Workers in manufacturing plants and factories may have unknowingly damaged their lungs because of the exposure to hazardous chemicals.

What is Bronchiolitis Obliterans?

Bronchiolitis Obliterans is a rare, but serious respiratory condition that affects the bronchioles; the lungs tiniest airways. Due to inflammation, the airways become scarred and constricted resulting in no air movement. This leads to extreme shortness of breath.

What causes Bronchiolitis Obliterans?

Bronchiolitis Obliterans may result from lung injury caused by chemicals and respiratory infections.

Diacetyl is a common chemical linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, which is commonly used in foods and beverages. The chemical mimics butter flavoring and is used by food makers and food packagers because it’s cheaper and preserves longer than butter.

Diacetyl is an ingredient in popcorn, baked goods, snacks, and a variety of other edibles. It is not the only chemicals putting people at risk of this disease. Other causes may be due to some of the following chemicals when inhaled:

Acetaldehyde

Formaldehyde

Sulfur dioxide

Nitrogen oxides

Chlorine

Hydrochloric acid

Ammonia

Metal oxides (formed during welding)

Mustard gas (chemical weapon)

Food flavoring fumes (diacetyl)

Who is at risk of developing Bronchiolitis Obliterans?

Any individuals whose working conditions expose them to dangerous chemicals are at risk of developing bronchiolitis obliterans.

Those who work around flavorings are at particular risk from inhaling a chemical called diacetyl such as workers in plants where flavorings are made including coffee plants, dairy plants, snack food plants, pet food plants, and anyone else who has worked around flavorings as part of their job.

Other industrial workers who spray prints onto textiles with polyamide-amine dyes and battery workers are exposed to thionyl chloride fumes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that diacetyl manufacturing companies take the time to regularly sample air in work environments and provide purifying respirators.

Individuals who have had a lung transplant are also at risk because their body might try to reject the new organ. Bronchiolitis obliterans is the primary cause of death in people who get lung transplants.

Signs and symptoms of B.O.

Symptoms range from mild to severe. It may take about two to eight weeks for symptoms to develop after exposure to toxic fumes or respiratory illness and progress slowly over weeks to months. It can take several months or years for symptoms to present themselves after a transplant. Symptoms include:

Gasping for air

Dry cough

Shortness of breath

Wheezing

Severe irritation of the skin and eyes

Fevers

Night sweats

Weight loss

Hardening of the lung tissue

Bronchiolitis obliterans is not an infection itself, but it is possible for a patient to have bronchiolitis obliterans and a respiratory infection at the same time.

Bronchiolitis Obliterans Diagnosis

There is often a misdiagnosis of diseases caused by flavoring exposure. Affected individuals are many times diagnosed with asthma or emphysema when they are truly suffering from a disease caused by exposure to diacetyl, bronchiolitis obliterans. A chest x-ray will often appear normal.

The diagnosis may be difficult to make because the symptoms are similar to tobacco-related diseases and asthma. Additional testing such as imaging studies, pulmonary function tests, CT scans, and surgical biopsy can be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

Is there a cure for B.O.?

There is no cure for bronchiolitis obliterans. However, some treatments may help stabilize or slow it’s progression, and because it can be fatal, early intervention is critical for successful management of the disease.

Antibiotics, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressive drugs are often prescribed to people with bronchiolitis obliterans. Corticosteroids can help clear the lungs of mucus and reduce inflammation. Breathing exercises can help ease breathing difficulties. A lung transplant may be recommended in severe cases.

Extra rest and increased fluid intake are required to recover. The air in your home should be kept clear of smoke and any chemicals. A humidifier may help by keeping the air moist.

Long-term outlook

The outlook depends on when the condition was diagnosed and how far it has progressed. This disease is often fatal within months to years.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

If you have been diagnosed with this life-threatening lung disease, don’t hesitate to contact our Bronchiolitis Obliterans attorneys. Potential lawsuits are being reviewed for factory workers who have been diagnosed with this life-threatening disease all across the United States. Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we are committed to get you the best result possible. There will be no fees or expenses to hire our attorneys; all claims are pursued under a contingency fee, which means that we won’t get paid unless we secure a recovery for you.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We care, we can help.

Two separate recalls were announced for 21,700 Toyota and Lexus cars, highlighting problems with the fuel line that has the potential to cause a fire.

Toyota recall

Toyota has recalled about 11,800 2018 Camry sedans. According to Toyota, it is possible that the fuel pipes and the fuel hoses in the engine compartment were not properly connected during the assembly process, which can cause a fuel leak and ultimately increase the risk of a fire in the presence of an ignition source.

Those affected by the recall will receive a notification by first class mail starting in early April. Toyota dealers will inspect the vehicles, and if the fuel pipes and the fuel hoses are not connected properly, the dealership will properly connect them at no cost to customers.

Lexus recall

The second recall affects about 9,900 2015-2018 Lexus RC F, 2016-2018 Lexus GS F, and 2018 Lexus LC 500 vehicles. Affected vehicles have two high-pressure fuel pumps, and according to Lexus, it is a possibility that the cover of one of these pumps could become damaged over time leading to a fuel leak and an increased risk of starting a fire.

Affected owners will also receive a first-class mail notification starting in early April. Lexus dealers will replace both high-pressure fuel pumps at no cost to the vehicle owners.

Does your vehicle have an open recall?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not yet have a campaign number for either recall. To verify if your vehicle has an open recall, you can plug in the 17-digit vehicle identification number at the NHTSA website.

