Gun Control Laws in Texas

Texas has the most permissive gun control laws in the US. Certain gun types are still illegal such as explosive and automatic weapons, but when purchasing legal firearms there is no “cooling off “period. This means that you can buy a gun off the shelf and take it home with you. You do need a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) to carry a handgun outside your private property, but not a license to possess. There is even a movement to allow open carry of guns (Open Carry Texas) in public places which has recently stirred some fierce debating between gun control and right to bear arms advocates.

However, there are still restrictions in place dictating when and where guns may be carried legally which are not preempted by the possession of a CHL or by obtaining the permission of the property owner to carry a weapon. As discussed on the website of Ian Inglis Attorney at Law, failing to follow regulations embodied in the Texas Penal Code (§46.03 and §46.035) constitutes an unlawful weapons violation. Carrying a firearm is prohibited if the licensee is:

  • Intoxicated
  • At any event in any educational institution except in sporting events requiring the use of a handgun
  • At any racetrack
  • Inside any building or passenger vehicle owned by a public or private educational institution
  • In any establishment which derives 51% or more of its income from serving alcoholic beverages if a ban on firearms is posted conspicuously on the premises
  • In any secured area in any airport unless the firearm is legal, properly packaged, and subsequently checked in as baggage subject to regulations imposed by the airline and Transportation Security Administration
  • Within 1,000 feet of a correctional facility where an execution is scheduled for that time provided notice of the event is posted in a conspicuous manner
  • In any court or court-related office unless exempted by written regulations or authorization of the court
  • In any designated polling place on the day of an election

Firearms are also prohibited from the following areas provided oral or written notice is given in accordance with Texas Penal Code §30.06:

  • Amusement parks
  • Places of religious worship
  • Hospitals or nursing homes
  • Any meeting of any governmental body

If you have been charged with an unlawful weapons violation, you could be facing significant consequences. Contact a gun crime lawyer in the area to protect your rights and mount your defense.

Insurance Bad Faith in Texas

It is a sad fact that insurance companies will often go to the legal limit to delay or deny claims, but this is perhaps understandable; they are in the business of making money, not helping people. It is absurd when an insured is grateful for receiving payouts for a valid claim within a reasonable period; it is their right after all. But, that’s human nature, and when insurance companies deal fairly with their policyholders, they should be allowed to make profit from other people’s good fortune.

But when an insurance company acts in bad faith by delaying the processing or outright denying a legitimate claim, they are violating all manner of laws. In Texas, the state’s Insurance Code Title 5 deals with Deceptive, Unfair, and Prohibited Practices, and Chapter 542 in particular deals with Unfair Claim Settlement Practices. Dallas insurance bad faith lawyers will be particularly familiar with subchapter A, referred to as Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act, which states that an insurer is in violation of the Code under the following conditions (§542.003):

(1) knowingly misrepresenting to a claimant pertinent facts or policy provisions relating to coverage at issue;

(2) failing to acknowledge with reasonable promptness pertinent communications relating to a claim arising under the insurer’s policy;

(3) failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of claims arising under the insurer’s policies;

(4) not attempting in good faith to effect a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim submitted in which liability has become reasonably clear;

(5) compelling a policyholder to institute a suit to recover an amount due under a policy by offering substantially less than the amount ultimately recovered in a suit brought by the policyholder;

(6) failing to maintain the information required by Section 542.005; or

(7) committing another act the commissioner determines by rule constitutes an unfair claim settlement practice.”

If you have made a claim with an insurance company in Texas and experienced any of the above violations, you may have to file a lawsuit to get what you were entitled to in the first place. Consult with a knowledgeable insurance bad faith attorney in your area to get started.

