It is incredible how much influence a three-digit number can have on our lives. Whether you are considering buying a home, a vehicle or applying for a credit card, your credit score will have a significant impact on loan approval, lines of credit and interest rates. But what determines our credit score?

Credit score factors are elements from your credit report that shape your credit scores. This includes total debt, types of accounts, number of late payments and age of accounts.

What is a credit score?

A credit score, typically ranging from 300-850 is used by bankers and lenders use to determine if they will approve you for a loan or a credit card. Equifax, Experian and Trans Union-—the three main credit bureaus—create your credit reports based on different factors. A credit score definition is the result of a mathematical algorithm used to evaluate your past relationship with credit, known as your credit history. Credit scores never factor personal information such as race, gender, religion or marital status.

Lenders use credit scores because they are consistent, objective and reflect an individual’s likelihood to repay debt responsibly based on their past credit history and current credit status. In essence, credit scores help lenders fairly assess the risks of lending to an individual.

How are credit scores calculated?

Companies develop credit scores by analyzing a range of credit information to predict what is likely to happen. They use this information and predictive analytics to create scores that will help lenders predict consumer behavior.  FICO is one of the most popular scoring models used in over 90 percent of U.S. lending decisions.

The five factors that play a role in determining your credit score include:

Payment history. It is important to try to pay all loans and credit cards by their due date. Payment history is the most important factor accounting for 35 percent of your credit score.

Utilization, balance owed. The balance to limit ratio on credit cards accounts for 30 percent of your credit score. You want to keep your balance lower than 30 percent of the total credit limit and pay balances in full each month if possible.

Length of credit history. The length of time a credit card account, mortgage, auto loan and other loans have been open also play a role in determining your credit score. The length of your credit history accounts for 15 percent of your credit score.

New credit. Recent lines of credit account for 10 percent of your credit score. Credit bureaus calculate this by recent activity including how many times you have applied for credit, the number of recently opened accounts and proportion to total accounts. Whether or not you are paying off accounts or taking on more debt will also play a role in this factor.

Your mix of credit accounts. The various types of accounts such as credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans and mortgage loans will account for 10 percent of your credit score.

Reasons why your credit score may have dropped

Our individual credit score changes over time with the purpose of accurately reflecting our financial behavior.

Although it is unlikely that your credit score will remain the same as it was a month ago, it can be concerning when you see your credit score change negatively. If you monitor your credit score and see it drop, recently updated information has registered in the scoring calculation. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help determine the components that may have been the cause of the new, lower credit score.

What is your current credit card balance?

Lenders want to know that you know how to spend responsibly. A good tip to avoid having your credit drop due to the balance on your credit card is to keep your credit card utilization below 30 percent on each card. Your scores may drop if you have reached your max spending limit or if you are nearing it.

Have you recently applied for credit including a mortgage, loan or a new credit card?

If you are receiving various offers in the mail for credit cards and loans, this may be an indication you have been taking care of your score. It is important to remember that although it may be tempting to apply and accept the offers, too many new credit line inquiries can actually lower your score. This not only true for credit cards, it also applies to mortgages and car loans. Having several loan inquiries may also be an indicator of overspending from the lenders’ point of view.

Is there inaccurate information on your credit report?

Checking your credit score regularly can help you identify any mistakes on your credit report that may be lowering your score. Not only is it a possibility that a lender has reported something incorrectly, but it may also be possible that you have been a victim of identity theft. Report any inaccurate information immediately.

Have you recently missed any payments or had an account sent to collections?

As mentioned before, missed or late payments play a large role in your credit score. Your credit score will likely take a hit if you are more than 30 days late on a payment. There will be an even bigger negative impact if the payment is 60, 90 or more than 90 days past due.

Did you close a credit card account that you have had for a lengthy amount of time?

Closing aged accounts, credit card accounts that have been open for a long period of time could cause your credit score to drop. These accounts are ideal to have on your credit if there is a positive payment history because lenders see you as a low risk due to the responsible use of credit over time. Instead of closing the account, pay off the credit card and leave the account open. The longevity and total available credit on the account will serve as positive points on your credit score.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

Financial difficulties can be some of the most stressful situations to deal with which is why The Carlson Law Firm’s award-winning Bankruptcy Attorney Vicki Carlson is prepared to help. If you are in the Waco or Killeen-Temple area and are considering filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, let us help you understand the process and guide you through the legal system. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.

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Finding a way out of debt is a worrisome struggle. While you won’t end up in debtors prison for failing to pay your debts, dodging phone calls and lawsuits may prove to be a kind of prison of its own. There are several reasons that a person can end up in financial trouble. Job loss, medical issues, divorce, and unexpected expenses are just a few examples of how anyone can end up in a financial bind. However, even with a good payment history, controlled debt can easily turn into uncontrolled debt. As was the case for Carlson Law Firm Client Louise Houser.

Houser—like so many others who file for bankruptcy—had a great payment history. However, a divorce left her saddled with a tremendous amount of old debt totaling approximately $37,000. In addition, she had a growing uncertainty about how she was going to pay it. Her debt included:

  • Medical debt from a previous battle with thyroid cancer
  • Credit card debt
  • Vehicle repossession  

“I knew I couldn’t pay it,” she said. “And I knew that I wanted to do things such as purchase a house and a new car in the future.”

