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Understanding Contingency Fees

Most people do not anticipate being involved in a car, truck, or personal injury accident and so therefore, most people are not financially prepared to deal with the aftermath. From sky high medical expenses to missed work, the financial consequences caused by a car accident can be devastating. Fortunately, the U.S. court system allows accident victims to pursue compensation from the liable party via a legal cause of action. However, at an already financially difficult time in the average victim's life, it can be impossible for him or her to pay for an attorney. A contingency fee arrangement effectively resolves that problem.

What is a Contingency Fee?

A contingency fee arrangement is one in which a Dallas personal injury lawyer accepts a client's case without charging a retainer or hourly fee. Rather, the lawyer's fee is an agreed upon percentage of the final settlement or judgement that the lawyer wins for your case. Any expenses accrued during your case, such as the cost of an expert witness, is typically covered by the attorney from money he or she has won from another case and reimbursed via your earnings. If your lawyer is unable to obtain a settlement, you do not owe him or her anything.

Advantages of a Contingency Fee Arrangement

There are several advantages of a contingency fee arrangement, the biggest of which is that you do not need capital to hire an attorney. Though it is not necessary to hire a personal injury attorney to help with your case, it is recommended. An experienced attorney understands personal injury laws, has perfected negotiation skills, and can accurately value your claim. If you represent yourself, you risk making a crucial mistake that could cost you your case or undervaluing your case's worth. Thanks to contingency fee arrangements, there is every reason TO hire an attorney and no reason NOT to.

Another benefit of a contingency fee arrangement is that you can rest assured that your lawyer accepted your case because he or she identifies merit in it. Additionally, you can be confident that your attorney will work hard to get the best settlement possible, as his or her income relies on the outcome of your claim.

Downfalls of a Contingency Fee Arrangement

The only real pitfall of a contingency fee arrangement is that it gives an attorney incentive to settle when the going gets tough. If your case takes longer than your lawyer expected, and if he or she begins to believe that your case is not as sound as he or she initially thought, he or she may be tempted to take the next settlement the opposing party suggests just so that he or she can get paid. The amount may be way below what your case is worth, but if your attorney does not want to spend any more time on your claim, he or she may not feel any qualms about pressuring you into accepting a low-ball settlement offer.

Talk to Your Dallas Personal Injury Attorney Regarding Payment Schedule

Contingency fees are a great option for accident victims with little capital, extensive medical bills, and no income for the foreseeable future. Before you agree to a contingency fee arrangement, however, read the fine print, and ask your lawyer about what is and is not covered by the agreement. If you want to know more, reach out to Udeshi Clark and Associates to discuss your case and payment options today.

(image courtesy of Sebastian Pichler)

When Self-Defense can be Used as a Viable Defense in Texas

Self-defense is defined as the right to prevent pain, suffering, or committed violence through the use of counteracting force or violence. The definition is simple and straightforward and seems to leave little room for interpretation. However, when self-defense is used as a defense in a criminal case, the meaning gets murky. Texas, like every other state, allows criminal defendants to claim self-defense, but whether or not such a defense is viable depends on the circumstances surrounding the situation. At Udeshi Clark and Associates, our Dallas criminal defense attorneys strive to devise the best possible defense for each our clients’ cases. For this reason, we know when a self-defense defense is viable and when it is not. This post explains why we would and would not go with a self-defense argument.

When Self Defense is Justified in Texas

First and foremost, it is important to understand in what situations Texas law permits a person to counteract another person’s violent actions with violence. There are two terms Texans commonly use to describe this right: “Stand Your Ground” and the “Castle Doctrine.” While neither of these terms refer to laws set forth in Texas’s penal code, they do sum up the laws laid out in the code.

“Stand Your Ground” is a concept based on the rights outlined in Texas Penal Code §9.32(c). This law essentially tells Texans that they do not have a duty to retreat when faced with a situation in which force or deadly force is necessary to protect oneself or another. The law still applies even if by retreating the person could have avoided the confrontation entirely but chose not to. However, in order for this concept to apply, the defendant must have had a legal right to be at the location where the confrontation took place, the defendant could not have instigated the incident, and the defendant could not have been involved in any criminal activity at the time of the confrontation.

