Daniel Stark Law Blog

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Rear-Facing:

  • 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.

Front-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.

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No Second Chances in Personal Injury Law

by Cary Graham | September 13th, 2016
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Over the years, we’ve met a lot of Texas drivers who truly regret the accidents they caused. Because of a single lapse of concentration or judgment, they changed the lives of the other driver forever. As personal injury lawyers, we usually represent the injured driver and fight to get them maximum compensation for their injuries. Though we can appreciate the at-fault driver’s regret, it doesn’t change the fact that our client has been seriously injured and deserves to be compensated for those injuries.

However, we’ve also spoken with a number of accident victims who have regret as well, especially those who decided to handle their injury claim on their own. They thought it would be easier to simply take the insurance company’s first offer and move on with their lives. In theory, it seems reasonable. After all, getting a quick check seems better than fighting for a larger settlement. That is, until the money runs out, and you’re left holding all the bills.

That’s why we recommend that every person in Bryan, Austin, Waco, or anywhere else in Texas who has been injured in a car accident call a lawyer. Many firms, including Daniel Stark, offer free consultations, so there is no risk involved in getting advice as to what your next steps should be. At Daniel Stark, we get calls all the time from accident victims just needing answers to questions they can’t find elsewhere. We’re always happy to answer those questions free of charge. Isn’t it worth a phone call to avoid a regret that could negatively impact your family’s financial future? We think so.

Accident vs. Crash

by Michael Bristow | September 7th, 2016
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99% of the crashes on Texas roadways causing injuries and deaths weren’t intentional or on purpose. Most of the time, the driver who caused the wreck never meant to hurt anybody. Poor choices are made. Drivers run red lights and blow through stop signs. Even in an age of unprecedented education, prevention, law enforcement, and advocacy, drunk drivers still choose to get behind the wheel.

But make no mistake, most of the time when vehicles collide, it was no “accident” at all. An accident is something that happens without the input of a person. A mishap is when someone violates a rule and causes harm to someone else.

Yes, every once in a while a crazed motorist will run into someone on purpose. Clearly, not an accident. On the other hand, the connotation that an accident was nobody’s fault is often not only wrong, but can be hurtful and insulting to the victim.

As one victim puts it: “In a million little ways, that excuse — it was an accident — has shattered my ability to recover. I have been through a great deal of pain — but ‘accident’ cuts like a knife. What happened to me was preventable. Traffic crashes are preventable.”

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We all know the mother’s adage: “It’s okay honey, it was just an accident.” But are most car collisions really an accident, or are the majority of the over 30,000 deaths per year in the United States preventable? Activist groups believe the term “accident” should be analyzed and replaced in order to assign responsibility rather than shift the blame.

According to Vox, “Using the word ‘accident’ to describe car crashes might seem natural. But early coverage of crashes in the 1910s and 1920s depicted the vehicles as dangerous killing machines — and their violent collisions were seldom called accidents.

Planes don’t have accidents. They crash. Cranes don’t have accidents. They collapse. And as a society, we expect answers and solutions. Calling a crash an accident prevents the accountability that can prevent future crashes.

The site Crash Not Accident has been launched by New York City nonprofits Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets with a pledge for people to sign onto the cause. Using the hashtag #crashnotaccident, advocates are sharing the campaign, often including links to headlines which erroneously use “accident” and urging publications to stop using the word.

Texas, as well as several other states, have officially changed the way that law enforcement refer to so-called accidents. Here in Texas, officers complete a “Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report” not an “Accident Report”. While this change in nomenclature is a good start, the phrase car accident is still widely used. By understanding the differences between a crash and an accident, and educating others about why we should stop saying the “a” word, we can continue the movement toward correct terminology.

3 Tips for Avoiding DUIs in Texas

by Cary Graham | September 6th, 2016
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In Austin, we have some of the best breweries in the country. We also have a number of ride alternatives to driving impaired. The fall is a great time to get together with friends at a ballgame or one of our breweries for a beer. However, the car accident attorneys at Daniel Stark would like to remind you that that experience is not worth a DUI or someone’s life.

