The Law Firm of David Chapin
  • PRACTICE AREAS
Houston, Texas attorney David E. Chapin focuses his practice in three primary areas:

Personal Injury
Insurance Coverage Disputes
Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death occurs when a person is killed as a result of the negligence or intentional act of another person or entity. In Texas, only the administrator of the decedent’s estate or the decedent’s heirs can sue for wrongful death. Their damages are for the loss of the relationship with the decedent. Also available is a “Survival Action” if the decedent did not die instantaneously and experienced pain and suffering. In a survival action, the damages are the same ones the decedent could have claimed had he/she lived (medical charges, pain and suffering, loss of earnings, etc.). Any type accident may cause a wrongful death, and David Chapin has successfully represented the families of those fatally injured by the negligent act of another.

Car Accidents

There are ever-increasing numbers of cars on the roads of the U.S., and Texas’s swelling population makes that particularly true here. And all those cars on our roads make collisions a common hazard. There are more than 6 million car accidents annually in the U.S. In 2008 in Texas, there were 61,954 crashes causing serious injuries; that same year, 242,698 people were injured in cars crashes in Texas, and 3,469 people died. A wide variety of factors cause car crashes, and the resulting injuries are all different. Thus, each case is unique, and a thorough knowledge of how to investigate the facts is necessary.

18-Wheeler Accidents

Because of its size and long international border, Texas is a hub of commercial trucking in America. It was also one of three States with the highest number of 18-wheeler collisions from 2003-2007. Collisions involving these large commercial trucks typically cause much more severe injuries because of their size, and national statistics show that the injured are most often the occupants of passenger cars. Federal laws govern the operation of big rigs, and it is important to begin investigating an accident as soon as it happens because these laws allow trucking companies and drivers to destroy certain important records after only a few months.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles are by their design far less crashworthy than closed vehicles. They are also less visible to other drivers and pedestrians and less stable than four-wheel vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in serious injury or death. In 2008, there were 5,290 motorcycle fatalities in the U.S., the highest level since the Department of Transportation began collecting data in 1975, and it marked the 11th consecutive year that the number of motorcycle deaths had risen. Injured bikers must also overcome an inherent bias against them from law enforcement and the public.

Bicycle Accidents

In much the same way as motorcyclists, bicycle riders are particularly vulnerable to injury from a roadway accident. Each year 900 people die from injuries sustained in bicycle accidents and another 567,000 end up in hospital emergency rooms – 350,000 of those are children under the age of 15. Typically, a child’s injury in a bike accident involves head injuries that can cause death or lifelong disabilities. More that 60 percent of childhood bicycle related fatalities occur on small neighborhood roads and streets and usually within one mile of home.

Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a specific type of brain damage that is caused by an external force impacting the head and brain. Half of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by motor vehicle collisions. If, following any type of accident, a person has a documented loss of consciousness or has amnesia for the event, brain damage is almost certain. TBI can drastically alter the lives of those injured and their families. David Chapin has been involved in brain injury cases since his time as a law clerk while attending law school, and he understands the range of tests used, the results they produce, and how to approach a case of traumatic brain injury.

Back and Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is the major bundle of nerves that carries nerve impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries usually begin with a sudden, traumatic blow that fractures or dislocates your vertebrae, and pieces of vertebrae then tear into cord tissue or press down on the nerve parts that carry signals. A ruptured disc (the padding between the vertebrae) can cause pressure on the spinal canal (the tunnel down the spine that houses the spinal cord) and nerve roots, resulting in significant pain, tingling, or numbness. Spinal cord injuries can cause lifelong disabilities, and they are associated with all manner of traumatic events – from car accidents to falls to gunshot wounds.

Premises Accidents

In Texas, when you enter the premises of a homeowner or a residential complex as an invited guest, or when you enter a business or commercial property as a customer, the property owner or occupier has the duty to inspect the property and to warn you of any dangerous conditions, or to correct them. If you are injured by some condition that the owner or occupier failed to remedy or to warn you about, the owner or occupier may be liable for your damages. Texas law is very specific in the area of premises liability, and over the past 14 years David Chapin has successfully represented clients who were seriously injured, or had loved ones killed, as the result of negligent premises owners.

Premises Liability/Negligent Security

Negligent security is a distinct area of premises law. The premises owner or occupier has the same duties that are outlined under Premises Accidents. But if the dangerous condition is one that allows another person or persons to enter the property and assault or rob you, then the owner or occupier may be liable for your damages if it was reasonable for him or her to foresee the incident and failed to provide adequate security. These are cases that must be built through careful collection and interpretation of information, and hiring an attorney experienced in this area is important.

Construction/Workplace Accidents

In 2008, the most recent year analyzed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas was second only to California in the number of fatal workplace injuries, and roughly 20 percent of those were construction deaths. By far, falls from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds are the leading cause of construction deaths. It is common for employers to ignore OSHA guidelines for training and workplace safety, and this leads to serious injuries and fatalities. If you have suffered a serious workplace injury, or had a loved one killed at work, The Law Firm of David Chapin is experienced in handling these cases. We do not accept workers’ compensation cases.

