Quick Answers to Your Top Questions About Injuries in Texas
Wayne Wright LLP keeps our clients and the public informed. We provide answers to frequently asked questions to help our clients face their own legal battles. Contact Wayne Wright LLP to speak with an experienced injury attorney in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, El Paso, or Austin offices. We will schedule a free case review and answer your specific questions. Our law firm will not stop working until you receive the justice you deserve.
Please click one of the following categories of our Frequently Asked Questions:
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Can I still recover damages if a government vehicle hits me?
When you’re involved in a car accident with a private individual or a commercial entity (such as a semi truck or a delivery van), you typically have the right to file a personal injury claim. This lets you seek compensation for your injuries as well as the other expenses involved in a crash that wasn’t your fault to begin with. However, the situation can get a little more complicated if the vehicle that caused the crash belonged to a city, state, or federal agency.
If a police car, ambulance, postal worker, or other official vehicle or agent caused your crash and you want to pursue compensation, you still may be able to. You should be aware that the rules and regulations are different in this situation, and you may need to act fast. Here’s what you should know.
Government Immunity Laws and Car Accidents
Broadly speaking, police officers, fire trucks, ambulances, and other government employees usually have what’s called government or sovereign immunity. This law protects government workers for liability in many cases. However, there are often exceptions that may depend on the agency involved in the crash, and federal, state, county, city, or other local regulations can play a part, too.
In 1969, the state of Texas realized that there are times when it’s right and appropriate for there to be liability for state or local agencies and organizations. The Texas Tort Claims Act allows governmental units to be held legally responsible for personal injury or wrongful death, provided some conditions are met. These conditions include:
- The person responsible for the accident (government employee) must have been acting within the scope of his or her employment; and
- If the employee had been a private individual at the time of the accident, he or she would have faced liability for the accident.
The Texas Tort Claims Act also limits the amount of recovery that you can receive, to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per incident for injury, and $100,000 per incident for property damage.
There is a similar federal law, called the Federal Torts Claim Act, which also allows for lawsuits against federal employees in situations where negligence on the job is involved. However, the federal law may be even more restrictive than the Texas version and there are strict policies and legal procedures to follow to make a successful claim. Your attorney can help you determine the best way to get started with a federal claim.
Making Your Personal Injury Claim
If a city or municipality is involved, you and your attorney will need to take the claim to that municipality. If you were injured in the city of Austin, for example, you can visit the City of Austin Legal Department online to find out the right procedures and what you need to do to file a claim.
It’s important to note that, unlike a regular personal injury claim, the statute of limitations for making a claim against a government entity can be very short. You may have as few as thirty days or as long as six months, so every day counts between when your accident happened and when you contact a personal injury attorney to begin investigating your claim. If the statute of limitations has already expired, it’s likely that you will not be able to make a successful claim or receive any compensation at all.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident with a federal, state, county, city, or other local employee or agency, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries, but you have to act fast. An experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with the tight deadlines and strict procedures of filing a claim against a government agency can help you seek the justice that you deserve in a court of law.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by negligence, carelessness, and recklessness for decades, and we’re here to help you recover from your accident.
To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional at Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
Can I still make a medical malpractice claim after a botched elective or cosmetic surgery?
When you choose to undergo an elective surgery, such as a cosmetic procedure, you typically have a certain expectation of safety. These procedures are often promoted as being safe and effective ways to improve your appearance and even boost your self-esteem, but there are still serious health risks if something goes wrong or the doctor makes a mistake.
Those who have suffered injuries due to cosmetic surgery often wonder if they can still file a medical malpractice suit for a procedure that was elective. Here’s the truth about medical malpractice claims and cosmetic surgery, including common injuries and how you can get legal help if you’ve been hurt.
Cosmetic Surgery Statistics
Elective cosmetic surgery is something that many Americans choose to have for a variety of reasons. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) there were over 17 million cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2016. This number includes 1.7 million of the most common cosmetic surgeries that are considered “invasive,” such as:
- Breast augmentations.
- Rhinoplasty (reshaping of the nose).
- Surgery on eyelids.
- Face lifts.
- Buttock augmentation, labiaplasty, and other invasive surgeries.
