Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Texas Bar Lawyer Profile on Stephen Daniel

For lawyer profiles, the Texas Bar Association randomly picks one of 80,000-plus attorneys, contacts them, and does a Q&A. Click here for the one of Stephen Daniel.

Click here for the profile of Stephen Daniel

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Major Change To Driver's Ed in Texas

The Texas Legislature just passed a law that could revolutionize driver's education in Texas, possibly forcing some driving schools out of business and giving parents of teen drivers a powerful consumer tool. The new law could be as significant for driver's ed courses as No Child Left Behind was for public education.

The law passed as part of the Less Tears More Years Act —a collection of new laws to tighten up restrictions on teen drivers and increase their safety.

The specific provision requires the Department of Public Safety to collect statistics on how many new drivers get into car crashes during the first year after they finish a driver's education course. The collision statistics also will be published, so parents presumably will be able to compare individual driving programs and enroll their children in the ones with lowest collision rates.

DPS spokesmen were careful to say they are not sure how the law will be enforced. One spokesman suggested that the law might only compare methods of driver's education: programs taught in public schools, versus private courses, versus parent-taught methods.

That might be useful, but a compelling study has already revealed that teens taught to drive by their parents are 2.7 times more likely to get into a fatal accidentthan those who take formal driver's ed courses. The 2007 study focused on Texas and was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The way I read the new law, a parent could look online and compare the collision rate for graduates of specific driving schools — both private institutes and programs in public high schools — and choose ones with low collision rates for new graduates.

The law's author, state Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, also said that was the intent, though he considered the primary beneficiary to be the Texas Education Agency, which is charged with monitoring driving schools.

Driving schools, naturally, are wary of this law and had many questions about how it would work.

“I don't see any reason it should be a bad thing if it's reported correctly, because that would ensure competition,” said Phillip Oller, manager of the Pearland Driving School, which has three locations and has been around since 1979.

“If it's not reported fairly, it could be bad,” said Oller. What would be unfair use of the crash statistics? According to Oller, any report that excluded parent-taught teens. Texas allows parents to teach their teens to drive using pre-approved curricula, and driving schools don't like that option because it represents competition to their business.

There are so many factors that influence whether a new teenage driver gets into a crash, Oller said. Teens in urban areas might get into more crashes than rural teens, simply because they drive in denser traffic. It might be unfair to put all the onus on the driving school, which the public ratings would do.

“It also has to do with how much practice they get outside of us,” Oller said. “Some of these parents have really nice cars and they don't want their teens driving them. There are a lot of things going into it. I don't know how these statistics are going to take into account the whole picture.”

There is more than enough time to work out the details, since DPS has until 2011 to publish the first report.

Meanwhile, some significant driving laws went into effect Sept. 1. Here's a sampling:

• • Everyone in a vehicle must now wear a seat belt. Before it was only children or adults in the front seat. Children under 8 must be in a child-safety seat unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

• • Motorcyclists no longer may carry kids under 5 as passengers, except in a sidecar.

• • Drivers under age 18 may not use cell phones or wireless devices while driving.

• • All drivers are prohibited from using wireless devices in posted school zones, unless the devices are hands-free.

• • Teens under 18 must now take a road test with DPS before being issued a license.

• • For one year after licensure (extended from six months), teen drivers are not permitted to drive from midnight to 5 a.m., and may not have more than one passenger under age 21.

• • Truck drivers who smuggle “an alien” in their trucks could lose their commercial driver's licenses permanently, instead of just for one year.

I thought this was interesting. Click here for original article.

Contact Stephen "Bulldog" Daniel

Does My Child Have to Be in A Safety Seat? Cell Phone in School Zone? What is the Law? And other changes to the law effective September 1, 2009.


SB 61 amends the existing statute regarding child passenger safety seats. The bill requires that any child younger than 8 years of age be restrained in an approved child passenger safety seat unless the child is taller than 4 feet, 9 inches in height. The fine is no more than $25 for a first offense and $250 for a second offense. The law also creates a new court cost for conviction of an offense under this section to be collected and used by TxDOT to buy safety seats for low income families. The law becomes effective on Sept. 1, 2009, but tickets for this offense cannot be issued until June 1, 2010. Police officers are allowed to issue a warning before that date.

