Third Party Workplace Injury Claims

Third Party Workplace Injury ClaimsWhen you’ve been injured in an accident at work in Texas, you have the right to seek benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation program. But that may not be your only recourse. Here’s how it works.

The workers’ compensation laws were set up as part of what’s often referred to as the “great bargain,” designed to provide benefits to both workers and employers. For workers, the workers’ compensation system allows you to recover benefits without a lot of the hassle and expense of filing a lawsuit. You may have to take your claim to a referee or workers’ compensation judge, but the process customarily takes a lot less time. If your claim is initially approved, you can be receiving benefits within a number of weeks. Compare that with a civil suit for damages, where it can take six months or more just to complete discovery and another year or more before you go to trial… and you won’t receive a single penny until the lawsuit has run its course, including appeals.

For employers, there’s also a benefit—you don’t have to worry about a sympathetic jury returning an exorbitant jury award to an injured employee. The workers’ compensation system has fixed benefits, based on the worker’s wages and degree of disability.

Workers’ compensations was designed to be the exclusive remedy for an injured worker for losses caused by the negligence of an employer or co-employee. In most instances, it is the only avenue of recourse. However, if the injuries suffered were caused, in whole or in part, by an unrelated third party, an injured person may seek damages from that third party in a separate lawsuit in civil court, in a proceeding unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim.

Accordingly, if your injuries were the result of negligence by someone other than your employer or a co-worker, you can file a lawsuit. In fact, if your employer or a co-employee was partially liable and a third party also had some liability, you can simultaneously file a workers’ compensation claim and a civil suit.

Examples of injuries for which you could file a third-party claim include:

  • Injuries suffered in a work-related motor vehicle accident, where the at-fault driver was neither your employer nor a co-employee

  • Injuries caused by the negligent design or manufacture of a product, tool, machine or device

  • Injuries caused by workers or conditions on property adjacent to that of your employer

It’s important to understand, though, that when you file a third party lawsuit, there are potential benefits and consequences. You won’t be limited to a fixed amount of damages, but you’ll also have to wait a long time before you see any compensation.

Contact Us

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.

Does lighting strike twice? – Timelines for filing a new bankruptcy case.

Bankruptcy LawIf you have filed bankruptcy in the past and you find yourself in a position where you need to file again, you need expert legal advice to make sure you get it right. Job loss, divorce, medical emergencies, business closing, or other unexpected situations can all come together in a perfect storm to necessitate a new bankruptcy filing. Are you able to file bankruptcy again? The answer is usually “Yes” but you have to be careful to get the timing of your case right if your goal is to receive a new discharge on your outstanding debt. Below is a brief outline of the filing time periods between cases filed to receive a discharge in the subsequent bankruptcy filing:

Chapter 7 Discharge Chapter 7 8 Years
Chapter 7 Discharge Chapter 13 4 Years
Chapter 13 Discharge Chapter 13 2 Years
Chapter 13 Discharge Chapter 7 6 Years - Unless you paid all your unsecured creditors in full in the Ch. 13 or you paid at least 70% of the claims filed in your case and you proposed your case in good faith and it was your best effort

*If your case has been dismissed and not discharged, then the filing time requirements do not apply; However, you may still be subject to additional filing requirements.

Even if you filed a previous case and received a discharge, either a Chapter 7 or a 13, you may still want to file a new Chapter 13 to protect you from foreclosure, vehicle repossession or tax garnishment if you find yourself in any of these circumstances. You may not receive a discharge but you can protect your property and pay back these debts on your own terms. Remember, your choice in attorney matters and you need an experienced bankruptcy attorney to review your case. Contact our office today for a free consultation to see if a new case is right for you.

First Offender Programs in Texas

First Offender Programs in TexasWe all make mistakes—unfortunately, for some of us, those mistakes can have legal consequences. While the aftermath of a criminal arrest can be traumatic, the existence of a number of first offender programs in Texas can give you the opportunity for a second chance.

The Function and Purpose of a First Offender Program

A first-time offender program is one that includes a rehabilitative component, allowing the defendant to escape the full penalty or consequences of a conviction or plea. As a general rule, a first-time offender program includes mandatory participation in certain types of counseling or training. Depending on the nature of the offense, the defendant may be required to submit to certain types of treatment and may have a mandatory period of probation. It’s also customary not to enter the probation into the official record, provided the defendant meets all the terms.

The Texas First Offender Programs

Texas offers a number of first-time offender, or diversionary, programs:

  • There are first offender drug programs, usually available to first-time drug offenders who have no other pending prosecutions.

  • Some counties offer mental health diversionary programs—These options, such as the Denton Mental Health Treatment Court, give offenders with mental illness the opportunity to remove charges and convictions from their records

  • There are also general first-time pre-trial diversion programs

Though it’s not specifically a “program,” HB 3016, recently enacted by the Texas Senate, gives convicted persons in Texas the right not to disclose a conviction when applying for a job. Basically a “second chance” act, it applies only to individuals convicted of low-level, non-violent offenses.