It also includes less- or minimally-invasive procedures such as botulinum toxin shots (Botox), soft tissue or dermal fillers, chemical peels, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, and more.
The majority of patients were between 40 and 54 years old, making up 49 percent of all cosmetic procedures, according to ASPS data. Women accounted for 92 percent of cosmetic procedures, but 1.3 million men also chose to undergo cosmetic surgery.
When Surgery Becomes Medical Malpractice
Regardless of whether your surgery was elective or not, you still have the right to pursue a medical malpractice claim.
While not every poor or undesirable outcome after a medical procedure is malpractice, there are certain situations when harm to the patient could have been avoided if it weren’t for the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of the doctor or other medical personnel involved in the procedure. Being unhappy with the results of your surgery is not typically medical malpractice, either. However, if your doctor failed to warn you of a potential side effect and you suffer harm as a result of that side effect, you may be able to make a claim.
Issues that may result in a medical malpractice claim can include infections, scarring, nerve damage, disfigurement, anesthesia problems, or other complications, depending on the details of your specific case. A medical malpractice attorney will be able to investigate your case, advise you of your rights, and help you move forward with your legal claim.
Proving Your Medical Malpractice Claim
To make your medical malpractice claim, there are three main components of your case that must be established:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed with the physician you are making a claim against.
- The doctor violated the expected standard of care while treating you.
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of your injury.
Another essential part of your claim is showing that the incident resulted in harm that you can be compensated for. This may include the costs of any medical bills related to your injury, repeated “revision” surgeries, and follow-up care, as well as compensation for time you’ve spent away from work, the pain and suffering you’re endured, and any permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Every case is unique, so make sure that your attorney evaluates your situation fully and discusses the awards that you may be eligible for based on the facts of your own situation.
Get Legal Help Now
If you’ve been injured as a result of cosmetic surgery gone wrong, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We’ve been standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by medical negligence and malpractice for decades, and we’re here to help you get the justice that you deserve in a court of law. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
What should I do if I am involved in a ridesharing accident?
Ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft, and others have become extremely popular in recent days. These companies allow anyone with a smartphone to summon a nearby driver relatively quickly and cheaply when compared to a traditional taxi service. The drivers are typically not professionals; they use their own personal vehicles to make extra money.
The big question is what happens when one of these amateur drivers causes an accident? Whether you’re a customer in the rideshare vehicle with the driver at the time of the crash, in another vehicle that’s been hit by a rideshare car, or are a pedestrian who has been struck by a rideshare driver, serious questions about liability can result.
Here’s what you should do if you’re involved in an accident with a rideshare driver, and how you can get legal help when you’ve been hurt.
What to Do After a Rideshare Accident
No matter what kind of car accident you’re involved in, your first priority should be health and safety. Check to make sure that you’re okay, and if you or anyone else is hurt, call 9-1-1 immediately. Even if nobody is hurt, contacting the police is a never a bad idea, especially when there’s significant property damage, and a police report can make your legal case easier later.
After you’ve taken care of any immediate medical and safety needs, you’ll need to get some information from the driver of the rideshare. Not only should the driver have personal automobile insurance, but the ridesharing company may also a policy for drivers, as well, especially when the driver is “on duty” and is either carrying a passenger or is on the way to retrieve one.
If you’re the passenger in the rideshare and you used a company’s app to call for the ride, the app itself may be able to display coverage information directly on your phone; otherwise, you’ll have to ask the driver for that information. You’ll also want to record the driver’s full name, driver’s license number, address, and phone number, as well as the make, model, and license plate of every vehicle involved in the accident. Be sure to ask for contact information of any witnesses, as well, and take pictures or notes related to the accident, including information about injuries, damage, weather conditions, and any traffic lights or stop signs that may have been run.
Seeking compensations from an Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare driver can be legally complex. Most ridesharing services maintain a stance that all drivers are “independent contractors,” not employees, to protect themselves from liability in the event of an accident. You’ll most likely need to pursue claims against the driver’s personal auto insurance policy, but other policies may apply, too. Both Uber and Lyft famously offer policies worth $1 million dollars that cover drivers when a passenger is in the car; however, this only applies in certain circumstances, such as when the driver is on the way to pick someone up or already has a passenger being transported.