Between the age and amount of her debt, she knew that it was going to hinder her ability to move forward with her life. She also knew that there was no way to get out of the debt on her own, so she began to weigh her options.

“I just needed a reset button,” she said.

Houser began looking for bankruptcy attorneys to guide and represent her through the process.

“I have used The Carlson Law Firm for two previous rear-end accidents and decided to give the firm a call for my bankruptcy as well,” Houser said. “I went with Vicki Carlson because I knew her from winning the Best of the Best Bankruptcy Attorney in Waco.”

Once she knew she was in good hands, she began preparing for her Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

Bankruptcy lawyers operate in a different way than other attorneys. For example, if you’re in a car accident, you give a personal injury lawyer your accident report and allow the attorney to do most of the heavy lifting. Bankruptcy, on the other hand, requires the client to supply virtually all of the information needed for the filing. To prepare for the filing, Houser had to supply proof of past income, all debts owed, projected living expense budgets and intentions in regards to secured debts.

In addition to gathering paperwork to provide to her attorney, she had to take a two-hour online credit counseling course. Once Carlson filed the case, Houser had to attend a one-time meeting of creditors at the Federal Courthouse in Waco. Houser’s bankruptcy was discharged 63 days after that meeting. This meant that she was no longer on the hook for any of her debts.

“After it was over, I was extremely comfortable with my decision and felt tremendous relief because I knew it was the right decision for me,” Houser said. “There is a misconception that you lose everything in a bankruptcy which is not true. You do not lose anything you don’t want to lose. Another misconception is that it ruins your credit. Although my credit score dropped, I was able to start rebuilding my credit immediately.”

Our client learned that bankruptcy isn’t the end of the world like so many people believe. Her bankruptcy provided her the opportunity to regain control of her finances. Since filing bankruptcy, our client has been able to raise her credit score 100 points already. She plans to start house hunting next year with her new husband.

Now that she has come out on the other side of bankruptcy, she has some words of advice for those considering filing.

“You will get bombarded with mail from car dealerships, loan companies, and credit cards,” she warns. “But be conservative and wise in your selection of who you want to use to start rebuilding your credit. Do not get caught up with all those offers and end up right back where you started!”

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

There is no substitute for professional experience when it comes to personal bankruptcy. Our knowledgeable and experienced personal bankruptcy lawyer can help you with a chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. A Carlson Law Firm bankruptcy attorney is ready to review your situation to create a plan to ensure that your bankruptcy is effectively executed and works for everyone involved.

Whether you are looking to file a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy or you simply aren’t sure what you can do about your financial situation, our Texas bankruptcy attorneys can help. Hablamos tu idioma.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

A Leander Independent School District bus driver ignored a barricade and drove into a flooded road. Emergency personnel had to rescue both the driver and a middle school student on the morning of Oct. 17. 

The bus was traveling east from Ronald Reagan Boulevard toward County Road 175. The driver, identified by authorities as 57-year-old Nathan Deyoung, attempted to cross Brushy Creek on County Road 177. As a result of Deyoung’s negligence, water swept the bus away at 8:28 a.m. with one student on the bus.

Williamson County EMS treated the student and released him to his family.

Leander police arrested Deyoung shortly after his rescue. Additionally, the district stated what he is no longer an employee.

Deyoung has worked for Leander ISD since August of this year. The bus driver was in direct violation of Transportation Department protocols.

“The Transportation Department regularly review protocols for driving safely on roadways and instructs bus drivers to never drive through water of the roadway,” Leander ISD said in a statement. “Transportation dispatch reminded drivers this morning to be cautious and call for assistance if encountering water over the roadway.”

Central Texas Bus Crashes

The crash comes on the heels of two Killeen Independent School District bus crashes. One of which occurred on Oct. 5. A KISD school bus was involved in a crash. Medical personnel evaluated three individuals, including two students, were at the scene. 

In addition, another KISD bus crash occurred on Oct. 4 at 8:13 a.m. on an Interstate 14 service road near the Central Texas College campus. A Kia sedan struck the vehicle from behind. No injuries were reported.

Just days before, on Oct. 1, a bus carrying 27 students from Oklahoma to San Antonio rolled over along U.S. Highway 281 north of Lampasas.  A reported 18 injured patients on the bus who were sent to two local hospitals for treatment for their injuries.

A Guide to School Bus Accident Claims

If your child has been injured by a school bus, claims can often be complicated to prove and pursue. Contact The Carlson Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your case. We will go over the circumstances of the accident and explain your legal options. We have a team of attorneys, legal assistants, nurses and private investigators who are ready to assist.

Excessive holiday spending can lead to financial mistakes that can haunt you from Halloween to the New Years Eve and beyond.  Money worries can sneak up on you during the holiday season because money mistakes are so easy to make. Proper holiday budgeting can prepare you for the new year by keeping you out of debt.

This holiday season, do more than passively monitor your spending. Plan for all of your expenses, and not just gifts.