HB 537 requires all occupants of a vehicle, no matter their age, to be secured by a safety belt, no matter where they are seated in the vehicle; changes the definition of a passenger vehicle to include a passenger van designed to transport 15 or fewer passengers including the driver; removes the current exemption for third-party Medicaid transportation provisions regarding the use of child passenger safety seats; and prohibits a motorcycle operator from carrying a passenger under the age of 5 unless the child is seated in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.


HB 55 makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone unless the vehicle is stopped or a hands-free device is used. Cities or counties wanting to enforce this law must post a sign at the beginning of each school zone to inform drivers that using a wireless communications device is prohibited and the operator is subject to a fine. It is a defense to prosecution if the operator was making an emergency call.

HB 2730 increases the penalties for driving while intoxicated with a child passenger by adding an automatic driver license suspension period for first-time offenders and an increased suspension period for repeat offenders. The driver license re-instatement fee for completing an education program will rise from $50 to $100.

Closes a loophole so a person who commits an offense as a minor cannot circumvent the driver license penalty if the person turns 21 before their court date.

HB 2730 allows a new Texas resident to operate a vehicle without a Texas license for 90 days instead of the current 30. (This provision went into effect on June 19, 2009.)

HB 2012 creates two new punishment enhancements: a Class B misdemeanor if a person drives with a suspended license and without insurance; and a class A misdemeanor if the person driving without insurance or a valid driver license has an accident and someone is seriously injured or dies as a result of that accident.

SB 129 authorizes neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) to be operated on roads with a posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less. The bill authorizes driver license holders to operate NEVs without having a motorcycle endorsement, clarifies that drivers and passengers in such vehicles are not required to wear helmets and specifies that enclosed three-wheeled vehicles as described in the bill are authorized to operate in preferential lanes.

Concealed handgun:

HB 2730 amends numerous provisions regarding concealed handgun licenses (CHLs), including eliminating student loan defaults as a disqualifier, to clarify that DPS must suspend or revoke a license when the licensee becomes ineligible and mandating that a magistrate suspend a CHL held by the subject of an emergency protective order.
HB 2664 provides a defense to prosecution if a concealed handgun license holder carries a concealed handgun into an establishment that gets 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages, but has failed to post the statutorily required notice that it derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages. (Under current law, a concealed handgun licensee can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for doing this.)

HB 2730 removes DPS authority to suspend a concealed handgun license (CHL) for the holder’s failure to display the CHL to a peace officer on demand. It removes associated penalties and suspensions for the failure to display.

Driver license:

HB 2730 requires that all applicants under the age of 18 take the driving skills exam to receive a driver license. The law also requires that a provisional driver license (under 18) or instruction permit expire on an individual’s 18th birthday, removes the requirement that a provisional driver license or instruction permit be renewed annually and increases the fee for those licenses from $5 to $15. It also extends the current phase-two restrictions for holders of a graduated driver license from 6 months to 1 year. These restrictions include limited night driving and limits the number of passengers.

HB 2730 and HB 339 restrict all drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.

HB 339 increases the total hours of behind-the-wheel driving instruction a teen receives from 14 to 34 after TEA develops criteria for curriculum. (Goes into effect May 1, 2010)

SB 1317 creates a six-hour driver education course required for driver license applicants 18 years of age or older. It also mandates that applicants 25 or under must submit to an approved driver education course. (Goes into effect March 1, 2010.)
For a recorded sound bite on this topic, call 512-424-2606

SB 328 gives DPS the power to suspend a minor’s driver license if they fail a breath or blood alcohol test while operating a watercraft. Chapter 524 of the Transportation Code also clearly defines the suspension period for an individual who was under the age of 21 at the time when the offense of boating under the influence or driving under the influence of alcohol occurred. The law also increases the reinstatement fee for a license suspended under sections 49.04-49.08, Penal Code from $50 to $100.

