Accidents Involving Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers

Strategies for Recovering Compensation for Your Losses

Car accident sceneWhen you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another person, especially in Texas, your first course of action is typically to seek compensation from the at-fault party’s auto insurance provider. Unlike many other states, Texas is not a “no-fault” state for purposes of motor vehicle insurance. Every driver in Texas is required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover the losses of another driver in a motor vehicle accident.

But making it a legal requirement doesn’t mean that someone will do it. It’s not uncommon for the at-fault party in a Texas car crash to either have inadequate insurance or no insurance at all. According to the Insurance Research Council, more than two million of the 15 million licensed drivers in Texas do not have any liability insurance at all! What are your options, should you suffer losses in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist? Are you simply without recourse? Not necessarily.

Do You Have Uninsured Motorist / Underinsured Motorist Coverage on Your Policy?

You may be able to pursue compensation through your own insurer. In Texas, while it’s not mandatory, insurance companies can offer additional coverage that provides some benefits in the event you sustain losses because of the carelessness or negligence of an uninsured or underinsured driver. It’s commonly referred to as UM/UIM coverage and is offered as a rider to your policy at an additional premium. There are typically limits to the amount of coverage you’ll get under your UM/UIM policy.

If you discover that the other driver either had no insurance or only had coverage for property damage, your first course of action should be to determine whether you added the UM/UIM coverage to your policy. Don’t expect your insurance agent to volunteer that information—the insurer maximized its profit by minimizing its payouts. Instead, it’s a good idea to hire an experienced attorney who can review your policy and clarify your coverage.

Are There Other Potential Defendants?

When you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to take legal action against anyone who acted negligently. That may include:

  • The actual owner of the other car, if it was being borrowed at the time of the crash — Under a theory of vicarious liability, the owner of the vehicle may have some legal responsibility. Typically, you will have to show that the owner knew or should have known that the actual driver posed an unreasonable risk. A common example of this is when a parent allows an inexperienced teen to drive a car.
  • The at-fault party’s employer, if the accident occurred during the course of employment — Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for the acts of an employee.
  • The individual or establishment serving the alcohol, if the accident was caused by a drunk driver — The dram shop and social host liability laws in Texas may impose liability on someone who either knew a person was impaired or served a sufficient quantity of alcohol to a person that would reasonably lead to impairment.
  • The municipality responsible for road maintenance, if the accident was caused by a pothole, loose gravel, uneven pavement or other roadway defects
  • Any party in the chain of distribution, if the accident was caused by a dangerous or defective product, such as a faulty tire, brakes or automotive part

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every personal injury client. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Welcome to Bailey & Galyen

I’m J.C. Bailey with the law firm of Bailey & Galyen, one of the largest consumer law firms in the state of Texas. Well what does that mean? Big businesses have lawyers, the government has lawyers but what about individuals and small businesses? Who represents them? Well, Bailey & Galyen does. With at least 20 offices spread across Texas, with 50 plus lawyers and hundreds of years of experience. We offer you the opportunity to be heard, to be listened to and we want the opportunity to speak to you about your legal problems.

If you would, call us or email us and we will give you a free consultation. We want to help.

Choosing an Attorney

Choosing an attorney can be a difficult decision. Unless you have a referral from a trusted source, it is hard to gauge a lawyer’s abilities and experience. Here are some suggestions: 

• Consult their website.
• How long have they been in practice?
• What types of cases do they generally handle?
• Do they have specialized training or Board Certification relevant to your case?
• What kind of fee structure do they employ?
• How much will it cost?

Many attorneys have generalized practices and do not specialize in any given area. Avoid attorneys with little experience in cases like yours. You don’t want a tax attorney to handle your divorce.

Experience is important. But it is vital that you choose a lawyer you trust.

Meet with several attorneys before making your decision.

At Bailey & Galyen, we offer free initial consultations and meet with you personally to assess your case. Give us a call.