‘Tis the Season For Happy Holiday Budgeting

Putting together a budget by the month makes sense. So why would your first step preparing for the holiday not include setting a spending limit for the holiday season? Whether you’re hosting or traveling to a loved one’s home, it is important to establish how much you plan to spend before the holidays begin. By setting a budget, you will be better equipped to control the amount you spend. This is essential to avoiding overspending during the holiday season. With a solid budget in hand, you will make better choices about everything from gifts to holiday entertainment.

It’s true that holiday budgets are tough to stick to—especially for parents of young children. According to CNBC, nearly 80 percent of shoppers overspend during the holiday season by $215. It’s easy to want to spoil the people in your life with everything they’ve asked for. Too often, American feel pressured to spend more than they can afford during the holiday season.

Whether you’re hosting your family this year or traveling home—to avoid overspending, consider your major expenses and set an appropriate holiday budget:

  • Gift giving
  • Traveling
  • Entertainment
  • Food and drinks

What Steps Can I Take to Stick to My Holiday Budget?

Most Americans set then exceed their holiday budget. A 2017 survey found that 65 percent of U.S. Adults set a holiday budget. On the downside, 77 percent of those who set a budget will overspend. You can avoid the spending holiday hangover by:

Make Lists

After you’ve set your budget for each category, you will need to make a list for the people in your life for which you will be buying gifts. It’s easy to set and stick to a budget for areas such as traveling, food, and entertainment. However, gifts are the major area where people tend to overspend. Before you turn on the computer or hit the stores, make a list of the people you plan to shop for. You can get a clear idea of how much you will spend and be aware of how many gifts you need to purchase.

Fight Impulsive Urges to Spend More

You spot an item in the store and think to yourself, “Cousin Bert would really love this!” But Cousin Bert isn’t on your list to buy for, nor is this gift in the budget you set for yourself. If you must get Bert this gift, add him to your holiday budget and adjust the amounts you plan to spend per person accordingly. Your goal is to keep the same total budget.

Plan for other expenses

In addition to your big-ticket items, plan for the little things this season. Take an inventory of how much wrapping paper you have left over from last year’s last minute trips to buy wrapping paper. The little things add up and are just as capable of putting a dent in your pocket as the big-ticket items. Consider how much you’ll spend on:

Charitable donations

In addition, it’s a good idea to plan for which charities you’ll be donating to. For example, if you give to toy drives and other drives during the holiday season then it’s a good idea to include this in your holiday budget.

Bargain Shop

Even if you are a late shopper, there are still plenty of deals available. With a list of people to shop for you can look in stores and online for the best deals on items you’re looking to get loved ones.

Keep a Running Total of How Much You’ve Spent

Keep receipts or write down the totals of online purchases to keep track of how much you’ve spent. By keeping track of how much you’ve spent, you will provide yourself with a constant dose of reality of how much you can afford to spend.

Avoiding Credit Card Use

Sounds cliche, but this is a biggie. By avoiding credit card use on holiday purchases, you can avoid paying on the purchases year round. If you are unable to avoid using a credit card when shopping take only the credit card you will use for the purchase.

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

Holiday budgeting is difficult, however, financial difficulties can put a strain on the holiday season. If you find yourself being harassed by creditors or facing foreclosure, repossessions, lawsuits or tax problems, it may be time to seek professional guidance from an award-winning bankruptcy attorney. Our firm can help you find the debt relief you are looking for. We recognize that every debt situation is unique and will take the time to get to know you and understand your case. Our knowledgeable and experienced personal bankruptcy attorneys are committed to giving the best legal guidance to our clients.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate Texas Bankruptcy Attorneys. We can assist you with Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The evolution of vehicle safety features has been in motion since the invention of the car. Since the first motorized vehicle was manufactured and sold, there have been several modifications and adjustments to protect drivers and riders. Much like any new invention, too much of a good thing can quickly turn negative. The transition from the horse age to the motorized age would prove to be extremely dangerous. As early as 1908, auto accidents were already noted in newspapers as public health concerns. Today, the car industry is heavily regulated by governments all around the world. For the most part, government regulations task auto manufacturers with making vehicles that put passenger safety above profits.

Driving or riding in a car is the most dangerous thing you’ll likely do today. But driving today is far less dangerous than in years past. Vehicles now come equipped with technology intended to improve the safety of passengers, pedestrians and other motorists.

What is Vehicle Safety Technology?

Vehicle safety technology is the special technology developed to ensure the safety and security of automobiles, vehicle occupants and others near roadways. While the term seems new, vehicle technology safety has its roots in the 18th century. As the use of vehicles grew, legislators and manufacturers began thinking of ways to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities.

Modern safety features include:

  • Antilock brakes
  • Traction control
  • Electronic stability control
  • Safety belt features
  • Tire pressure monitors
  • Active head restraints
  • Sensors to detect other vehicles or pedestrians

While this isn’t a complete list, the goal of all modern safety features is to make traveling by car safer. When this equipment fails, they can lead to serious injuries or death. The history of how cars developed to be as safe as they are today is important to understanding why defective auto products are so dangerous. 