Uber and Lyft also offer supplemental policies, but in some situations these could only apply if the driver’s personal policy isn’t enough to cover damages. In this case, it may be necessary to file a claim against the insurance companies from both the ridesharing company’s insurer and the driver’s insurer.
Get Legal Help Today
Sorting out the insurance policies involved in an accident with a ridesharing company can be complex. A personal injury attorney who understands this rapidly-evolving field will be able to help you make the right legal choices so that you can seek the full and fair compensation that you may be owed when a ridesharing driver hurts you in an accident.
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a ridesharing company, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We believe that seeking justice for those who have been injured is the right thing to, and we’re here to help you and your family recover after a bad accident. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
How should I prepare for my first meeting with a car accident attorney?
If you’ve been in a car accident, consulting with a personal injury attorney is almost always a good idea.
Arranging a meeting with an attorney for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking if you’ve never been in this type of situation before. With a little preparation, though, you can help things move along smoothly so that your attorney can help you understand your legal options. Here’s how to get ready to meet a potential attorney for your case, and how you can get legal help today.
What to Bring to Your Consultation
When you arrange your consultation, your accident attorney should be able to tell you what you need to bring with you. Any information that you can provide—even if it’s not something that he or she asked for immediately—may be useful now or in the future, so don’t be shy about bringing supporting documentation. Here are some of the things you’ll probably want to have with you:
- Police reports. Any police or accident reports related to the crash can be obtained from the agency that created them, such as the local police, highway patrol, or county sheriff’s office.
- Health care records. Bring your medical records from every provider who saw you for a condition related to a crash, including ambulance and emergency treatment records, hospital records, physical therapy paperwork, and so on. Include copies of any diagnosis made by a doctor, as well as the prognosis for the future and recommendations for future care.
- Health care bills. Along with your actual medical records, bring the bills that you receive from the hospital, clinic, rehabilitation service, chiropractor, psychologist, and any other healthcare providers who charged you for care related to the crash.
- Insurance information. Bring your insurance information, including what your policy covers and in what amount, and any bills you have received from the insurance company.
- Work documentation. If your accident cost you any time away from work, bring any records you can indicating how long you were out, and how much that time away cost you (even if you used sick time or vacation days.)
Don’t forget to bring any other evidence you have related to the crash, too, such as photos of the accident, the damage to your vehicle or other property, photos of your injuries, and so forth. Your attorney will evaluate these photos and all of your other supporting documentation to make a determination about what your best legal options are.
What to Ask an Accident Attorney
In addition to providing the attorney with details of your life and the accident, you should be prepared to get something back, too—so come prepared with questions for your initial consultation, and expect good answers in return. Here are some sample questions you may want to ask:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- How much of your time and practice is dedicated to car accident cases like mine?
- How many accident claims have you handled, and have they ever gone to trial?
- Do you foresee any challenges that may arise from my case?
- Are you the person who will work on my case?
- May I meet any other attorneys who will be working on my case?
- How do you charge for your services? Do you work on contingency?
- What expenses do you think this case will incur?
If the answers that you receive aren’t satisfactory, you are free to move on and choose another firm. Maybe you’ll decide that this attorney isn’t the right one for your case, after all, and you have every right to do so. Don’t be badgered or bullied into accepting the service of someone you’re uncomfortable with.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been hurt in an automobile accident and don’t know where to turn to for legal help, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We believe in justice for those who have been injured, and we’re here to stand up for your legal rights in a court of law. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
What’s the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury?
Bringing a child into the world is a joyful but often anxious time for upcoming parents. The months of anticipation and waiting are over, and it’s time for a new life to emerge.
There’s a lot of stress, too, over the health of the new child, especially if the birth didn’t go as planned. When something goes wrong, being able to spot the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury can make a big difference in making sure that your child, and your family, is taken care of.
What Is a Birth Defect?
A birth defect is any form of developmental abnormality or congenital defect present in a baby at birth. Birth defects can affect any organ or system in the body. For example, the heart, lungs, intestines, spinal cord, brain, eyes, ears, bones, limbs, or fingers and toes may be affected. More than one organ or system may be affected, depending on the specific type of birth defect or the presence of multiple defects.