Industrial Accidents

The greater Houston area and the Houston Ship Channel are home to the largest number of industrial and petrochemical refining operations in the country. And they are dangerous places to work. Injured workers are often limited to their employer’s workers’ compensation benefits, which pays for medical expenses and lost income, but not pay for pain and suffering. However, defective equipment or a negligent third party may be responsible for the injury. It is important to have experts begin investigating accident sites immediately, and companies usually try to limit access to the injured worker and his representatives.

Excavation Accidents

Excavating is recognized as one of the most hazardous construction operations. Cave-ins are perhaps the most feared hazard when working in trenches and excavations. But other potentially fatal hazards exist, including asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen in a confined space, inhalation of toxic fumes, and drowning. Electrocution or explosions can occur when workers contact underground utilities. OSHA requires that workers in trenches and excavations be protected, and that safety and health programs address the variety of hazards they face. Texas is not among the 24 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that have adopted OSHA-approved State Plans.

Maritime, Jones Act and Longshore (LHWCA) Accidents

For maritime workers who are seriously or fatally injured, the damages to which they are entitled depends on their status – whether as a Jones Act “seaman” or as a longshoreman or harbor worker under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. General maritime law and other overlapping laws also can affect the remedies available to an injured or deceased maritime worker as well as the venue where suit may be filed. Passengers and visitors aboard a vessel are owed a duty of reasonable care against harm, and thus they may file suit for negligence or intentional harm just as they could if injured on land by a third party. Maritime injuries and deaths are governed by a complex set of laws, and it is imperative to find an attorney who understands their application.

Train Wrecks

Railroad workers are protected by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), which was enacted in 1908. FELA is not a workers’ compensation statute, but rather, injured workers’ must prove the railroad or its employees were negligent. Railroads often adopt the harsh strategy of simply not paying damages that are due. For passengers, railroads are classified as “common carriers” and thus they owe passengers the highest degree of care to protect their safety. This means passengers have an easier road to proving their claims than do persons injured in collisions at railroad crossings. Accidents at railroad crossings can involve questions of the pre-emption of federal safety standards over state-law claims, and thus the immediate investigation of the facts of each crossing accident is essential.

Swimming Pool Accidents

In 2007, an average of 10 people per day died from drowning in the United States. Drowning has become the No. 1 cause of death for children aged 14 or younger. Among children 1-4 years, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools. Most children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time. For every child who dies from drowning, another four received hospital emergency room care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Extended non-fatal submersions can cause brain damage and long-term disabilities.

Boating Accidents

In its annual recreational boating statistics for 2008, the U.S. Coast guard reported that among the top 10 primary contributing factors for boating accidents were careless/reckless operation (1), operator inattention (2), no proper lookout (3), excessive speed (7), and alcohol use (8). In other words, people have boating accidents for many of the same reasons they have car accidents. There were 4,789 reported boating accidents in 2008, resulting in 3,331 injuries and 709 deaths. But even the Coast Guard admits that a low reporting rate makes the number of non-fatal accidents unreliable. Texas led all states in the number of boating accident deaths with 61.

Jet Ski Accidents

Personal water craft, commonly called jet skis, have been referred to as motorcycles for water. Unfortunately, motorcycles have breaks and jet skis do not. Jet skis can only be stopped by throttling down the accelerator, and then the common distance it takes to stop is more than 300 feet. And when the accelerator is not engaged, jet skis cannot be steered. So it is not surprising that the most common jet ski accident is a collision with another vessel. Jet ski riders sustain more closed head injuries, trauma to the chest, and abdominal injuries than do boat occupants. In 2008, jets skies were second only to open motorboats in the number of boating deaths in the U.S.

Insurance Coverage Disputes

A simple truth: Insurance companies make money collecting as much in premiums on as many policies as possible, and then paying as little as they can on claims. A hard fact: Insurance industry profits continue to soar each year. In Texas, the Insurance Commissioner has no authority to regulate or sanction insurance companies, and so the industry wields great unchecked power in this state. And insurance companies are getting bolder and more creative in simply refusing to pay meritorious claims. Their objective is to get you so frustrated that you’ll go away or accept a low-ball offer that is far less than what you are entitled to. So if your insurance company is stringing you along or denying your claim, whatever the claim is for (auto damage, property damage, homeowner’s, any type of benefits), contact David Chapin.

Consumer Protection

To seek help under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, a person or entity must meet the definition of “consumer.” Basically, to be a consumer, a qualified person or entity must seek or acquire, by purchase or lease, goods or services. The DTPA, as it is commonly known, covers the entire spectrum of consumer transactions. The term “goods” includes every tangible thing, including real estate and living creatures. The term “services” means any type of service – including repair or construction contracts, and professional services – except loaning money. If you have been misled or falsely convinced to purchase goods or services, or some person or entity has not delivered the proper goods or performed the services you purchased, contact David Chapin.