Crumple Zones

It’s true that after a crash today’s cars don’t hold up the same way a car from the 1970s did. This is, in part, because of the evolution of vehicle safety features. Modern vehicles are designed with crumple zones. A crumple zone refers to the structural safety feature intended to absorb the energy from the impact of a crash. This is accomplished through controlled deformation.

An Austrian engineer patented the concept of the crumple zone in 1937. However, the concept wasn’t put into use until the 1950s. Prior to the introduction, cars were once designed to inflict as little damage as possible on the car itself. This often left vehicle occupants extremely vulnerable to injuries. However, over time, the idea of passenger safety has become increasingly important. Crumple zones act as a spring while the inner cabin that holds vehicle occupants is reinforced to withstand as much deformation as possible.

When designed carefully, crumple zones decrease the likelihood of car crash injuries. Poorly designed crumple zones that are too stiff or too short can contribute to the collapse of the occupant compartment in crashes and lead to serious injuries.

Modern Tires

Tires affect how a vehicle handles, rides and brakes—all in the name of safety.

For a period of time, tires were composed entirely of a firm rubber, without the need for air. The solid piece of rubber was glued to the rim and was often difficult to remove. This rubber was used mostly for low-speed vehicles because of its poor shock absorption. But after the invention of the gasoline vehicle, manufacturers began looking for ways to make the ride smoother. Thus, the pneumatic tire was born.

The modern tire is an improved, safer version of the pneumatic tire. Simply, a pneumatic tire uses rubber and enclosed air to reduce vibration and improve tire traction.

Through the years, tires have been built to grip more of the road through treads and width. For many of the early years, bias ply tires came standard on vehicles. These tires tended to be less flexible and more sensitive to overheating. Layers, or plies, reinforced the casing to protect the inner tube. However, in 1948, the first steel-belted radial tires appeared. Radial tires are the tires of choice on modern vehicles. While more expensive to make, radial tires lead to safer vehicles because they:

  • Last longer
  • Allow better steering
  • Less rolling resistance
  • Increase gas mileage
  • No transmission of sidewall flex
  • More power is transferred to the ground

Combined, these features make modern tires the safest tire in history. When tires are defective, they can lead to serious car crashes and lifelong or fatal injuries. It may be hard to spot a defective tire because the problem may not become known until after a crash—if at all.

Seatbelts

Arguably the single most important innovation in the evolution of vehicle safety features, wearing your seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. Seatbelts are one of the most important safety features on your vehicle. For starters, seatbelts keep occupants from being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash. In addition, seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seatbelts save at least 15,000 lives in the U.S. each year. This is why a properly functioning seatbelt is so important.

The U.S. issued the first U.S. patent for automobile seatbelts in 1885. But the government did not require seatbelts in all vehicles until 1968. Because of their importance in keeping occupants safe, seat belts require auto manufacturers to use the best materials and products when engineering seat restraint systems in vehicles. Still, there have been thousands of seat belt injuries from defective seat belts over the years. These types of defects include:

  • Inertial unlatching: the force of the accident is so strong that the seat belt latches becomes unbuckled.
  • False latching: the buckle is not latched although it may appear that it is.
  • Webbing failure: the fabric of the belt becomes torn or ripped and fails to protect the occupant in a collision.
  • Faulty retractors: the retractor fails to hold the belt snugly against the body, leaving too much slack.

Seatbelt errors can be a design flaw or manufacturing flaw. In some cases, seatbelts may fail because manufacturers used cheap materials. Defective seatbelts can lead to head, brain, chest, abdomen, spine, and other injuries.

Airbags

Compared to the other safety features, airbags are a relatively modern idea. Airbags work with seatbelts to prevent more serious personal injuries. However, they are not designed to replace seat belts.

The earliest use of airbags in vehicles traces its roots to 1951. Early vehicle airbags featured a compressed air system that released by either bumper contact or the driver. However, research in the 1960s showed that compressed air would blow the bags up fast enough. Ford became the first company in the U.S. to begin testing airbags in 1971. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, several automakers tested airbags in their vehicles. In 1988, Chrysler became the first company to offer airbag restraint systems as standard vehicle equipment. Because of their ability to save lives and prevent injuries, airbags have been mandatory on all cars since 1998.

Airbags are a crucial component in saving lives. However, auto manufacturers don’t always use the best equipment to keep occupants safe. The ongoing Takata Airbag Recall affected millions of vehicles by 34 different automakers. There have been at least 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide because of the defective Takata airbags. 

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

Over the last 100 years, car safety technology has made some extremely important advances in protecting drivers and passengers. All of these advancements have reduced fatalities from 5 fatalities per 100 million miles driven in 1969 to 1 fatality per 100 million miles driven, currently.  As we move deeper into the 20th century, new innovators are thinking of ways to make driving even safer. We are moving toward self-driving cars capable of communicating with other cars on the roads. Experts expect these vehicles to hit the market in the coming decades.

No matter what kind of technology is on board, car crashes can still occur. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries because of defective vehicle safety equipment that led to a crash, contact The Carlson Law Firm. We have a qualified defective auto products attorney ready to assist you.

