San Antonio Legal Blog

How can I cope with depression related to chronic pain?

Serious work injuries can sometimes result in chronic pain conditions. Along with causing physical limitations, people with chronic pain also experience depression and anxiety. This makes it hard to cope with the situation and may also impact a person’s ability to recover from the event. WebMD explains the link between chronic pain and depression and what you can do to cope.

The first step is to understand the type of response that pain elicits. When a person is in pain it’s common to experience a range of emotions, including frustration, irritability, and anxiety. However, once the pain ceases the person reverts back to their previous state of mind. When pain is ongoing, these feelings manifest into emotional disorders, which are characterized by low self-esteem, problems sleeping, stress within the family, weight gain or loss, anger issues, and problems regulating mood.  

Oil rig jobs pose above-average risks of work-related injuries

Are you one of the many workers who make a living on the Texas oil fields? Then you will likely know that it is an extremely dangerous industry, and an endless list of threats could cause severe injuries and even fatalities. Along with the challenging working conditions, faulty equipment and negligent actions of others could leave you without an income and mountains of medical bills.

The many different hazards of your job range from environmental and basic structural hazards, to the dangers posed by chemical exposure. Safety authorities say working on onshore oil rigs pose above-average risks of nonfatal injuries, and the most common hazards are fire, machinery, falls, falling tools and fatigue.

Is there a difference between autonomous and automated vehicles?

Autonomous vehicles are in the news a lot these days, for both positive and negative reasons. While many people tout them as the safer alternative thanks to claims they do away with driver errors, others are concerned about their safety and who bears responsibility in the event of the crash. In order to navigate these issues, Autotrader urges motorists to know the difference between automated and autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous and automated vehicles

Vicarious liability in truck accidents

Liability claims are all about assigning who is to blame. In the case of truck accidents in San Antonio, that may seem fairly obvious: the truck driver. Yet given that driving their semi-trucks and tractor-trailers is a function of truckers' employment, one then might ask if the companies that employ them might be responsible, as well. In some cases, this may be a moot point, as some truckers operate as independent contractors who contract with motor carriers. Yet in those cases where a driver is employed by a carrier, the question should be asked in the wake of a collision

The legal principle of respondeat superior maintains that employers can be held responsible for the actions (even negligent actions) of their employees. Yet according to the Cornell Law School, there is no nationwide standard governing the application of this principle. It states that different states apply various testing methods to determine if respondeat superior is applicable to a case. One of these is the characteristics test, which rules that if an action is associated closely enough with the general duties of one's employment, then it is deemed to be a common characteristic of that job and thus part of an employer's expectations of an employee. 

What are some common oilfield accidents?

The oil industry is inherently dangerous in Texas. You work with flammable fluids and gases. There is no getting around the natural dangers that come as part of the job. Your employer must do certain things to make your job as safe as possible. You also have to follow protocols and procedures designed to keep you safe as well. Despite all of this, accidents do still happen.

E&E News explains the oil industry actually has a low injury rate. This could be for a couple reasons. Experts think most likely it is that injuries go unreported. The reporting system is not as well defined as in other industries so collecting accurate information is difficult. Another reason may be that oil field accidents are often severe. This is explained by the fact the industry has a high fatality rate. When an accident happens, people may not injured but instead they die.

The fatal dangers of aggressive driving

Texas highways and roadways can become quite congested, especially during peak rush hours of the day. Drivers are often forced to wait in traffic, and as a result, may become agitated and impatient. Whether they are rushing home from work or are running late to an important work meeting, drivers would like to get to their destination as quickly as possible. It is no surprise that more than 80 percent of motorists in Texas and across the country admit to driving aggressively. Aggressive driving, or road rage, is a contributing factor to at least 56 percent of fatal car accidents in the country, according to AAA.

When motorists are able to spot the signs of an aggressive driver, they may be able to quickly alert law enforcement of the problem and help to avoid a fatal accident from occurring. Motorists should be on the lookout for the following hazardous driving behaviors:

  •          Running traffic signals and failing to stop at traffic signs and pedestrian crosswalks
  •          Erratic lane changing, between other vehicles in a reckless fashion
  •          Excessive horn honking and yelling at other motorists
  •          Speeding, cutting off other vehicles and blocking cars from switching lanes
  •          Following too closely behind another vehicle

Workers' comp 'going and coming' rule

Understanding workers' compensation coverage is important since you never know when a workplace accident may occur. If you work in a dangerous job, such as in the Texas oil and gas industry, you are likely prepared every day for the potential that you may suffer an injury at work. However, what about the time it takes you to travel to and from work?

Workers' compensation's "going and coming" rule typically excludes the time you travel between work and home. If you suffer injuries in a traffic accident on your way to work, your medical bills do not fall under workers' compensation benefits. There are some exceptions, and it is important that you understand how this rule applies to your job and situation.

What happens when you have a spinal injury?

Accidents at work can have very serious consequences, especially when the spinal cord is damaged. You may experience life-long complications because of your injuries, including chronic pain and impairment. The Mayo Clinic offers the following information on injuries to the spinal cord and their effects.

When it comes to causes, auto accidents are linked to half of all spine injuries occurring each year. Falls also have an impact on the health of the spine, and 15 percent of injuries are caused by falls. Other possible causes include sports injuries, assaults, alcohol consumption, and diseases. Certain people, such as the elderly, also have a greater chance of experiencing this type of injury.

What are the Fatal Four?

While statistics show that work in the construction industry consistently ranks among the most dangerous professions, and a practitioner of it you may not recognize the dangers. Yes, there are inherent risks with such work, yet your skills and experience can often help to mitigate them. Your employer in San Antonio is also tasked with ensuring that you and your co-workers are protected from any on-the-job dangers. Given that a majority of construction accidents are contributed to only a handful of causes, a failure by your company to protect you from them can certainly be seen as negligence. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has compiled construction accident data to identify what causes a majority of these incidents. Four different factors stood out from among the rest. Known as "The Fatal Four," these include: 

  • Falls
  • Being struck by falling objects
  • Electrocutions
  • Being caught in machinery or in-between equipment and materials 

Who is liable when an autonomous vehicle is involved in a crash?

Motorists in Texas must take the safety of themselves and other drivers very seriously. However, with the emergence of autonomous vehicles, which are becoming more and more common on the road, many drivers question just what will occur if they’re involved in an accident with one of these cars. While this area of the law is still largely undecided, Insurance Journal looks at some of the factors that may influence liability.

While it’s true that driver error is responsible for a majority of crashes, recent accidents involving autonomous vehicles have garnered quite a bit of attention in recent years. In one case, a fatality involving the driver of a Tesla in Autopilot mode and a large commercial truck has come under scrutiny. While the driver of the commercial vehicle holds some responsibility for not yielding as required by local traffic laws, the Tesla’s Autopilot function failed to identify the presence of the truck and apply the brakes accordingly.

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