Expunging a Conviction under HB 3016

If you are looking for a second chance under the new Texas law, you’ll need to file a petition for expunction with one of the Texas civil courts. The process can be complicated, so it’s important that you have an experienced attorney to protect your rights. You can also anticipate that the prosecutor may show up at your expunction hearing and may bring law enforcement officers, in an attempt to refute your request.

Contact Us

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense 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.

April Showers Bring More than Flowers—Often Bring a Spike in Auto Accidents

Rain Increases Auto AccidentsSpring is here…the colors are splashed all across the state of Texas. With the warm temperatures, though, come the warm spring rains, necessary to give all the budding life a good start. But those showers can also wreak havoc for motorists, in many ways. Whether it’s a deluge that brings your visibility down to next to nothing, or water on the road, or the fog that often accompanies a change in weather, conditions can be tricky…estimates are that the risk of being in a motor vehicle accident can double or triple when roadways become wet.

It’s important to understand, too, that it’s not just on the freeways and superhighways where the danger lies. Most safety experts will tell you that you can start to hydroplane even at relatively slow speeds. And when there’s precipitation on the ground, it’s not enough to avoid going over the posted speed limit. If the signs say you shouldn’t exceed 30 miles per hour, you may want to bring it down to 20 or even slower.

Ways to Stay Safe in Rainy Weather

When other motorists fail to adjust their driving to inclement conditions, you can be at risk, regardless of how defensively you drive. Nonetheless, there are certain measures you can employ to minimize your risk of being involved in a weather-related motor vehicle accident:

  • Don’t drive through puddles—If at all possible, go around any puddles or pooled water on the roads. That’s where you’ll be at the greatest risk of hydroplaning, where the water actually creates a membrane between your car and the road. If, however, you start to hydroplane, take your foot off the accelerator until you start to get traction. You may even need to tap the brake, but don't slam on the brakes. There’s another good reason, though, to avoid puddles—when you drive through them, you can splash water on your car and on other motorists, making it difficult for you or them to see the road.

  • Turn your headlights on—This is the best chance you have of being seen by other motorists—one of the common complaints after many car accidents is that one of the motorists could not be seen by the other. In most states, the law requires you to turn your lights on during a rainstorm.

  • Be willing to arrive a little late to be safe—If it’s raining, reduce your speed by about 20%. You may still hydroplane, but you’ll have more time to react.

  • Feather or tap the brakes—Be prepared to just touch the brakes, but to do it a number of times. This is an effective way to slow down in rain or on icy or snowy roads.

  • Contact Us

    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.

Equifax Updates – Drivers’ License Numbers Stolen

Automatic US Citizenship by BloodIn 2017, Equifax, Inc., a credit-reporting firm, suffered a cyber-attack that resulted in a data breach that affected millions of customers. After the company disclosed that the identities of roughly 148 million individuals were compromised, the company continuously struggles to regain the trust of customers. In early 2018, after completing a forensic examination of the breach, Equifax disclosed that an additional 2.4 million people were impacted by the 2017 cyber-attack. The company explained that these additional individuals were not identified in the first investigation because the search only focused on individuals who had their Social Security numbers compromised. The additional names were revealed after cross referencing partial drivers’ license numbers that were stolen with internal and external sources. The newly impacted individuals will receive the same credit-monitoring and identity theft protection services paid for by Equifax, as those initially identified.

To make matters even worse, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged an executive of Equifax with insider trading in March 2018. Jun Ying, an executive who was next in line to be named the company’s Chief Information Officer, exercised his stock options when he learned of the breach and sold the shares after learning of the breach. The SEC alleges that Ying sold his stock options before the company disclosed the data breach to the public, avoiding over $117,000 in losses. After learning of Ying’s violation of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, Equifax dismissed him. Both the SEC and the United States Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia are pressing criminal charges against Ying.

Automatic U.S. Citizenship by Blood

Automatic US Citizenship by BloodClients often ask about the path to citizenship. Most are eligible for the long and time consuming path to citizenship through visas, petitions, and Adjustment of Status. However, some are eligible for direct citizenship by blood via the N-600 application. Note that no actual blood is shed for this application.

A child may have citizenship bestowed upon them in two situations: (1) being physically born in the United States and its territories (Jus Soli), or (2) being born to U.S. citizen parents. The latter is often referred to as “Jus Sanguinis,” and may be proven through the N-600 Immigration Application. While the concept of Jus Sanguinis appears to be simple and straightforward, it is often complex and requires extensive legal analysis. The amount and type of evidence that is required for Jus Sanguinis depends on the various factors and the particular situation of the birth. The following are several factors, amongst others, that I look to consider whether someone is automatically a U.S. citizen.

