The Baez Law Firm | San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys

The Baez Law Firm | San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys
San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys

Friday, February 29, 2008

The newest member of our law firm

The Baez Law Firm, P.C. welcomes its newest member Richard G. Fowler to the firm. Mr. Fowler comes to us from Miami, Florida where he was a litigator. He is licensed in all Florida and Texas's courts, which will increase the ability of the firm to represent clients throughout the nation.

Richard Fowler is married and has one child. Richard was picked from a catalog by the firm and by his wife (story soon to follow). Mr. Fowler is a devoted father and a counselor at law. We are proud to bring him on board as a valuable asset to the firm. Our clients will surely benefit from his expertise and charisma.

By adding Mr. Fowler to the firm, we will be able to provide for our client needs even more. The Baez Law Firm, P.C. is truly a general practice law firm, with specialties on personal injury, business law, criminal law, consumer law, and family law.

Mr. Fowler is another reason why we say that: "we care about your legal needs." If you have been injured, please contact us at (210) 979-9777 or visit our websites http://www.thebaezlawfirm.com or http://www.sanantoniopersonalinjurytriallawyers.com for a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Roof Crush Injury

Roof crush injury risks are higher in vehicles with a greater propensity to roll over. Because they are taller and narrower, SUVs, or sports utility vehicles, are three times more likely to roll over in an accident than are other passenger cars. In 1973, the government passed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216, creating a standard roof strength test to measure the integrity of roof structure in motor vehicles. This test was to apply to motor vehicles weighing six thousand pounds or less. Many SUVs weigh more than this, and are therefore exempt from compulsory safety standards that may be crucial to preventing roof crush injury. In light of SUV roof crush injury risks, consumer advocacy groups have urged the federal government to modify standards so that they include any vehicle weighing ten thousand pounds or less.

Roof pillars appear strong to the average consumer, but most of them consist of just sheet metal that is hollow on the inside at the cross sections. When an accident occurs involving roof structures with a filled inner space, the outcome has been shown to be safer due to a lesser amount of roof crush. Pillars filled with high-density foam can reduce the severity of a roof crush significantly, saving lives and reducing serious injuries. Overall, federal safety standards fail to provide roof strength requirements that adequately protect people from suffering roof crush injury in a rollover automobile accident. Despite federal standards, many vehicle roofs will easily crush a foot or more during a rollover accident. More stringent testing standards and minimum industry safety standards must be employed if the government hopes to adequately protect people from sustaining serious roof crush injury in automobile accidents.

The sport utility vehicle (SUV) has the highest rate of death in rollover accidents. According to government tests, SUV rollovers are almost three times more likely to occur than in the average passenger car, and the most stable SUV is still more unstable than the most unstable car. In 2002, nearly 11,000 people died in rollover accidents, 61 percent of which occurred in SUVs. With the number of people killed in SUV rollovers increasing by 14 percent per year, consumers should be aware of the risks SUVs pose to their families. Even more alarming than the rising rollover statistics is the withholding of rollover information by the government and auto manufacturers.

Though the number of SUV rollover fatalities continues to escalate, but SUVs are not being manufactured to better resist rollover crashes. Not a single SUV earned the federal agency's highest safety rating, according to an NHTSA report in the past. However, SUV consumption has increased: SUV popularity created a large increase in sales in the 1990s, and because of high consumer demand for these cars, car makers continue to manufacture SUVs. Because the vehicle has changed from simply being an off-road vehicle to a replacement for the family station wagon, manufacturers removed the roll bar that protects drivers and passengers in a rollover situation from SUVs. Many SUV rollover accidents occur because of the unusual propensity the large car has to roll over when steered hard in foreseeable accident avoidance maneuvers. Also, the size and height of an SUV may increase the danger of rollovers. SUV defects, like weak roofs and safety restraint system failures, are some of the heightened risks involved in an SUV rollover situation.

Roof crush injury is most often the result of rollover automobile accidents. Roof crush injuries kill 10,000 people every year. Vehicle design is supposed to depend on a structural support system that creates a "survival space" that protects car occupants in a crash from injury due to roof crush. When a vehicle does not have the proper roof pillar strength, it will cause the roof to cave into the passenger compartment during an accident. A weak roof makes a vehicle defective, and roof crushes can cause serious and fatal injuries, including disabling brain and spinal injuries.

Safe roof structure designs have been documented from as early as the 1930s. Vehicles with the safety features mentioned above would reduce the number of roof crush accidents. Despite the availability of safer designs and structures, manufacturers claim it is the force of the impact that leads to injuries and death, notwithstanding the fact that the relationship between rollover crashes and injuries from roof crush was observed and noted as early as 1932. Safe roofs are equipped with strong roof pillars and full-length closed sections, windshield headers and side sections, internal baffle plates, strong tubular cross-members, and reinforcing gussets at the connections. Some use rigid foam within the tubular cross-members to help strengthen the structure. These different safety precautions can significantly minimize the fatal results of roof crush.