Hurricane Michael has been downgraded to a tropical storm as it makes its way towards the Carolinas. However, even as the storm moves away from the Florida Panhandle, residents of the area are reeling from the strongest hurricane to ever hit this region of the Sunshine State.

Michael has left two dead in its wake after making landfall Wednesday around 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The hurricane slammed into the Florida coast near Mexico Beach as a Category 4 storm. Although the storm weakened to a tropical storm on Thursday, Oct. 11, it is still a considerably dangerous storm. Georgia and the Carolinas will face heavy rains, strong winds, and possible spinoff tornadoes as the storm moves across the Southeast out to the Atlantic Ocean.

As Michael moves north towards the still-recovering Carolinas, Florida residents are beginning to take inventory. It is expected that the greatest damage will occur near the eye of the storm. Further, it is estimated that the storm will be responsible for billions of dollars in damage. In fact, Accuweather predicts that the storm’s total damage and economic impact will be close to $30 billion.

This number is considerably lower than other storms because the speed at which Michael is moving will lessen inland flooding. Storms, like last month’s Hurricane Irene, stalled over the Carolinas—dumping several inches of rain and leading to severe flooding damage. This is not to say that Hurricane Michael will cause no flooding. Accuweather is, in fact, predicting that the greatest risk of flooding will occur in northern Florida and southern Georgia.

According to local news reports, hundreds of thousands of homes are without power in the Florida Panhandle.

The Extent of Damage From Hurricane Michael

With sustained winds at 155 mph—just 2 mph short of Category 5 status—Hurricane Michael will go down in history as the third strongest storm to hit the U.S. mainland. Prior to making landfall, experts estimated Michael’s potential damage to cost around $16 billion. However, as the storm continues to make its way north, damage estimates have nearly doubled to $30 billion.

Saturated grounds paired with strong winds uprooted trees, downed power lines, ripped the roofs off homes and decimated entire mobile home neighborhoods in the Florida Panhandle.

Hurricane Michael destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, and docks in the areas surrounding Mexico City as well. Reports have also emerged of one man and his family riding out the storm telling a friend that cracks began forming in his walls, water was rushing in and that the sliding glass doors were blowing and shattering. In addition, the impassable roads make it difficult for people to leave their homes.

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

In the aftermath of a hurricane, homeowners and business owners must deal with insurance companies to begin the rebuilding process. It may be difficult to get your insurance company to pay you what you deserve, even if you’ve followed all the rules for your claims. Insurance companies will find reasons to deny or underpay your claim. Whether it’s a denial or reduction, it is important to know that a Flood Insurance Attorney can dispute a National Flood Insurance Program claim.

Federal courts handle flood claims. Because of this, it’s important to find an attorney with the experience to handle these types of claims, specifically.

Our team of experienced and dedicated FEMA and NFIP Flood Insurance Claims trial attorneys understands what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact any of our offices for a free, no-obligation consultation today. A Carlson Law Firm Flood Insurance Lawyer will only get paid if you do.

Photo Courtesy Tessa Talarico/Instagram

Notably, prior to the introduction of vaccines, many parents lived in fear that their children would contract dangerous childhood diseases and die or be left with lifelong injuries. Today medical misinformation and little knowledge or understanding of the pre-vaccination era has led to persistent, although debunked, myths that lead to more parents opting their children out of vaccinations. While the overwhelming pushback is that vaccines are harmless, even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits that no vaccine is 100 percent safe. In rare instances, vaccines can lead to death or serious injuries that require lifetime medical care. In those instances, families have the option of filing a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP provides compensation for medical and other costs to people for injuries and deaths associated with certain vaccinations.

There is no question about it, vaccines save lives by preventing disease. In fact, vaccines are one of the greatest success stories in the history of public health. Vaccines are responsible for eradicating diseases like smallpox and for the near elimination of the wild poliovirus and measles. However, in rare instances, vaccines can lead to death or serious injuries that require lifetime medical care.

Which Vaccines are Most Reported to the VICP?

Between 2006 and 2016, millions of American children received more than 3 billion immunizations. Only a small number of those vaccinations resulted in a serious injury. In fact, very rarely, people experience more serious side effects—most likely tied to allergic reactions. In fact, between 1988 and 2018, a grand total of 19,772 claims were submitted to the VICP. Notably, in 30 years, injury reports occurred most often from the following vaccines:

  • Seasonal influenza. The VCIP receives 4,461 claims for flu-shot related injuries and reports of 145 deaths. Of the total flu-shot claims, 2,692 claims were compensated.
  • DTP. The Diptheria-Tetanus-Pertussis shot is responsible for 3,286 claims and 696 reported deaths. Of the total DTP claims, 1,273 claims were compensated
  • MMR. The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination is responsible for 966 claims and 61 reported deaths. Of the total MMR claims, 400 were compensated by the VCIP.
  • Hepititis B. The number of claims filed for hepititis b vaccination-related injuries is 685 and 59 reported deaths. Of the total number of claims, 271 were compensated.

The VCIP traditionally covers any childhood vaccination recommended by the CDC.