The dangers of vehicle fires

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), vehicle fires kill over 300 people and injure 1,250 more annually.

Vehicles are being built more sound resistant which means they retain fire gases under pressure for longer periods of time before the windows fail, potentially resulting in an explosion. Highly flammable liquids can spray out as a result and eject projectiles that can cause serious life-threatening injuries. Other hazards include:

The battery can explode with acid being released

Struts used to keep hatchbacks and engine hoods open can explode during fires

Older vehicles that have energy-absorbing bumpers contain pressurized shock absorbers that can burst under heat

Air conditioning systems contain compressed refrigerant gases

Short-term exposures to some chemicals that will be released in the event of a car fire may decrease oxygen levels in the blood and lead to asphyxiation which may cause a person to become unconscious and stop breathing. Chemicals can also irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract which may cause the breakdown of blood cells and can have effects on the central nervous system in the brain and the spinal cord. Long-term exposure may result in asthma-like symptoms, reproductive or developmental problems, effects on the bone marrow and immune system, destruction of the protective fat in the skin, and development of cancers such as leukemia.

What should I do if my vehicle catches fire?

If your vehicles catches on fire, pull over as far away from other vehicles as possible and turn off the ignition to shut off the electric current and stop the flow of gasoline.

It is wise to set the emergency brake because you don’t want a moving car on fire.

Firefighters also advise not to open the hood because it will only feed oxygen into the flames, making the car fire even more dangerous.

Get everyone out of the car and don’t worry about personal belongings.  Move at least 100 feet away to be clear of flying debris, toxic gases, and other hazardous substances. Be cautious of moving vehicles in the area.

Call 911 or the emergency number to your local fire department. Do not ever attempt to put the fire out yourself or return to the vehicle.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed due to a vehicle fire, contact an Auto Product Liability Attorney at The Carlson Law Firm. We are ready to invest in your case to get you on the road to recovery while fighting for rightfully deserved compensation on your behalf. We are available 24/7.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We care, we can help.

The gravitational forces that come along with a car crash can cause the spinal cord to misalign, which can put you at risk for a bulging disc or worse; a herniated disc.

These injuries  result from both high speed and low-speed collisions and can range from minor to sometimes life-threatening.

Bulging discs and herniated discs, also referred to as slipped discs,  are also seen in people who have been a victim of a slip and fall accident.

What is a bulging disc?

There is a gel-filled disk between each vertebra that acts as a shock absorber helping the spine to move. A bulging disc occurs when a damaged disc compacts and pushes backward into the spinal canal. A bulging disc usually bulges toward one side of the canal making it more likely to have pain and tingling on just one side of the body.

In some cases, a bulging disc is relatively painless. On the other hand, it can cause severe pain in your neck, shoulders, chest, and arms. You may experience numbness or weakness in your arms or fingers.

A bulging disc can eventually become a herniated disk.

Causes of bulging discs

Strain or injury

Obesity

Smoking

Poor posture

Inactivity

Bulging disc treatment options

There are various ways to treat a bulging disc:

Rest and medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen

Physical therapy to relieve pressure on the nerve

Cortisone injections

It is estimated that roughly ten percent of people with bulging disks will require surgery.

What is a herniated disc (slipped disc)

A slipped disc can occur in any part of your spine, but the most common area is the lower back.

Each disc has a gelatinous inner portion and a tough outer ring. An injury can cause the outer ring to become weak or even tear, allowing the inner portion to slip out resulting in a slipped disc.

A disc can slip out of place just from twisting to lift a heavy object. You may experience numbness and pain along the affected nerve if the slipped disk compresses one of your spinal nerves. Surgery may be required to remove or repair the slipped disc.

Who is at risk?

As we get older, we are more likely to experience a slipped disc because our discs begin to lose some of their protective water content. This would cause them to slip out of place more easily.

Being overweight puts you at an increased risk of experiencing a slipped disc because your discs must support the additional weight. An inactive lifestyle and weak muscles may also contribute to the development of a slipped disc.

Symptoms of a Herniated/slipped disc

Pain and numbness

Pain extending to your arms or legs

Pain which worsens at night

Pain when walking short distances

Pain the worsens after standing or sitting

Unexplained muscle weakness

Tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the affected area

Bulging disc

It is also possible to have a herniated disc with no symptoms.

Surgical procedures for treating herniated discs include:

Laminectomy- The removal of the back surface of a vertebra (the lamina), which enlarges the spinal canal to alleviate pressure on spinal nerves.

Laminotomy- Partial removal of the lamina.

Discectomy- The removal of the damaged portion of a disc, generally recommended only when patients have significant nerve-related weakness or pain that spreads to the legs, arms, buttocks, or chest.

Spinal fusion- A surgeon may fuse two vertebrae to provide stability after removing a disc.

Complications of a slipped disc

If a severe slipped disc is left untreated, it can lead to permanent nerve damage. A slipped disc can cut off the nerve impulses to the cauda equine nerves in your lower back and legs in very rare cases, result in loss of bowel or bladder control.

Saddle anesthesia is another long-term complication associated with a slipped disc. If this happens, the slipped disc compresses nerves resulting in the loss of sensation to your inner thighs, the back of your legs, and around your rectum.

Complications such as infection, worsening of pain, and nerve damage may arise during spinal surgery.  Spinal surgery can also cause significant bleeding; dangerous clots may form in the veins of the leg as the body attempts to stop the loss of blood.