The “Castle Doctrine” allows Texans to use violence or deadly force when protecting their property. The law which this doctrine is based off of—Texas Penal Code §9.42—loosely defines property and is as equally unclear as to where a person can use force to protect his or her personal property, but it is rather specific in other regards.

Under this doctrine, a person can use deadly force to prevent robbery, burglary, aggravated robbery, theft, or arson or to recover stolen property during the nighttime at his or her “habitation.” It seems as if lawmakers purposefully avoided the words “residence,” “building,” or “home.” Under Texas Penal Code §30.01, “habitation” is defined as a “structure or vehicle adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons.” “Habitation” could refer to a home, hotel, mobile home, tent, or any other place where a person sleeps for the night.

Proving Self-Defense

An assault defendant cannot just say that he or she was defending him or herself and have the judge and jury believe it. The defendant must prove the following in order to have the charges dropped:

  • There was a threat of force or violence against him or her;
  • He or she was genuinely afraid for his or her life or well-being;/li>
  • He or she did not intend to harm the other individual and he or she did not instigate the altercation; and/li>
  • There was no chance or retreating or escaping the situation./li>

If you can prove these four things in your own case, you stand a good chance of walking away from your case a free, innocent person. The Dallas criminal defense lawyers at Udeshi Clark and Associates can help you build a valid defense and make sure that you are not punished for defending yourself. Call today to schedule your consultation.

(image courtesy of Quentin Kemmel)

Can I Get Visitation Rights as a Grandparent in Texas?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for adult children to estrange themselves from their parents. Because estrangement is a relatively silent epidemic, there are no hard and fast numbers for how many families are estranged, but the vast number of resources available to parents and grandparents alike suggest that the number is far greater than many would assume. That said, if you are estranged from your child and his or her partner, know that you are not alone. Also know that while no law in the world can bring you and your child back together, there may be something you can do about reconnecting with your grandchildren.

Grandparent Visitation Rights

Before you get your hopes up, know that Texas courts will always rule in favor of what is in the best interests of the child. Oftentimes, this means siding with the parents. However, in many instances, being barred from seeing one’s grandparents is detrimental to a child’s emotional and even physical wellbeing. To prove that is the case with your grandchild, you must prove at least one of the following elements to be true:

  • Your grandchild must have lived with you for at least six months; or
  • If the child lived with you for six months but does not live with you now, the move out must have taken place within 90 days of your filing the suit; or
  • A court named you legal guardian; or
  • You can prove that the child is in danger when in the custody of his or her parent or parents (explained below); or
  • Both of the child’s biological parents (or sole surviving parent) agrees that the child should live with you.

If you cannot prove any of the above to be true, chances of winning visitation rights of your grandchild are slim to none.

Gaining Custody as a Grandparent

While grandparents may have a difficult time gaining visitation rights in Texas, the state does not bar them from gaining custodial rights. In order to win custody of a grandchild, the grandparents must prove that the child’s needs are not being met. Some instances in which this might be true include:

  • The parents are drug abusers and the grandparents were the only stable figures in the children’s lives;
  • One parent was deemed mentally unstable and the other is out of the picture;
  • One parent was incarcerated and the other parent is out of the picture;
  • One parent passed away and the other is out of the picture; or
  • One parent is abusive, the other parent is aware of that fact, yet the non-abusive parent has not taken measures to remove the children from the home.

Unfortunately, anything short of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or unfit parenting is not enough to establish grandparent custody rights.

Factors Influencing the Court’s Decision

Unless you can prove that the child’s emotional and physical well-being is at stake, chances are that the courts will rule in favor of the parents. However, the child’s parents’ ability to care for the child are called into question, the court will review the following factors:

  • What the child wants;
  • What the child needs, both emotionally and physically;
  • Who is most fit to care for the child;
  • Whether or not the child is in danger when in the care of his or her parents;
  • The parents’ conduct (or misconduct); and
  • Any other factor the judge believes to be relevant to the case.

Where to Turn When You Want to Gain Grandparent Visitation Rights

Winning rights as a grandparent is not going to be easy, but if you believe that your grandchild’s emotional or physical well-being is at stake, the battle may be a worthwhile one. A Dallas grandparents’ rights attorney can help you show the courts why your presence in the child’s life is necessary and why, if applicable, the child’s parents are unfit to raise him or her. Call Udeshi Clark and Associates to discuss your legal options today.

(image courtesy of Kevin Gent)