Birth defects may be caused by genetic or inherited conditions, or fetal exposure to toxic substances, but in many cases, the exact cause is unknown. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 3 percent of babies born in the United States every year, or one out of every 33, are born with birth defects.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury, as opposed to a birth defect, is any form of injury that occurs to the baby sometime immediately before, during, or after being born. Birth injuries, unlike defects, are preventable in many cases, depending on the specific circumstances of the birth process. Some of the most common types of birth injuries to occur include:
- Joint dislocations.
- Broken clavicles (collar bones).
- Cranial (head) trauma or skull fractures.
- Brain damage or cerebral palsy caused by hypoxia or anoxia (lack of oxygen).
- Brachial plexus, a type of injury to the upper arm.
- Erb’s palsy, or permanent nerve damage to the upper arm.
When birth injuries happen, they often happen as the result of using tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors. Birth injuries may also happen if the child is mishandled during or after birth, or if the person delivering the child makes an error. Medication errors during childbirth may also result in injury to a newborn.
Some birth injuries may be the result of a failure to monitor and diagnose a treatable condition during pregnancy, such as a vitamin deficiency, anemia, or spina bifida, a condition linked to a deficiency in folic acid. If a doctor failed to test for and treat these common issues and the child is born with one of these conditions, it could be considered medical malpractice, and the family may be able to recover damages in a malpractice suit.
Get Legal Help for Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can be severe, with life-long consequences for the child, and can affect the entire family, too. The injured child may need life-long support, including extensive therapy, multiple surgeries, and special education to have the best possible chance to succeed in life. A medical malpractice lawsuit will allow you to seek the compensation for your child to ensure that his or her needs are met.
If you suspect that your child’s injury was the result of medical malpractice, speak to a personal injury attorney with experience handling birth injury cases as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to assess your situation and help you explore your legal options sooner, rather than later. Not only does Texas maintain strict statutes of limitation for medical malpractice cases, but medical malpractice cases are complex and take time to litigate. The faster you seek legal help, the faster your child can get the help that he or she needs.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of injured children and their families for decades, and we’d like to help you get the justice that your family deserves. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals and talk about your child’s situation, call us by phone, send an email with our contact form, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
How is lost income calculated in a Texas personal injury case?
When you file a personal injury lawsuit against someone who has caused you harm, you’re required to show that actual damages have occurred for which you can be financially compensated. These damages typically include the costs of medical bills, rehabilitation or physical therapy; repair or replacement of damaged property (such as your car, after an automobile accident); and compensation for your pain and suffering, too.
Also, you are able to seek compensation for any lost income that resulted from the accident. Here’s what you should know about making a lost income or wages claim after an accident, and how to get legal help with your case.
What Is Included in a Lost Wages Claim?
There are several components to consider in a lost wages damages claim. In its most basic form, this includes compensation for any time that you spent away from work due to your injury, and the money you would have been able to earn if you hadn’t been hurt. This may also include vacation or sick time accrual that you would have received—or days that you had already accrued and had to spend.
Lost wages may also include any bonuses or commissions that you would have been able to receive, and it can even include missed opportunities for promotion or raises, too. If you would have worked overtime during that period, you can seek compensation for that time, as well.
Your claim for lost wages is not dependent on whether you work full-time, part-time, are salaried, hourly, or are self-employed, though you may find the documentation easier if you are employed by someone else. A letter from your company may be all that you need, detailing information such as:
- What your position is or was at the company.
- Your regular working hours.
- Your salary or hourly wage.
- How much time you missed.
Your lawyer will be able to tell you exactly what this letter should include—as well as what may not be necessary, such as how much vacation or sick time you used.
If you’re self-employed, providing these details falls more onto your own shoulders, but isn’t an insurmountable obstacle. You may use canceled or missed appointments or meetings from your calendar as evidence, or show that you had fewer or no invoices or billing activity while you were injured and recovering. It may also be possible to use your previous year’s income tax return as evidence of your annual earnings and use it as a basis for showing what your income should have been if you hadn’t been hurt, and use it to come up with an average weekly or monthly income.