One factor to consider is whether the child, born outside of the United States, was born in wedlock or not. Immigration laws require different standards of children born within the marriage and those born outside wedlock. Also, as immigration laws change over the years, a child’s birth date determines which period of law applies to that situation.

Another factor to consider is the citizenship of the parents at the time of the birth. It makes a difference whether both parents were U.S. citizens at the time of child’s birth. For example, in a situation where the child was born, in wedlock, after Nov. 11, 1986, to two U.S. citizen parents, the child must prove that the at least one U.S. citizen parent resided in the United States. In a situation where there is only one U.S. citizen parent, the child must further prove that the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for five years, two of which must be after the age of 14.

For children born outside the marriage and outside the U.S., the evidentiary requirement and standards are different for those born to U.S. citizen mothers or to U.S. citizen fathers. In the case of those born to U.S. citizen fathers, it is also important to note whether they were legitimated or acknowledged by the father in question.

As a side note, a child may inherit U.S. citizenship from the parent(s) if the child was under a certain age and the child was lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

A client could skip the long and expensive immigration process to legal permanent resident status if they qualify for Jus Sanguinis through the N-600 Application. However, due to the level of extensive legal analysis required and substantial evidentiary requirements, it highly recommended that one hires an experienced immigration attorney to guide them through this application.

The Legal Process for Early Termination of Probation

Early Termination of ProbationIf you’ve been convicted of a crime or have pleaded guilty, there’s a good chance that a part of your sentence will involve a period of probation, where you’ll have some restrictions set on your activities and where you’ll have to report to a probation officer on a regular basis. Probation can become a real burden after a while, and if you’ve honored all your commitments and learned your lesson, you may want to see if the court will allow you to terminate the probation before the designated date. It can be done, but there’s a specific process you must follow.

Initiating the Process for Early Termination of Probation

In most states, to apply for early termination of court-ordered probation, you must contact your probation officer or a criminal defense attorney and must file a motion in the court where you were convicted. The motion must specifically request early termination of probation and must usually include the reasons why you believe early termination is warranted. Typically, if your probation officer agrees with the request and puts that in writing, the court will be inclined to grant your request.

The Factors the Court May Consider When Evaluating Your Request for Early Termination of Probation

If your probation officer has not weighed in on your request, the court may still grant your motion, but will customarily look at a number of issues first:

  • Have you paid all fines assessed as part of your conviction and have you made restitution to any victims?

  • Did you undergo counseling or treatment as ordered by the court and did you successfully complete those programs?

  • Have you complied with all terms established as part of your sentencing and probation?

  • Did you seek to better yourself while on probation? Did you look for employment or engage in training to help you develop marketable skills? Did you do volunteer or community service work while on probation?

The court can also factor in any real or potential hardships that continued probation may have, such as:

  • The inability to get or hold a job in your chosen field because of the probation requirement

  • The inability to see family because of any travel restriction imposed by the probation

  • The loss of any benefits because of probation

As a general rule, courts typically don’t allow for the early termination of probation until at least one half of the probationary period has elapsed.

Contact Us

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense 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.

Study Reveals Positive Effect of Professional Representation at Social Security Hearings

Social Security HearingsA Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of hearings-level award rates for disability claims revealed that “claimants who had representation at their hearings, were allowed benefits at a rate nearly 3 times higher than those without representatives.” The report also quotes SSA officials stating “that a representative can help the claimant by ensuring that the medical evidence and other records are fully developed and help the claimant present their case at a hearing.” At Bailey & Galyen we have always believed in the value of personal quality representation, but it is useful to have validation from an official source. The report, entitled “Additional Measures and Evaluation Needed to Enhance Accuracy and Consistency of Hearings Decisions,” was released in January 2018. It studied Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decisions made on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims between Fiscal Years 2007 and 2015, a period where requests for hearings increased, peaked, and then declined. During this period, 77% of claimants at ALJ hearings had attorney representatives and 12% had non-attorney representatives.

During the studied period, the variation in award rates between ALJs shrank slightly, but the overall allowance rates decreased significantly. ALJs who joined the Social Security Administration (SSA) between 1995 and 1999, and were still at the agency between 2007 and 2015, had higher award rates than newer ALJs. Several factors correlated with allowance rate: older claimants were more likely to be awarded benefits than younger adults and having a critical case, a college education, and a claim for SSDI rather than SSI also increased the chance of an award. Hearings that included testimony from a medical expert were more likely than the average claim to result in an award of benefits, while vocational expert testimony decreased the chance of an award.

These numbers further prove that a finding of disability is getting harder to obtain. Now more than ever, it is imperative that you have an experienced, qualified, and hardworking representative on your side when applying for disability. If you are hurt, injured, or otherwise impaired, and unable to work please contact us at Bailey and Galyen for a free case evaluation.