Types of Injuries Commonly Associated with Vaccinations

In the majority of cases, receiving a vaccination often results in soreness at the injection site. In addition, a person may experience mild symptoms related to the disease the vaccine intends to protect them from. While more serious vaccine injuries are rare, some people may experience significant symptoms that lead to:

  • Pain
  • Loss of body function
  • Death

Nearly all vaccines are linked to some illness, disability, injury or condition covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Most adverse reactions to vaccines are the result of an allergic reaction. The most commonly reported vaccine injuries include the following:

Anaphylaxis

A potential life-threating allergic reaction from vaccines. Anaphylaxis leads to skin rashes, itching, hives, shortness of breath, swelling in the lips, tongue and throat.  

Brachial Neuritis

A form of peripheral neuropathy. Vaccines may cause swelling and inflammation of the nerve fibers that send signals to the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and down into the fingers.

Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA)

The seasonal flu shot is one of the most common causes of SIRVA. A vaccine injection that is too high or too deep into the shoulder it can lead to SIRVA. SIRVA is an injury to the musculoskeletal structures, such as tendons and ligaments, during the injection of a vaccine.

Vasovagal syncope

Occurs when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers. The condition occurs mostly in adolescents and can result in hospitalization for a medical evaluation or reaction related to injuries.

Encephalopathy

Encephalitis occurs when an infection or the body’s immune response to an infection that affects the brain. The pertussis and MMR vaccines are typically responsible for encephalopathy. 

Chronic arthritis

Associated with vaccines containing the rubella virus. In order to be eligible for VICP compensation, symptoms must occur between 7 and 42 days.

Paralytic polio

Associated with vaccines that contain the live polio virus.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

This syndrome is linked to a number of vaccines, including the yearly flu shot. Further, in instances of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an individual’s immune system turns on itself. This can lead to nerve damage cell, muscle weakness and paralysis. The condition resolves within weeks, but it can lead to lasting nerve damage.

This is not a complete list of injuries that can result from vaccinations. If you believe that you have a vaccine injury, contact The Carlson Law Firm to speak with a qualified VICP lawyer. We can help you determine the cause of your injuries and seek just compensation.

So, What Exactly is the VICP?

The VICP is a federal no-fault program enacted in 1986 under the Reagan Administration. Congress established the program because millions of American families were suing vaccine manufacturers. Successful lawsuits in the 1970s and 1980s blamed manufacturers for unexplained illnesses including, sudden infant death, mental retardation and epilepsy. The number of successful lawsuits drove all but one maker of the childhood DPT vaccine out of the U.S. market.

In order to bring back drugmakers, in 1986 Congress passed the Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. The Act established the VICP; which is funded by a surcharge on every dose of covered vaccines. Rather than suing a manufacturer or provider through the civil tort system, claimants must petition for “no-fault” compensation with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Instead, the Secretary of Health and Human Services received the claimant’s petition. Claimants don’t have to prove negligence, failure to warn or other tort causes of action—they only need to prove that a vaccine led to the injury.

The VICP covers vaccines against 12 disease:

Can The Carlson Law Firm Help With Vaccine Injury Compensation?

You may file a vaccine lawsuit if you or your child received a vaccination covered by the VICP. In many cases, these vaccines put live, but weakened viruses in your body. You may also file a vaccine lawsuit if you are the legal representative of the estate of a deceased person who received a vaccine covered by the VICP.

At The Carlson Law Firm, we have been representing injured victims and their families for more than 40 years. We represent clients from all 50 states. If you or somebody you know suffered a vaccine injury, please contact our team immediately for a free consultation.

Japanese automaker Toyota is recalling more than 2.4 million hybrid vehicles globally. On Friday, October 5, Toyota announced that certain Hybrid vehicles could stall while driving.

The Toyota recall covers 807,000 hybrid vehicles in the United States. It covers Prius hybrids and Prius V hybrid manufactured between 2010 and November.

Toyota USA reports that the defect occurs in “rare situations.” The defect arises from the vehicle failing to enter a fail-safe driving mode in response to certain hybrid system faults. When this occurs, the vehicle could lose power and stall. The company says that the vehicle doesn’t lose power steering and braking, however, a stalled vehicle driving at high speeds could increase the risk of a crash.

The automaker did not say if the defect was linked to any crashes, injuries or deaths.

This is not the first time Toyota has had trouble with the fail-safe procedure with its vehicles. The company issued recalls in 2014 and 2015 to address similar issues. In addition, Toyota says it did not anticipate this new condition.

Dealers will apply a software fix to Prius cars for free. Customers will be notified if their vehicles are affected by mid-November.

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

Vehicle defects, such as the hybrid vehicle stalling can lead to very serious car crash injuries. Often, product defect-related injuries are traumatic experiences. It may be challenging to determine who may be liable for your injuries, medical costs, lost wages, and other damages. But knowing when to contact an vehicle defect lawyer to handle your product liability claim can make the difference in whether or not you’re able to recover for your damages. A Carlson Law Firm Product Liability Attorney can help you receive the fair and just compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Contact our firm to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a qualified product liability attorney.

