Daniel Stark Law Blog

Halloween Safety Tips

by Rebecca Malcik | October 27th, 2016
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Halloween is just around the corner! For Halloween everyone wants to have the best costume, carve the most creative pumpkins, and scope out the best neighborhoods for the most delicious candy. For us at Daniel Stark, we absolutely want to have the best costumes, but we also want to remind everyone that Trick-Or-Treating can be very dangerous if you aren’t careful. Statistics show that some parents are so fearful of the safety risks of Halloween night, that they forego Trick-Or-Treating altogether. We are here to tell you that you don’t have to skip out on the fun to stay safe, but you do have to be very aware of your surroundings as they are a little more scary on the night of October 31st.

The graphic below from Safe Kids and FedEx shows a few alarming statistics along with a few helpful safety reminders:


In addition, we would like to provide you with a few more tips to help you and your scary (but cute) little one, stay safe this Halloween!

Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe

  1. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers. Choose light colors.
  2. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to make them more visible by drivers. You will also be able to keep a better eye on your little one as well.
  3. Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision. If masks are a must, make sure the eye holes are big enough to see not only in the front but peripherally as well.
  4. When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
  5. If your kiddos are carrying a prop, make sure they are made of flexible plastic that will bend if fallen on.

Trick or Treat With an Adult

  1. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision.
  2. Trick-or-Treat in familiar neighborhoods and check your candy before eating.

Drive and Walk Extra Safely on Halloween

  1. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.
  2. Turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children, and make yourself seen in your vehicle.
  3. Enter and exit driveways, and make turns slowly and carefully.
  4. Put electronic devices down when walking and especially driving.
  5. Only allow your children to cross the street with you while Trick-Or-Treating.

If you aren’t Trick-Or-Treating

  1. Make sure your phone is charged. You don’t want to lose your group because finding them will be much harder with masks on!
  2. For every alcoholic beverage, drink one glass of water. Make sure to eat beforehand.
  3. Be sure to have a pre-set ride home. A Designated Driver, a cab ride, or Uber.

Daniel Stark is giving away FREE Uber Rides for Halloween. Please take a moment to get your free code here if you think you will need it. 



3 Safety Tips After a Minor Car Accident

by Cary Graham | October 25th, 2016
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No one wants to think about the bad things that could happen out on the road. However, having a bit of knowledge before you get in an accident can help you keep a minor fender bender from becoming a serious accident.

Here are 3 safety tips to remember if you’re ever in a minor accident:

  1. Move to safety. If your accident occurs on a busy road or highway, your first priority is moving yourself and your passengers to a safety. On a highway, either move your vehicle to the shoulder or exit your vehicle and stand on the side of the road, well clear of the flow of traffic.
  2. Don’t engage in arguments. Road rage can quickly escalate into violence. No amount of yelling and screaming at each other is going to undo the accident or help you assign blame where it belongs. Let the police sort out what really happened.
  3. Don’t try to drive if you’re still shaken. Every accident, no matter the severity, can be emotionally and physically draining. If you’re still shaken when the police officer says it’s okay to leave, don’t try to get behind the wheel. The officer should be more than willing to help you make arrangements to get you and your vehicle home.

Even the most minor of accidents can leave you with questions. Visit our Steps to Take After an Accident page to learn more.

Things to Consider When Applying for SSD Benefits

by Cary Graham | October 18th, 2016
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If you’re applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, there are a number of things you need to consider before you even begin the application process. Are you filing for SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits? Do you have enough work credits to qualify? Can you prove that your injuries or disability will keep you out of work for at least the next year? These questions aren’t meant to intimidate you, but we can understand if they do.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits is a hard road. There’s so much more to do than simply filling out a form or answering a few questions online. Thousands of applicants underestimate the process every year, which is why more than two-thirds of all applicants are denied. That’s thousands of folks left wondering how they’re going to provide for themselves and their families now that they’ve been denied. If they had called a lawyer, things might have been different.

An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer knows the application process inside and out. They can help you avoid the pitfalls many applicants fall into so your application is part of the one-third that secure benefits.

