Texas Accident and Injury FAQs
When you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, it can be difficult to know where to turn for reliable and timely information. It’s natural to have many questions, and the legal team at Parker Law Firm is here to provide the answers and facts you are looking for. Browse our FAQs and learn about common accidents, compensation, and how an attorney can help. If you don’t see your question, don’t hesitate to reach out to our attorneys. Take a moment and fill out our online contact form to hear back from a knowledgeable and experienced legal team.
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How can a truck’s black box data be used to help my truck accident case?
You’ve probably heard of black boxes related to airline crashes. This vital piece of equipment can tell investigators a great deal about what might have caused a crash when no other evidence exists. People are often surprised to learn that many commercial semi-trucks also have black boxes. Known as an Event Data Recorder (EDR), this device records important information about the truck driver’s actions. If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a crash with a semi-truck, the EDR could provide the evidence needed to show fault and support your claim for compensation.
Information Provided by a Black Box
According to crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large trucks were involved in 433,000 police-reported crashes in 2015, leaving 116,000 people injured and 4,067 people dead. If you are affected by a semi-truck crash and did nothing to cause the crash, you will need strong evidence to prove that the truck driver was at fault. One possible source of evidence is the truck’s EDR. If a semi-truck has an EDR, it will record the following information:
- Acceleration rate
- Length of time driving
- Idle time
- Fuel consumption
- If a seatbelt was engaged
- If the airbag deployed
Data from the EDR could show if the truck driver was speeding, if he didn’t apply the brakes—which can be an indication of distracted driving—and whether he took the required rest breaks. Any of these violations could prove his liability and support your claim for compensation.
You Need an Attorney to Secure This Important Evidence
The trucking company and its insurance company are not going to hand over this evidence easily. When you work with Parker Law Firm, you can be sure that we will fight to get the proof necessary to present the strongest claim possible. And our fee will never exceed the recovery you receive, so you will not pay us out of your own pocket. Contact us as soon as possible after a crash with a commercial truck, so we can do what is necessary to protect this valuable evidence.
How much is my accident case worth?
When you suffer a serious injury in a Texas motor vehicle crash, your first question may be, “How much is my case worth?” You may wonder if all of your medical bills, lost wages and other costs will be covered by the settlement, or you may feel unsure if it’s worth it to hire a lawyer and pursue the at-fault party. Moving forward after an accident, it’s important to understand how your case might be valued.
Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Crashes Are Very Different
Each accident is unique with its own special circumstances, and each type of crash can result in very different outcomes. Depending on the type of vehicle involved in the accident, here are some things that might factor into how your claim is valued:
- Trucks. When you are injured in a commercial truck crash, there may be multiple liable parties, including the driver, trucking company and truck manufacturer. If you suffer catastrophic injuries, this could significantly increase your damages.
- Motorcycles. Injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash are often catastrophic, sometimes resulting in permanent disability and long-term care and treatment needs. These can increase the value of your claim.
- Cars. Car accident settlements are based heavily on the extent of injuries suffered and the amount of insurance the liable party has.
No matter what kind of crash you were involved in, an experienced accident attorney can often negotiate for a larger settlement than you would be able to get on your own. And if the liable party is uncooperative in negotiations, an attorney can sue for damages on your behalf.
What Kind of Damages Are Available?
In Texas, car accident victims may be awarded economic, non-economic and punitive damages. Damages that have a clear monetary value are considered to be economic damages and may include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation costs
- Long-term homecare expenses
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
When injuries are significant, it is important to wait until the extent of treatment and long-term prognosis are known before settling on economic damages.
Damages that don’t come with an invoice are known as non-economic damages. These may include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
These damages are difficult to quantify, and you will need an experienced Texas accident attorney to negotiate for the highest possible damage award.
In cases where the at-fault party acted intentionally or with malice to cause harm, such as by driving drunk, the judge may award punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and are often significant. An attorney can argue on your behalf for punitive damages if the at-fault driver’s actions were egregious.