Public Charge Policy

Hello, my name is Andres Martinez, Immigration attorney here at Bailey and Galyen. Today, I want to talk to you about the new Public Charge policy taking effect on October 15 of this year.

This new policy will make it more difficult for individuals applying for Adjustment of Status to obtain their permanent resident card. The Department of Homeland Security will be able to take into consideration many factors of an applicant’s life to determine if they are worthy of becoming a US resident, such factors include: the applicant’s age, health, education level, English-speaking ability, the applicant’s credit score, whether or not they’ve filed taxes, financial status, size of family, skills and employment, among others. Moreover, the new rule will define a public charge as a person who receives any number of public benefits for more than a total of 12 months over any 36-month period of time. Such public benefits include Medicaid, SNAP, Section 8 housing, and cash aid such as TANF and SSI.

Remember that this new rule will mainly impact those seeking permanent resident status through family member petitions. It does not affect individuals who are already residents who are trying to naturalize.

Please come see us so we can discuss this new law and the effects on your case.

Average Weekly Wage

Hi, my name is Kim Wyatt, i’m the Managing Attorney of Bailey & Galyen’s Worker’s Comp department. Are you being paid the correct amount per week under your Worker’s Comp? The state average weekly rate right now is $938. This is calculated by what you made prior to your injury 13 weeks worth before taxes. You add it all up, divide by 13 and that is your average weekly wage. You want to make sure it contains bonuses, if your health insurance stopped you want to make sure they include that in your average weekly wage.

Give us a call today for a free initial phone evaluation of your case so that we can see how we might be able to help you.

Basics of Social Security Disability

When you find yourself disabled and unable to work there are two government programs available to provide for you and your family.

Social Security Disability Insurance or (SSDI)pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are found disabled and “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes long enough to obtain coverage.

Supplemental Security Income or (SSI) pays benefits based on financial need without regard for how much you may have paid into the system. SSI disability pays an average of 536 per month per individual. The maximum is set at 771.00 dollars in 2019, but social security will make deductions based on your living arrangements.
In order to qualify for SSI benefits you must demonstrate a financial need as well as have a finding of disability.

No more than 2K in the bank.

Typically your earned income cannot be higher than 751 dollars per month for a single and 2016.00 for a married couple.

Things like food stamps and sheltered provided by a NPO do not count.

In order to receive compensation from either program, you must prove that you have a physical or mental impairment which has lasted or will last for 12 months. This impairment must be severe enough to prevent you from working.

The determination of disability is based in large part on your medical records and your testimony at a potential hearing. It is important to have an experienced attorney represents you at your hearing in order for the judge to get the full picture of the disabling impairments that prevent you from working through your testimony.

A January 2019 Government study of hearings-level disability awards revealed that “claimants who had representation at their hearings, were awarded benefits at a rate nearly 3 times higher than those who proceeded without representatives.”

An Experienced attorney will ensure that all of your medical records are provided to the judge prior to your hearing. Your Attorney can also request that your doctor fill out forms and questionnaires specific to your individual injuries to maximize your chance at a favorable outcome. Lastly your attorney will be able to cross examiner potential vocational and medical experts during your hearing.

What is Personal Injury?

Hi my name is Joe Robles, Jr., Managing Attorney of the Pre-Litigation department at Bailey & Galyen.

So what is personal injury? Simply put personal injury is an injury caused by somebody else. It involves intentional torts and unintentional torts. An intentional tort includes your classic assault, battery, conversion, false improsonment among others. Unintentional torts is negligence.

Now what is negligence? Negligence is a 3 part test.

1. Does somebody have a duty to act?
2. Did somebody breach that duty?
3. Are there damages?

This 3 part test is used in a court of law to hold someobody liable.

So if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of somebody else please contact us at Bailey & Galyen for a free consultation.

When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

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When Do You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

How Soon Should You Retain the Services of a Personal Injury Lawyer?