HB 2730 increases the driver license sanction from a one-year CDL license disqualification to a lifetime disqualification if a person uses a motor vehicle to transport, conceal or harbor an alien. If a child is engaged in conduct involving a severe form of trafficking persons, a judge at a juvenile hearing is required to order the juvenile’s driver license or permit to be suspended.

HB 2730 prohibits DPS from issuing a driver license or identification card to a person who has not established a domicile in Texas. The law specifies that an applicant may receive a driver license at a post office box only if the applicant’s residence address has also been provided, with some exceptions.

Contact Stephen "Bulldog" Daniel

Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Law Firm

There is perhaps no more trying time in a person's life than the immediate aftermath of a serious accident or debilitating injury. And compounding this physical and emotional strain is often the cause: somebody else's negligence.

If your situation mirrors this unfortunate scenario, consultation with a personal injury law firm could be just what you need to reclaim the life you once knew. By ensuring that justice is served, a respected personal injury attorney, with an established track record of success for his or her clientele, can alleviate your present burden by fighting for what is rightfully yours.

If you are suffering through no fault of your own, such as from a car accident caused by another driver's carelessness, or a hospital's medical malpractice, contact a law firm that specializes in obtaining fair and just compensation for their clients' unexpected and unwanted hardships. Personal injury lawyers first evaluate and then build your case. They negotiate with reluctant insurance companies to get you the best possible settlement and, if need be, take your case to trial.

At this very vulnerable moment in your life, it's important that you reach out to a personal injury law firm with a stellar reputation, extensive experience, and the resources to successfully litigate for you in this intricate area of jurisprudence. Confer with an attorney in an acclaimed firm servicing the people of Minneapolis and achieving results for your neighbors in comparable predicaments.

Essentially, a personal injury lawyer's mission is to attain maximum compensation for your pain and suffering with a minimum amount of hassles. Seasoned attorneys in this field fully appreciate that you are in no condition to wage a lengthy and tortuous legal battle. One that would merely add to your physical and emotional distress

It doesn't matter whether you've been injured by a slip or fall on the sidewalk, or been harmed by a defective microwave oven in your home, knowledgeable personal injury attorneys are trained to know what to do, and where to go, to realize the appropriate redress.

In countless instances, accidents and injuries not only leave their victims in extreme physical pain and emotionally frazzled, but also financially strapped because of income disruptions and mounting doctors' bills. Empathetic attorneys who practice personal injury law understand what you are up against in all aspects of your life. They fully grasp the enormous changes that have befallen you as the result of your accident. Personal injury attorneys want the parties responsible for your physical, emotional, and financial woes to justly pay for what they have wrought.

Untold accident victims have consulted with professionals in personal injury law and been represented by dedicated men and women who fought for the best settlements possible. If you are needlessly suffering as the result of someone else's negligent action, or inaction, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by placing a telephone call and speaking with a personal injury attorney about your unique problem. What you may just discover is that a pathway leading to better days exists. And that genuine relief from that dreadful feeling of hopelessness, which has governed your every waking hour since your accident, is also possible.

I thought this was good advice. Click here for original article.

Contact Stephen "Bulldog" Daniel

Personal Injury FAQ's

A personal injury can result from negligence, auto accident or medical malpractice. If you are a victim of personal injury then you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent individual or authority. Personal injury law provides financial compensation to help the victims of personal injury to recover from their losses.

However, if you are planning to file a personal injury lawsuit then you must familiarize yourself with various issues involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit.

1. Is there any time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit?

Yes, indeed there is a time limit within which you must file your personal injury lawsuit. In Texas, generally, it is two years for personal injuries.

If the Statute of Limitations has expired then you cannot file a lawsuit. Therefore make sure to file your lawsuit within the Statute of Limitations.

2. What sorts of damages which can be claimed under Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law provides compensation for various types of personal injuries including conscious pain, suffering and trauma. In case you have suffered some additional damages such as damage to vehicle/property, then it is covered as well.

