Answering All Your Personal Injury, Social Security Disability, and Bankruptcy Questions
When a catastrophic event puts your future at risk, anxiety and uncertainty will cause you to have a million questions. What can you do? How can you provide for your family? Will you recover?
Allow the extensive experience and knowledge of the Packard Law Firm put your worries to rest. Come learn the answers to your questions and see how we can help pull you out of the depths of uncertainty.
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What is a “Pro se” Debtor Expected to Know?
The courts will expect the person filing a bankruptcy (even if they are without a lawyer) to follow the federal court’s Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the United States Bankruptcy Code. In addition, those filing pro se must follow all the local rules of court where the case is ultimately filed. In Bexar county, a printable copy of local rules can be found in the court's website here in San Antonio.
The actual Bankruptcy Forms are free to the public. A quick side note is that forms numbered in the 100 series are for people and forms numbered in the 200 series are for organizations/companies.
An Overview of the Process for Filing a Chapter 7
- Perform Means Test: Generally, the first step is to conduct a “Means Test” to see if you even qualify for Chapter 7.
- Obtain Your Credit Reports: It’s a good idea to obtain credit reports from one or more credit bureaus in order to ascertain that you have a comprehensive list of all your debt. These credit reports can be obtained by following the instructions here.
- Take a Credit Counseling Course: You have to complete a credit management and financial literacy course. The U.S. Trustee Program has a list of approved credit education agencies on its website.
- File the Correct Bankruptcy Forms: This can be the most complicated and time-consuming part. With a little money, you can download a bankruptcy forms package to save some time and hassle. You can also get them online from the court website here. Once complete, submit the paperwork to the bankruptcy trustee pursuant to the court’s local rules.
- Important Note About Responding to Your Trustee: Your trustee will probably reach out to you. You must respond in a timely fashion to any form of communication from the bankruptcy trustee. If you don't, you will probably get your case dismissed.
- Attend a Creditors Meeting: Once filed, you will have a meeting with your trustee about your debts and creditors.
- Take a Personal Financial Management Instruction Course: Within 45 days after your creditors meeting, you must attend a post-filing Personal Financial Management Instruction Course. It must be complete prior to the timing of discharge, otherwise your case will be closed without discharge. You can go to the U.S. Trustee Program’s website to find courses that are approved in your area.
- Obtain your Decision: Once you have completed these steps, normally after 60 days from the completion of your meeting of creditors, barring there being any objection to discharge or motion to dismiss, you will normally receive your chapter discharge.
Filing a Chapter 13
The process for filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is much more complex. The bankruptcy forms package for filing a Chapter 13 can be downloaded here. However, in addition to many of the steps described in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will have to create a repayment plan explaining, in detail, how you will repay your creditors. Having an experienced attorney help you navigate through these legal steps is invaluable.
Bankruptcy is very complicated and the legal ramification are significant. Although there may be some people that might be able go it alone, most need a lawyer’s perspective. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, call the Packard Law Firm to schedule your free consultation with a board certified bankruptcy attorney located right here in San Antonio, Texas.
Does an employer have to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Texas?
The workers’ compensation insurance program was created as a faster and cheaper alternative to filing a lawsuit against an employer. Workers who are hurt on the job would agree not to sue an employer in return for medical care and a portion of their wages while they recover from an injury. However, Texas is the only state in the nation that does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, making recovery for medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses much more complicated.
Types of Compensation After a Work Injury in Texas
In most cases, Texas workers have two options for filing work injury claims, and the method will depend on whether or not the employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. While it is not mandatory, many Texas companies choose to carry workers’ compensation insurance because it is less costly than defending work injury lawsuits.
Injured workers in Texas may collect payment for accidents at work through:
- Workers’ compensation. If the employer has subscribed to a workers’ compensation plan that has been approved by the State Department of Insurance, injured employees are required to file for injury payment through workers’ compensation. In most cases, these employees will not be able to sue the employer directly, but they will also receive automatic benefits up to the limits of coverage.
- Non-subscriber claims. If your employer does not carry an approved workers’ compensation policy, the company is considered a “non-subscriber” and the employee is eligible to file a lawsuit. Non-subscribers are under no obligation to provide specific payments for injury costs or lost wages, but they are also at a disadvantage if the employee decides to sue. If an employer chooses not to have insurance, the employer loses the right to claim employee negligence as a defense in court. In short, this means that the company can try to blame the worker for causing the accident, but the worker only has to prove that the employer was one percent responsible for the injury. If the employer is found to be one percent liable, the company will be responsible for paying all of the damages related to the injury.
