Daniel Stark Law Blog

Helmet Laws and Texas Motorcycle Accidents

by Cary Graham | January 17th, 2017
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It’s winter in Texas, which means we’ll simply throw on a couple extra layers and carry on with our lives. Unlike other states, there’s really not an off-season for motorcyclists in Texas. We ride pretty much year round. Although we may have a stretch of inclement weather here and there, it’s not enough to warrant putting our motorcycles away for months on end. It’s just one of the perks of living in the Lone Star State.

Another perk for some motorcyclists is the fact that there’s no helmet law in Texas for riders over 21. If you’ve completed a motorcycle safety course or have sufficient accident medical benefits, you’re free and clear to ride without any protective headgear. However, we strongly suggest that you do. As a personal injury firm that handles motorcycle crashes, we know firsthand the physical damage that can be done to a rider who isn’t wearing a helmet. Your chances of surviving a serious crash drop dramatically without a DOT-approved helmet, and to us, it’s simply not worth the risk.

At Daniel Stark, we work tirelessly to protect the rights of Texas accident victims, and we fully appreciate your right as a rider to go without a helmet. But it’s important to remember that you also have the right to wear a helmet that could save your life in the event of an accident. As your trusted law firm, we’ll be here for you either way in the event of an accident, and we’ll fight to protect your rights as an accident victim, but we hope we never have to.

The Austin motorcycle accident attorneys at Daniel Stark encourage you to be safe out on the road. Wear a helmet. It might just save your life.

SSD Benefits: One Mistake Can Lead to a Denial

by Cary Graham | January 10th, 2017
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The framework for Social Security Disability (SSD) was signed into law decades ago as an amendment to the revolutionary Social Security Act of 1935. Although our government is an imperfect institution, this was an instance when they got things right. Extending Social Security benefits to the disabled Americans enabled them to establish themselves in a society that often overlooked them. Although SSD benefit checks have never made anyone rich, they have helped hundreds of thousands live healthier, more productive lives in spite of their disabilities.

However, getting SSD benefits isn’t as simple as filling out a form and mailing it in. The application process can be complex and confusing for folks who don’t know how the system works. There are specific requirements that must be met in order to be considered for SSD benefits, and if you fail to properly document just one of those requirements, chances are you’ll be denied. In fact, more than two-thirds of all applications are initially denied. Believe us when we say, there’s nothing more discouraging than receiving that denial notice.

Thankfully, there’s something you can do to greatly increase your chances of securing benefits, and that’s calling a lawyer. An experienced Texas Social Security Disability attorney knows the system and the application process well, and can give you the best chance of securing benefits in your appeal. If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability benefits, a lawyer may be able to help. At Daniel Stark, we’ll be happy to review your application for free and steer you in the right direction for securing benefits.

A Smarter 2017

by Steven Hooker | January 5th, 2017
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When I think back on 2016, the word ‘divisive’ immediately comes to mind. It seems much of the year was consumed by the presidential election – which was, in my opinion, one of the most hotly contested in recent memory. The mud-slinging was constant and at some points, downright vicious. Many people were caught up in the turmoil and lost sight of the ultimate goal: a better nation in 2017 and beyond. On a smaller scale, personal goal achievement shares many of the same struggles as our presidential election. We start out the year with a goal or a list of goals in mind, but soon after they get lost in the turmoil as we get caked in our own ‘real life’ mud. With this is mind, I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on goal setting for 2017, in an effort to come out a little cleaner at the end of this year.

About a month ago, we (the Daniel Stark family) were fortunate enough to dedicate an afternoon to personal and professional improvement by setting some individual goals for 2017. The first step in this process was to take a hard look at your life, using a tool aptly named “The Wheel of Life” and figure out in which area you were most deficient, with the level of satisfaction in each as the gauge. The categories ranged across all areas of life and included health, work, social, family, and even spirituality. If you are honest with yourself, it will quickly become apparent which area(s) of your life need the most work.