In the aftermath of an accident, whether it’s a car accident, a mishap at work or a slip and fall, your first thoughts will naturally turn to your health. Before you do anything else, you need to make certain you’re taking the right steps to ensure maximum recovery from your injuries. But if your losses were due to the carelessness or negligence of another person, you have the right to take legal action to pursue full and fair compensation. How soon should you hire a personal injury attorney? What are the benefits of immediately securing legal representation?

Statute of Limitations Before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

In Texas, as in all other states, there’s a written law, known as the statute of limitations, which requires that you file a lawsuit within a specific period of time or risk losing the right to pursue damages. There are good reasons for the statute of limitations—it helps you secure evidence before witnesses die or move away, and while recollections of the facts are still fresh. It also ensures that a defendant doesn’t have to live in perpetual fear of a lawsuit.

But there’s really nothing to be gained by waiting to hire a personal injury lawyer. In fact, while it’s not necessarily to place the call from the ambulance on your way to the hospital, the sooner you retain legal counsel, the more assurances you’ll have that all your interests and concerns will be protected:

  • Access to the right medical care — An attorney won’t just protect your legal rights. An experienced personal injury lawyer will also be your advocate with health care providers, ensuring that all potential conditions are treated.
  • Your rights with respect to insurance — Insurance disputes can arise almost immediately after any type of accident or injury. You may need certain types of care, but run into difficulties getting your health insurance company to approve or pay for them. If you were in a motor vehicle accident, there can be disputes about the types of coverage that apply, the deductibles you must pay or the amount of your losses. When you have legal counsel handling your injury claim, you’ll have an advocate in all matters, from legal to health to insurance needs.

    One of the typical strategies of insurance companies is to make a fairly quick offer of a settlement. You don’t ever want to have discussions about settlements, benefits or compensation from an insurer without having an attorney present. The insurance company knows what to expect, and can anticipate certain types of injuries or losses you may be unaware of. With an attorney on your side, you’ll also have someone who understands the full potential of losses you may incur.

  • Compilation and preservation of evidence — The sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner you’ll have someone gathering, evaluating and safeguarding the evidence in your case. That’s the best way to ensure that evidence doesn’t get lost or destroyed, that witnesses don’t die or move away (before you can get a statement), and that memories remain intact. That’s particularly helpful when it comes to expert witnesses. In any personal injury lawsuit, you can expect that the defendants will have insurers who are seeking to minimize the damage award. They’ll most likely have their own experts—you’ll want your own, and you’ll want to make certain they have full and accurate information about what happened.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every personal injury client. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Minimize the Consequences of a DWI on Your Car Insurance

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DWI Car Insurance Help from an Attorney

Hiring an Attorney to Defend You Can Lessen the Insurance Impact

There are many potential negative ramifications of a DWI conviction in Texas. You may spend time in jail and/or pay a hefty fine and court fees. You could lose your license for a significant period of time or be required to have an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle. Another byproduct of a conviction—your motor vehicle insurance premiums could go up substantially, or you might even have your insurance cancelled!

It may seem like the impact on your insurance coverage is the area where an attorney would have the least impact, but an insurance industry study came to a different conclusion. In fact, the data collected by researchers at QuoteWizard suggests that hiring a lawyer to aggressively defend you on DWI charges can more than pay for itself by helping you avoid both premium increases and additional fines. The analysts at QuoteWizard talked with defense lawyers, considered conviction data and examined insurance rates. When they crunched the numbers, here’s what they found:

  • If you hire an attorney to handle your DWI prosecution, you are up to three times more likely to have the charges reduced
  • The difference between insurance rates if you’ve convicted for negligent or reckless driving, as opposed to driving under the influence? An average of almost $500 every year.
  • The average annual cost of a DWI conviction (in terms of your motor vehicle insurance)—About $830!