Spinal fusion surgery may come with specific complications. The metal hardware connected to the vertebrae may detach which would require additional surgery. The bone graft may fail and cause the vertebrae to shift out of position.

How are slipped discs treated?

The treatment will depend on the level of discomfort it is causing you and how far the disc has slipped out of place.

In many cases, people can relieve pain by stretching and using an exercise program that will strengthen the back and surrounding muscles.

Over the counter pain relievers may also help. If your pain does not respond to over the counter treatments, you may be prescribed stronger medications or muscle relaxers to relieve muscle spasms.

Don’t stop all physical activity. You may worsen your condition if you refrain from all physical activity because your muscles will begin to weaken and you could experience joint stiffness. Continue to do low-impact activities and stretch as much as possible.

If after six weeks you are still in pain and the slipped disc is affecting your muscle function, you may require a microdiscectomy to remove the damaged portion of the disk without having to remove the entire disc.

In severe cases, the disc may be replaced with an artificial disk. The other option is to remove the disc and fuse the vertebra together to add stability to your spinal column.

Recovery from surgery

Recovery may require three days of staying hospitalized. The patient should be able to return to your normal activities in a few weeks.

If the patient has both a laminectomy and spinal fusion, it is often recommended not to return to normal activities for up to six months after surgery.

Part of the recovery process may include physical therapy to build strength in the lower back and to prevent muscle loss in the legs from inactivity.

Sadly, many patients will have returning pain with the natural weakening of the spine that occurs with age even after surgery was successful at alleviating pain.

Reduce your risk for herniated discs

Although it is impossible to prevent a slipped disc, you can reduce your risk of developing a slipped risk by taking these steps:

Use safe lifting techniques such as bending and lifting from your knees, not your waist.

Maintain a healthy weight to avoid more pressure on the spine and discs.

Maintain good posture to reduce the pressure on your spine.

If you sit most of the day, get up and stretch periodically.

Exercise to strengthen the muscles in your back, legs, and abdomen.

The importance of contacting an attorney

Right after a collision or a severe slip and fall, many victims are charged with adrenaline masking the symptoms of serious injuries. It can take several hours and even days for your body to recover from the initial shock. It is crucial that you seek medical treatment right away. If there is a gap in medical treatment, the insurance company will have a reason to try and refuse payment.

It is in your best interest to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney who will be able to guide you in taking the next steps towards your recovery. A personal injury attorney will be able to take the stress away from you of dealing with the insurance companies and fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries, pain, suffering, lost wages and other losses.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we understand that if you have suffered a herniated disc, you may be in a lot of pain and may be feeling drained mentally and financially. We have attorneys, nurses, and investigators who specialize in not only helping you physically but helping to prove negligence as well. Our goal is to get you the best result possible.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We care, we can help.

When most people think of a biker, they think of someone who is a thrill-seeker, someone who is a little edgy with a touch of danger. Ironically, that driver is actually the one who is in danger. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 88,000 motorcycle riders were injured, and 4,684 were killed in 2015.

Dangers associated with motorcycles

According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists are 29 times more likely than car occupants to die in a crash. But what makes motorcycles so dangerous?

Motorcycles are less visible than a traditional car, which makes them more likely to be struck by another motorist. All too often, motorcyclists are struck when another driver attempts to change lanes because the motorcyclist was in the driver’s blind spot.

The two-wheeled configuration of a motorcycle lacks the stability of a cars four-wheel base, making them more susceptible to lose balance on sharp turns. Having only two wheels also makes motorcycles vulnerable to the surface they drive on. The terrain is very important; one pothole could lead to a fatal incident.

No windows mean no windshield wipers. When it is raining motorcyclists don’t have clear visibility which increased the likelihood of an accident.

Motorcycles don’t have seatbelts which mean when struck by someone else on the road, the motorcyclist and passengers are likely to be thrown, putting their flesh and bones at the mercy of the pavement and other vehicles upon crashing.

Speed was a factor in 33 percent of riders that were involved in fatal crashes. Sport motorcycles are designed for speed and maneuverability. They can reach street speeds up to 190 miles per hour are four times more likely to die in a crash than riders of other types of motorcycles.

Driving a car is very different than riding a motorcycle. A motorcycle requires expert coordination and a good sense of judgment. Many new drivers do not take enough time to learn how to drive their motorcycle to fit their skill set. This lack of training puts motorcyclists at risk of injury.

Injuries associated with motorcycle crashes

  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Road rash
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Broken bones
  • Fractures
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Facial trauma
  • Internal bleeding
  • Internal organ damage
  • Burns
  • Nerve damage
  • Muscle damage
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Texas motorcycle helmet law

Approximately 40 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2015 were not wearing a helmet according to NHTSA. Helmets may not be the coolest accessory, but wearing one could save your life.

Under Texas law, all motorcycle operators and passengers are to wear a helmet meeting the Federal Vehicle Safety Standard #218. However, there is an exception. Individuals 21 and older who have completed a department approved Motorcycle Operator Training Course or if they can provide proof of at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage are exempt from wearing a helmet while operating or riding a motorcycle.

A motorcycle driver who chooses to ride without a helmet probably has not considered the cost of medical expenses associated with brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Medical expenses associated with brain injuries are highly likely to surpass the minimum coverage offered by Personal Injury Protection insurance.