Insurance Plays an Important Part in the Process
Compensation for accidents most often comes from insurance. In the case of a negligent driver in a car or motorcycle accident, his liability insurance policy will be used to cover the costs. However if he is only carrying the Texas minimum of $30,000—or if he has no insurance at all—your losses may not be covered. In this case, you may have to look to your own auto insurance or health insurance to pay your medical expenses. Our attorneys are skilled at negotiating with not only your insurer, but with your medical care providers to reduce your costs.
In the case of a commercial truck crash, the trucking company may carry up to $1 million in liability insurance. Likewise if a manufacturing defect played a part in the crash, the manufacturer’s liability policy may be used.
Our Legal Team Will Work Hard to Maximize Your Recovery
When you work with Parker Law Firm from the beginning, you can be sure that all avenues of compensation will be pursued, and we will fight to get you the maximum possible recovery. Reach out to us today to schedule your free initial consultation. We will review your case and let you know if we can help. If we take your case, your fee will never exceed your recovery.
What if the driver who hit me was uninsured?
If you were in a car accident with an uninsured driver, it’s much more difficult to get money for damages. Even if you sue the driver in court, if he doesn’t have insurance, he’s not likely to have other assets that could compensate you for your injuries. That’s why it’s important to hire a personal injury attorney to help.
How Will I Receive Compensation If the Other Driver Was Uninsured?
Even though Texas does not require drivers to purchase insurance, drivers are still obligated to pay for any damages they cause in a car accident. Most people meet this requirement by carrying insurance, but those who don’t are still liable for your medical costs and other losses if they cause your injuries. Our legal team will first determine if the uninsured driver has other assets that can be seized to pay your settlement. However they rarely do.
The next source of compensation will be your own insurance policy—specifically your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This coverage must be offered by all insurance companies, and you must reject it in writing if you don’t want it. Most Texas drivers have the coverage, whether they know it or not. If your UM/UIM policy does not cover all of your medical expenses, your health insurance provider should cover the rest.
Parker Law Firm Works for You
After your accident, Parker Law Firm will work tirelessly to find sources of compensation, and our fees will never exceed your recovery. Additionally our team will fight to reduce the amount that must be paid back to your health insurance company and medical providers out of your settlement. These payments can be negotiable—when you have the right negotiator on your side. We will always put your needs first. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
Can I sue for damages if I wasn’t wearing a helmet during my motorcycle accident?
As a Texan, you have the right to not wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. There has not been a mandatory helmet law in Texas since 1997, although you must be over the age of 21, have taken a motorcycle riding safety course, and carry insurance in order to qualify for the helmet exemption. However just because it may be legal for you to not wear a helmet, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In fact, not wearing a helmet could hurt your chances at a fair settlement when you are injured by another driver.
How Wearing a Helmet Affects Compensation
Riding a motorcycle in Texas presents many challenges. Drivers don’t always yield the right of way when they should, and sometimes they don’t even see motorcyclists at all. Poorly maintained roads can throw dangerous obstacles into your path, and law enforcement and the courts sometimes assume you are at fault in a crash just because you ride a motorcycle. If you are injured in a crash and you were not wearing a helmet, your claim for compensation could be affected in the following ways:
- You could be assigned partial fault. Depending on the injuries you sustain, a judge may determine that you contributed to the severity of your injuries by not wearing a helmet. This should not be a factor if you suffered a broken leg or pelvis, but if you sustained a head injury, a judge could rule under the comparative negligence law that you are partially responsible for your injuries. If this happens, the other driver would not be responsible for the entire cost of your medical treatment.
- Your compensation could be lowered. Even if you are awarded damages, the amount could be lower than what you would have received if you had been wearing a helmet. Medical costs following a head injury can be expensive, and if it is determined that the head injury occurred because you chose not to wear a helmet, you will be unlikely to recover the maximum possible settlement from the other driver.
You Need an Experienced Attorney
If you chose to exercise your legal right to not wear a helmet and you are injured by a careless or negligent driver, you will need an experienced motorcycle attorney in your corner to fight for the highest possible settlement. Call Parker Law Firm to schedule a case review before you talk to an insurance company. If we think we can help you get the settlement you deserve, we will gladly take your case.
What if I was partially at fault for my car accident?