Lost Earning Capacity
You may also be able to make a claim not just for lost wages from your injury in the past, but for future lost wages. This is called a loss of earning capacity or diminished earning capacity. The calculations for this can be complicated, but may take into account multiple factors, including the following:
- Your occupation.
- The level of skill required for your job.
- Market rates or values for your position or wage.
- Your past earnings.
- Your life expectancy.
Since lost earning capacity is very dependent on the specifics of your own situation, your attorney will be able to help you determine whether you’re eligible for a lost earning capacity claim, and if so, what you need to do in order to prove it in court.
Legal Help for Lost Wages After an Accident
If you’ve suffered from a severe accident due to negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We believe in standing up for the legal rights of those who have been hurt, and we’re here to help you seek the compensation that you’re owed in a court of law, even if you may be partially at fault.
To get help from an experienced legal professional, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email message, or click the live chat box on this page right now and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.
Are expert witnesses worth the expense in medical malpractice cases?
When you’re trying to prove a medical malpractice case against a hospital, doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, special expertise is often required to explain information to the jury. Medicine is a highly complex professional field that requires many years of training, and an expert witness is someone who has the specialized knowledge to help you make your case in a court of law.
Is an Expert Witness Required for Your Case?
Yes. Not only does Texas law require that you have at least one expert witness assist in your medical malpractice case, but he or she is vital to proving your case. Choosing the right expert witness can be challenging, and is something that you should do with the help of your attorney, since there are a few important legal requirements that must be met. He or she must:
- Be currently practicing, or have practiced medicine during the time at which the injury occurred.
- Have knowledge of the regular standards of care related to the injury or illness in the claim.
- Have the training or experience necessary to offer an opinion as an expert.
Since finding the right medical professional with the appropriate experience and training is so critical to your case, it’s usually best to follow the recommendations of your lawyer. He or she is likely to already have an idea of a professional who fulfills the legal standards.
How Expert Witnesses Help Your Case
In any medical malpractice lawsuit, there are typically four key points that you must prove to be successful in a court of law. This includes showing that there was a:
- Duty of care. The defendant must have owed you a duty of care, which usually means that you had a doctor-patient relationship at the time of the incident or injury.
- Breach of duty. You must be able to show that the defendant somehow breached that care of duty by failing to act in a way that any other similarly-trained medical professional would have acted in the same type of situation.
- Causation. You must also be able to show that the breach of duty was the cause of your injuries, whether by worsening your condition or causing additional harm, and not due to the initial condition or another outside cause or factor.
- Damages. You must be able to somehow quantify the harm that was done to you by the injury, in the form of damages. This can include a dollar amount for medical bills related to the injury, extra or repeated surgeries or procedures, lost time and wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Your expert witness will usually be a medical professional, such as a doctor, who is familiar with the field of medicine or specialty in which your injury occurred, and is often in the same line of work as the defendant. Your expert witness will be able to express the extent and nature of your situation to the jury in a way that only another medical professional will be able to do.
To demonstrate the facts and prove your points before a jury, your expert witness will come forward and share what his or her experience is and give an opinion as to whether a breach of duty occurred, and may offer supporting evidence, such as articles from medical journals, guidelines from medical boards or other professional medical organizations, or other evidence as fits the situation.
Legal Help for Medical Malpractice
If you believe that you’ve suffered harm due to medical malpractice, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We’ve spent decades standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by the negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing of medical professionals, and we’re here to help you today. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a legal professional, call us by telephone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
Can I sue after a slip and fall injury in a retail store?
Retail stores and other businesses that are open to the public generally have a duty to protect their customers and other visitors, or risk legal consequences when someone gets hurt. While not every slip, trip, or fall accident in a business is grounds for a lawsuit, there are times when an injured person can and should seek compensation.
Here are the facts you need to know about slip and fall accidents in stores, including common injuries suffered, what you need to do to prove your case, and how to get legal help if you’ve been hurt.
Premises Liability Law Protects Visitors
When a customer visits the property (or premises) of a business, there is an expectation that the owner or manager of the business will provide a reasonable amount of safety. When this expectation is violated, the business may find itself financially liable for any damages that result from injuries to patrons or guests. Legally, this concept is known as premises liability.
Here are a few examples of when premises liability law might come into play:
- Torn carpeting. If a piece of carpet or flooring is damaged and causes someone to fall, the property owner may be liable for the injury.