In Texas, your first drunk driving offense comes with a fine up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. That’s nearly 6 months of your life you could be throwing away by getting behind the wheel impaired. And that’s assuming you didn’t injure or kill anyone on the road. Add vehicular homicide to the equation, and the rest of your life could look much different than you had expected.

Here are 3 tips to ensure you never find yourself in a DUI situation.

1. Know your limits. We’re not talking about how much you can drink and still remain standing. We’re talking about how much you can drink, still be under the legal limit and operate your vehicle safely. Everyone’s alcohol limit is going to be different.

2. When in doubt, use alternatives. From grabbing a cab to using a ride-sharing service, Austin has plenty of ride alternatives to get you from the bar to your home safely. Picking up your car the next day is much better than having it impounded the night before.

3. Never compromise. Set a rule for when you should or shouldn’t get behind the wheel and never break it. When you are approaching that threshold, give your keys away or go ahead and make plans for a ride alternative. You’ll be glad you did.

September Charity of the Month – The Brandon Goyne Foundation

by Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers | September 2nd, 2016
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Brandon Goyne, a baseball player at LSU Alexandria, passed away from ARVD – Arhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia in January of 2013. This is a condition where his heart developed scar tissue instead of strengthening muscle. His condition went undetected by regular mandated physicals, and he had no symptoms prior to succumbing to his heart defect after collapsing on the baseball field. Brandon’s family is now seeking for EKG/ECG testing to be required in physicals by all school districts and colleges. Had this been the case for Brandon, his condition would have been brought to light far before it was too late.

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Last spring I was afforded the opportunity to volunteer for the Brandon Goyne Foundation.I was not fortunate enough to know Brandon Goyne personally while he was here with us, but in the short time I have spent with the foundation, his family, and friends I am nothing short of impressed by the young man that he was.  As a former student athlete, I am a huge fan of the cause they champion. Like many other kids where I grew up, I began my ‘sports career’ at the young age of four dabbling in the arts of dance and adventuring in the outfields of t-ball. My t-ball days were short lived, but dance was a large part of my life for the next ten years. At eleven, I picked up basketball with my hometown’s recreational sport’s program. My love for sports quickly escalated from that time forward. From middle school to high school I played volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis, and track. My junior and senior years my parents and coaches were gracious enough to let me pursue all five of these sports. I went through each required physical and continued pursuing my passion for sports. Brandon has 7 physicals in the 9 years before he passed – 3 before college, 4 during college.

It wasn’t until my senior year that I had my first EKG, and it wasn’t during one of my regular mandated physcials. At 17 years old I collapsed in practice. I quickly regained consciousness and found my coaches surrounding me with looks of alarm on their faces. It was not until thirteen years into my athletic career and after having collapsed, that anyone even considered that my seemingly healthy athlete’s body might not be that healthy after all. Luckily, after consults and testing, doctor’s determined I did in fact have a healthy heart. Tragically, this is not the case for every athlete though. How many stories do we see in the news of student athletes collapsing in practice or during games? I can even recall stories of professional athletes that have succumbed to undetected heart abnormalities or defects. I think often the question is “Why test a healthy athlete?” rather than saying “Let’s do all we can to make sure this athlete is healthy.” The Brandon Goyne Foundation works to make that difference to make sure all athletes’ heart health is made a priority.

This month, Daniel Stark is helping to gain awareness for the Brandon Goyne Foundation. As the school year starts, so do many different sports. We must get the word out about the importance of requiring EKG/ECG testing during physicals so that we know we are asking and answering the right question – is this athlete’s heart health?