The Breakdown of Effects to Your Car Insurance After DWI

Before seeking quotes from insurers, QuoteWizard put together a profile for a hypothetical driver. For purposes of the study, that motorist was 30 years of age, single and currently insured for 10 years. The insured vehicle was a 2010 Honda Accord, fully paid for, and the driver put an average of 10,000 miles on the car each year, primarily back and forth from work. The quotes assumed state minimums of personal liability, property damage and uninsured motorist coverage, with $500 comprehensive and collision deductibles. QuoteWizard then obtained quotes for male and for female drivers who had:

  • A clean driving record
  • A negligent driving charge
  • A DWI charge

According to the data collected, the average court fees and fines for a person without an attorney was $3,600. That average was reduced to just $1,600 when the defendant opted to hire a lawyer. In addition, an unrepresented defendant incurred, on average, a $3,400 increase in insurance premiums over a three year period. A defendant who chose to retain counsel experienced an average premium increase of only $1,500 over the same period. The average cost of an attorney was $2,500, but that expense was more than offset by the reduction in fines, fees and insurance premium increases.
Among the costs that can be reduced or avoided by hiring legal counsel are:

  • Court-imposed fines, which in Texas can be as much as $4,000 for a first time offender
  • Traffic school or treatment programs—Anywhere from $150 to $500 or more
  • Ignition interlock fees—You will be assessed an installation fee ($75 to $150) and a monthly maintenance fee (up to $100)
  • Department of Motor Vehicle fees, including license reinstatement costs

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we aggressively defend people who have been charged with drinking and driving or operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What is the Discovery Process During a Family Law Case?

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Family Law Attorneys Discuss the Discovery Process

What is discovery? | Family Law Attorneys

A common hurdle in getting a fair settlement in a Texas divorce is determining the value of the couple’s assets and liabilities and the amount of their current income. As many people know, each spouse owns one-half of the entire community estate. The community estate consists of all assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. To divide this fairly in a divorce, it is vitally important for the parties and the court to know all the assets and liabilities and their approximate values.

How is Child Support Affected During the Discovery Process?

Additionally, in Texas, child support payments are affected by parents’ income—either the noncustodial parent’s income or an offset of both parents’ income. To calculate child support properly, current and accurate income information for both parents must be provided.
The process of obtaining this information is called discovery. Each spouse can seek information from the other in order to get an accounting of assets and liabilities. Each spouse also can ask questions or request documents regarding income and other issues involving the children and spouses. There are some limits to what can be requested in discovery. In divorce cases, each party is allowed to seek only information related to the assets, liabilities, income, children and character of the other spouse.

Different Forms of Discovery

The following forms of discovery are commonly used in a Texas divorce. Under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, written discovery requests may be sent to the opposing party up to 60 days before trial, and responses must be made within 30 days.

    Requests for Disclosure – This common discovery mechanism seeks to obtain information like legal theories and the identity of any witnesses to be called at trial, should there be one. Anyone to be called as a witness, and all issues to be addressed, must be disclosed in response to these requests. Otherwise, the court will exclude them from being presented at trial.

    Requests for Production of Documents – This type of discovery requests all documents or other tangible things relevant to the issues in your divorce, such as bank account statements and children’s school records. Any documents not produced in response to this request at least 30 days before trial may not be used as exhibits or evidence at trial.

    Interrogatories – This type of discovery request asks a party to respond to questions in writing. The written answers are sworn before a notary and therefore given under oath.

    Inventory & Appraisement – This type of discovery asks a party to make a list of their assets and liabilities along with approximate values. As with interrogatories, the written list is signed in the presence of a notary so that it may be treated as sworn testimony given under oath.

    If discovery requests are properly submitted, a spouse can be punished for failing to respond or for not providing complete information. The court may prevent a spouse from presenting evidence or testimony at trial if that spouse failed to respond to a discovery request by the other spouse. For this reason, it is extremely important to respond to discovery. You do not want to be limited at trial because you failed to provide information requested by your spouse. If a spouse fails to provide the requested information, the court can make its own conclusions regarding the answers to those requests based on other testimony and evidence presented at trial.