A study released by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that the median hospital charges for motorcycle riders who were treated for traumatic brain injuries were 13 times higher than the medical expenses for riders who were injured but did not suffer from brain injuries.

For more information on helmet safety, visit the National Highway Safety Administration page on Motorcycle Safety.

The importance of legal representation after a motorcycle collision

The laws regarding motorcycles can be very confusing. Motorcycle crash victims often make the wrong decisions and feel overpowered by aggressive insurance companies if they do not have an attorney on their side.

Insurance providers use tactics to make motorcyclists feel cornered into agreeing on a settlement amount that is lower than what they deserve. When you hire an experienced motorcycle lawyer, the burden of dealing with the insurance company is taken off of you.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle collision, it is in your best interest to hire a seasoned motorcycle attorney who is familiar with the different types of bikes and has an understanding of motorcycle culture. Your motorcycle attorney can help you value your claim and fight on your behalf to ensure you get all of the compensation you deserve for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Physical pain
  • Other damages and losses

Motorcycle safety tips

Wear a helmet-

This cannot be said enough. Wearing a helmet could be the determining factor between life and death if you were to be involved in a motorcycle collision.

Wear protective gear-

Your head is not the only part of your body that can sustain life-threatening injuries. A leather jacket will help keep your skin where it belongs in the event of a collision. Motorcycle boots and gloves are also essential.

Slow down-

33 percent of motorcycle crash fatalities involved speeding in 2015 according to the NHTSA.

Get your bike inspected-

Make it a routine to inspect your bike once a year. Check to see if antilock braking systems (ABS) can be installed on your motorcycle. It has been found that motorcycles with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Check your engine, tires, and steering system to ensure they are in good shape.

Are motorcycles dangerous? How The Carlson Law Firm can help

At The Carlson Law Firm, we have made it our goal to effectively help clients through their specific and individual circumstances involving motorcycle accident injuries. Our team of motorcycle accident lawyers can help you establish who may be held liable and what types of damages you may be able to pursue. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact us today for a free initial case evaluation. We care, we can help.

The one shared factor that all successful personal injury cases have in common is the ability to demonstrate the other party’s negligence. Negligence is the principle factor used for determining fault and accountability for reckless behavior that results in injury.

But what exactly does it take to prove negligence in a courtroom? In this guide, we will explain how negligence is established to give you a better understanding.

What is negligence?

Negligence is when someone fails to carry out certain standards of conduct. For example, an individual does not carry out an act which a reasonably careful person would or does something which a reasonably careful person would not do, causing harm or loss to another individual.

When a person violates these standards, the law requires the person to compensate the person to who they caused harm or loss.

Four elements required to prove negligence

There are four key elements in proving negligence. An “element” is a necessary component of a legal claim. The plaintiff must prove the following to prove negligence:

If you fail to establish the four elements of negligence, you will not be successful in securing compensation for your injuries.

Duty of care

The first element is determining whether or not the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care.

There are situations where a legal duty is created in the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. A duty of care arises when the law recognizes a relationship between two parties, and due to this relationship, one party has an obligation to exercise the same level of reasonable care that another person in a similar situation would exercise.

For example:

All drivers are expected to maintain their vehicle in safe conditions and operate their vehicle safely and in accordance with all traffic laws

Business owners have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure their premises are safe for their customers and employees. This can include regularly inspecting their property for hazardous conditions and fix it within a reasonable timeframe.

Breach of duty

The next element is for the court to determine if the defendant breached this duty by doing or not doing something that an average person would do if they were in a similar circumstance.

The defendant would likely be found negligent if an average person:

Knew everything the defendant knew at the time and

Would have known his/her actions might cause an injury to someone else and

Would have done something different from what the defendant did in that situation

Here are examples in which a breach of duty has occurred:

A truck driver does not allow enough stopping distance when approaching an intersection and strikes another vehicle that was stopped at a red light.

A dog owner who knows their dog is very aggressive towards children brings the dog to a tee-ball game, and the dog viciously bites the child.

Causation (cause in fact)

The third element of negligence in causation. Causation requires that the plaintiff show that the defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury and losses.

Another thing to consider is whether the defendant could have foreseen that his or her actions might cause an injury. If the action caused the plaintiff injury through an unexpected act of nature, then it would be deemed unforeseeable, most likely making the defendant to be found not liable.

Some examples where cause in fact exists are:

The supervisor of a grocery store sees an employee drop grapes in the produce aisle. Neither the supervisor nor any other employee clean up the grapes promptly and an elderly customer steps and slips on the grapes, breaking her hip. A broken hip is reasonably related to their breach of the duty of the care because if the store employees had picked up the grapes, the customer would not have slipped and fallen on the floor.

A driver doesn’t stop at a crosswalk and strikes a pedestrian in a parking lot, causing the pedestrian to suffer a broken leg and severe bruising. The pedestrian would not have been harmed if the driver did not strike him. The driver’s failure to exercise reasonable care while driving in the parking lot is reasonably related to the victim’s injuries.

Proximate cause

A proximate cause is an event related to an injury that the courts feel to be the cause of said injury. It is an action that produced foreseeable consequences without intervention from anyone else. Proximate cause is also known as a legal cause.

For example:

An ambulance flips over on the way to the hospital after aiding individuals in a different car wreck. There is no proximate cause tied to the car wreck that the emergency services were called to initially. A party is not liable for harm sustained resulting from actions taken as a result of an initial causation.