Once we identified our most glaring deficiencies, it was then time to set some personal goals for improving those areas. However, each goal did not just involve the end result. For example, “I want to lose 25 pounds in 2017” alone doesn’t qualify. Your goal must also include a plan for achievement and include an accountability component. In other words, your goal must be SMART.

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The SMART acronym is a concept many people are familiar with, but do not apply to their personal goal setting. It demands that your goal fulfill a specific set of criteria (as shown above). For example, a SMART 25-pound weight loss goal would look something like this:

I will lose 15 pounds by June 1, 2017 by exercising for at least 30 minutes, 4 days a week, and calendaring each day that I complete. I will lose an additional 10 pounds by December 30, 2017 by continuing this exercise regimen, and limiting fast food meals to twice per week. I will track my progress by weighing myself at the same time every week, and recording my progress. My co-worker will hold me accountable for this goal and check-in on my progress at the end of each month. 

You will also notice that, along with fulfilling the SMART criteria, this goal places emphasis on the word “will” throughout. This is important because it does not contemplate the chance of failure, which has a powerful psychological impact on performance. Now you are not trying to lose weight; it is a virtual certainty that you will lose the weight, and will have the privilege of buying yourself a slightly smaller wardrobe at the end of 2017.

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As always, Yoda says it best

            A trick I have also found personally helpful in sticking to my goals – especially when the shine of the new year wears off – is just a slight paradigm shift. Every time life gets in the way and you say to yourself: “I don’t have time for X,” simply change your internal dialogue to “X is not a priority.” In doing so, you place the onus back on yourself and are unable to use outside factors as a crutch. What I have often found is that I have more time than I initially thought, or with a little more effort/planning, I could carve out some additional time to complete my daily goal.

Setting goals is not a difficult process, it is sticking to them throughout the year that becomes tough. However, with just a little more calculated effort each day, personal improvement is well within reach. Here at DS we start out each day with a “Top 1” or top priority task that will get done that day, which also contributes to our yearly goals. I would invite each of you work some variation of this act into your daily lives, and in doing so I am confident you will see an almost immediate impact. All that being said, let’s now raise our champagne glasses to a smarter 2017!

Maximizing Your Construction Accident Injury Claim

by Cary Graham | January 3rd, 2017
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Folks in Texas work hard. It’s simply in our DNA. We were raised that taking pay for a job half-done is wrong, so we give our all every time we punch the clock. Although honorable, that way of life can get folks in trouble after an on-the-job injury. Unless incapacitated, many Texas construction workers continue to work through the pain because if they don’t work, they don’t get paid, often leading to more severe injuries.

That sense of duty is also the reason many injured workers take too little for their workers’ comp claims. The insurance company offers to settle, and although the injured worker knows it’s too little, they take it anyway. Their family just needs the money.

However, there is another way.

If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, it’s vitally important that you consult with an attorney before you sign anything from the insurance company. At Daniel Stark, it costs nothing to have an experienced Texas construction accident attorney review your claim. All you have to do is pick up the phone and give us a call. If we feel like your settlement offer is good, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll provide you with the right next steps for maximizing your claim.

Your injury claim is way too important to your family to blindly take the insurance company’s first offer. Contact a skilled Texas work injury lawyer instead. You’ll be glad you did.

The Shopping Season Isn’t Over

by Cary Graham | December 27th, 2016
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With Christmas officially behind us, it’s safe to say that this has been one of the biggest online shopping years in recent history. On Cyber Monday alone, retailers sold more than $3 billion in merchandise. Billions more were spent in the weeks following, making 2016 a record year for online purchases.

And the shopping isn’t over. The week after Christmas and into the New Year is traditionally a great time for after-holiday bargains, which brings folks out in droves. Although you can expect shops in Austin to be full over the next week, a bunch of folks will be taking advantage of deals online, which means our Texas roads will continue to have an increase in big truck traffic delivering those packages.

