In addition to supporting our clients through the intricacies of their family law matters, Walters Gilbreath, PLLC has a team of lawyers and personnel with decades of combined experience handling a variety of personal injury cases. Today, we’re interviewing two members of our Personal Injury Team Attorney, David Spradling, and Director of Personal Injury Client Operations, Sheree Roberts.
The personal injury lawyers at Walters Gilbreath, PLLC represent injured clients in Car Accidents, Truck Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Premise Liability, Wrongful Death, and other Personal Injury Claims. We’re committed to getting maximum value for injury victims, but more than that, we’re committed to helping our clients get their lives back to normal. Before you consider giving a recorded statement or accepting a settlement from the insurance company, speak to one of our experienced lawyers for a free consultation.
Your hosts have earned a reputation as fierce and effective advocates inside and outside of the courtroom. Both partners are experienced trial attorneys who have been board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Brian Walters: All right everybody. Welcome to the For Better, Worse, or Divorce podcast. This is Brian Walters again. I’m here today, not with one, but with two guests and I’m mostly going to shut up. But I will start by telling you that, I think a lot of you know this, we’ve launched a personal injury side of the practice, which we’ve started doing and rapidly growing just on the request of our clients. And we wanted to talk today with the two key people that are leading that. So why don’t we start with you, David. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, where you grew up, your experience with us and with personal injury, all that kind of thing. We’ll get the same from Sheree and then we’ll let you take it from there.
David Spradling: My name is David Spradling. I’m one of the associate attorneys at Walters Gilbreath. I’ve been at this firm for about three years. I grew up in Canton, Texas, a really small town, about an hour east of Dallas, home of one of the largest flea markets in the world. That’s pretty much all that we’re known for. But I went to the University of Texas for undergrad and I went to South Texas College of Law for my legal education. And then during law school I had clerked for a personal injury firm where I learned the rules of the road and personal injury. And then I went out on my own for a little bit and ultimately ended up here at Walters Gilbreath handling mainly family law cases, but like Mr. Walters said, we recently started a personal injury division, which I’m heading as we speak.
Brian Walters: Great. We’ll get into some war stories about small towns in the East Texas and about some interesting personal injury cases in a little bit. I’ll let you tell a little bit more about that as we go. But Sheree, you want to tell us same sort of stuff, where’d you grow up, who you are, what you’ve done with us, what you’re doing now, and then at that point, we’ll let David lead on the details of it.
Sheree Roberts: Hi, my name is Sheree Roberts. I am from Houston, Texas. My parents are from East Texas. My father is from Crockett, Texas and my mom is from Grapeland, Texas. And like I said, originally I was born here in Houston. I’ve been working with Walters Gilbreath, I think probably a little bit over four to five years. I’ve worked in the legal field for over 20 years. The first firm I started at was a criminal law firm who also started handling personal injury cases. From that, I have been in the legal field for that entire time. I think I took a break for two years, did some community work, worked for the city of Houston and the county, and then came back into the legal field, which is what I love to do.
Brian Walters: Great. Well thank you very much. David, so why don’t we talk about a typical story of a personal injury case. Let’s talk about a car accident. Somebody’s driving down the road, a parent with a child in the back of the car and suddenly they get T-boned by somebody running a red light. So what happens from there once that accident has occurred, what’s important to know and what should somebody who’s been in that unfortunate situation need to think about at that point? And then like I said, I’ll just let you take it from there and go on there.
David Spradling: Sure. So in that scenario, the best thing to do is to call the police because you need to understand that there needs to be a report made about that accident. And ultimately the police can determine liability, meaning who’s at fault for the accident. In that case, the person that T-boned the individual with their child. After that, if the lady’s able to, then she needs to try to take pictures of the accident scene as well. If there are any witnesses that come on the scene, it would be beneficial to ask the witnesses what they saw, get their contact information and things like that. Whether that’s included in the police report or not. It’s important for the future because unfortunately, if the police aren’t called and witnesses aren’t talked to, sometimes people change their stories once insurance gets involved or people think that they may be personally liable for an insurance claim due to an accident.