    Contact our Family Law Attorneys to Help You with the Discovery Process

    If you have received discovery requests or want to serve discovery requests in your divorce, please contact our family law attorneys to help you. If you fail to follow the Rules of Procedure in the discovery process, you may be prevented from presenting information at trial, or you may be fined by the court. Let us help you get the information you need from the other side and preserve your ability to present your case to the court.

Back-to-School Reminders and Estate Planning

backtoschoolIf you are a student or educator, you know it’s about that time of year. Our Estate Planning attorneys have listed out a few back-to-school reminders to go along with your estate planning needs.

Back-to-School Reminders | Estate Planning Attorneys

  • Slow down and watch out for school zones and kids on the move.
  • Establish or contribute to an education fund for children or grandchildren. It will be needed before you know it. Learn how Bailey & Galyen can help you secure a loved one’s education in your estate plan.
  • Contribute to a charity or other effort that helps disadvantaged students get the books, supplies, equipment, and other things needed to start school right.
  • If your student turns 18 this year, contact us about preparing power-of-attorney documents for them. HIPPA protects your adult child’s privacy but can create challenges if you need to help them seek medical care.
  • Supporting your local school is an investment in the future in more ways than one. It not only benefits the students, neighborhood, and community, but a better school also can bolster property values.
  • If you want to benefit a school financially, or leave a legacy by establishing a scholarship or endowment, consult a CPA and an estate planning attorney in order to do it right.

Contact Our Estate Planning Attorneys

Back-to-school time is a reminder that another chapter of our lives is here. The estate planning attorneys at Bailey & Galyen continue to help people plan for the challenges that come with life transitions and opportunities. Contact us if we can assist you this upcoming school year.

Social Security Office List the 2018 Top Baby Names

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Emma and Liam were the top two baby names for 2018, according to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary. Social Security tracks this information when it assigns new social security numbers to babies.

This is the second consecutive year that both Emma and Liam have claimed the top spot. Rounding out the top five for girls in 2018 were Olivia, Ava, Isabella, and Sophia. For boys, the rest of the top five were Noah, William, James, and Oliver.

Social Security also tracks which names show the largest increase in popularity, with Genesis seeing the largest rise in popularity among names for boys, followed by Saint, Baker, Kairo, and Watson. For girls, Meghan showed the largest increase in popularity, followed by Dior, Adalee, and Palmer. Conversely the names Audrina and Aaden saw the biggest decline in 2018.

Contact our Social Security attorneys to help assist you at 844-402-2992.

IRS Tax Collection Problems

IRS Tax Collection ProblemsEveryone has heard the old cliché, “There are two things in life we all must do – pay taxes and die.” Not paying taxes can have dire consequences. Just look what happened to the notorious gangster, Al Capone. He was prosecuted for filing false income tax returns and spent the rest of his life in federal prison – not for all of his crimes, but for failure to pay income tax.

Not all underpayment of taxes leads to prison. Sometimes, people just make honest mistakes. Whether underpayment of taxes is intentional or a mistake, the individual is more than likely going to hear from that dreaded federal agency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The IRS is the most powerful bill collector in the US. That’s why, when people receive a letter in the mail from the IRS, most, if not all, go into panic mode. Although this is a natural reaction, the IRS is not as bad as people fear. Yes, they do have extraordinary collection powers – but let’s analyze these powers. They can:

1. File federal tax liens against you, which ties up your property if you try to dispose of it either by sale or otherwise. It also makes it difficult to borrow money.

2. Levy and seize your assets, cars, boats, bank accounts, etc. Unlike other creditors, they can even seize and sell your homestead. State homestead exemptions do not apply to the IRS because federal law is superior to state law.