Though rollover accidents are regarded as highly survivable events, the integrity of a vehicle's roof structure during impact is crucial. Windshield reinforcement is a critical component of vehicle design: when a windshield is destroyed in the course of an accident, the strength of the roof is instantly reduced by 33 percent. As a result, roof crush injuries are often extremely serious. Common roof crush injuries include neck fractures and other spinal injuries. Sometimes a brain injury may result from the roof crushing in on the vehicle occupant. These head and neck injuries can also cause paraplegia, quadriplegia, or other life-altering conditions.

If you have suffered injury due to a roof crush car crash, you may be eligible for monetary compensation due to faulty automobile design. The Baez Law Firm, P.C. is here to help. Contact us at (210) 979-9777 or visit our websites: http://www.thebaezlawfirm.com or http://www.sanantoniopersonalinjurytriallawyers.com for a free confidential consultation with an experienced attorney. We care about your legal needs!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Strong Religious Beliefs and Jurors

A guide for trial lawyers advises them to be wary of Americans with "extreme attitudes about personal responsibility" when selecting jurors in personal injury lawsuits. The author of the guide says such jurors typically "espouse traditional family values" and often "have strong religious beliefs."David Wenner is a trial lawyer and nationally recognized expert in identifying alleged biases in potential jurors. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) named the former psychotherapist co-chairman of its "Blue Ribbon Committee on Juror Bias" and included a chapter on the topic written by him in ATLA's Litigating Tort Cases , the industry's guide to winning product liability, medical malpractice and other personal injury lawsuits.

In his writing, Wenner accuses those who support tort reform of "stealing" the message of personal responsibility from plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. Because of the existence of a "personal responsibility bias" among many jurors, he suggests, "reframing personal responsibility as the plaintiff's message." But some jurors, Wenner believes, are more difficult to convince than others."It is helpful to divide the jurors into two groups: the personal responsibility group and compassion-altruistic group," Wenner wrote. "Jurors who are extreme on the personal responsibility bias, or who have a high need for personal responsibility, will strongly favor the defendant. In contrast, jurors who are extreme on the compassionate-altruistic bias, or who have a high need for compassion, will strongly favor the plaintiff."Based on his research, jurors who believe in moral absolutes tend to have what Wenner called a "personal responsibility bias."The personal responsibility juror tends to see the world with bright line rules on how people should act," Wenner wrote. "People should be self-reliant, responsible, and self-disciplined. When people act irresponsibly and are not self-disciplined, there are consequences. People must be accountable for their conduct."Such jurors, Wenner believes, are likely to question whether the plaintiff could have done something to avoid the injury they suffered."The motto of these jurors is that if a person is committed to personal responsibility, then he or she must first accept blame before blaming others. That means playing the blame game is unacceptable if the plaintiff was in the best position to avoid the injury," Wenner wrote. "If the plaintiff has not been completely responsible, do not expect the personal responsibility jurors to find for the plaintiff, even though the plaintiff may have been only partially at fault."Potential jurors "who hold extreme attitudes about personal responsibility," Wenner found, also tend to share a common belief system."The personal responsibility jurors tend to espouse traditional family values," Wenner continued. "Personal responsibility jurors often believe that when someone harms you,the best response is to turn the other cheek.

A lawsuit is viewed as revenge and unproductive ... often, these jurors have strong religious beliefs."If such a "bias" appears insurmountable, Wenner suggests that the plaintiff's attorney take decisive action before it's too late. "The only solution is to identify these jurors during voir dire and exclude them from the jury," Wenner concluded. Voir dire is an archaic French term for questioning potential jurors.Rob Boston, spokesman for the liberal advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State is troubled by Wenner's inclusion of religion in his profile of "personal responsibility jurors.""Certainly a good lawyer will try to ferret out any evidence of prejudice, whether it's religious prejudice or racial prejudice, prejudice against women, whatever, that's legitimate," Boston said. "But, for a lawyer to simply assume that certain religious beliefs will dictate certain behaviors is naive and I think it does a disservice to our legal system."

Boston believes many potential jurors would react negatively if they were aware that their religious beliefs were being evaluated as factors in determining their fitness to decide a case."Although I know jury duty isn't the most favorite pastime of the American people," Boston explained, "I think a lot of folks would be pretty angry if they felt that they were being summarily excluded because of what they believe or don't believe about God."Todd Young serves as policy director for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest law firm. He called the prospect of even considering potential jurors' religious views "incredibly dangerous."There used to be, many years ago and to the great shame of this nation, the exclusion of minorities and women from juries. That has since been found unconstitutional and rightly so," Young recalled. "It's beyond bold that the trial lawyers' association or people speaking on their behalf would suggest [eliminating] people of faith from juries."That is akin to saying, 'there's a black person, strike them [from the jury pool] because they're black,' or 'there's a woman, strike her because she's a woman,'" Young said. "[Will they say,] 'There's a Christian,' or 'there's a Jew' or 'there's a Muslim,' strike them because they're Christian or Jewish or Muslim? It's incredibly dangerous."