After that, obviously call EMS, get an ambulance out there to get immediate treatment for your injuries if that’s what has occurred, if the person is really injured. And then after that you should really call an experienced personal injury attorney to start preparing to build up your claim ultimately for an insurance claim or eventually filing a lawsuit if it comes to that. Once you do hire us, we help you navigate the insurance process against some of these insurance companies. Unfortunately, insurance companies are simply large businesses that are in the business of making a lot of profit, billions of dollars a year. And they ultimately don’t look after their insured or the injured parties. They’re in the business of making as much money as possible. So our firm will help you make sure that you get the proper treatment that you need, ensure that you continue the treatment that you need through your primary care physician or chiropractor or whoever is your treating professional.
We will gather all of the records and bills, ultimately send a what’s called a demand letter to the insurance company to get the compensation that the injured party deserves. That includes medical costs, disfigurement, things like that, lost wages both for the lost and the future wages from your loss of ability to work, loss of earning capacity, medical bills that may be incurred in the future and get you the compensation that you deserve. If the insurance company doesn’t want to pay what ultimately they’re liable for, we’ll prepared to file a lawsuit against the individual party to get to the insurance company and litigate the case all the way through a jury trial if necessary. That’s your only recourse if the insurance company doesn’t want to pay out the claim. Unfortunately that happens a lot.
Brian Walters: Sheree, where would you help out in this process?
Sheree Roberts: I think that it’s very important in the process, I was actually listening to David and thinking one of the things that when I started with Walters Gilbreath was I worked with intakes, taking the clients in and communicating and making sure that we got all the information they have for the cases. So I have really served as a paralegal, a legal assistant. I come in with the client interaction, making sure that the clients understand the process, answering any questions that they may have, facilitating the actual visit, the first visits, and any other referrals that they may have and concerns for their clients and making sure that we are available. It’s very important when you are going through or experiencing something like this, to have someone that you can trust, you can communicate with, you can call on and not just call, but also that’s going to be resourceful in making sure that we answer your questions and direct you in the correct way.
Brian Walters: Yeah, and back to the insurance company thing, and David said it very well, it’s a business. I don’t get too wound up about them other than to realize what is is. So how does insurance work? The reason we talk about insurance is because almost nobody, unless Elon Musk T-boned you, you’re not going to be able to sue the person and collect any money from them. And pretty sure even Elon Musk has a lot of insurance. In fact, Tesla sells insurance, car insurance. So anyway, so the way it works is because you guys, everybody has insurance. So you pay 50 bucks a month for your car insurance and then if you end up whacking somebody, we have a fault based system. So if you end up whacking somebody, then your insurance company will pay out the claim for you.
But the way that works is that they collect more, hopefully more, hopefully from their perspective more, if they’re going to pay a thousand dollars out, they will have hopefully in their minds collected $1,050 or $1,100 of premiums. But oftentimes little known fact, they actually collect less than that. So, well, if they only get paid 950 bucks and they have to pay out a thousand, they’d be bankrupt, right? But the reason they don’t is because of the delay in the time between when the money is paid and the actual to them versus when they pay it out.
So, they take that money, that $950 in this example, and they invest it in the stock market or real estate or whatever, and that pays a dividend. Maybe it grows 8% a year, 10% a year. And so they don’t want to pay you quickly and they want to pay you two or three years after your accident. Why? Because they will be able to invest that money. It’s called ‘float’, which is the legal term or technical term. And so that’s one of the things we can do also is make sure you get paid as quickly as possible and you really have to fight uphill with these folks because they’re trained to not pay you and they will and you have to push them, you have to threaten trial or filing or basically it has to be in their best interest to pay you sooner rather than later. So that’s also something we do.
David Spradling: They want to delay paying you as much as possible. Then once they’re done delaying, they’re going to try to deny the claim and then after they have denied the claim, a lawsuit is going to ensue and ultimately they’re going to have to defend the case. A great example is the last case that I filed a suit on. We represented a gentleman that was driving down a highway. He was rear-ended by three individuals. You got one car behind him, another car and another car. Three people rear-ended him. And each one of those insurance companies said, “We’re not responsible.” Our guy was first in line, he didn’t rear-end anybody. Three individual cars behind him rear ended him and they all said were not at fault. They all started pointing fingers at each other and denied the claim. So now they’re ultimately going to have to defend the case in a district court and ultimately they’re going to have to defend their case to a jury if they don’t pay out the proper claim.