Damages

Damages are the final element of negligence. The plaintiff suffered injury or loss which a reasonable person in that same situation could have been expected to foresee.

The injuries suffered must be an injury that can be relieved by monetary compensation for expenses such as medical care.

For example:

The manager of a sports equipment store displays heavy medicine balls on a flimsy top shelf. The shelf collapses and the balls start tumbling down rapidly striking a customer on the head and causing him to suffer a concussion. The customer has to miss several weeks of work and receives a pricey hospital bill. Monetary compensation will compensate the customer for his injury, lost wages, and medical expenses.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

If you or a loved one has suffered harm or loss that was caused by another person’s negligence you may be entitled to compensation. Our experienced personal injury lawyers are ready to heavily invest in your case to get you the best result possible. At The Carlson Law Firm, we understand that each client is unique and should be handled uniquely.

Contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation. We are available 24/7.

As if being a victim of an auto collision wasn’t stressful enough, you find out the driver who crashed into you is uninsured. Texas law does require all drivers to be covered by liability auto insurance, however, not everyone follows the law and if they do, many drivers purchase only the minimum requirement of coverage.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance, an estimated 20 percent of drivers in Texas do not have insurance. That means there is a one in five chance any car collision will involve an uninsured driver.

What is uninsured or underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage?

This is a type of insurance coverage that pays for injuries and losses resulting from a collision caused by a driver that does not have any insurance or has too little insurance to cover all losses.

Having uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage(UM/UIM) would be beneficial in helping you and your family pay off medical bills in the event that the person who hits you does not have enough insurance or worse, they are completely uninsured.

You are not legally required to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, however, the insurance provider does have to offer it to you. Many times the insurance agent will play down the fact that they have removed uninsured motorist coverage from your plan to get you a lower rate. Although it seems positive to have a more competitive rate, this also means many insured drivers are not protected from the 20 percent of the population driving uninsured.

What is the difference between an uninsured motorist and an under-insured motorist?

The difference is drastic. An uninsured motorist is someone who simply does not have any insurance. An underinsured motorist is someone who has insurance, but they don’t have enough insurance to cover the damages and losses they have caused. For example, a driver who causes a crash has the minimum $30,000 of injury coverage, but they crashed into someone and caused them injuries of $60,000, the driver will be considered underinsured.

What are the minimum insurance requirements in Texas?

In Texas, the minimum insurance requirements are $30,000 per person per incident up to $60,000. This means every driver is supposed to have an insurance policy which will pay someone who they injure up to $30,000. If there were passengers who were injured in the vehicle as well, they would be paid up to $60,000 divided between all the occupants of the vehicle. This does not seem like a lot of money if you were seriously injured and had to be hospitalized.

What happens if an uninsured driver hits me?

You do have the option to try and sue an uninsured driver. If the uninsured driver does not have enough to pay the settlement and does not have enough non-exempt assets such as a rental property, the case is going to be worthless. In most cases, a driver that hits someone and does not have insurance is not at-fault to pay since Texas makes the party at fault pay damages from their insurance.

Then who is at fault?

In Texas, your insurance company will become responsible for paying damages if an uninsured driver hits you. Keep in mind; your insurance company may try to offer a settlement lower than what you deserve in an attempt to minimize their losses.

What is the credit the insurance company is claiming for its other payments?

The insurance company is entitled to a credit if you make a personal injury protection(PIP) or medical payment (MedPay) claim. If your UM/UIM claim is worth $20,000, but your insurance company has already paid you $5,000 for PIP, then your insurance company has the credit of $5,000 and will only owe you $15,000.

If your claim exceeds the value of your policy limits, there will be an exception. For example, if your UM/UIM claim is worth $40,000, but your UM/UIM is only $30,000, the insurance company must pay the full $30,000 regardless if they already paid an amount for PIP or MedPay.

Does UM/UIM coverage apply to hit and run claims?

The answer is yes. However special rules are to be noted.

First, was it truly a hit and run? When it comes to UM/UIM coverage, just because the driver failed to stop, doesn’t make it a hit and run case for uninsured/ underinsured coverage purposes. If the person who didn’t stop is later tracked down, it does not fall under hit and run and the special rules will not apply.

On the other hand, if you were not able to track down the driver who didn’t stop, then your UM/UIM coverage does apply as long as there was contact. What does this mean? There must have been contact with your vehicle and the vehicle that didn’t stop. If the other driver ran you off the road, but your vehicles did not physically touch, then the coverage will not kick in.

Once it is determined that there was contact, you may file an uninsured or underinsured claim with your auto insurance carrier. Doing so will help you recover some lost wages and help pay your medical bills.

Why is an auto crash with an uninsured driver a big deal?

You are not protected if you are involved in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Often times after a car wreck, victims need to take time off from work to recover from their injuries causing them to encounter loss wages. In these situations, victims will be left in debt with medical bills and unable to recover for pain, suffering and other losses.

Is it easy to recover UM/UIM benefits?

Recovering benefits under your UM/UIM policy can be a complicated process. All too often, even after paying your premium for years, insurance companies are unwilling to compensate you for the full value of your injuries.

You will have to show that you are entitled to recover damages and justify the amount you are demanding. Just like with any other claim, the insurance company will try their hardest to settle your claim for as little money as possible even though it is your own insurance company.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

If you were seriously injured in an auto collision and are seeking compensation under your UM/UIM policy, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced UM/UIM lawyers. Once it is determined that the coverage is in place, we will begin taking steps towards the burden of proof necessary to attain the coverage. We investigate claims thoroughly, using our extensive knowledge of the law and the insurance industry. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We care, we can help.

