The Morris Law Firm Blog

January 15, 2014

TEXAS DWI TAKING A SPECIMEN

Filed under: Criminal — Tags: , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 12:56 am

A person in Texas who has been stopped for suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is often asked to provide a specimen to check their blood alcohol content.  The test may be a vapor test, breathalyzer or a blood sample test.

The Statute states that a specimen may not be taken if refused by the suspect.  Refusal will cause the suspects Texas Drivers License to be automatically suspended for not less than 180 days.

After a refusal, the officer will generally be required to obtain a warrant to take a blood sample.  In Texas is there now precedent that the suspect’s blood may be drawn without a warrant. .). The Court determined that to be valid, such a warrantless search must

(1) Be supported by probable cause,

(2) occur in the presence of exigent circumstances, in which the delay necessary to obtain a warrant would result in the destruction of evidence,

(3) Employ a reasonable test, and

(4) Be executed in a reasonable manner.

If you have been arrested for a DWI and the specimen was taken without your consent make sure to consult with a Texas attorney familiar with these issues.

Daniel L Morris, The Morris Law Firm, 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782.  info@themorrisfirm.net

October 19, 2013

Ability to Work under Deferred Action (DACA)

Filed under: Immigration — Tags: , , , , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 4:22 pm

The Guidelines for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been in place since June 15, 2012.  One of the best benefits of the Deferred Action is that foreign aliens who qualify are eligible to work.

In order to be permitted to work, you must include an application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in your application, which, when granted, will be valid for a period of two years and may be renewed.  You must wait until the EAD is issued prior to accepting employment.

Deferred Action does not give the applicant legal status in the United States.  But, Deferred Action allows the applicant time to process other legal avenues to fix their legal status.

The Morris Law Firm, Daniel L Morris, (214)357-1782 info@themorrisfirm.net

October 3, 2012

Texas Workers Compensation Types of Claims

Filed under: Workers' Compensation — Tags: , , , , , , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 8:36 pm

If your employer is a subscriber to the Texas Workers Compensation system, you are very limited in the claims arising from a work related accident.  However, if you are injured at work, you should immediately have your case reviewed to see what potential claims you may have.

Workers’ Compensation:

Your first claim is always against your employer’s workers compensation carrier.  There are different types of benefits so make sure you are aware of all the types of benefits for which you may be entitled.

Motor Vehicle Accident:

If you are injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident, immediately consult with an attorney that can handle both workers compensation and personal injury claims.  You may have claims including claims against the other driver, your under insured motorist insurance, any underinsured motorist policy purchased by your employer for you, your personal injury protection insurance.

Third Party Liability:

If you are at a job site that has multiple employers and you are injured as the result of another employer’s negligence, you may have a claim against that employer.

Wrongful Termination:

Texas is a “Right to Work” State.  This means that you can be terminated for any reason.  However, you the Texas Labor Code protects people regarding a workers compensation claim from discrimination and/or termination.

Social Security:

If you have missed more than one of work due to your compensable injury, file for Social Security Disability or Social Security Insurance.  If your claim is denied make sure that you consult with an attorney within the appeal period.

Gross Negligence:

Employers that subscribe to the Texas Workers Compensation system are exempt from claims of negligence.  But, they are not protected from claims of Gross Negligence resulting in death.  The beneficiaries of workers’ killed as the result of a compensable injury, may have a gross negligence claim against the employer.

Always be aware of your rights after work related injury.  Have your case reviewed to see that your rights are being protected and the proper claims are being pursued.

Daniel L Morris  The Morris Law Firm (214)357-1782 info@themorrisfirm.net

August 17, 2012

Texas Workers Compensation Lifetime Income Benefits

Filed under: Workers' Compensation — Tags: , , , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 10:56 pm

I recently returned from the annual Advanced Texas Workers Compensation Seminar.  This year I had the privilege of speaking with Maggie Knott on the Appellate Case Updates.  Any one that has been involved in the Texas Workers Compensation system over the last few years will know that it is rapidly changing.

Many of the changes are making it more difficult on injured workers. However, there are some appellate courts which have made findings which benefit injured workers.  Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Adcock is a case regarding Lifetime Income Benefits, which helps injured workers.