Car accidents are not always the fault of a single driver. In fact, in many crashes, both drivers are determined to have played a role in causing the crash. When this happens, neither driver will be awarded full compensation for his losses. Instead, a percentage of fault will be assigned to each driver, and eligibility for compensation will depend upon that. How eligibility is determined will depend on the state where the accident took place. In Texas, the law of modified comparative fault is followed.
Types of Comparative Fault Systems
The following three types of comparative fault systems are used around the country:
- Pure contributory negligence. Only followed in four states, this system says that no compensation can be recovered if you are even 1 percent at fault for the accident.
- Pure comparative fault. Just 13 states follow this system, which says that you can recover damages even if you are 99 percent at fault, but your award will be reduced by the amount of fault you are assigned.
- Modified comparative fault. The majority of states (33) follow one of two variations of this system. Those following the 50% Bar Rule say that you may not recover damages if you are 50 percent or more at fault. Your damages will be reduced by your degree of fault. The remaining states—including Texas—follow the 51% Bar Rule, which works the same way as the 50% Bar Rule but sets the threshold at 51 percent.
How Modified Comparative Fault Works in Texas
Known officially in Texas as “proportionate responsibility,” this system can be confusing for injured victims of car accidents. As an example of how a shared-fault car accident recovery would work in Texas, consider the following. You were seriously injured in a crash on East Loop 820 when a car cut into your lane suddenly and you hit him. The responding officer cited the other driver for reckless driving but also cited you for speeding. You decided to seek damages from the other driver, and a jury decided you were 20 percent at fault because you were speeding. This means you can still recover from the other driver, but you will only get 80 percent of the total damages. If those are determined to be $50,000, you will receive $40,000.
You Need an Attorney by Your Side
When you are injured in a car accident in Texas and are assigned partial blame, you will need an attorney to help you fight for your right to a fair recovery. From the original traffic citation to the hearing to determine degree of fault, an experienced car accident attorney can argue on your behalf to maximize your settlement. Call the Parker Law Firm to see if we can help.
Should I call the police after a car accident?
If another driver hit your vehicle but there was limited damage and no apparent injures, you may be tempted not to call the police. You may think it would be sufficient to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, hoping he’ll be cooperative when you need to get paid for your minor damages. However this is almost always a mistake. It’s important to contact the police and obtain a copy of the police report.
Reasons You Should Contact the Police Following Any Car Crash
Right after an accident, the police can provide help on many different fronts. They can call for medical care for any injured victims, as well as investigate the crash and document the cause of it. Even if you don’t believe you’ll need to make an insurance claim, you want to contact the police for the following reasons:
- Hidden injuries. Symptoms of some injuries, including traumatic brain injury, back and spinal injuries and mild internal bleeding, can take days or longer to develop. Once you start experiencing them, you could discover that your injuries are much more severe than you initially thought. Some of these injuries can be caused by a “minor” accident. You want to strengthen your potential claim for compensation by contacting the police immediately after the crash.
- Incorrect insurance information. The negligent driver could provide you with incorrect or expired insurance information. Although he might give this information to the police, too, the officer will be able to provide you with accurate contact information for the driver and witnesses, investigate the crash and write a report. You will need this information if you have to file a claim.
- Changed story. As part of his investigation, the police officer will take the other driver’s statement, as well as your own. It will be harder for the negligent driver to change his story and claim that you were at fault if he gave a statement at the accident scene.
- Expensive property damage. Vehicle repairs are expensive, and yours may cost more than you think. Depending on how long it will take to complete the repairs, you may need to rent a car. If you later decide to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company or your own, it will be helpful to your claim to provide the adjuster with a police report.
If you or a family member suffered injuries in a car accident, you need to hire an experienced car accident attorney before accepting any settlement from the negligent driver’s insurance company. To be certain that you receive what you deserve, call the Parker Law Firm to schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session to get your questions answered and discuss your options for compensation.
Do Insurance Companies Generally Defend Against Personal Injury Claims?
Typically, insurance companies will put up numerous defenses and contest any claim at every possible junction, even in rear-end collision cases. You will often see a defense asserted that you stopped too quickly and that it is your fault they ran into the back of your car. We see that all the time, even in traffic light cases where someone plows through a red light. They will try to argue that no; it was you that blew through the red light. Usually, there is no witness there, but if there is you have to rely on their interpretation of the facts or the events caught on traffic light cameras.