For most of us, dogs really are man’s best friend. They fill our lives with love, laughter, and slobbery kisses. They are important members of our families. But we have to remember; they are animals and have animal instincts, which means in certain scenarios they can lash out. That’s where Texas dog bite law comes in.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States annually. Almost one in five people who have been bitten by a dog require medical attention, which is many times costly. Dog bites can happen with any breed of any size, and many attacks are the result of the dog owner’s negligence. This means that in many cases, the dog bite was preventable.

However, not all states have the same laws governing dog bites. Texas is a “negligence” or “one bite rule” state when it comes to dog bites. In order to recover damages for a dog bite, the injured person must show negligence on behalf of the dog owner.

Texas Dog Bite Law: What is Strict Liability?

Texas courts will apply a strict liability rule in cases where the dog is known to be vicious, dangerous, or mischievous, and the bite resulted from the dog’s known nature. If a dog has bitten someone before, that dog may be classified as a dangerous dog regardless if the bite caused serious harm. In this context, strict liability means if a dangerous dog caused a person’s injury, the victim would not have to demonstrate that the dog’s owner also failed to use reasonable care to restrain the dog. The injured person would be able to recover damages by simply demonstrating that the dog was known to be dangerous before their injury.

To recover a “one bite rule,” a plaintiff must prove:

  • The dog previously bit a person or acted like it wanted to.
  • The owner was aware of the dog’s previous conduct.
  • If neither of these conditions are met, the victim cannot recover under this doctrine.

Texas Dog Bite Law: Negligent Handling

A dog bite victim in Texas may recover compensation for their dog bite injuries on the grounds of negligence. Negligence is considered the lack of ordinary care, the absence of the kind of care a reasonably prudent and careful person would exercise in similar circumstances. If a dog owner failed to handle their dog as a reasonable, prudent individual, a dog bite victim may initiate a negligent handling action.

This will come into play in a dog bite case when a person creates an obvious risk of a dog bite, for example, letting a stray dog into a backyard where children are having a picnic.

To recover a negligent handling claim, a plaintiff must prove all of the following:

  • The defendant owned or possessed an animal.
  • The defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from harming others.
  • The defendant failed to meet that duty.
  • The failure to meet the duty caused the plaintiffs injury.

This type of action has an advantage because there is no need to demonstrate that the owner knew the dog’s vicious tendencies.

Texas’s negligence rule does not only apply to dog bites. It will also apply to other types of injuries caused by dogs. For example, if a large dog jumps on an older adult, knocks them down and causes a fracture, the injured person may bring a claim for damages against the dog’s owner. Once again, it must be proven that the dog’s owner knew the dog was aggressive or that the owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing harm to others.

Texas Dog Bite Law: Negligence per se

If an individual violates a law and causes an injury in which that law was designed to prevent, that individual may be presumed to have acted negligently. The negligence per se doctrine comes in to play in dog bite cases when a dog owner or possessor violates animal control laws such as requiring dogs to be on a leash.

The plaintiff must show:

  • There was a violation of a statute
  • The violation caused the injuries

Landlord Liability

A landlord or landowner in Texas can be held liable for failing to rid premises of a known dangerous dog. Another example, if the landlord is aware of a dog living on the premises, but does not keep common areas safe for residents or guests such as maintaining doors, gates or other barriers that would keep the dog away from people. The injury must have occurred in a common area under the control of the landlord and the landlord must have had actual or imputed knowledge of the particular dog’s vicious inclination.

What is a Dangerous or Vicious Dog in the eyes of Texas Dog Bite Law?

The Texas law identifies a vicious dog as one that:

  1. Has bitten or scratched a person on three separate occasions.
  2. Has bitten or scratched a person and an attending physician presented an affidavit stating that the person’s life may have been endangered by the dog to the health authority on at least one occasion.
  3. Has killed another dog, cat, domestic pet, or livestock on at least one occasion or injured another animal so severely that the veterinarian presented an affidavit to the health authority advising the injured animal’s life was seriously endangered.

There are three ways that the law recognizes for an owner to learn that their dog is considered a dangerous dog:

  1. Your dog has attacked someone in the past and you are aware of it.
  2. The court has sent you a notice that they have found your dog to be a dangerous dog.
  3. Animal control has informed you that your dog is a dangerous dog.

Is it enough to post a beware of dog sign?

A secure enclosure under Texas law means a fenced in area that is:

  • Locked
  • Prevent’s the dog from escaping
  • Capable of preventing others from entering
  • Clearly marked as containing a dangerous dog
  • Inspected and approved by a local animal control authority

Comparative Negligence Defense

In Texas, dog owners are permitted to mount a defense based on the comparative negligence of the dog bite victim. Depending on the success of comparative negligence, the damages awarded are reduced by the degree of the plaintiff’s negligence. For instance, if it is found that the plaintiff’s own conduct was 20 percent responsible for causing the incident, the victim’s recovery will be reduced by 20 percent.

Statute of Limitations

There is a deadline called the statute of limitations to file a dog bite lawsuit in Texas. Plaintiffs have two years to initiate their lawsuit or else forever lose their right to compensation. This makes it critical to contact a Texas dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after suffering a dog bite or dog attack.

What Can a Dog Bite Lawyer Do For Me?