For an injured worker to qualify for Lifetime Income Benefits in Texas, the injured worker must show the loss of use of both eyes, both feet above the ankles, both hands at or above the wrist or a combination of feet and hands; a spinal injury causing permanent paralysis of both arms, legs or a combination of the above; a physically traumatic injury to the brain resulting in incurable insanity or imbecility; or severe 2nd or 3rd degree burns which require grafting.

In Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Adcock, the injured worker established that he was entitled to Lifetime Income Benefits.  A few years later, Liberty Mutual tried to re-litigate the claiming that the injured worker was getting better and no longer qualified for Lifetime Income Benefits.

The Fort Worth Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts finding that the Division of Workers Compensation did not have authority to re-evaluate a determination of Lifetime Income Benefits.  Those benefits are to be paid until the death of the injured worker.

Daniel L Morris info@themorrisfirm.net (214)357-1782

July 16, 2012

TEXAS WORKERS COMPENSATION PURPOSE OF DESIGNATED DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS

Filed under: Workers' Compensation — Tags: , , , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 6:56 pm

The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers Compensation has recently changed some of the purposes and the procedures for the use of designated doctors in dealing with injured workers in the system.  See http://www.tdi.texas.gov/wc/rules/adopted/documents/ddrulesm0712.pdf

Under Texas Administrative Code §270.1, a party may request a designated doctor to resolve questions about the following:

(1) the impairment caused by the injured employee’s compensable injury;

(2) the attainment of maximum medical improvement (MMI);

(3) the extent of the injured employee’s compensable injury;

(4) whether the injured employee’s disability is a direct result of the work-related injury;

(5) the ability of the injured employee to return to work; or

(6) issues similar to those described by paragraphs (1) – (5) of this subsection.

Under the new rule, the Division of Workers Compensation shall deny a request for a designated doctor if the insurance carrier has denied the compensability of the claim or otherwise denied liability for the claim as a whole and the dispute is not yet resolved.  However, a Benefit Review Officer (BRO) or a Hearing Officer (HO) may appoint a designated doctor may order an injured employee for the reason of causation that would require an expert medical opinion expert medical opinion would be necessary to resolve a dispute as to whether the claimed injury resulted from the claimed incident.

Any denial of the request for a designated doctor must be in writing and explain why the request was denied.

Daniel L Morris, The Morris Law Firm, PLLC (214)357-1782

April 12, 2012

Texas Workers’ Compensation Income Benefits

When a Texas worker is injured in the course and scope of their employment (their employer must be a subscriber), there is an insurance policy that covers their injuries.  This insurance policy pays 100% of the medical care for necessary and reasonable medical care.  In addition, injured workers receive payments for disability and their impairments.

Types of Benefits:

Temporary Income Benefits:

Temporary Income Benefits (TIBs) are paid weekly to the injured worker prior to being placed at maximum medical improvement, when the worker is unable to earn the same income they received prior to the accident.  Temporary Income Benefits are generally paid at 70% of the pre-injury average weekly wage.  Make sure the amount includes any fringe benefits received from your employer.

Impairment Income Benefits:

Impairment Income Benefits (IIBs) are benefits you receive after you are found to be at maximum medical improvement.  When an injured worker is found to be at maximum medical improvement, they are also given an impairment rating from 0-100%.  For each point of impairment, the injured worker receives three weeks of Impairment Income Benefits.  The benefits are not for disability, they are paid even if the worker is working full time.

Supplemental Income Benefits:

Supplemental Income Benefits (SIBs) are paid to injured workers that receive an impairment rating of at least 15% and are not capable of returning to their previous type of employment.  Supplemental Income Benefits are paid monthly to injured workers who are completely unable to work, are actively engaged in seeking employment, are currently in a full time DARS approved program or are currently earning less than 80% of their pre-injury average weekly wage.

Lifetime Income Benefits:

Lifetime Income Benefits (LIBs) are generally paid weekly to injured workers who have an injury to their head that results in what the Division of Workers’ Compensation defines as incurable insanity or permanent imbecility.  Additionally, an injured worker may be entitled to Lifetime Income Benefits if they loss one of the following:

1)      The loss of use of both feet at or above the ankle;

2)      The loss of use of both hands at or above the wrist;

3)      The total loss of sight in both eyes; or

4)      Certain combinations of the above.

Death Benefits:

Death or Beneficiary Benefits are paid to dependents of a worker who dies as a result of the compensable injury.  This may be due to the results of the accident, treatment or medications taken for the effects of the accident.