- Poor lighting. Inadequate lighting or a broken light fixture in an area where a hazard exists could lead to liability for injuries.
- Wet floors. A spill or leak that isn’t either promptly cleaned up or clearly marked off with a sign can easily cause a slip, especially on slick commercial floor surfaces.
Loose or missing handrails on stairs, dangerous obstructions or obstacles in walkways, and many other hazards can all lead to harm to visitors. However, certain legal circumstances are required before the business operator can be found liable.
Proving a Premises Liability Case
Most importantly, the visitor must typically be either an “invitee” or a “licensee” in order to be protected by premises liability. An invitee is someone who has permission (either expressly or implicitly) or to be on the property for the mutual benefit of both the invitee and business owner. For example, a customer is typically an invitee with implied permission to be in the store.
A licensee is someone who has permission to be there for his or her own benefit, such as an off-duty employee, a solicitor, or a loiterer, and is also protected by premises liability law. Trespassers, on the other hand, are not usually afforded any legal protection.
All property owners generally must avoid gross negligence and warn any invitee or licensee of any dangers that may exist on the property. To prove that the property owner is responsible for your injury, you’ll typically need to show that:
- An unsafe condition or hazard existed on the property.
- The property owner either caused, knew about, or should have known about the hazard.
- The property owner did nothing to either fix, block off, or otherwise notify visitors of the hazard.
- The result of this failure to act is what lead to your injury.
It’s important to note that while business operators are expected to provide a reasonable amount of safety, patrons are also expected to take a reasonable amount of care for themselves, too. Slip and fall cases may involve comparative negligence, in which the court looks at how much responsibility it feels that the business had versus the person who was injured. If the injured party is found to be more than 50 percent responsible, he or she may not be able to recover any damages at all.
Otherwise, the amount of damages will be reduced proportionate to the percentage of responsibility that he or she has for the injury. For example, if the court finds that the business is 75 percent liable but that the injured customer was 25 percent liable, the amount of damages that the injured customer will be able to receive will be reduced by 25 percent.
Get Legal Help After a Slip and Fall
Proving a slip and fall case can be difficult, so you should look for a personal injury attorney with plenty of experience handling this type of claim. He or she will be able to help investigate your claim and advise you of what your legal options are.
If you’ve been hurt in a slip and fall accident, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We work hard to help our clients who have been injured in avoidable accidents caused by negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing, and we’d like to help you, too. To speak to a qualified legal professional about your situation, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us right now.
Can I trust my attorney?
Many people are often hesitant to hire an attorney, even when they’re in a tough spot and at a time when a lawyer could really help.
There can be a lot of mistrust—not only of attorneys, but of the entire legal system. The legal system is designed to help people resolve disputes and ensure that society as a whole functions smoothly by allowing people to seek redress for wrongs against them. An attorney serves as your representative in that system, as well as a negotiator, intermediary, and spokesperson on your behalf, serving to protect your interests and uphold the law. Without trust, that relationship crumbles.
Here’s what you should know about the ethical rules that lawyers must follow, and how to choose an attorney you can trust when you need legal help after an injury.
Ethical Rules for Attorneys
Your attorney is your guide into the legal world when you have a problem, and it’s absolutely critical that you choose an attorney that you can trust from day one to get the job done the right way, with respect to the client, the legal system, and the law as a whole. You don’t have to be “best friends” with your attorney, but it is vital that you have a level of professional trust in order for your relationship to function smoothly.
While Hollywood may think that stories of unethical lawyers make for great entertainment, in the real world there are actually strict rules that all attorneys must follow with regard to ethics or face serious legal consequences. The American Bar Association maintains a set of model rules of professional conduct that state bar associations may use when developing their own ethical guidelines; ultimately, it’s up to each state to determine what exactly those rules are. In Texas, they are laid out by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, which can be found on the State Bar of Texas website. You can also look up any attorney on that website to make sure that his or her license to practice is current and valid, what his or her practice areas are, and see if there are any public disciplinary actions that have been taken against him or her.
