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  • Wills & Probates

    • What is probate and why is it necessary?
      Probate is the legal process of validating a person’s will and managing the distribution of their estate after death. It ensures the proper transfer of the testator’s assets, settles their debts and addresses any challenges or disputes. Once probate is finished, the estate is considered “closed.”
    • In which scenarios is probate required for an estate in Texas?
      Probate is necessary in Texas when a person dies with or without a will. With a will, it ensures assets are distributed as per the deceased’s wishes; without a will, it follows state intestacy laws. There are estate planning strategies, however, that can bypass probate.
    • What constitutes a valid will in Texas?
      A valid will in Texas must generally be in writing, signed by the testator (maker of the will), and witnessed by at least two credible individuals 14 years of age or over who were present during the signing.
    • What are the key elements a will should contain according to Texas law?
      A valid will in Texas should include an unambiguous statement that it is intended to serve as the testator’s Final Will and Testament. It must also contain clear instructions about how the testator wishes their assets to be divided and designate an executor to oversee the distribution of those assets.
    • How can a probate attorney assist during the administration of a decedent’s estate?
      Estate administration involves a lot of steps. A probate attorney can assist an executor by preparing legal documents, navigating all the legal requirements of probate, guiding the asset distribution and addressing challenges or disputes that may arise during the process.
    • How can a probate dispute be handled or avoided?
      It is always better to avoid probate disputes when possible. Clear estate plans created with the aid of an experienced attorney can minimize the chances of a dispute or a successful challenge to your will. However, if a dispute arises, our Killeen or Temple attorneys know how to address it efficiently.
  • Commercial Vehicle

    • What are some of the most dangerous highways in central Texas?
      Some of the most dangerous highways in Central Texas include I-35, US-183 and SH-130. These highways see a high volume of traffic, including commercial trucks, which increases the risk of accidents. Drivers also tend to drive faster on these roads, increasing the potential severity of an accident.
    • What are the most common causes of truck accidents?

      The most common causes of truck accidents include:

      • Fatigue
      • Alcohol or drug abuse
      • Failure to conduct proper inspections
      • Speeding
      • Failure to load a truck properly
      • Distracted driving
      • Cargo that is not properly secured

      These factors can all contribute to accidents, which are often more severe due to the size and weight of commercial trucks.

    • What steps should I take after a trucking accident in Texas?

      Immediately after the accident, the trucking company will hire a lawyer to represent its interests. It is equally important that you have a strong advocate on your side.

      After an accident, you should check for injuries and seek medical attention. Talking to a medical professional about the accident is important, even if you do not have obvious injuries that require emergency room care.

      You should also contact the police and file a report. You will need as much information about the accident as possible, including:

      • Contact information for the driver and the trucking company
      • Photos of the scene of the accident
      • Contact information from any witnesses

      We take the initiative when investigating the details of the accident and know how to look for more information that can point to the cause of the accident. We will work with accident reconstructionists, medical experts and other resources who can provide authoritative testimonials about the cause of the accident and the extent of your injuries. Our lawyers are here to stand by your side.

    • Are commercial truck drivers required to have special training or licenses?
      Yes, commercial truck drivers are required to have special training and licenses. In addition to a standard driver’s license, they must also obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and pass a specialized test. They are also subject to federal regulations governing the number of hours they can drive, rest periods and other safety requirements.
  • Veterans

    • I applied for disability benefits, but the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) turned down my claim. Can I appeal?
      You have the right to appeal the VA’s decision.
    • When can I hire an attorney?
      Once you have filed the Notice of Disagreement which appeals the initial decision by the VA, you can hire an attorney.
    • Who qualifies for VA disability benefits?
      People who were sickened, injured or wounded while on active duty in the armed forces qualify. Aggravation of a pre-existing condition may also be covered. This covers a wide range of potential conditions, from wounds sustained in combat to illness due to exposure to toxic substances.
    • Are there survivors’ benefits?

      The surviving spouse and minor children can qualify for benefits when a veteran dies of a disability, whether or not the disability is connected to the veteran’s service.

      It is vital that you retain an experienced lawyer to represent you during your appeal. One of our VA benefits lawyers will work with you to compile all relevant evidence in your favor and prepare a persuasive appeal. The process can take time, but our representation will save you time and uncertainty.

  • Personal Injury

    • How do I know if I have a valid personal injury claim?

      Personal injury claims involve three key elements. First, the other person or company must have owed the injured person a duty. This duty can come in a variety of forms. Businesses, for example, have a duty to keep the public safe on their property. Professionals have a duty to uphold specific standards in the services they provide to the public.

      Second, the person must have failed to do that duty. For example, a driver who irresponsibly drives above the speed limit would have failed in their duty to other drivers, pedestrians and others on the road.

      Third, the negligence must have led to the harm that the injured person suffered. This involves both showing their injuries and linking those injuries to the negligent actions of the person or company.