3. How can I win my case?

If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit it is best to hire a personal injury lawyer. Most of the personal injury lawyers work on contingency basis where you are not required to pay anything before hiring a lawyer. Your lawyer will only receive a percentage of amounts from the final compensation amount if he/she wins your case.

Most of the defendant’s hire aggressive defense lawyers who work for the best interest of their clients. Therefore it is best to consult a personal injury lawyer. Your injury lawyer will help you steer clear of any complications arising out of your personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer will help you receive justice and compensation you deserve.

Contact Stephen "Bulldog" Daniel

Do you know what live video surveillance by a defense investigator and social networking (Internet) websites have ...?

If your accident case is big enough, and your claim of injury serious enough, usually there comes a time when the attorneys for the defense will hire a private investigator to have you watched, followed and videotaped.

This tends to happen towards the end of a lawsuit, after you, the hurt plaintiff, has testified at an oral deposition about how badly you've been injured and about all the things you can't do and the activities in which you can no longer participate. Maybe you're back at your job because it does not require much physical exertion, maybe you're still out of work. Defense lawyers live to make "mountains out of molehills," so they look for the
slightest indication that you're not injured - even if you can do something a single time and not more than once. There is no way to show your pain the next day or that you need a heating pad and painkillers that evening from over exerting yourself.

The bad guys are trying to paint a picture of you for the jury; as someone who is not really hurt and, maybe, is a liar or just exaggerated about his or her injuries, so that you don't deserve to be believed at trial.

An investigator can videotape you without getting out of their car. He or she tries to catch you running to cross the street or maybe running to catch a bus, or carrying bags of groceries. Maybe in a laundromat or going to the gym. The most dramatic surveillance videos that I have seen show injured accident victims engaged in sports. Playing football or tennis or even just bicycle riding.

I wish to make two points here, with a third point to follow.

First point, be truthful when testifying about your limitations. There are very few "can'ts" after an accident. Frequently, an injured person may still be able to engage in most of their pre-accident activities. But not as strong, or as long, or as vigorously. So if it's truthful, say "Yes, I can do it. But not too much or too long or too often, and it hurts like heck afterwards."

Second point. Accident victims: be aware if you go outside that you can be followed and be the subject of video surveillance. Video cameras are small and powerful and easy to conceal.

My third point follows and links back to the title of this blawg.

MySpace. FaceBook, etc. By now you've no doubt read about companies that check out
prospective employees' social networking sites over the Internet. Is the job applicant shown in photos doing something incompatible with the company's values? Is she using drugs? Or is he in a state of undress? Or making obscene gestures? Or showing a gang or prison affiliation? These occurrences are all too common these days.

Be especially careful if you're an accident victim. Be wary about posting photographs to a
website that are inconsistent with your claims of physical limitation. And if you can't engage in sports, don't show your blue ribbon for winning a swim meet or a hockey trophy, and so forth.

The best policy if you're claiming injury from an accident is to tell the truth. And be aware and on your guard in what you do.

I thought this was interesting. Article link here.

Contact Stephen "Bulldog" Daniel

The Worst Insurance Companies in Texas

The Texas Department of Insurance publishes as an annual index of complaints filed against auto insurance companies doing businesss in Texas. It lists each insurance company, shows the total number of complaints that are filed against it that year, the total number of auto insurance policies in effect, and an index to show how each company compares to the others in the number of complaints.

The index number basically gives a way to compare a company that has one auto insurance policy to another company that has 20,000. So a company with an index of 1.0 is average. A company with an index of 0.5 has half the number of complaints than the average company. A company with an index of 5.0 has five times the number of complaints as the average company.

For example, Allstate Insurance Company has an index of 2.18. So they have twice the number of complaints as the average auto insurer in Texas. Farmers Insurance Exchange has an index of 4.23, or four times the expected number of complaints. Kemper Independent Insurance Company has an index of 8.72, or eight times the expected number of complaints. Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance Company has an index of 5.54, or five times the expected number of complaints.

If you need a lawyer, contact Stephen "Bulldog" Daniel