The complete list of ethics rules for the legal profession can be complex if you’re not in the field. However, there are a few key responsibilities that all attorneys have that are easy to understand, and that you should be aware of when you pick an attorney to represent you. Your attorney should always:
- Be competent in the area of law in which you seek representation.
- Diligently represent each and every client individually.
- Pursue your legal interests zealously, but within the bounds of the law.
- Provide you with a clear understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities.
- Maintain confidentiality of every client.
- Avoid any conflicts of interest and notify clients should one arise.
- Have respect for the legal system, including other legal professionals.
- Seek to uphold and improve the law and the quality of legal services.
Serious violation of the state’s rules of conduct can carry severe punishment for an attorney, including a temporary suspension of the ability to practice law. In more extreme situations, violating the rules can lead to permanent disbarment. This means the lawyer’s license to practice law is permanently revoked, effectively ending the attorney’s career.
Choosing the Right Attorney for You
Whether you already have an attorney or you’re preparing to choose someone to represent you, if you don’t feel as if he or she is upholding the ethical standards of the profession, it’s time to walk away and find someone who will. Never feel like you have to settle for less than the best representative for your legal needs, because ultimately, it’s your interests that are at stake.
Wayne Wright LLP has spent decades fighting for the rights of those who have been injured. Our skilled personal injury attorneys bring years of legal experience and the highest ethical standards to bear when representing each and every one of our clients, and we’re here to help you when you need a lawyer by your side. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a law firm that you can rely on, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
What is informed consent?
Whenever you undergo a medical procedure, you have certain legal rights as a patient. Among those is the right to informed consent. When your right to informed consent is violated by a doctor or other healthcare provider and it resulted in harm, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries.
Here’s what you need to know about informed consent and your rights before undergoing any medical procedure, including what informed consent means, how you can be hurt when your informed consent rights are overlooked, and how to get legal help for your medical malpractice case now.
Your Rights as a Patient
Any time a doctor recommends that you undergo a course of treatment, surgery, or other procedure, one of your most important rights is to have informed consent. Simply consenting to a procedure by “signing on the dotted line” does not meet this standard. Your healthcare provider needs to make sure that you have the relevant facts so that you can make your own decision about the risks and benefits of treatment and how it may affect your life.
At a minimum, your healthcare provider should be providing you with information such as:
- A differential diagnosis, or list of potential causes of your condition.
- Why he or she believes treatment or procedure is necessary.
- A description of the treatment or procedure.
- The benefits to your health that the treatment or procedure can provide.
- Any risks involved in the treatment or procedure.
- The expected outcome of the treatment or procedure.
- The risks and benefits of not agreeing to the treatment or procedure.
Your healthcare provider should also be willing to discuss any alternative treatment options that may exist—even if your insurance company doesn’t cover them. He or she should be able to discuss the risks and benefits of those alternatives, as well, and provide an explanation for anything you don’t understand. Remember, it’s your own health at stake—if you have a question, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask!
Your doctor has a duty to make sure that you clearly understand the facts without being pressured or coerced into treatment that you don’t want or wouldn’t agree to if you knew the risks.
There are some exceptions to informed consent, in specific circumstances. For instance, if you become unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, the doctor is generally allowed to treat you without informed consent.
When Your Rights Are Violated
If you underwent a treatment or procedure (such as surgery) that left you injured and you don’t feel like you were adequately informed of the risks, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. To prove your case before the court, though, you and your attorney will have some work to do. Consider the following questions that may be asked by a judge or jury:
- Before the procedure, did the doctor discuss the risk of the injury you suffered?
- If you had known about that risk, would you still have undergone the treatment?
- Did the doctor try to downplay the risk, when it was in fact a likely outcome?
The judge or jury will look at whether or not a “reasonable” doctor of similar training and experience would have discussed the risk of your type of injury with a patient. Your own background and education can come into play, too; if you work in health care, for example, the doctor may not be required to explain as much as he or she would to someone without a medical background.
Get Legal Help Today
If you think you may have a case for an injury caused by a lack of informed consent, a personal injury attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases may be able to help. You could be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills, physical therapy or rehabilitation, and long-term care, as well as for your pain and suffering.
To find out how you may be able to file your own medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent healthcare provider, Wayne Wright LLP can help you. Contact us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional today.