- Third-party claims. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, an injured worker may be able to file a claim against someone other than the employer. An accident may have happened at work, but it could be the fault of a third-party (such as a coworker, a loading company, a cleaning or maintenance company, or the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment).
How Can I Tell If My Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Many employees are unaware that their employers do not carry workers’ compensation insurance. Under Texas law, employers are required to post information regarding their workers’ compensation policies in an open and often-visited location in the workplace that is accessible to all employees. If the employer has workers’ compensation insurance, the notice should include the name, address, and phone number of their insurance carrier. If the employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, there should be a clear and easily-accessible notice posted so that all employees can see it.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get compensation for a Texas work injury whether your employer has workers’ compensation or not. Although the workers’ compensation system is supposed to provide fair and fast payment to workers, it is run by insurance companies who have a vested interest in denying claims. Workers often have to fight with insurance companies to get the basic workers’ compensation coverage that the policy allows, and trying to get full coverage for medical costs can be all but impossible. Insurers may also attempt to delay payments in the hopes that an injured worker will abandon the claim, or even return to work in order to pay the bills.
If your employer is not providing the benefits you deserve after a work injury, we can help. The attorneys at the Packard Law Firm can investigate any misconduct or potential illegal activities on the part of your employer, and we can deal with an insurance company on your behalf to get you the payments you need. Contact us today to discuss your potential claim with an experienced attorney in your free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation.
What is a third-party work injury claim?
There are potentially three parties that could be involved in a Texas work injury claim. These parties include the:
- First party. This is you.
- Second party. This includes your employer and by extension your employer’s other employees.
- Third party. Anyone else is considered a third party.
If you, your employer, or another employee was not responsible for your work injury, then it is important to consider whether a third party may be liable. When you are hurt by a third party while at work or while performing a work-related activity, you may have a third-party work injury claim.
How Third-Party Injury Claims Happen
Any time a third party causes your job-related injury, you may have a third-party claim. Some common examples of third-party job injury claims include:
- Motor vehicle accidents when the at-fault driver is not employed by your employer. If you are driving for work and you are involved in an accident that is caused by another driver who does not work for your employer, then you could have a third-party claim.
- Multiple contractors working on the same site and an injury being caused by someone who works for someone other than employer. If, for example, a roofer and an electrician are working on the same construction site but are employed by different companies, then the roofer could have a third-party claim if he is hurt by the electrician or the electrician could have a third-party claim if he is hurt by the roofer.
- Faulty equipment that was built or maintained by someone other than your employer. If the crane, the truck, the forklift, or another piece of equipment that you are using causes an accident and your injury because of faulty manufacturing or maintenance then you could have a third-party claim.
Of course, this list is not all inclusive and other types of third-party injury claims may arise. However you are hurt by a third party, you need to know how to protect your recovery.
What You May Recover in a Third-Party Injury Claim
Third-party work injury claims are different from workers’ compensation cases. In a third-party work injury claim, you may be able to recover for:
- All of your past, current, and future medical care related to your injuries. You may be able to select your medical providers.
- All of your past, current, and future lost income related to your injuries. This includes wages, benefits, bonuses and any other income that you are unable to earn because of your injuries.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering. These may be among your most significant damages.
- Loss of enjoyment of life and the things that you did before you were hurt. Keep detailed lists of everything that you are missing because of your injuries.
- Any damage to your own property. For example, if you were driving your own car for a work-related reason at the time of a crash then you may recover for the damage to your vehicle.
As with all types of personal injury claims, you will have to convince an insurance company or the court of the at-fault person’s liability and of the value of your injuries in order to make a recovery. Specifically, you will need to prove that:
- The third party owed you a duty of care.
- The third party breached that duty of care.
- You were hurt because of the third party’s breach of the duty of care.
- You have the right to seek damages for your injuries in court.
Your recovery is not automatic; instead, you have to fight for it.
How to Protect Your Right to a Fair Recovery in a Third-Party Injury Claim
While you pursue a third-party injury claim, it is important to remember that you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from the same incident. It is important to pursue all potential claims to make the fullest and fairest recovery possible.
For this reason and others, third-party work injury claims can be complex, and it is important to work with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to help you get the benefits that you deserve. To find out more, please browse the resources on our website and call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
How can I find out if my employer has workers’ compensation insurance?
In other states, it may be a pretty safe bet that your insurer would have workers’ compensation insurance because such insurance would be required by state law. However, in Texas that is not true. Employers may decide for themselves whether they want to be covered by workers’ compensation—even though they may not decide for themselves whether they want to pay injured workers. In order to get the fair recovery that you deserve if you are hurt at work, it is important to know whether your employer has workers’ compensation insurance.