Although we hope that no one reading this blog is ever involved in a trucking accident, it’s important to know a couple things in case you are. First of all, trucking accidents can be much more complex than car accidents. In a car accident, you’re only dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In a trucking accident, you could be dealing with 2-3 separate insurance company providers, all trying to refuse you the money you deserve for your injuries.

Secondly, the trucking company has probably been through this before. Truck accidents are part of doing business for an established trucking company. Although this is more than likely your first truck accident, they’ve been to this rodeo before and know how to protect their best interests. Those interests usually come at your expense, so you need to protect yourself.

How do you protect yourself? By consulting with an experienced Texas truck accident attorney. A truck accident lawyer, like the ones at Daniel Stark, know how to get the insurance company to play fair and will work to get you maximum compensation for your injuries. If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, it’s too risky to go it alone. Call an experienced Texas attorney instead.

Sleep Deprivation Can Kill

by Cary Graham | December 20th, 2016
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Everybody knows that driving under the influence is a bad idea. Not only do you put yourself at risk, but you put everyone else you encounter on the road at risk as well. However, driving under the influence isn’t the only dangerous impairment that could cause a serious accident. In fact, you may be putting yourself and others in danger on a daily basis without one drop of alcohol or illegal substance in your blood. It’s called sleep deprivation and it can kill.

According to a recent study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, driving fatigued is just as dangerous as driving after consuming 3-4 alcoholic drinks. That’s an astonishing finding considering more than 35% of Americans get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep every night. That’s millions of people out on the road every day driving fatigued.

What does this mean for personal injury law? It’s currently not technically against the law to drive sleep-deprived. How would you even prove how much or how little sleep someone has had recently?

At Daniel Stark, we’re more concerned right now with informing the good people of Texas of the dangers of driving fatigued. If you know you’re too tired to drive, call a cab or get a ride from a friend or family member. It’s worth the inconvenience or cost to know that you’ll get to your destination safely.

We Call It Fraud

by Cary Graham | December 13th, 2016
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“Life insurance fraud” is when someone fraudulently claims life insurance money from an insurance company. “Life insurance company fraud” is a completely different thing, and we’re starting to see it pop up more and more in Texas.

Here’s how it works.

You purchase a life insurance policy from an insurance company. You agree to pay a certain premium in exchange for financial protection in the event of your death. You hold up your end of the deal by paying the premiums on time, every month, without fail. Then one day, you get a notification in the mail informing you that your premiums are skyrocketing for the exact same policy you’ve been paying into. Some call that “bait and switch.” At Daniel Stark, we call it fraud.

For the past year, we’ve been offering free consultations to Texas life insurance policyholders who believe they’ve been the victim of fraud. In many cases, we discover that they have been the victim of life insurance company fraud and have a case. Then we offer to represent them in their case against the insurance company. It’s the right thing to do for folks in our community just looking out for their family.

If you feel you’ve been the victim of life insurance company fraud, contact an experienced law firm for a free, no obligation initial consultation. Just a few minutes could help you protect your rights—and your policy.

No Matter Where, We’re Ready to Help

by Cary Graham | December 6th, 2016
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Folks who drive through our great state quickly discover just how big Texas is. With more than 26 million people, we have the second largest population of any state in the U.S. We also have some of the largest highways in the country, with hundreds of millions of cars driving through each year. That massive movement causes congestion, and congestion often leads to wrecks. But no matter where those accidents occur, the victims always have an advocate at our firm.

At Daniel Stark, we’ve helped car accident injury victims from all over the state get the legal help they need after an accident, and we’re ready to help you too. Although our main offices are located in Austin, Bryan, and Waco, you can always give us a call if you’ve been injured. Even if you only have a few questions that you would like answers for, we’re always here, ready to help. If after hearing your story we feel someone else within our network would be better suited to help you get the compensation you need, we’ll be happy to refer you.