But past that, they will start to argue that your damages and injuries are not real or that you somehow malinger and you missed your doctor’s appointments. That is why your injuries have not progressed or healed the way they should have or that somehow this was a pre-existing injury and not something new from the accident. So yes, we see defenses asserted by the insurance companies in almost every single case.
Why is it Helpful to Understand the Defense Mechanisms Employed by Insurance Companies in Auto Accident Claims?
It is helpful to know and understand what defenses may be raised by insurance companies. We can anticipate what might happen ahead of time and try to head it off if we have the right information. For instance, we always make certain that our clients follow up with their doctor’s appointment and receive the recommended treatment so we can avoid the defense arguing that somehow you have not followed up or that you show gaps in your treatment process. For instance, if you have a bad back and it hasn’t bothered you for years, and then all of a sudden you have a flare-up. The event that caused the injury prior gives us a chance to go back and check prior medical records for this injury. We can demonstrate that this is not a pre-existing injury but may be an aggravation of an existing condition.
Likewise, if we even sense that there may be some type of a defense concerning liability, we can gather those facts early on in the process. Having been in this business for 30 years and representing folks who have been injured by the negligence of others, I know and understand from each individual case what I can probably expect from the defense, and it gives us an edge on trying to beat those defenses at the outset.
What are the Common Tactics of Defense for a Car Wreck Case?
The defense will first try to contact for a statement even before you retain an attorney. That is probably the single biggest mistake that someone can make when they give a statement to the other person’s insurance company. You would think that they just want to get the case resolved and that they are very nice and helpful, but in reality what they are trying to do is get you committed to certain facts and the extent of your injury so they can use that against you later. Oftentimes they will ask you to give them authorizations for your medical records, but that is not limited in time or scope.
They can even go back and retrieve your pediatric records if they think it is necessary and if it will help their case. You never want to do that. The other issue is that they will oftentimes make you think that they are going to negotiate and pay your bills. It can be several months if not years before you realize that they are not going to do that. What they try to do is wear you down so that you finally just give in, throw in the hat so to speak, and take whatever they offer you. Every time the insurance company acts, it is because they are trying to defeat you and your claim. This is a well-known tactic that they use over and over again, and that is why it is so critically important to get legal assistance as soon as possible.
How Can an Injured Person Defend Their Claim Against an Insurance Company?
First and foremost, never talk to an insurance company if you do not have a lawyer with you. They are not there to help you, and they are not there to be your friend. They are there to minimize and or defeat your claims. Secondly, do not give them authorizations to get all of your medical records. If you have been in a car wreck and you have been injured, what difference does that make? If you give them authorization, they can obtain any and all of your medical records from any healthcare professional. Thirdly, do not let the insurance companies drag this on for months or possibly even years.
There are statutes of limitations that apply in all states. But besides the statute of limitations, witnesses and evidence will fade out. The likelihood of filing a witness or filing a witness who is willing to get involved evaporates over time. If there is some type of digital evidence, it may be rewritten, destroyed or concealed. It is so critically important to start early in this process because the insurance companies are starting early on their end gathering evidence and materials to defeat your claim. It is critical that you do too, either on your own or by hiring a board certified personal injury trial lawyer.
For more information on defenses used by insurance companies, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling The Parker Law Firm at (817) 503-9200 today.
Texas Storm Damage Claims and Insurance Companies
In Texas after a storm, the insurance company typically will not deny the entire claim. What they usually do is deny parts of the claim based on your insurance policies. For several years now, insurance policies in our state have been the type that do not cover anything except what your specific policy covers. Due to policies we have in Texas, there are few parts of your home that may be covered. For instance, in a tornado where the roof has blown off or if it was penetrated, the insurance company may take the position that they will pay for the roof, but they are not going to pay for the water damage that may happen to the inside of your house as a result of the roof damage.