    • What is negligence?
      You may have heard this legal term thrown around before. Negligence is a major factor in any personal injury case. In order for a party to recover damages, he or she must prove there was negligence. In a nutshell, this means someone did not exercise reasonable care that ultimately caused the injury or death.
    • Why do I need to hire a personal injury attorney?
      You may have already been contacted by your insurance company and even the insurance company of the other party. While it may seem tempting to just go forward with what an insurance company offers you, it may not be in your best interests. Remember, the insurance company is only looking out for their business interests, not yours. A lawyer has a fiduciary duty (legal obligation) to look out for your best interests. There can be complications down the line that you don’t foresee in your accident case. Having a skilled attorney, right away from the beginning, at your side can help the process go smoother.
    • What kind of evidence will be considered in my case?

      Personal injury claims can involve a variety of evidence. Photographs of the scene of the accident can provide important context, as can witness testimony. Medical records, photographs of injuries, correspondence with insurance companies and testimony from medical professionals can highlight the extent of a person’s injuries. Paystubs can show that a person lost wages as a result of their injuries.

      Because of the variety of evidence that can support a claim, injured people should gather evidence as soon as possible after an accident.

    • Will my personal injury settlement account for potential long-term medical expenses?
      Unfortunately, some injuries take months or years to heal, and some injured people may experience lifelong harm as a result of an accident. They may need physical therapy, rehabilitation, long-term pain management and a variety of other care. Personal injury claims can address the cost of continued care that an injured person needs.
    • What kind of damages can I seek in a lawsuit?
      After an accident, you can seek damages for things like past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. In some cases, an injured victim can go after what are called “punitive damages.” This is often for pain and suffering endured because of the other party’s negligence.
    • How long will a personal injury lawsuit take?
      Every situation is different. A case could be quickly settled in a month. A case could also have many issues to resolve and require additional negotiations that could take months and, in some cases, even years if it goes to trial. Fortunately, our attorneys are highly skilled trial attorneys who can aggressively advocate for you in the courtroom should litigation become necessary.
    • How will I be able to pay for my legal expenses?
      Many personal injury law firms (including our law firm), take personal injury cases on what is called a “contingency fee basis.” This means that the client does not pay anything unless the lawyer recovers damages on his or her behalf. A certain percentage of the damages recovered is then given to the lawyer. How this applies to your situation can be discussed in a free initial consultation.
    • How can car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents and pedestrian accidents harm people?

      Car accidents can result in a variety of different injuries. Whiplash and other neck, back and spinal injuries can lead to pain, headaches, loss of mobility and circulation issues. Head injuries can result in pain, changes to an injured person’s mood and thinking, challenges with balance and a variety of other symptoms. Other injuries from car accidents include fractures, burns or amputations.

      Concussions, brain injuries, skull fractures and other head injuries frequently impact pedestrians after a collision with a vehicle. Fractures could impact bones throughout the body. Pedestrians also frequently experience injuries to their neck, back and spine that can result in leg pain, weakness, numbness and paralysis.

      When people slip-and-fall on another person or company’s property, they could injure many different parts of their body. If their head strikes the ground or an object, this could result in head injuries like concussions or injuries to the face. People who twist their knee or ankle could experience sprains or fractures. People who land on their back could suffer harm to their back or neck.

    • What happens if my loved one died from their injuries. Now what?
      Certain family members can file a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased loved one. This is known as a wrongful death claim. Family members who often qualify for this include parents, children and spouses. A wrongful death lawsuit can seek damages such as funeral expenses, loss of consortium, lost income as well as pain and suffering.
  • Car Accident

    • How do I determine who is at fault after a car accident?

      To determine fault, a few things you’ll want to look at include:

      • Witness statements
      • Traffic camera footage (if applicable or available)
      • Police reports
      • Pictures from the crash scene

      We can help you gather all the necessary evidence for a strong case. Talk with one of our attorneys today by calling (254) 765-9552.

    • Why seek medical attention even though you’re not severely injured?
      After a crash, some injuries can be more visible and apparent than others. You may notice a large wound or a broken bone right away. However, some injuries aren’t immediately noticeable. For example, the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may show up days, weeks or even months after a crash and hit you when you least expect it. That’s why seeking immediate medical care can help you or a loved one quickly identify and find the appropriate treatment.
    • Can I file a claim if I was a passenger in the at-fault driver’s car?
      In most cases, you can file an injury claim if you were a passenger in the at-fault driver’s car. However, this can depend on many complicated factors, considering Texas is an at-fault state. Once we learn more about your story, we can give you a better understanding of what your options are for seeking compensation.
    • How does the process differ for filing a claim for a hit-and-run accident?

      This can depend on whether the other driver has insurance. Texas law requires insurance policies to carry hit-and-run coverage. However, you typically need to have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy in Texas to cover hit-and-run accidents by an uninsured driver.