Daniel L Morris, The Morris Law Firm, PLLC

(214)357-1782

info@themorrisfirm.net

March 2, 2012

RECORDED STATEMENTS IN TEXAS WORKERS COMPENSATION CLAIMS

Filed under: Workers' Compensation — Tags: , , , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 9:46 pm

A colleague of mine recently asked if injured workers in Texas Workers Compensation claims are required to provide a recorded statement to the insurance company.  This is an interesting question.

When they get a notice of a claim, many insurance companies perform what they call a three prong investigation.  The investigator contacts and gets a statement from the injured worker, the medical provider and the employer.  In most cases they take a recorded statement from the injured worker.  If the injured worker is not available it may be weeks after the accident.

Although we generally allow recorded statements of our clients, it is not mandatory that you do so.  The recorded statement is to help the investigator gather facts to make a determination of your claim.  Your statement could affect the compensability of your claim, the accepted conditions or if you have disability.  If they have told you that your claim is already being denied, all you are doing is providing them an opportunity to collect evidence against you.

If you allow the investigator to take a recorded statement there are a few keys that you should follow:

a)      Make sure you are alert and clear headed at the time of the statement (shortly after accidents, many are affected by medications);

b)      Give a clear statement as to how you were injured and ALL the body parts

c)      Anything you don’t know or remember, answer that you don’t know or remember;

d)     Ask them to explain any question you don’t understand;

e)      Answer all questions truthfully, especially in regards to your history of injuries and treatment; and

f)       Stay polite, you do not help your cause by arguing with the investigator.

Always remember that a Texas Workers’ Compensation claim is a legal matter.  Anything information you provide can be used by the insurance company.  When making a legal determination, always have advice from a competent professional.

The Morris Law Firm, (214)357-1782 info@themorrisfirm.net

September 15, 2011

Texas Workers’ Compensation Not Ready for Maximum Medical Improvement

Filed under: Workers' Compensation — Tags: , , , , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 9:55 pm

I know that most of the Texas Workers’ Compensation news seems to limit benefits and injured workers’ rights within the system.  However, once in a while a ray of light shines in and gives us a glimmer of hope.  One of these recent rays was provided by the Texas Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel.

In Appeal No. 110670, the Division of Workers’ Compensation found that “it is impossible for a claimant to have reached MMI, since he has only had a minimal trial of post-operative care.”  In this case, the Appeals Panel overturned the findings of a designated doctor in finding maximum medical improvement, prior to the injured worker attending a pre-authorized chronic pain management program.  This allowed the injured worker to continue to receive Temporary Income Benefits (TIBs), while off work.

It is nice to see that in spite of all the forces trying to push injured workers out of the system prior to substantial recovery, there are still avenues for the injured worker to claim the statutory benefits for which his labor paid the insurance premiums.

September 8, 2011

Texas Workers’ Compensation Wrongful Termination

Filed under: Workers' Compensation — Tags: , , , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 5:40 pm

In today’s economy many people are concerned that if they report injuries after an on the job accident that they may lose their job.  People generally question the meaning of Texas being a “Right to Work” state.  Right to work generally refers to laws that deal with the use of unions in negotiations with the employer.  Under Texas Labor Code Title III, Texas holds that individuals or groups may bargain with their employers for their employment status.  So, Right to Work, in reality is the right of your employer to fire you at any time.  If you are not a union worker, there may be a collective bargaining agreement that protects you.

However, the Texas Labor Code §451 states that an employer may not discriminate against or fire an employee for filing a workers compensation claim in good faith, hiring a lawyer to represent them for their claim, starting the hearing process for a claim or testifying in hearing about a claim.

Therefore, your employer may not discriminate against you, or fire you for pursuing your Texas Workers’ Compensation claim.

April 5, 2011

Citizenship Through Naturalization

Filed under: Immigration — Tags: , , , , , , — The Morris Law Firm 702 S. Beckley, Dallas, Texas, 75203 (214)357-1782 @ 2:54 am

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In most cases, an applicant for naturalization must be a permanent resident (green card holder) before filing.  Except for certain U.S. military members and their dependents, naturalization can only be granted in the United States.

You may qualify for Citizen ship if:

  • You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements
  • You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  • You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements.
  • Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.

If you have any immigration questions, contact the Morris Law Firm at (214)357-1782 or via email at info@themorrisfirm.net.  All the staff and attorneys at the Morris Law Firm are fluent in Spanish.

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