In an interview with CNSNews.com , Wenner insisted that discriminating against people of faith has never been his intention."That's exactly the opposite of what I was suggesting. In fact, my mother would be really upset that she spent all that money on bar mitzvah lessons for me if that's what I had meant," Wenner said, laughing.The goal of identifying potential juror "bias" based on religious beliefs, Wenner said, is to insure that people of faith avoid what he believes in an unfair crisis of conscience when their religious teaching contradicts secular law."You are now asking that person to make a choice between their religious beliefs and the laws that exist in your specific state," Wenner explained. "Why should they have to be put in that position?"The psychotherapist-turned-trial lawyer said if such a conflict becomes apparent while interviewing potential jurors, he acknowledges it."I say, 'you know, Mr. So-and-so' or 'Ms. So-and-so, that's perfectly okay to have that belief.

You have every right to believe that and to think that and, from your standpoint, it may be the right way to believe. That's okay,'" Wenner said. "I say, 'but, because of how you feel, Ms. So-and-so, don't you think it would be better for you, and for this plaintiff who has a right to bring this case, for you to sit on ... a different type of case where it doesn't ask you to choose between what the civil justice system says is allowed and your religious beliefs?'"His job during the pre-trial process, Wenner explained, is "to pick a jury that is going to start the case and give each side a fair hearing on the evidence without too many prejudgments influencing the decision-making process."That does not mean, Wenner stressed, that plaintiffs' attorneys should have any less respect for potential jurors with deeply held religious beliefs."Lawyers shouldn't vilify jurors or be suspicious of them because of their beliefs," Wenner said. "On the contrary, I teach [attorneys] to accept [jurors] where they are and to use those [beliefs] to help [jurors] understand the world they live in, so [attorneys] can better communicate with [jurors] rather than trying to change them."Mario Mandina is chief executive officer of the National Lawyers Association (NLA), which bills itself as "a national bar association, organized to improve the image of the legal profession, to advance legal institutions and respect for the law, and to educate the public on such matters." The group has become a refuge for conservative attorneys displeased with the liberal positions often taken by ATLA and the American Bar Association (ABA).

While Mandina understands that people of faith might be offended by Wenner's advice, he said the principles are not as controversial as many might believe."If you're going to put out a book to tell lawyers to pick good juries to get you money for your clients, you've got to tell them the truth," Mandina allowed. "Unless it was derogatory, I couldn't fault somebody. If you're going to do that, you'd better do it right, or you'll get sued. You couldn't ignore the obvious."Mandina explained that the primary duty of a lawyer is to represent his or her client "within the bounds of the rules of ethics."As an officer of the court, he or she is empowered or expected to notify the court of any violations of the code of ethics and not to present perjured testimony," Mandina said. "If it crosses that, you've got a duty [to report it]. But say it doesn't cross it? Say it just gives you a choice between an extremely liberal panel or an extremely conservative panel? No lawyer worth his salt would ignore those factors."But the duty to one's client would be no excuse, Mandina said, for attorneys to make sweeping generalizations about people of faith serving on juries. Mandina is concerned that some trial lawyers are moving in that direction."They may start asking questions like, 'Do you believe in the Ten Commandments?'

Someday, the way this country's going and, if you raise your hand, you would be automatically excluded," Mandina speculated. "If you can't set aside, for example, your personal views of Christianity - which no true Christian could do - then you'll be excluded from the panel. Those days are coming if things don't change in this country."Wenner agreed that jurors should not be excluded merely for their religion. But he still contends that there are some potential jurors who will not or cannot work within the system."There are a lot of people out there who have very, very, very strong feelings about the jury system today, who can't be fair because of their beliefs," Wenner claimed. "That presents a problem for the trial lawyer."The attorney's goal, Wenner contended, should not be to stack a jury in favor of his or her client, but to strive for an objective hearing for their side of the case."I'm not asking for a biased jury and I'm not teaching people how to get a biased jury. I would not want to see other people teaching [attorneys] how to manipulate a jury," Wenner said. "All I'm asking for is a fair jury."

If you have been injured in an accident contact the baez law firm: http://www.thebaezlawfirm.com or http://www.sanantoniopersonalinjurytriallawyers.com we offer free initial consultation. We care about your legal needs!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Auto Accident in Texas?