      Regardless of your insurance policy, we can help you determine the next best steps in your hit-and-run accident.

    • How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a car accident in Texas?
      In most cases, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. However, there are some exceptions. We can help you determine the appropriate timeline for a lawsuit after an accident. It is crucial to make your claim as soon as possible so that we can help you achieve a favorable outcome.
    • What happens if the other driver fled the scene of the accident?
      When another driver does not stop after an accident, it can be upsetting and frustrating. While making a legal claim can be more challenging, it is still possible to pursue action against a driver who flees the scene. When you are in a hit-and-run situation, it is essential to get as much information as possible, including license plate number, make and model of the vehicle and any identifying details about the car or driver. You should also contact the police immediately to file a police report.
    • What are my legal options after losing a loved one in a car accident?
      If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of lawsuit seeks compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral expenses and loss of companionship.
    • What happens if the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
      In addition to the options available in a typical car accident claim, if the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be able to pursue a dram shop liability claim. This type of claim holds the establishment that served alcohol to the driver responsible for any damages caused by the driver’s impaired state.
    • What if I can’t work after the car accident?
      Dealing with an injury after an accident is challenging, especially when your injury keeps you from being able to work. If you are unable to work after an accident, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. These benefits can provide financial support if you cannot work due to a disability or medical condition.
    • What are my legal options if I have been injured in an Uber/Lyft/rideshare accident?
      When you are facing an injury after a rideshare accident, you may need to pursue action against the driver or the rideshare company, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Like other car accidents, you should gather as much information as possible from those at the scene, including making a police report. We can help you determine what course of action you should take after a rideshare accident.
  • SSDI

    • What medical conditions qualify for SSDI benefits?
      Nearly any physical or mental condition – or any combination of conditions – can qualify you for SSDI benefits if the impairment is severe enough. To qualify as “severe” under the Social Security Administration’s rules, your condition must prevent you from earning substantial gainful activity and either have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months (or result in death).
    • What is the process for determining medical eligibility for SSDI benefits?
      Once you file for SSDI benefits and pass the non-medical eligibility screening, your claim will be sent to the state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) for a medical determination. There, your medical records and other information will be collected and evaluated by a claims examiner and a physician to see if you meet SSA’s criteria for disability.
    • What are the work requirements to qualify for SSDI benefits?
      The duration of work test for SSDI evaluates whether an application has worked and paid into the Social Security system long enough to qualify as “insured” for benefits. This calculation takes into account your age and when the disability began. Most people need 40 credits (which can be earned at the rate of four per year), and 20 of those credits must have been earned in the last 10 years before your disability began. Younger disabled workers need less.
    • What is the ‘List of Impairments’ and how is it used in the SSDI application process?

      The List of Impairments or SSA’s “Blue Book” is a compilation of medical conditions and criteria used by the agency to assess disability claims. If your condition appears on the list and exactly matches the description there, you are generally considered disabled without further evaluation. However, you do not have to have a “listed” condition nor meet the exact criteria of one to qualify for benefits.

      No one should ever assume that they are unable to qualify for SSDI benefits without speaking to an experienced advocate.

    • Can someone receive SSD benefits for a mental health condition?

      While it can be challenging to get approval for Social Security Disability benefits due to mental illness, it is possible.

      When you are unable to work due to mental illness, it is important to have skilled legal support as you make a claim for SSD benefits. Our experienced attorneys can help you make your claim for benefits or face an appeal if you were denied benefits.

    • Can I collect supplemental security income (SSI) And SSD benefits?
      When you qualify for both SSI and SSD, it is known as receiving “concurrent benefits.” To qualify for concurrent benefits, you must meet the eligibility requirements for both SSI and SSD. If you qualify for both SSI and SSDI, you will receive the higher of the two benefits. However, your SSI benefit may be reduced if you also receive SSDI.
    • How important is having a lawyer during the SSD appeals process?

      Facing a denial of SSD benefits can be confusing and frustrating. However, you do have the opportunity to make an appeal. It is crucial to have a skilled attorney to support your appeal.

      Often, the process is complex and includes strict timelines and paperwork requirements. Our team at Michalk, Beatty & Alcozer, L.P., can help you make your appeal for SSD benefits.

    • Can a person work while receiving SSD benefits?
      Yes, you can work while receiving SSD benefits. In some cases, you can participate in a work trial period where you go back to work to determine how much you can do with your disability. After the trial period, there may be a reduction in your SSD benefits depending on how much you are earning at work.
    • What happens if an individual’s medical condition improves while receiving SSD benefits?
      If your condition improves while you are receiving SSD benefits, you may need to demonstrate that you are still unable to work. Depending on how much your condition improves, you may no longer be eligible for benefits.
    • How long does it take to receive SSD benefits after applying?
      The average wait time for SSD benefits is five to seven months. However, there may be aspects to your situation that make that process take more or less time than average.