Medical Records and Reports in Medical Malpractice

One of the first things that any medical malpractice lawyer will ask prior to filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is the medical records of the patient in question. Most personal injury lawyers take on only cases that has a good chance of being won because they work on a contingent fee basis, and in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the records are the key element to prove negligence. State laws on the confidentiality of medical records and relevant reports differ, but they are generally discoverable. In Kentucky, for instance, a recent state Supreme Court ruling established when certain medical documents are considered confidential under federal law i.e. Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Specifically, the defendant hospital claimed that they could not release the post-operative incident report concerning the fatal surgery that claimed the life of the patient because it was prohibited by federal law. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the report in question was part of the hospital’s regular reporting and discoverable under state law, and that the federal law was not intended to intervene in the state regulation of healthcare facilities. In Massachusetts, the medical record rights of the patient under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule and state law include the right to:

  • See and obtain a copy of your own medical records
  • Amend medical records to correct inaccuracies
  • File a complaint for violation of these rights

When a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawyer asks a potential client to obtain their medical records, the healthcare provider may not refuse, and generally should comply within 30 days, although delays are common. The client also has the right not to disclose the reason for the request to obtain a copy of the medical records because this is an absolute right. If you are planning to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for yourself or an immediate family, make a preemptive strike by obtaining the relevant medical records immediately. This will save a lot of time and effort for both you and your medical malpractice lawyer.

Liability for Falling Power Lines

It is inconceivable for most Americans to live without electrical power on demand. Some make do with generators or have adopted an Amish-like lifestyle that has nothing to do with electrical appliances, but in most cases having no electricity in the home is a big problem.

Most people are aware but spare little thought for the fact that electricity is piped to the home by way of electrical power lines that are stretched overhead. That is, until something happens that brings it to our attention—such as falling power lines. This can happen during a storm, when a branch or tree falls, or when sagging lines snag a passing truck. When this happens, not only will whole neighborhoods lose power, but it has the potential to create an electrical fire or to electrocute people in the vicinity. When this happens, it is highly possible that the utility company will be liable for any property damage or personal injury.

Electric utility companies are considered public service companies even if they are privately owned, and most states have adopted the guidelines set under the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). While strict liability does not apply for any injuries or damage done by falling power lines, the NESC does set strict standards for electrical utility companies to avoid foreseeable danger to the public. When these standards are breached, they can be held liable.

The NESC has been adopted in some form by all US states with the exception of California, so a Houston Lawyer, Ali Mokaram, will have recourse to 5 or so state laws governing liability for falling electrical lines rather than the NESC. An Oceanside personal injury lawyer, on the other hand, may refer to the NESC guidelines when it comes to mishaps concerning a negligently-maintained or constructed electrical power line. The same would be the case for a Louisville personal injury lawyer who will refer to the Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 278.042.

If you have suffered serious personal injury from unintentional contact with falling power lines because of some negligence on the part of the electrical power company, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer in your state for a more thorough discussion of your legal options.

The Benefits of a Court Reporter in Divorce Cases

Divorce can be simple, or it can be highly complex to the nth degree. It depends on the issues that may come up. In complex divorce cases, it may be important to have depositions made of the parties involved or other witnesses that will help in pre-trial discovery.

Depositions are out-of-court sworn statements that are recorded and transcribed for later use at trial. Prior to taking a deposition, the deponent is asked to swear to the accuracy of the statements that will be made in answer to the deposer’s questions, much like taking an oath while in court. In a divorce case in Texas, for example, while the deposition may take place in the lawyer’s office, a Houston court reporter will be the one to administer the oath, record the deposition, and transcribe it.

If you are in Iowa but your witness is in Texas, the office of your Cedar Rapids divorce lawyer may be too far for the witness to go to. In such cases, video conferencing can be used as long as a court reporter is present during the entire process.

A court reporter is necessary for taking depositions to validate the accuracy and objectiveness of the transcript, because this is may be a crucial element in a civil or criminal court proceeding. It can be used to rebut a witness’s testimony, or take the place of a terminally-ill, since-deceased, or otherwise unavailable witness. It is also a valuable tool for refreshing the memory of a witness who suddenly forgets what happened.

The benefits of a court reporter in divorce cases are to obtain and produce deposition transcripts that can help clear up some murky issues. This may help speed up the process because depositions can be very convincing. For example, if the issue of child custody hinges on whether or not alleged domestic violence by one parent can be proven, depositions by witnesses such as neighbors, domestic workers, or family members are invaluable, especially if they all indicate the same state of matters. Other issues where depositions can be crucial involve the financial aspect of a marriage such as facts about income, bank accounts, and property.

If you anticipate a difficult divorce, you may have need of a court reporter’s services. Your divorce lawyer most likely has contacts with a reputable court reporting service provider to handle depositions for you.