If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability benefits, don’t make the same mistake with your appeal. Consider talking to an experienced Social Security Disability attorney and help give yourself the best chance of getting the benefits you and your family deserve.

Can you be held responsible for texting a driver?

by Chris Carver | October 14th, 2016
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Liability for the person sending a text to a driver who causes a collision? This is not as far-fetched as you might think. In a society where we sanction lawsuits against bars who serve drunk patrons who later cause collisions by driving while intoxicated, many states do not even have laws making texting while driving illegal for the driver, let alone others who may bear responsibility.

However, the National Safety Council reports that cell phone use leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. This accounts for 330,000 injuries due to texting and driving. By way of comparison, in 2014, 290,000 people were injured in collisions involving drunk driving. However, the more disturbing statistic is that texting and driving is six times (6X) more likely to cause a collision than driving drunk.


As the statistics continue to roll in and the data continues to show the danger of texting while driving, some courts are suggesting, just as with bars who serve intoxicated patrons, that those who encourage a driver to text while driving should also be held responsible. In 2013, New Jersey Superior Court opined that, “when a texter knows or has reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.”  Relying upon that rationale, a Pennsylvania Court has very recently denied a motion to dismiss a texter from a personal injury lawsuit in a case where the driver was known by the texter to be driving and the two were texting back and forth for some time prior to the driver being in an at-fault collision causing fatalities.

While the theory is borne out of a desire to stop texting and driving, proponents and courts alike acknowledge that certain circumstances must exist before this cause of action could have merit. The previously mentioned cases both held that the texter must know or have reason to know that the recipient was driving at the time they sent a text. Additionally, the texter must know or have reason to know that the driver was likely to view the text message while driving. The New Jersey court likened this action to a passenger who intentionally creates a distraction in the car which causes a wreck.

Additionally, the New Jersey court stated that such cases would only have liability where the texter has a “special relationship” with the driver which leads to influence over the driver. These include employer-employee, parent-child, landlord-tenant and guardian-ward.

Finally, the Pennsylvania case rested in large part on the fact that the State of Pennsylvania had a statute making it illegal to text message or view text messages while driving. Therefore, the attempt to text a driver who the texter knew to be driving, and likely to view the text, would be similar to aiding in a criminal enterprise.

The implication of these cases to Texas cases is unknown but there is definitely precedent for expanding our laws to include texter liability in certain circumstances. One thing is clear, as the injuries and deaths mount from collisions involving texting, we are likely to see more intervention from the legislature and the courts to make our roadways safe. Our law firm will continue to look at all avenues of recovery to make sure our client’s rights are protected.

The Moments When Everything Changes

by Cary Graham | October 11th, 2016
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In personal injury cases, we’ve found there are two moments that change the victim’s lives forever. The first is the accident itself. Whether caused by someone else’s negligence, weather, or road conditions, it only takes a split second for a car accident to wreck your life. Afterward, your number one priority is getting the medical attention you need so you can begin to physically recover. But what about your financial recovery?

A serious accident can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars before it’s all said and done. To keep from having to pay that cost out of your own pocket, you must successfully negotiate a settlement with the insurance company that will cover all your current and future expenses. That can be extremely difficult to do while getting healthy again, which is why you should call an attorney to handle your injury claim for you.

On average, accident victims with a lawyer handling their injury claim on their behalf get more money than those who try to go it alone. At Daniel Stark, we’ve helped hundreds of accident victims over the years get the compensation they deserve so that they can experience the second moment that changes their life forever: the moment when we hand them a check. In that moment, they know everything is going to be okay. That’s why we got into this business, and that’s why we’ll continue to do it as long as the good people of Texas need our help.


by Chris Anderson | October 5th, 2016
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Drivers who have never been in a car wreck are likely unaware of the immediate chaotic impact it can have on your life. I would like to think that people who use their cell phones while driving, whether it be to make a call, to text someone, or to catch ‘em all, would choose to wait and do those things for when they are not behind the wheel of the car. If they knew what the likelihood would be that they would be in a wreck and that they could seriously injure someone, or perhaps even kill someone, they would know that those are things that can wait until they are not driving.