If you have been injured in this type of terrifying situation, know that there are resources available to you. You may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Psychological counseling to overcome emotional trauma
  • Disfigurement
  • Other

Texas dog bite law may not be as simple as it seems, especially if the attack caused serious injuries and lifelong emotional trauma. Seeking compensation in a dog-bite case can be difficult for a number of reasons. It is not likely to know the fair value of your injury claim without having your case evaluated by an experienced Dog Bite Attorney. An attorney will be able to discuss your legal options and navigate through the often complex legal system. Furthermore, insurance companies have the goal to get you to agree to the lowest settlement possible, even if it means undervaluing your claim. A qualified dog bite attorney will know just how to knock down these tactics and pursue fair compensation on your behalf.

It is also of great importance to thoroughly investigate the case to determine whether or not the dog has bitten anyone in the past or if the owner was negligent in handling their dog. Establishing legal fault often requires the assistance and testimony of experts. An experienced attorney will have the knowledge and tools necessary to recover the financial damages you are entitled to.

How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

If you or someone you love has suffered a dog bite or attack, don’t hesitate to contact our seasoned Texas Dog-bite Attorneys. We have a strong understanding of Texas dog bite law. The Carlson Law Firm has devoted decades to protecting the rights and futures of injured victims and their families. We will advocate relentlessly until you receive the justice that you deserve. Let us navigate your situation and provide the legal guidance you require. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.

Find a Carlson Law office near me. 

A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found significant links between sexual trauma and ongoing health problems in women. The study found that mid-life women who experienced sexual assault or harassment were likely to experience long-term health consequences. In fact, sexual trauma put women at health risks for high blood pressure, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

The study included 304 nonsmoking women without cardiovascular disease between the ages of 40 and 60. The women underwent physical measurements, medical history, and questionnaire psychosocial assessments. Of the women recruited for the study:

  • 19 percent reported experiencing sexual harassment
  • 22 percent reported experiencing sexual assault
  • 10 percent reported experiencing both

JAMA Study Health Consequences

Women in the study who reported period sexual assault were three times more likely to experience depression and twice as likely to suffer elevated anxiety compared to women without a history of sexual trauma.

Additionally, women who experienced sexual violence were twice as likely to develop problems sleeping, such as insomnia.

Women exposed to workplace sexual harassment on average had higher blood pressure than women who did not. These levels, however, were not significant enough to put them at risk for stroke, aneurysms, kidney disease, heart attacks and other forms of heart disease.

The study also found that sexual harassment is closely tied to high levels of triglycerides—a type of fat lipid in the blood and a risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. women.

Additional Effects of Sexual Trauma on the health of Women

Sexual trauma is prevalent for women and carries long-lasting effects well beyond acts by a perpetrator. Sexual harassment and sexual assault lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes. Those who experience sexual trauma are at an increased risk of using drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and other dangerous street drugs. Sexual violence can affect a number of areas in a survivor’s life, including:

Physical Effects of Sexual Assault

  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Soreness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Fractured or dislocated bones
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy

Mental Effects of Sexual Assault

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Disassociation (unable to focus on work, school work and inability to be present in everyday life)
  • Withdrawal from family or increasingly combative relationships

Emotional Effects of Sexual Assault

  • Numbness
  • Loss of control
  • Helplessness
  • Fear
  • Changes in trusting others; for children, this can manifest as a mistrust of adults.
  • Anger
  • Self-blame/ guilt
  • Shock
  • Survivors can sometimes develop feelings of being damaged or undeserving of a better life. In some cases, survivors can turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with the overwhelming feelings of sexual assault.

Who is likely to experience sexual trauma?

According to RAINN, a sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds in America. On average, about 321,500 people suffer through rape or sexual assault each year in the United States. Young people between the ages of 18 to 34 are at the highest of sexual violence. In fact, this age demographic accounts for 54 percent of all sexual assaults. Click To Tweet

Women 18-24 in college are three times more likely to experience sexual violence. It also important to note that women in the same age group not in college are four times more likely to experience sexual violence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 percent of women will experience some form of contact sexual violence during their lifetime. However, state by state sexual assault estimates ranges from 30 percent to 48 percent. Additionally, approximately 1 in 5 women have experienced completed or attempted rape at some point in their lives. And 75 percent of women are estimated to have experienced workplace sexual harassment.

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

Sexual assault and abuse can take its toll on your physical and mental well being, but you don’t have to go through it alone. The Carlson Law Firm is ready to guide you through the legal steps you or a loved one can to begin the process of rebuilding your life after a sexual assault. We can help you recover compensation for damages such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, relocation, lost wages and other medical expenses.

Our qualified Sexual Assault Attorneys can help you determine if a civil lawsuit is the right step for you. We can help you hold the perpetrator, land or homeowner, employer, school, hospital or another negligent party accountable for the harm you suffered.

Our compassionate, tireless legal team is the advocate you need on your side. We will fight for you with the knowledge, skill and passion for justice that you deserve. Contact our firm today for more information on how we can assist you with a civil sexual assault lawsuit.

At The Carlson Law Firm, we care and we can help.


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