3. Garnish your wages, social security and other sources of income.

Even though the IRS has all of these powers, there are remedies that attorneys, as your tax representative, can utilize to help you resolve your tax problem. When contacted by the IRS, YOU SHOULD NOT IGNORE THEM! That only leads to them exercising the powers enumerated above. If you have a federal tax problem, you should contact Bailey & Galyen immediately.

When you owe the IRS and they attempt to collect, there are three things Bailey & Galyen can do to help you resolve the problem:

1. Obviously, you can pay the amount of taxes, interest and penalties they say you owe, and they will go away.

2. Your attorney can negotiate with the IRS to obtain an “installment agreement”. This is an agreement between you and the IRS whereby you agree to pay, and they agree to accept, a certain amount of money per month until the amount owed is paid off or the statute of limitations bars them from further collection. How much you pay per month depends on your financial condition. The advantage of this agreement is that as long as you make your payments on time, they will not do any further collection activity.

3. Alternatively, your attorney can try to negotiate an “offer in compromise”. This is a situation where the amount of taxes you owe are so high, and your income and assets are so low, that you will never be able to pay off the amount of taxes you owe. An offer in compromise is much more difficult to obtain than an installment agreement because it is an agreement to allow you to pay less than you actually owe. Like the installment agreement, if an offer in compromise is accepted by the IRS, no further collection activity will take place.

Both the offer in compromise and the installment agreement require you to remain current on all taxes in the future. If not, then the agreement or offer will be voided, and the IRS will be free to begin collection activity again.

Bailey & Galyen can help you avoid the concerns you have in dealing with the IRS. We have been dealing with IRS tax issues for over 48 years. We know how it works and how to obtain the maximum benefits for our clients. Please contact us, and we will be happy to assist you.

Legal Rights for Undocumented Immigrants

Immigration LawI often am asked what rights undocumented immigrants have in the United States. Many assume they have no rights; however, all persons living in the United States, regardless of immigration status, have certain protections.

In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, all people living in the United States, including non-citizens, are entitled to equal protection under the law and cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228 (1896). Additionally, all persons physically present in the United States, regardless of immigration status, have the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful searches and seizures and the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination.

So what does this mean for immigrants? It means that, like everyone else, an undocumented immigrant has the right to refuse an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer entry to their home unless the officer has a valid search warrant signed by a judge. Interestingly, ICE officers almost never have a valid search warrant when they approach the home of an undocumented immigrant. They rely on the fact that most undocumented immigrants will not know their rights.

Undocumented individuals who unknowingly allows ICE officers into their home still have the right to remain silent when questioned about their immigration status or country of birth. Why? Because answering such questions would be self-incrimination. It may seem ludicrous that a person does not have to answer questions as to their immigration status, but answering such questions can subject the person to removal (“deportation”) proceedings. Also, many people do not know that ICE has the burden to prove a person lacks lawful immigration status. By remaining silent, an undocumented individual holds ICE to its burden of proof, and ICE must produce evidence showing the person’s unlawful immigration status. As with criminal defendants, an undocumented immigrant is innocent of lacking lawful status until ICE proves otherwise.

This background helps illuminate why Texas’s SB4 “show me your papers” bill has been so controversial. Pending a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, SB4 has not fully gone into effect, but it is a move by the State to impose stricter rules than those mandated by the federal government, and it infringes on the constitutional rights of all persons in Texas.

What happens if ICE meets its burden and proves an individual is in the country unlawfully? Immigrants do not have the right to enter the United States unlawfully, but, once here, they are entitled to equal protection and due process under the law. This means that an individual facing removal is entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge to determine eligibility for relief from removal. The term “relief” refers to certain remedies available under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for immigrants facing removal. Additionally, all persons in removal proceedings have the right to an attorney (but not at government expense), reasonable notice of the charges against them, notice of the place and time of the hearing, the opportunity to examine the evidence and witnesses presented against them, interpretation for non-English-speaking individuals, and clear-and-convincing proof that the government’s charges are valid.

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