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers attempted to determine from social media posts on Twitter between July 10th and July 19th, how many people were playing Pokémon Go while also causing a driving hazard. Eighteen percent of those posts showed that someone was playing and driving. Eleven percent suggested a passenger was playing, and 4 percent suggested a pedestrian was playing near traffic. Since this was all done from social media posts, and not everyone uses social media to post about their time using Pokémon Go, the data scientists in the study knew that they were undercounting. By how much is impossible to say.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,161 people are injured daily in crashes that involved distractions like calls or texting. In the 10-day study mentioned above, there were found to be 14 Pokémon Go-related motor vehicle wrecks in several different media reports.


Chasing Charizards can be very dangerous to your health.

Pokémon Go already shows warning alerts when the phone is moving over a certain speed limit, and asks users to confirm that they are passengers, but obviously a driver can simply press “yes” and keep playing. As technology continues to improve, hopefully there can be more safeguards put in place, like restricting game use at a certain speed regardless. Augmented reality games can present a heightened level of danger, because they encourage us to interact with the reality around us. This makes it easy to become distracted when you get an alert that a Pokémon is nearby.

Of course, there are all kinds of distracted driving problems in the United States today. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who are distracted at the time of the crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 23 percent of drivers in fatal crashes are in their 20s, and of those in their 20s, they also make up 27 percent of distracted drivers in fatal crashes. 38 percent of distracted drivers using their cell phones were also in their 20s (NHTSA). While overall usage of mobile devices during driving has increased, it has increased in greater numbers in younger drivers than older drivers.

Now, some people driving may claim, including people reading this blog post, that they are safer than others in using their phone while driving. You may not believe it’s dangerous for you, however, it takes an average of five seconds to take your eyes off the road and send a text. If you’re traveling at 55mph, you will cross the length of a football field before you look at the road again. In that kind of distance, it’s more likely that an individual is lucky that a person didn’t get into their path as opposed to knowing there was no one there.

Our attorneys at Daniel Stark make sure to investigate the possibility of distracted driving in each wreck, as the consequences of this sort of negligence can change the life of an individual who is hit by the distracted driver forever. Whether it’s using your cell phone, eating, or some other distraction, stay safe, and always pay attention to the road, no matter the Pokémon nearby.

What is Life Insurance Company Fraud?

by Cary Graham | October 4th, 2016
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Insurance companies often get a bad reputation when it comes to claims, and many times it’s warranted. You pay into a policy for years because you expect to be covered in the event of an accident or emergency. However, when you ask the insurance company to live up to their end of the bargain, they either refuse your claim or refuse to pay the amount you deserve. As personal injury lawyers, accident victims turn to us to negotiate with the insurance company on their behalf to get them the compensation they are entitled to.

A number of Texas families are in a fight with the insurance company right now, but it’s not over an injury claim. It’s called life insurance company fraud, and here’s how it works. You purchase a life insurance policy and even though you keep the policy in good standing, you receive a notification that your premiums are skyrocketing, leaving you with three options.

  1. Pay the inflated premiums for the same policy.
  2. Cancel the policy.
  3. Wipe out the life insurance policy savings you’ve accumulated.

For someone just trying to provide for their family long-term, none of those options make sense. Luckily, there’s a fourth option: call a lawyer. After discovering what these life insurance companies were doing to unsuspecting Texans, our firm immediately decided to provide legal help to victims. If you’ve been the victim of life insurance company fraud, consider calling an experienced attorney to talk about your rights.

Your Lost Loved One Deserves Justice

by Cary Graham | September 27th, 2016
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Death comes to us all. It’s a fact of life. We each have a short time on this world, and we do our best to make the most of it while we’re here. When a life is tragically cut short due to someone else’s negligence, the surviving family is left not only grieving the loss of a loved one but the potential that life once had.