There are some questions as to whether or not the rain was windblown or if entered the roof through an open-access area. There are very technical details where insurance companies will try to hang their hat to justify not paying part or any of the claims. Another example that we often see is when dealing with hailstorm damage. They will say that the hailstorm came in from the northwest, therefore we are only going to cover the north and west slope of your wall since the east and the south slope did not get damaged. That is not necessarily true. This is an area where they may try to deny the claim. Likewise, they may say, “We are going to pay for this roof or part of the roof, but it may be a type of shingle that cannot be matched.”
The insurance companies have a responsibility to replace it with light parts, but they cannot match it if they have to replace everything. Those are the typical areas where they normally will deny part of the claim as opposed to the entire claim. The list of what they will and can deny is as long as your imagination can fathom.
What Actions are Illegal for Insurance Companies When Dealing With Property Damage?
There are numerous actions that are illegal for insurance companies. We recognize that common law means just that. They have an absolute obligation to deal with you in good faith and fair dealing, and on top of that, we have statutes that provide that they cannot deceive you in any kind of way or give you false or misleading information. They also cannot barter with you by saying, “Okay, we’ll recognize that part if you take a lower value for this part.” They must properly investigate any and every claim.
We sometimes see cases where they will not even come and look at the house; they will just deny the claim outright. That is probably going to be in bad faith on their part because they did not properly investigate the claim. There is another statute that we call the prompt pay statute. This says that once they recognize the claim, they have a duty to pay that claim in a timely fashion, and there are actually time periods set forth in the statute. Failure to pay those claims in a timely fashion, once recognized, can subject them to penalties and interests in attorneys’ fees.
Is There a Statute of Limitation for Claims Against Insurance Companies in Texas?
Yes, as the law stands currently, the time period for bringing calls of action against the insurance companies is two years from the date that the claim was denied. However, insurance industries over the last few legislative sessions in Texas have fought hard to change that law, and I expect that we will see a continued effort in upcoming legislative sessions. They are trying to change the law to say that you must file your claim within two years of the date of the incident as opposed to the two years from the date of the actual denial. It can be very problematic if you have water damage on an inside wall that does not manifest itself for quite some time. Oftentimes it may take months if not years for internal damage to surface.
Likewise, people may not honestly know that their roof has been damaged by the hailstorm for some time. It is important that the time period run from the time in which the insurance company denies the claim because if you have just two years from the date you made the claim, then the insurance company could wait two years and one day to deny the claim. Then it would be too late for you to file the claim. Right now the law is very much in the consumer’s favor, but just know that the clock is always ticking on these types of claims. Also be aware that the insurance industry is trying hard to make the time period even shorter in the future.
Additional Information on Storm Damage Claims in Texas?
The No. 1 thing that you can do in any storm is document not only all the damage but also all of your conversations with insurance adjusters. Many times insurance companies will run you through several adjusters in an attempt to wear you down. Each adjuster will visit the site and will want to start the process all over again. Always document your conversations. Better yet, you should record them. This way you will have documentation of what each adjuster has said and possibly offered. However, if you do suffer damage, Texas law provides that you must mitigate. That means you must try to remedy the damage so that no further damage occurs even before you receive a resolution with your insurance company.
For example, if you have a hole in your roof, you need to take appropriate actions to get it patched so the damage is as minimal as possible. The last thing I would add is that you hire reputable and competent contractors to assist you with the storm damage. Those people are going to be instrumental in your claim and pursuing the claim if necessary against your insurance company. Steer clear of hiring some fly-by-night contractor who overinflates the need for the repairs and then when you need them to come and help you against the insurance company, they can’t be found. So if you’ll document, photograph, mitigate and hire good people, you are working toward protecting yourself.
For more information on Storm Damage Claims in Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (817) 503-9200 today.
Will Automated Cars Cause More Or Fewer Dallas/Fort Worth Accidents?
Although California gets to be the testing ground for Google’s automated car, the technology, if successful, could soon be coming to the Dallas/Fort Worth highways. The hopes are the car’s advanced technology will make the nation’s highways safer; something Texas could use as it ranks highest in the nation for yearly traffic fatalities.
The car’s sensors, cameras and computer programs enable the vehicle to operate safely in a variety of conditions with no input from the driver. Advocates of the cars say that the cars will even allow the visually impaired to drive since the vehicles will do all the “seeing” for the driver.