Texas Employers Must Provide Employees With Notice of Their Workers’ Compensation Status
Employers are required to let their employees know whether or not they have workers’ compensation insurance. Texas Department of Insurance Reference Rule 110.101(e)(2) requires that a notice be posted in English, Spanish, and any other language common among employees. This notice must be posted in the personnel office (if there is one) and in a prominent place in the workplace where employees are likely to see it regularly. The rule requires certain fonts for the title and content and it requires that certain words by used. A model form is provided for employers to use. Whatever form the employer uses, however, must include the date the employer was certified by the state as having workers’ compensation insurance and other information.
Your employer is also required to inform you in writing of its workers’ compensation insurance status when you are hired and whenever that status changes.
How to Know for Sure
Unfortunately, some employers do not tell the truth about their workers’ compensation coverage. They may try to avoid the costs of workers’ compensation insurance and a non-subscriber claim by telling you that they are covered by workers’ compensation insurance when they do not have such coverage.
If you have a question about whether your employer is insured then you can contact the Texas Department of Insurance or, if you’ve been hurt, then you can contact an experienced Texas work injury lawyer who can help you take the necessary steps to protect your recovery whether your employer is covered by workers’ compensation or is a non-subscriber.
What Happens If Your Employer Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation
If your employer is covered by workers’ compensation insurance, then your recovery for a work-related injury or illness should come from the insurance company. The insurance company should pay your medical expenses directly to your medical providers and should provide you with any benefits to which are entitled by law. As with any type of insurance coverage, however, the insurance company has a financial incentive to pay you as little as possible so that it can maximize its profits. Accordingly, you may have to fight for your fair recovery.
Don’t Give Up Your Rights If Your Employer Does NOT Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Texas does not require that all employers subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance. The employers who choose not to purchase workers’ compensation insurance are called non-subscribers.
Non-subscribers are not off the hook for paying for your work-related injury or illness. Instead, they are liable for all of your injuries, including all of your medical expenses, lost income, future lost income, pain, suffering, and other damages. Additionally, if you can prove gross negligence, then your employer may be liable for punitive damages. In other words, you may be able to recover more than if your employer had been covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
The first step in protecting your work injury recovery is knowing whether or not you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or a non-subscriber case. If you have any question about the kind of recovery you are seeking or if you would like help protecting your rights in either type of case, then we encourage you to contact our experienced work injury lawyers directly for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. Your time to pursue both types of cases is limited, so please contact us any time via this website or by phone to schedule your meeting today.
At what point in the application process should I contact the lawfirm? Do I have to be denied before I can get help?
If you are disabled and can't work, you should apply for social security benefits. Give us a call and Social Security disability lawyer can help you out, at the beginning of the process or even if you have been denied once or even twice. We can help you at the beginning or we can help you at the end when you are going in front of the judge. Fill out the contact form here on the website or pick up the phone and give us a call and we will see what we can do to help you.
Can I afford a lawyer on my social security disability case?
If you want to hire a social security disability lawyer, the process if very simple. You come in and sign an agreement and what the agreement says is that you will pay 25% of the back pay. Meaning we will go back as far as we can to get as much benefits as you can and the moment you receive those benefits, that is locked in as the back pay. We would keep 25% of that, you keep the rest.
If you don't win, there is no fee.
As far as the future benefits go you keep 100% of those. The attorney fee is just strickly the back pay. So if you don't win the case, you don't pay anything. If you do win the case, you are paying the lawyer with the money the lawyer won for you. It is a really good deal, because you are getting the help you need up front and the lawyer is compensated in the back end out of the benefits that he got for you.
Why are 18-Wheelers so dangerous?
18-wheelers are monstrous vehicles. A loaded 18-wheeler will weigh between 60 and 80,000 pounds. That is 20 times the weight of an average passenger vehicle. And when you are talking about damage to a car or to the people inside, it is not just the speed of the vehicle, it is the momentum. And when you are talking 60 to 80,000 pounds it will just crush a passenger car. These 18-wheelers kill and maim people every day.
Government studies show that 18-wheelers account for only 4% of the vehicles on the road, but they are involved in 1 in 8 of the traffic fatalities. So watch out for them because they are really dangerous.
And if you have been hurt by one, you can speak to truck accident lawyer today, we will be glad to help you.
How is a big truck case different than a regular car wreck case?
