order - Sec. 153.311.  MUTUAL AGREEMENT OR SPECIFIED TERMS FOR POSSESSION.  The court shall specify in a standard possession order that the parties may have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties and, in the absence of mutual agreement, shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in the standard possession order.




  1. The Holiday schedule applies no matter what the distance between the parties.  - Sec. 153.314.  HOLIDAY POSSESSION UNAFFECTED BY DISTANCE PARENTS RESIDE APART.  The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart.  The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:




  1. The Holiday schedule supersedes weekend visitation – See 153.314 above.


Holiday visitations work on an odd year/even year basis – e.g. 153.314 (1)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;


(2)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;


Now perhaps this is too basic but here goes. This is 2017. 2017 is an odd number. Thus, unless the parties agree to something else the parent the child lives with most of the time would have from the time school lets out for Christmas Break until noon on December 28 and the other parent would have from noon December 28 until 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes. Next year, 2018, is an even numbered year and so the holiday possession schedule flips.




  1. Lastly, as unpleasant as it is, if one of the parents disobeys the court’s order there is little that can be done about it right now. This time of the year Courts, just like everyone else take off. The police department generally can not do anything to enforce your possession and access. Attempt to resolve your disagreements with your EX. If you can’t, keep a log of what all happened and after the new year, contact an attorney to possibly file a Motion to Enforce and seek makeup time.



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To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. For your convenience, we answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.

HOW DO I BRING MY FIANCÉ INTO THE UNITED STATES?

ImmigrationThis winter, a sizable number of clients became engaged. Namely, to foreigners that they met on business trips, study abroad programs, or arranged marriages. No matter the reason, they all come to an immigration attorney to ask the same question: How do I bring my fiancé into the United States?

The answer is deceptively simple. One may bring a fiancé over on what is called the K-1 Visa, or otherwise known as the Fiancé Visa. The love ridden United States citizen can fill out a Form I-129F, and send it in with evidentiary documentation and a money order to United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). While the process, on the exterior, is not complicated, it is in fact time consuming, emotionally draining, and will test the strength the couple’s love and relationship months before the actual marriage.

The K-1 Visa process to immigrate a loved one into the United States is long one. There are three parts to the K-1 process. First, the Form I-129F must be approved by USCIS. USCIS approval normally takes anywhere between four to six months. Also note that the Form I-129F is not the only document sent in; the couple must prove that it is a bonafide engaged, meaning that, in most cases, a lot of evidence must be sent in. This includes, but is not limited to, pictures, emails, letters, divorce decrees of prior marriages, birth certificates, etc… This step, however, only recognizes the bonafide relationship. The foreign fiancé must obtain permission to travel to the United States, and must complete the second step.

After USCIS approval, the second step is applying for the K-1 Visa with the Department of State at the Consulate/Embassy of the foreign fiancé. This process, before Department of State approval, generally takes two to three months. The foreign fiancé will apply for the K-1 Visa at the Consulate/Embassy abroad, and submit documentation such as civil identity documentation, medical exam documentation (from a doctor approved by the Consulate/Embassy), and, again, proof of the bonafide relationship. The foreign fiancé will also need to undergo a consulate interview with a Department of State officer. This second step gives permission to travel to the United States, but does not grant admission into the United States. For admission into the United States, one must complete the third step.

The foreign fiancé will now need to arrive in the United States and seek admission at a port of entry (i.e., DFW Airport). CBP will conduct biometrics, check background information, and conduct an interview of the foreign fiancé. Once finally admitted, the couple has 90 days to marry.

The K-1 Visa process is long and emotionally draining. Therefore it is not a surprise that a lot of couples separate while the process is ongoing. The K-1 Visa is only the beginning. After marriage, the foreign fiancé must adjust status through USCIS and also possibly remove conditions from their green card. These processes also take a long time. It is highly recommended that the couple hire an experienced immigration attorney to guide them through the K-1 Visa Process.

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At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas immigration law attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Payment of Retroactive Benefits.

Social Security DisabilitySSI claimants are often disappointed when they learn that their past due benefits will be paid in installments after a finding of disability. Often times it can take a full year for social security to pay all the money owed. However there are circumstances that can effectuate an acceleration of the payment of past due benefits.

Since many SSI claimants accrue debt while awaiting their disability determination social security’s rules allow for the accelerated payment of past due benefits, if the claimant can show that the debt is related to medically necessary services or expenses. The definition of “medically necessary ” is construed broadly and varies from office to office, however it can include, a car to travel to appointment, a cell phone to contact providers, and a computer to access records or my SSA account.
Similarly, if a claimant can show accrued debt or upcoming expenses related to the acquisition of food, clothing, or shelter (including rent and mortgage) social security can expedite the payment of the lump sum settlement. Lastly the payment of past due benefits can also be accelerated in circumstances where the claimant has expenses related to the purchase of a home.
The acceleration of benefits is only allowed in circumstances where the expenses will not be reimbursed by another public program, insurance policy, or other method.