Car accidents occur each day on roads in Texas, in every county, city and town. While many auto accidents are simple "fender benders," others result in substantial property damage and serious injury. Many injured victims of car accidents are overwhelmed by the avalanche of telephone calls, insurance forms, accident reports, medical bills and general correspondence that is received immediately after an auto accident. Further, those that have been injured in an accident may not be in the proper frame of mind to deal with inquiries from insurance companies, whether written, recorded or verbal. ...Car accidents or accident victims in general should appreciate that, while they are still receiving initial medical treatment, the parties at fault have already notified their insurance company of the accident.

Every insurance company has a team of adjusters, investigators and attorneys whose primary responsibility is to limit the liability of the insurance company and minimize the amount of money to be paid to injured parties.In Texas, auto accident victims who have suffered personal injury may be entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, permanent disfigurement, dismemberment, wrongful death, and other types of general damage. Texas also allows for recovery of "special" damages, such as past, present and future medical bills, wage loss, loss of earnings potential and other out-of-pocket expenses.Sometimes in Texas certain "no-fault" benefits can be paid following a traffic accident. This type of benefit may serve to pay a portion of lost wages and medical bills.

The Báez Law Firm, P.C. can help "level the playing field" by providing auto accident victims with information regarding the practical and legal aspects of personal injury law and auto accident claims. For a review of your claim, please click the "contact us" button and completely fill out the form provided.

Please contact us at (210) 979-9777 or visit our websites at http://www.thebaezlawfirm.com http://www.sanantoniopersonalinjurytriallawyers.com for a free consultation. We care about your legal needs!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Anatomy of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are serious and it may not be obvious that someone has a spinal cord injury. The treatment given to a person immediately after he of she has suffered one of these injuries is critical to limiting the amounting of harm done and preventing secondary injuries from occurring.

The spinal cord is surrounded by bone called the vertebrae that protects the fragile cord from injury. The spinal cord and vertebra make up the spinal column. The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system and delivers signals between the brain and the rest of the body. The cord is made up of many types of nerve fibers and cells. The spinal column is divided into five distinct segments from top to bottom:
Cervical vertebrae (neck) -- controls back of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, diaphragm
Thoracic vertebrae (upper back) -- controls chest muscles, some back muscles, parts of the abdomen
Lumbar vertebrae (middle back) -- controls lower abdomen, lower back, buttocks, some parts of the legs, some parts of the external genital organs
Sacral vertebrae (hips) -- controls thighs, lower parts of legs, feet, most of the external genital organs, area around the anus
Coccygeal vertebrae (tailbone) -- controls sensation from the skin on the lower back.

The level of injury refers to the segment damaged by the injury, below which function has been lost, either completely or partially — meaning that the ability of the brain to send and receive messages down the spinal cord has been impaired or severed altogether. The higher up the level of injury on the spinal column, the more function lost. For example, a person in a car accident who suffers a C5 injury will have lost more function than a person in a similar accident with a L4 injury.

While a spinal cord injury can occur from an illness or disease (like a tumor), the most common cause is a traumatic injury that dislocates or fractures the vertebra protecting the spinal cord. This contact can cause hemorrhage and swelling of the spinal cord, tearing of the cord or disruption of the spinal nerves. The spinal cord is rarely severed completely.

Immediately after a suspected spinal cord injury, it is vitally important to take action to stabilize the spine and prevent or minimize secondary injuries. Secondary injuries are those that occur after the initial trauma and can exacerbate the damage to the spinal cord.
Thus, immediate treatment of a spinal cord injury includes:
Determining if there are any structural problems with the spine that need to be surgically repaired
Determining if there is compression on the spine that needs to be surgically relieved
Minimizing the damage to the nerve cells with the use of steroids (methylprednisolone)
Stabilizing and reducing the vertebrae
Immobilizing the patient.

If the person suffered a high spinal cord injury in the cervical vertebrae, he or she may be unable to breathe without the help of a ventilator. If you come into contact with a person you suspect has suffered a spinal cord injury, call an ambulance and do not attempt to move him or her, or you could make the injury worse.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, please contact us (210) 979-9777 or visit our websites http://www.sanantoniopersonalinjurytriallawyers.com or visit http://www.thebaezlawfirm.com because we care about your legal needs!

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San Antonio, Texas, United States
Find Personal Injury Trial Lawyers that will treat you with dignity and respect. The Baez Law Firm, P.C. is dedicated to help those less fortunate. Our San Antonio Lawyers also handle family law, criminal defense, business law, immigration, social security disability, patent law, trade marks and much more. We are professionals that care about your legal needs. Our motto is simple: “Minimizing Legal Worries!”℠ Visit us at http://www.thebaezlawfirm.com or call us (210) 979-9777. Have a blessed day!

Welcome to The Báez Law Firm, P.C.

1100 NW Loop 410, Suite 500
San Antonio, Texas 78213
Tel. (210) 979-9777
Fax. (210) 979-9774
http://www.thebaezlawfirm.com/

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