Our goal isn’t to have the largest case load as possible in a given year. Our goal is to provide the very best legal help to every single person who calls or comes through our doors, whether or not they become a client. If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, the help you need is only a phone call away. We’re ready to help.

December Charity of the Month – Voices for Children of Brazos Valley

by Jennifer Mathis | December 1st, 2016
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Tradition of Giving

There was once a very poor man with three daughters.   Because he could not afford a dowry, his daughters could not marry.  Their father could not support them and began considering selling them into servitude.  But, a bishop learned of the girls’ circumstance.  One night, the bishop secretly dropped a bag of gold down their chimney.  The bag of gold fell into the eldest daughter’s stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry.  The next night, another bag of gold fell down the chimney.  And again on the third night.  The family received one bag of gold for each daughter so that she could have a dowry.  And that is how the legend of Saint Nicholas began, a kind bishop known for helping the poor and giving secret gifts.

I have been blessed with a wonderful family and many traditions.  But, perhaps the oldest and most important tradition that we can observe this year is the tradition that started with Saint Nicholas in 4th century Turkey: the tradition of giving.  This holiday, let’s come together to support our community’s most vulnerable children.

Daniel Stark is proud to announce that its December charity of the month is CASA of Brazos Valley.

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CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.  The organization advocates for children who have been abused or neglected and removed from their homes.  These children are typically placed in foster care or with relatives.  This is a traumatic time for most children, so CASA helps navigate each child through the foster care system and into a safe, permanent, and nurturing home as quickly as possible.  Each volunteer is assigned to one child or sibling group at a time.  That volunteer follows the children throughout the duration of the case and reports any concerns to the court. Because of this individualized approach, CASA is poised to detect and solve problems early, avoiding placement changes, court delays, and additional court hearings. Having a CASA on average shortens a child’s time in the foster care system by seven months.  Because each CASA is an unpaid, highly trained volunteer, you can be sure that every dollar donated will be put to use towards the benefit of the children.  More than 85% of funding goes directly to the youth through special initiatives or by recruiting, training, and supporting volunteers.

Each year, CASA provides more than 7,500 hours of one-on-one advocacy to abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes and placed into foster care.  More than 750 children have been provided a CASA since they began serving the community in 2001.  CASA of Brazos Valley serves Brazos, Burleson, and Grimes counties.

If you would like to help CASA serve the children of our community, you can find out more information about CASA at http://voicesforchildreninc.org/.  For those of you who would like to help but do not have the time to volunteer or the money to donate, Daniel Stark is making it easy for you to contribute to CASA this year.  All you have to do is like our Facebook page during the month of December, and Daniel Stark will donate to CASA on your behalf.  For every new like it receives on its Facebook page, Daniel Stark will donate $1 to CASA of Brazos Valley.

 

I am proud to be a CASA volunteer, and I hope you will join us in supporting this wonderful organization!

 

Social Security Disability: Don’t Wait Until Your Denied

by Cary Graham | November 29th, 2016
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If you’re one of the millions out there just trying to make ends meet every month, you know that a workplace injury can quickly put you in a tough spot. If you can’t work, you don’t get paid, making it difficult for you and your family to get by.

When that injury turns into a permanent disability, the panic really sets in. Sure there are government safeguards in place to protect disabled Americans unable to work, such as Social Security Disability, but statistics tell us that two-thirds of initial applicants get denied those benefits. So where do you turn when it seems like every door is shutting in your face?

At Daniel Stark, we’ve been helping disabled Texans unable to work get the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve for years. Most often, they turn to us for help when their initial application has been denied. We’re always glad to offer that assistance, but you don’t have to wait to call us until you’ve been denied. You can call us to help with your initial application as well. After all, your goal is to secure benefits as quickly as possible. Why wait until you receive a denial notice to get the help you need?

If you have questions about your Social Security Disability application, we’d love to answer your questions free of charge. Just give our Social Security Disability attorneys a call today for a free consultation. You deserve benefits. Take the first step to securing them by calling Daniel Stark today.