Daniel Stark will be donating to the Brandon Goyne Foundation for our Charity of the Month in September. Like our Page and we will donate $1 for each new like during the month of September. For more information on the Brandon Goyne Foundation, please visit there website here: http://www.thebrandongoynefoundation.com

-Madison Odom

From Smokehouses to Settlements

by Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers | August 30th, 2016
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There’s just something about summertime and Texas barbecue. As much as I love being an attorney, I also love reviewing (read:eating) some of the best barbecue that the Lone Star State has to offer. In my spare time, I head a blog that’s solely dedicated to Texas barbecue, and so far, I’ve reviewed a total of fourteen establishments. I, and a couple other Daniel Stark colleagues, take the tasting process very seriously. We have a set list of criteria that we use to evaluate the barbecue, so every plate goes through the same process. Three cuts of meat are evaluated: moist brisket, pork ribs, and the house sausage.

At Daniel Stark, we truly believe in our core values of work hard, play hard. Members of the team have gone to lunch together several times, talking about cases in between bites of brisket. The best part about the blog is not just getting to try great good, but finding truly unique gems. Some of the best barbecue that I’ve had had been from La Barbecue in Austin. While I generally avoid sauces because I find they take away from the flavor of the meat, Le Barbecue had one that was reminiscent of a mango habanero sauce, and it was absolutely delicious.

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Lew’s BBQ – a food truck in Bryan – also serves great barbecue and typical sides (potato salad and baked beans), but the smoked pineapple is what’s truly amazing. Discovering little elements that set a business apart from its competitors is a real treat, and being able to share these finds with my friends and colleagues brings us closer as a team.

I can appreciate the dedication that comes from barbecuing – the sheer amount of time that meat needs smoke and requires constant surveillance is impressive. Just like a pit master understands the necessary obligations to smoke great meat, I dedicate as much time as possible to bringing forth the best results for my clients.

– Jerrell Wise

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Oil Rig Injury Victims Can Benefit From Legal Help

by Cary Graham | August 30th, 2016
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There’s no denying that the booming oil industry has brought thousands of jobs to Texas workers over the years. Now with an increased interest in hydraulic fracking, even more Texans are making a good living off the land, and they earn every penny they make. Oil work is hard and dangerous, demanding a strong back and a stronger resolve. Every year, thousands of people are injured on rigs at sea and on land, compromising their ability to provide for their families.

Oil companies make billions every year from the skilled work their employees provide. The least they can do is stand behind those hardworking folks when an on-the-job accident takes them out of the game. Unfortunately, sometimes a worker’s contributions to the company are forgotten when it comes to compensating them for their injuries. If that’s happened to you, it’s important that you call an experienced attorney who knows your rights as an oil worker and will fight to get you the money you deserve.

At Daniel Stark, we’ve helped drillers, haulers, machine operators, oil pumpers, and more after an oil field accident. Each one knew right from their initial free consultation that they had rights and that we were going to do our best to protect them. If you’ve been injured in an oil field accident, don’t assume you’ll automatically get the compensation you deserve. Call an experienced lawyer instead. You’ll be glad you did.

5 Pedestrian Safety Tips for Children

by Cary Graham | August 23rd, 2016
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Summer is nearly gone, making way for a beautiful Texas fall. As we transition into a new school year, it’s important that parents remind their children about pedestrian safety, especially if they walk to and from school every day. Here are 5 safety tips to ensure your children make it there safely every day.

  1. Always use crosswalks. Crossing the street can be dangerous for anyone, regardless of age. That’s why your children should never cross the road except at crosswalks, and even then, they should look both ways first.
  2. Be alert. Just because they have the right away doesn’t mean that drivers will adhere to pedestrian laws. Make sure your children never assume the intentions of drivers.
  3. Wear reflective clothing. Your children may fight you on this one, but make sure they wear something that is reflective and avoid dark clothing, especially if they are walking at dawn or dusk.
  4. Travel in groups. There really is safety in numbers. Whenever possible, your children should walk with groups. They can look out for one another to ensure they all arrive safely.
  5. Have a backup plan. Sometimes walking to or from school simply isn’t an option. Make sure your children have someone they can call for a ride in case conditions aren’t favorable for walking.

At Daniel Stark, we’ve seen the devastation a pedestrian accident can have on a family and a community. Protect your children by having a conversation about safety today.