As personal injury lawyers, we look at wrongful death cases in much the same way. Our job is to get our client (the surviving family) justice for their loved one’s death, as well as compensation for the remaining life they never got to experience. That includes compensation for medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages, and more.

We understand that in a time of grieving, a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind, but we encourage you to speak with an experienced attorney anyway. You need to know your options and understand the consequences of not bringing a lawsuit to honor your loved one. That’s why many law firms, including ours, offer free consultations to the families of every wrongful death victim in Texas. We know you have questions and we want to provide a safe forum for you get answers without any pressure to become a client.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, don’t let your family’s rights go unprotected—consider talking to an attorney about your legal options.

What is Medical Malpractice?

by Cary Graham | September 20th, 2016
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Medical malpractice is a term everyone has heard, but few truly understand. Over the years, the term has become a catchall for every instance of negligence in the medical community. However, true instances of medical malpractice are not as common as you might think.

To determine whether or not you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, you first need to learn and understand medical negligence. Medical negligence is any action or failure to act by a medical professional that may cause harm to a patient. The key word there is “may.” If there’s no injury, medical malpractice probably doesn’t exist, as medical malpractice occurs when medical negligence causes harm to a patient. See the difference?

Here’s an example. If your doctor prescribes you the wrong dosage for a medication, but taking that wrong dosage doesn’t cause any physical harm to you, the doctor may be guilty of medical negligence, but he/she is probably not guilty of medical malpractice. However, if that wrong dosage leads to physical injury or harm, then you may have a medical malpractice case.

Truly determining whether or not you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice requires the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. If you believe your injuries or the injuries of someone you love was the result of medical malpractice, we strongly encourage you to contact an attorney immediately for a free consultation before doing anything else. The outcome of your injury claim may depend on it.

The Most Important Way to Protect Your Child

by Michael Bristow | September 14th, 2016
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There truly is no better feeling than the joy that comes with being a new parent. Holding the tiny, beautiful human that you’ve created triggers a wonderful flood of emotion that can never be put into words. But with that joy also comes a fierce and primal instinct to protect your child from the innumerable dangers that lurk outside of the delivery room.

For my wife and I, the convenience of becoming new parents in the age of Google has tended to send random safety-related parenting questions down confusingly terrifying rabbit trails of advice, articles, and often misinformed commentary. Omega 3s are good for the baby…but don’t eat too much fish or your child can be poisoned by mercury! Breastfeed or formula? Keep baby warm, but watch out for SIDS! To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Out of all the fears that the internet instilled in me about becoming a parent, the statistics and warnings about car wrecks and child safety seats were some of the most concerning. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 14 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Review Fact Sheet. Children passenger restraints save lives. Child safety seats reduce risk of death by 71% for infants (less than one year-old) and by 54% for toddlers (one to four years old) in passenger cars, according to NHTSA.

CPS-Popcicle 8.5X11_national.indd

While using a child safety seat is a good start, it must be used correctly to give the most protection to our most precious cargo. More than 81% of child restraints are used incorrectly, including 88% of forward-facing toddler seats, 86% of rear-facing infant seats, and 85% of safety belts, as determined by Child Passenger Seat Inspection Stations across the country, according to a study done by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. (National SAFE KIDS Campaign. February  2002.  Child  Passengers  at Risk in America: A National  Study of Restraint  Use.) The same survey concluded that a third of children (33%) ages 14 and under ride in the wrong restraint-type for their age and size.

The danger doesn’t end after kids outgrow their rear-facing and forward-facing car seats. Children ages four to seven who use booster seats are 59% less likely to be injured in a crash than children who were restrained only by safety belt. A recent NHTSA study also found that only a few children who should be riding in booster seats are doing so.

When it comes time for your baby’s first car ride, you can’t help but clench the wheel a little tighter.  Making sure your newborn is properly secured in a car safety seat on their first ride home and every ride thereafter is one of the most critical safety functions a parent has to perform. However, just like other parenting decisions, choosing and maintaining a car seat that fits your child as they grow can be confusing. But try not to worry too much; you aren’t alone in your confusion and there are many resources to help you make sure your child is properly secured.