 

It’s a sobering statistic: Half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school. Did you know that teen drivers are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash? Crash risk is unusually high during a teen’s first year of driving. Learn about strategies that help a new driver arrive at school safely, including Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems and sober driving requirements.

In 2015, 2,333 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2014. That means that six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.

Who Is Most At Risk?

The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group.

Among teen drivers, those at exceptionally high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:

Males: In 2014, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 was two times that of their female counterparts.

Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.

What Factors Put Teen Drivers At Risk?

Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous conditions. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.

In 2014, 50% of teen deaths caused by motor vehicle collisions occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight and 53% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Compared with other age groups, teens have among the lowest rates of seat belt use. In 2015, only 61% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.

At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is more significant for teens than it is for older adults.

In 2014, 17% of drivers ranging in ages 16 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had BAC of .08% or higher.

A national survey conducted in 2015, found 20% of teens reported that within the past month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

How Can Teen Driver Injury And Death Be Prevented?

There are a few proven methods to helping teens become safer drivers.

Seat Belts: Of the teens (ages 16-19) who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2015, approximately 47% were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.

Stay Sober: Enforcing minimum legal drinking age laws and zero blood-alcohol tolerance laws for drivers under age 21 are recommended.

Graduated Driver Licensing Programs (GDL)

Driving is a complex skill, one that must be practiced to be learned well.The combination of minimal driving experience and risk-taking behavior puts teenagers at a heightened risk for crashes. The need for skill-building and driving supervision for new drivers is the basis for graduated driver licensing programs, which exist in all US states. GDL provides longer practice periods, limits driving under high-risk conditions for newly licensed drivers, and requires greater participation of parents in their teens’ learning-to-drive. The risk is highest when teens are in the first 12 to 24 months of licensure. The implementation of GDL programs has saved approximately 14,820 lives nationally since 1991. It is proven to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes involving teenage drivers.

Eight Danger Zones

Make sure your teenage driver is aware of the leading causes of teen crashes:

Driver inexperience

Driving with teen passengers

Nighttime driving

Not using seat belts

Distracted driving

Drowsy driving

Reckless driving

Impaired driving

Consider A Safe Driving Agreement

Before a teen driver is handed the keys to the car, it’s a good idea to lay out some basic rules—and the consequences for breaking those rules. Studies found that teens who had a formal agreement with their parents on acceptable behaviors while driving were less likely to engage in risky behavior.

Click here to download a copy of The Carlson Law Firm’s Safe Driving Contract For Teenagers

How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

If you or your teen has been injured in an auto accident, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys is here to help. Don’t let the stresses of dealing with difficult insurances companies limit your payout. If you’ve been injured, you deserve proper compensation. Contact any one of our 13 offices today for a free consultation. We care, we can help.

Contact The Carlson Law Firm today.

 

Shoplifting is a harmless crime, right? Wrong. Besides the humiliation you may face, being convicted of theft will seriously affect your future, and many obstacles may arise.

Theft crimes are classified by the nature of the offense and the value of property stolen under the Texas Penal Code 31. Shoplifting is prosecuted as “theft” because it involves the unlawful taking of someone else’s property without their consent.

What is shoplifting?

When most people think of shoplifting, they imagine someone stuffing an item in their pocket and walking out of the store without paying for it. Yes, this is shoplifting; however, there are other ways in which someone can shoplift. For example:

  • Switching price tags to avoid paying full price to the retailer.
  • Eating at a restaurant and leaving without paying the bill. This is also known as ‘dine and dash’.
  • Knowingly writing a bad check for goods.
  • Hiding stolen merchandise for someone else to steal it.

What happens if you are convicted of shoplifting?

If you have been accused of shoplifting, the sentencing guidelines in Texas are the same as other forms of theft. These penalties are described in Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code.

Misdemeanor theft

The most common charge prosecuted in shoplifting cases is Misdemeanor theft. Class C, B, and A misdemeanors depend on the value of the property stolen:

  • Class C misdemeanor- The value of the property stolen is valued less than $50.
  • Class B misdemeanor- The value of the property stolen is valued between $50 and $500.
  • Class A misdemeanor- The value of the property stolen is valued between $500 and $1,500.

The most serious theft charges one can face are a felony in the first, second, or third degree. All degrees can come with a fine of up to $10,000.

Third degree: The value of the property stolen range from $20K-$100K, can result in two to ten years imprisonment.

Second degree: The value of the property stolen ranges from $100K-$200K, can result in two to 20 years imprisonment.

First degree: The value of the property stolen ranges from $200K or more, can result in life imprisonment or five to 99 years imprisonment.

If lawmakers identify a crime as a felony, but it is not designated as a particular kind of felony or set a specific sentence, then the felony is a state jail felony.

State jail felony theft: The value of the property stolen ranges from $1,500-$20,000, can result in 180 days to two years imprisonment.

Your criminal history plays a significant role in the severity of charges and penalties you face for a shoplifting offense. Prior convictions have the potential to result in more severe penalties.

If you have had a prior shoplifting offense, a Class C misdemeanor may be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor regardless if the property taken is valued under $50.

If you have had more than one other prior conviction, the offense may be elevated to state jail instead of a misdemeanor offense, even if the stolen property was valued less than $1,500.