Advocates also claim that the cars will reduce accidents since the sensors and programs can respond much more quickly than human drivers and are not prone to human error. Some believe the cars will eliminate distracted driving, since owners will be free to text and engage in other activities while the vehicle drives for them.
Developers state that the cars have been undergoing tests for years and the only accident in 300,000 miles was a minor rear-end crash that could be prevented in the future by installing heat-seeking technology in the trunk to detect approaching cars.
Critics remind advocates that technology is imperfect and computers and computer programs develop glitches or crash unexpectedly. Drivers in an automated car may not to watch the road and notice a problem in time to prevent an accident.
Time and further testing will tell whether these cars make the roadways safer or more hazardous.
When Your Child Is Seriously Injured Or Killed At Daycare
Placing your child in daycare is a difficult decision that many working parents must face. It’s hard enough taking time away from your child, but worrying about their safety adds an extra emotional burden.
In-home childcare is the fastest growing sector in the industry today, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the total child care industry. Despite being at a home, thousands of children are injured, and some killed, in their childcare setting each year.
Of course, the occasional bumps and bruises are inevitable due to falls or incidents that are commonly associated with clumsy toddlers who are learning to crawl, walk or run well. Too often, though, children are injured so seriously that they require treatment from a hospital. Even worse, serious injuries can sometimes be fatal.
Most Daycare Injuries Are Preventable
Statistics from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control tell us that approximately 4.2 million injuries were recorded for children ages one to four from 2001 to 2002. During that same time period, over 3,000 children in this age group died as a result of injuries sustained while in the care of a child care center or individual. The majority of these deaths were preventable injuries that could have been avoided had the following issues been addressed:
- Workers received proper training and education
- Environmental safety measures were put in place
- Utilization of safer products in the care environment
- Stricter laws to ensure child safety
Common Daycare Dangers
It is vital that the professionals in this industry improve existing safety hazards that could endanger the life of a child. As parents whose number one concern is our child’s safety, there are safety issues to be aware of as well. Some dangerous issues of note:
- Children left unsupervised – Infants, toddlers, and children of all ages should always be in a caregiver’s sight.
- Dangerous Adult-to-child ratio – There are laws that specify how many children one adult is allowed to supervise at a time. Often, child care centers will be out of ratio, and can lead to many injuries.
- Uneducated or Untrained Staff – One of the most important safety measures that can be addressed is caregiver training and education. Each staff member should be trained in CPR and first aid procedures, as well as proper health and safety policies.
- Medications Administered Improperly – When a caregiver administers medication to your child, it is extremely important that the correct amount of medication is given to avoid poisoning and other unforeseen side-effects.
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – This serious syndrome is increasing at day care centers today. Your infant’s caregiver should know that babies need to sleep on their backs, and on firm bedding that is void of fluffy blankets or toys that can become choking hazards.
- Poisons and Toxic Substances within Reach – Child Care Awarereports that accidental poisonings are the leading cause of injury and death among young children. Cleaning supplies and medicine should be out of reach from children at all times.
- Unsafe Playground Equipment and Recalled Products – Products used by caregivers are often times not tested to ensure child safety. Manufacturers are not required to do this, and children are harmed or even killed as a result. Playground equipment is particularly concerning because it most frequently causes children physical harm.
There are many other safety concerns that caregivers must recognize. These include food safety, child illnesses, emergency planning and practicing, and background checks for employees and the state licensing of the child care home or facility.
Speak To A Daycare Injury Lawyer Today
As parents, we do the best we can to make sure the environment we place our children in and caregivers we place them with are top notch. Even then, injuries or fatalities occur when caregivers fail to honor procedures and standards they are required by law to follow. If your child becomes seriously injured, or is killed because of negligence on the part of a child care center or an individual you have entrusted your child with, you can receive compensation for your devastating loss. Parker Law Firm provides Complimentary Strategy Sessions that allow the client and firm a chance to fully analyze your particular situation and determine whether you have a case against a negligent caregiver. You can rest assured that Parker Law Firm will fight aggressively against child negligence and those who are responsible for harming your child.