Well they are usually a lot more complex and they have a lot more issues. For example, you are going to need an expert witness almost all the time, usually more than one. You are going to want to evaluate the rig itself. It is very important to examine the vehicle, the 18-wheeler. You want to check the tires to make sure they are not overly worn, you want to make sure the brakes are at the right settings. Essentially you want to make sure that the vehicle should have been in service, so you look at the maintenance records, for example. And you also want to make sure that the load was secured, so that it wasn't sliding around as that could be the cause of the accident. None of that is relevant in a typical car wreck case, most of the time.
Different Regulations For Truck Industry
There are also unique federal and state regulations that apply only to big rigs and 18-wheelers and such. And so you want to check to make sure that the driver and the trucking company complied with the applicable federal regulations. Was the person really qualified to be driving, was the person sleepy, did the trucking company put them on a schedule that was unrealistic so that they had to drive sleepy.
Characteristics About The Truck Driver
You also want to check to see if the trucker was distracted. Because now a days, in many of these trucks, they have actual computers right there by the steering wheel. They have a keyboard and a computer screen. They are supposed to pull over when they want to talk to dispatch or their family, but lots of times they do that while they are driving. And there is a study out there that says that these truckers are 10 times more likely to cause an accident when they are distracted. You want to evaluate whether they are intoxicated or drunk or on drugs and of course you want to evaluate whether they are speeding. Many of these trucks have black boxes, kind of like an airplane, that records speed and other critical data. But even when they don't have that, there are very sophisticated ways to calculate the speed of a vehicle and to reconstruct the accident. And the formulas and the science behind how you calculate the speed of an 18-wheeler are very different than what happens when you are dealing with a regular passenger car.
Why You Need An Experienced Truck Attorney
Bottom line is this, if you have been hurt by an 18-wheeler, you want a truck accident lawyer who has done this enough times to know what the issues are, who the real experts are, what the regulations say and what to do so that you can be protected and your family can be taken care of.
So give us a call if you have one of these cases, we know what to do.
Related Truck Accident Information:
As a lawyer, do you need to be involved in the scientific and technical details of an 18-wheeler case?
In an 18-wheeler case, a truck accident lawyer really needs to be involved in enough of the details to know when an expert is trying to pull the wool over their eyes. They don't have to know all the science but they have to be willing to learn it so that they can be conversant with the experts. They have to know the rig, they have to know the regulations and they have to know the science.
I had a case one time where an 18-wheeler killed four people. And the expert that the other side had hired, had calculated the speed of the 18-wheeler at something that was very disadvantageous to our case. And we knew that he was wrong, but my expert couldn't figure out what he had done wrong. So I went out and bought the textbook that the expert had used when he was in college. And I read the whole thing, some of it multiple times. And we found it. That the expert from the other side had used the wrong formula. He used a formula for a passenger car, when if you use the right formula for an 18-wheeler, the speed would have been very different.
I confronted that expert in open court in front of the judge and the judge threw out the expert and all of his testimony as non-scientific and it turned the whole case. So you have to have a truck accident lawyer that is willing to get into the details, get into the science and if he doesn't know, he is willing to learn it. Because on these kinds of cases where the stakes are high, there is no telling what the other side will do.
If you have a case like this, give us a call because we know what to do to protect you.
Is it really important to act quickly in an 18-wheeler case?
In an 18-wheeler accident, it is very important that the family and the person who is injured, call a truck accident lawyer whose got a team of experts immediately. There is a lot of evidence that can get lost if they don't act quickly. In fact, the federal regulations allow the trucking company to destroy evidence after a certain period of time.
Act Quickly After A Truck Accident
So there is debris on the road, there are skid marks, there are burn marks, there are shards of glass and a lot of that stuff goes away if you wait too long. And some of it goes away very quickly. In addition you have witnesses, you have the tow truck driver, the police officer, bystanders, people in other vehicles. Those people need to be contacted and their testimony needs to be preserved. I have seen cases where the witnesses just got lost and you couldn't find them any more. Or they forget what happened. Or even worse the insurance company for the other side gets to them and gets them somehow to sign a statement that doesn't reflect what happened. And so it is important to have someone on that very early.
Truck Collision Inspections Are Time Consuming
In addition you have to evaluate the rig itself. There are things you have to check on, to make sure the brakes were properly set, the tires weren't overly worn, to make sure the vehicle should have been in service in the first place. And you want to get that vehicle as close to the accident as possible so that they can't argue that something else has created the defect that you are relying on.
San Antonio Truck Accident Experts
For all of those reasons, it is imperative that you call immediately so that my team of experts can get out there. Because rest assured, the insurance company is going to have their team out there as soon as the accident happens. If we don't get out there soon too we are going to be playing catch up.
So if you have one of these cases, give us a call or fill out the form on the website because we know what to do to help you.