You could be charged with organized retail theft if you are accused of working with a team to commit the shoplifting crime. Organized retail theft falls under Section 31.16 of the Texas Penal Code in which a person can be charged if they willingly conducted or facilitated an activity in which a person receives, possesses, conceals, stores sells or disposes of stolen retail merchandise of a total value not less than $1,500. The severity of the crime may be increased if found guilty of organizing or managing others in an organized theft scheme.

The impacts you face if found guilty of shoplifting

Being convicted of any crime can lead to serious obstacles later in life. Remember that many employers run background checks as part of the hiring process. This type of crime is considered a serious act of dishonesty which will make it difficult for employers to trust you.

Rental companies will typically run a criminal check before making a decision. Having a shoplifting conviction on your record may make it difficult to get an approval.

The store you shoplifted from may permanently ban you from the store. Not only will this be embarrassing, but it could also cause you inconvenience. Depending on the store that you shoplifted from, you may face problems getting necessities.

A conviction could disqualify you from specific graduate or professional programs.

Will a shoplifting attorney help?

Even though you should take charges seriously, your life is not over. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Having top-notch legal advice can have a serious impact on your future and freedom.

You have the right to remain silent while you are being questioned. Always request to speak with an attorney. Keep in mind law enforcement officials are trained to get the most out of you during an interrogation.

Having an attorney by your side while you are being questioned will avoid possibly incriminating yourself and ensure that your rights are protected. This can make a difference in how successful the outcome of your case is.

An attorney can defend your interests by:

  • Reviewing the evidence
  • Developing a legal strategy
  • Representing you in court hearings
  • Interviewing prosecution witnesses for weakness in their testimony
  • Pursuing new leads by gathering new evidence
  • Defending you at trial

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

When it comes to legal representation for a theft charge, you want someone who will actively investigate and aggressively fight to get you the best possible outcome. At The Carlson Law Firm, we have extensive experience representing those charged with a crime. We will work every angle of your case to have your charges lowered or dropped. We offer free consultations and are available 24/7. We care, we can help.

Contact us for a free case evaluation.

Sufficient levels of testosterone are critical in promoting optimal health in men.

Testosterone is important for maintenance of muscle mass, bone density, sperm production, optimal lipid profiles, healthy numbers of red blood cells, sex drive, and fertility.

Pharmaceutical drugs, environmental toxins, obesity, and an unhealthy diet are all factors that can prematurely decrease testosterone.

What is testosterone therapy?

Men suffering from side effects associated with low testosterone levels are often prescribed some form of testosterone therapy. Testosterone treatments come in a variety of forms including gel, patch, injection, and pill. These methods are used to help increase testosterone levels in the body that may have declined due to the body’s natural aging process or a chronic condition.

Signs of testosterone deficiency

Mind

Depression

Reduced self-confidence

Difficulty concentrating

Disturbed sleep

Body

Declining muscle and bone mass

Increased body fat

Fatigue

Swollen or tender breasts

Flushing or hot flashes

Sexual function

Lower sex drive

Fewer spontaneous erections

Difficulty sustaining erections

What’s the problem with Testosterone Therapy?

Recent studies have found testosterone therapy may be linked with risk of serious cardiac problems in men.

Testosterone therapy increases the risk of heart disease

A study published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that after starting testosterone therapy, men with a history of heart disease had a 30 percent increase in death, heart attacks, and stroke.

Several systematic reviews of the medical literature regarding testosterone therapy have further backed up these findings, confirming that exogenous testosterone is strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events.

The FDA released a report in 2015 cautioning that prescription testosterone products have only been approved for men with low testosterone due to hypogonadism. The warning also advised that the benefits and safety of testosterone have not been established from the treatment of low T due to aging.

Testosterone therapy thickens blood

Testosterone therapy causes blood cells to increase in size which is why testosterone therapy appears to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Red blood cells can clump together and thicken the blood. For older men who with pre-existing cardiovascular problems, thickened blood poses a serious health risk and may trigger a cardiovascular event.

The FDA is requiring manufacturers of testosterone replacement drugs to include warnings stating there is a risk of increased blood clots which may develop and cause conditions such as pulmonary embolism.

Testosterone may cause strokes and mini-strokes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and leading cause of long-term disability in adults. Blood clots that are caused by testosterone therapy can lead to stroke if the blood flow to the brain is blocked.

The effects of a stroke depend on the area of the brain that was affected. The effects can range from mild impairments in vision, speech, memory, and movement, to major long-term disabilities.

Men who take testosterone drugs are 30 percent more likely to suffer from strokes.

Testosterone therapy raises blood pressure

Testosterone has been found to increase blood pressure and reduce HDL cholesterol. These are risk factors that play a role in the pathogenesis of heart disease. Adding Testosterone for men who are struggling with high blood pressure and lipid abnormalities may be a dangerous combination for their heart health.

Alternatives for raising testosterone

Testosterone levels can be raised naturally by modifying diet and lifestyle. Not only will these side benefits help raise testosterone, they may also improve blood sugar control, liver health, and strengthen the immune system.

Weight loss

Low testosterone is associated with obesity, therefore undertaking dietary and lifestyle changes may be one of the most effective steps a man can take to raise testosterone levels.

Healthy eating habits

Since losing weight has been found to increase testosterone levels, cleaning up your diet would be essential for healthy weight loss. In order to maintain optimal testosterone levels, a diet that includes plenty of protein, zinc, magnesium, and healthy fats is crucial.