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To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. For your convenience, we answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.


Happy New Year? Facing Your Financial Future in 2018

BankruptcyAh, the sounds, sights, and scents of the season! Christmas time is the time of year when we over eat, over indulge, and often over spend. We are likely to hear the sounds of bells ringing, Christmas songs playing, and people shouting out “Merry Christmas” to one another but for many, the sounds of the season might also include the constant ringing of the phone by bill collectors harassing you and yours in an effort to squeeze funds from you this holiday season. Maybe a creditor has left a lump of coal in your stocking, a.k.a. served with you a lawsuit! There is no peace on earth with the phone ringing, collection agents leaving unsavory messages on your phone, or you receiving a notice that you are being sued over the holidays.

We sometimes equate a “Happy Holiday” with the purchase of gifts for our family, friends, and loved ones. Often, this can cause more financial stress for families that are already struggling to pay creditors. According to the American Research Group, Inc., American shoppers plan on spending an average of $983.00 for gifts this holiday season. This represents an increase of 6% from last year. The question is, how will these shoppers pay for these gifts? Will they use credit cards and continue to add to mounting debt? Is this a situation you are facing as well?

Ask yourself this important question as you head into the New Year: “Is my financial house in order for 2018?” If the answer is no, maybe it is time to take a serious look at your legal options to resolve your debt issues through a bankruptcy proceeding. Bankruptcy is no longer a four-letter word that will plague you for the rest of your life. It is a controlled, legal process that gathers and forces all your creditors into one proceeding to resolve your outstanding debt.

As we head into the New Year, we all make resolutions to exercise more, eat healthier, and quit smoking. But can one focus on these goals if they are overwhelmed and burdened with a great deal of debt? Financial problems can be overwhelming and take an extreme amount of energy, time, and effort to deal with. Are you ready to focus on your finances so that you can move on with the rest of your year? If yes, then I recommend the following steps to point you in the right direction for 2018:

  1. Gather all your bills together and add them up. Do not stick your head in the sand. Just because you don’t look at them, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

  2. Review your income and expenses. Add all the amounts you pay to creditors and see if you can really afford to continue the monthly payments. If you find yourself short each and every month, consider whether you can really continue to live in that crunch. If you can’t, contact our office to help you with your new financial plan.

  3. Make a new budget for the year. Include all of your debt and how much you will pay on each account. Evaluate how and when you think you can pay off the debt in total. If it’s longer than 3 years, you may want to consider a bankruptcy option.


Bankruptcy is a serious consideration and has serious consequences but for many, it is a life changer and often, a life saver. Let our 25 years of experience help guide you today for a better new year in 2018 and years to come!

Happy Holidays,

Leticia M. Evans, Managing Bankruptcy Attorney Bailey & Galyen

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To set up a free bankruptcy consultation, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. For your convenience, we answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. Remember, your choice in attorney matters.

Fight Night!: He started it!

Workers' CompensationI often receive calls about injured workers who were involved in a fight at work. My first question is usually, "Who started it, and why?" This is important to determine because if an injury results from a dispute that arose from the injured worker's duties, how the work was performed, or in self-defense, it might be considered within the course and scope of employment and be covered.

These claims fall under Section 406.032(1)(B), the "Willful Attempt to Injure Another of Self." This area of law is determined by an Administrative Judge as a question of fact that he or she must decide when the insurance carrier raises an affirmative defense.

For example, verbal disputes occurring outside of the workplace between employees who do not get along, which later results in a brawl while at work, is not categorized as a work-related incident for either party. This is because whether employees like each other or do not get along is not related to the way the work is performed.

By contrast, injuries resulting from a confrontation between an employee and their foreman because the foreman belittles the employee on how the employee is performing the job, is categorized as work-related. In this example, there is no personal animosity and the injury arose from a disagreement related to the manner in which the injured worker was performing their duties. This would be deemed compensable, and the injuries would be covered. APD 962472

The bottom line is, do not bring personal drama into the workplace, even if you have an issue with a co-worker or management. In most circumstances, an altercation at work that results in a physical dispute arising from the manner in which you perform your job duties or in reasonable self-defense would be covered.

If you believe you were protecting yourself and had no part in starting a fight at work, you might be entitled to workers' compensation coverage for your injuries. Be safe, but just in case, give us a call so we can review the specific facts to your situation and explain what your options are.

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To all the first responders and the volunteers, including Bailey & Galyen's own Travis Wyatt who joined his father and uncle in rescue efforts to those stranded during Hurricane Harvey floods...we thank you! Be safe, but just in case...email or call our offices at 844-402-2992 regarding any questions you may have regarding a work related injury.