Last year, as we were awaiting the arrival of our son, my wife and I spent plenty of time reading up on the dos and don’ts of car seat use. After viewing dozens of car seat options, reading thousands of online reviews, and searching for safety recalls, we finally settled on an infant car seat. The big day came and we welcomed a healthy, happy baby boy into the world. The ride home went off without a hitch. Months later, wanting to live out our core value of “work hard, play hard”, we even took our son along on a road trip vacation to Colorado. While I expected hours of misery and pictured being stuck in traffic with a crying baby, it actually went much smoother than expected. Having a car seat that was a proper fit for our son helped us peacefully and safely navigate the 14+ hour drive.

We were happy with our choice of car seat until one night in late December. As I was watching the Aggies struggle on the football field against Louisville, someone took advantage of my distraction and broke into both of our cars parked in the driveway. Luckily, we didn’t keep many valuable in the cars, but the thief did manage to steal 2 things that were critical to our daily routine: the car seat and the stroller.

After the initial shock and feeling of violation wore off, I realized that if someone was willing to commit a serious crime just to get their hands on a car seat, they obviously needed it more than we did. Perhaps the criminal just had plans to resell the car seat but failed to realize that the market for second-hand car seats is nearly non-existent due to safety concerns. (Few pawn shops or resale outlets accept used car seats and sites like Amazon do not allow the sale of used car seats.) It may be naive, but I would like to think that the thief had a young child at home and they desperately needed a way to secure the child in the car. We went ahead and purchased a new rear-facing car seat with a camouflage cover that has been just as functional and much more stylish! If the thief only new about the Daniel Stark car seat event, maybe they would not have needed to risk going to jail to make sure their kids have a safe place to ride.

DS Car seat event

At Daniel Stark, we want to do our part in making sure that every child has a safe car seat to ride in. Daniel Stark proudly supports National Seat Check Saturday—an annual event that teaches parents how to properly install a car seat and secure their children, as well as when to transition to another type of car seat as their children grow. Join us on Saturday, September 24, 2016, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Bryan Towne Center for a free inspection of your child’s car seat.


Safety Tips

If you can’t make it out to the event, there are some great resources available to make sure your child in in the right seat. Safercar.gov is a great place to start, but here are some other tips for safe car rides:

NHTSA breaks child safety seats into four categories: (1) Rear-Facing; (2) Forward-Facing; (3) Booster Seats and; (4) Seat belts. There are several seats that can be converted from rear to front facing, as well as all-in-one that can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and to a booster seat as a child grows. With each type of seat, there are some basic safety guidelines to follow.

All Car seats:

  • Every safety seat is different; read and follow the manufacturers recommendations and the user manual.
  • A child is always safer in the back seat, no matter what age.
  • More expensive does not always mean a seat is safer. Read the ratings. (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/car-seats.htm).
  • Try out the seat before you keep it.
  • Always check the recall database for dangerous child seats. (http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm)
  • Car seats should be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.
  • Avoid buying a used car-seat if possible. If you must, ask if the seat was ever involved in a crash. Check for cracks or weakened materials. Always obtain a copy of the owner’s manual and check for recalls.


  • Face rearward only, reclined at 45-degree angle.
  • Harness slots should be at or below baby’s shoulders.
  • The harness chest clip should be at armpit level.
  • Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted.
  • May require the use of a tightly rolled towel to allow for proper recline angle
  • An infant’s head should stay at least 2 inches below the top of the child seat. If the infant is tall but not yet 20 pounds, move the infant into a convertible car seat used rear facing. If the infant is not yet one year, but weighs over 20 pounds, move the infant into a convertible seat which is recommended for a child up to 25-35 pounds. This seat is also placed rear facing.


  • Harness slots should be at or above baby’s shoulders.
  • The harness chest clip should be at armpit level.

Booster Seats:

  • Harness straps should be at or above child’ s shoulders.
  • The harness chest clip should be at armpit level.
  • Remove harness when child reaches 40 pounds and use the vehicle’ s adult lap and shoulder belt across child belt­ positioning booster.