Get enough Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D may lead to decreased testosterone. Vitamin D is involved in male reproductive health including regulation of testosterone. Having sufficient levels of vitamin D in males prevent the conversion of testosterone into estrogens by the aromatase enzyme.

Exercise and stay active

It is known we should exercise for many positive benefits; this also includes testosterone regulation. It is important to know the type of exercise performed effect testosterone levels differently. For example, moderate and high-intensity exercise such as weightlifting, boost long-term testosterone levels. Aerobic exercise and overtraining may decrease testosterone levels.

Improve sleep habits

Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. It would be helpful to turn off electronics to avoid interruptions and eat your last meal of the day at least two hours before heading to bed. Sleep deprivation can significantly decrease testosterone levels.

FDA gives recommendations

The FDA convened an expert panel giving it the task of reviewing key studies. Upon completion of the review, some of the recommendations made:

How can a Testosterone lawsuit help me?

There are many laws and regulations in place for how products should work and fulfill expectations. Individuals who have suffered severe side effects and have been injured by testosterone therapy may be entitled to compensation for damages such as medical expenses, pain, suffering, loss of wages and ability to work. It is crucial to have a seasoned personal injury attorney by your side to help you through the complex process of proving liability.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we have a team of attorneys, personal investigators, and registered nurses on staff that help us quickly gather evidence and review medical records related to our clients’ injuries. We will fight to get you the compensation you rightfully deserve.  Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.

Chances are, if you are looking into a divorce, you most likely already have your reasoning on why you want to call it quits. But did you know that for a judge to grant you your divorce, your reason for requesting the divorce must fall into one of the seven categories recognized by the state of Texas in the Family Law codes?

The term grounds for divorce refers to the reasoning behind wanting to end your marriage. The grounds of divorce may affect your case depending on how it is presented.

Why do grounds for divorce exist?

Society takes marriage very seriously and in most instances is not encouraged to end a marriage unless there are legitimate reasons to do so. In the past, most states required one of the individuals to be at fault in order to grant a divorce. Today, many states, including Texas, permit no-fault divorces, which allow couples to simply say they no longer get along and are requesting a divorce.

There are seven grounds for divorce under the Texas Family Law Codes 6.001-6.007:

Insupportability

Insupportability happens to be the most common reason for divorce in Texas. Insupportability, more commonly known as irreconcilable difference, means that the marriage has become insupportable because of discord and conflict , destroying the relationship and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

Neither spouse expects to be able to ever get along well enough to proceed with the marriage, so divorce is requested.

Insupportability is considered a no-fault divorce reason and both parties must agree to use insupportability as a grounds for divorce.

Cruelty

In Texas, an individual can cite cruelty as a grounds for divorce under Texas Family Code Section 6.002, however, proving this in court while possible, has its challenges.

The cruel treatment towards a spouse must be so extreme that it is impossible for the parties to live in the same home.

Cruel treatment can be physical or emotional. To prove cruel treatment in a divorce, the party pleading cruelty needs to be open and honest with their attorney to gather the necessary evidence.

Adultery

Another common ground for divorce is adultery. From a legal perspective, adultery is having sexual intercourse with a person while married to another person.

Adultery may be hard to prove and often the grounds for divorce will most likely end up being insupportability.

Conviction of a felony

A person may plead their souse’s conviction of a felony as grounds for divorce under Texas Family Code Section 6.004.

In order to use conviction of a felony as reasoning for a divorce, the spouse who was convicted must have spent at least one year in prison, and a pardon must not have been granted in his or her case.

Conviction of a felony is not commonly used as a ground for divorce.

Abandonment

Abandonment is a ground for divorce under Texas Family Code Section 6.005.

To use abandonment as a ground for divorce, the spouse must show:

The other spouse left the marital home with no intentions of returning; and

The other spouse has been out of the home for at least one year and has not had any contact with their spouse living in the marital residence.

Living apart

Similar to abandonment, living apart is found under Texas Family Code Section 6.006.

If the married couple has been living apart for at least three years, they may be able plead living apart as a ground for divorce.

Most people who use this as a ground for divorce state they have been separated and never got around to filing for divorce and are doing so now.

Confinement in a mental hospital

Another uncommon legal ground for divorce is Confinement in a Mental Hospital under Section 6.007 of The Texas Family Code.

The individual’s spouse must have been confined in a state or private mental hospital for at least three years, and there are no signs your spouse’s mental disorder will get better without relapse.

Choosing and proving grounds for divorce in Texas

An at-fault divorce can affect some details of the case such as the amount of spousal support and the division of assets. Child custody can also be affected, especially if cruelty has been proven as the ground for divorce.

Evidence is required to prove your grounds for divorce just like any accusation in a court of law. For example, if you are claiming cruelty, police reports and hospital records showing domestic violence would be critical to your case.

What about a defense to divorce?

Condonation is the only defense for any of the seven grounds for divorce.

Condonation is the forgiveness by one spouse of the other spouse’s wrongful behavior.

In order for the court to find condonation and deny fault in the divorce, the following are required:

This will be granted if the court finds that there is a reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

No matter what the grounds for divorce, we understand this is a difficult situation, which is why we are here to help. If you are considering filing for divorce, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced family attorney at The Carlson Law Firm. Our attorneys have been protecting the rights of families across Central Texas since 1976. We are available 24/7. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.