Brian Walters: Very true. So let’s go around and just because I think this might lead us to a discussion about the different types of injury claims because there’s a lot, right? The car accidents are the most common, but there are plane accidents, there are medical malpractice, there is nursing home negligence, there’s professional malpractice, there’s all kinds of things that can occur. So David, I know you were to give an extreme example, you were once upon a time involved in a case involving a train accident in another country, in Canada. So tell us a little bit about that to go from a very different one extreme to the other and then we’ll each tell maybe one other story about other cases.
David Spradling: Sure. So while I was in law school, I had the opportunity to work on a case where unfortunately a lot of people in Canada were killed as a result of a train that wasn’t properly taken care of in the middle of the night, the train wasn’t blocked correctly and the train ended up taking off without a conductor on it. It hit a curb and it flipped and it was carrying, if I remember correctly, crude oil or some type of oil that could explode.
It ended up exploding and killing, I believe over 50 people or 47 people or something like that. And that is a horrific situation, but that’s just an example of one of the many different types of cases that we can work on where an individual has been hurt at the negligence of the company. And it can’t express how important it is to hire an experienced attorney to help prosecute your claim against these insurance companies because as soon as whether it’s a train accident, a plane accident, or it’s just a regular motor vehicle accident on the highway, that insurance company is immediately investigating the claim. If they need to, they have hired experts on the day of that the accident happens. They will fly in experts from across the country to start investigating, situations such as Astroworld or something like that because they start their pretrial immediately. And that’s why it’s so important to hire good personal injury attorneys so that we can start hiring those experts as well to prove your case.
Brian Walters: Sheree, do you get contacted nine to five Monday through Friday or are you working a little bit different hours than that sometimes with these cases? I think I know the answer, but I’m just asking it.
Sheree Roberts: Yeah, I think most of us will know that answer if they know me. I’m contacted all times of the night. As David stated, and Brian was talking about the insurance company, I was thinking about some of the cases that I’ve worked on where as you stated, it is so important also, I wanted to insert to know what insurance you actually have. I’ve learned now that a lot of us just pay our insurance. We don’t know the coverage we have. You don’t know actually any of your deductibles. That’s really important. I wanted to make sure to say that to make sure you know, because most of the time we trust our insurance companies. We’ve been with the same insurance company. We don’t want to change, we don’t want to file on our insurance and it’s really important. I remember working a case where one of the individuals cars, his car stopped on the side of a freeway and he exited off the side of the freeway and he was on the feeder and while he was walking around to go to the front of his car, he was hit by another car and killed immediately.
And it was devastating. It was horrible. And then his coworker came to assist him and his coworker was hit also, his coworker did survive. But as David said the insurance companies right away sending all these different investigators and it’s like we don’t realize how important it is to take down notes, have facts, know exactly what happens when it happens. The adrenaline is rushing. It’s hard to keep up.
And it’s just really important, I think, as Brian stated, to call someone that’s a professional that has worked with these type of cases because you’re not thinking at that time. You don’t know what to do, so you want to call someone that you can trust that’s going to at least direct you, which is where, or what I try to do is make sure that I’m available and David is probably silenced me on his ringer because then I’ll text David and or Brian or Jake or whoever I need just to get some answers and to be available, which most of the time is hard to do at different times of the night, but we’re available for you when you call us and these incidents occur.
So I think that makes a big difference when you are going through something like it’s life changing really.
Brian Walters: Yeah. That’s for sure. It is tragic some of these things that occur. That’s no doubt about it. Okay, well why don’t we wrap up there for now and we’ll have more information as we go along and come back and maybe we will discuss next time the most common questions that you guys hear when people are in need of help and trying to decide what law firm to hire and that type of thing. So we’ll do that. Thank you both. Appreciate it. I’ll let you get back to your busy days and we will talk soon.
Sheree Roberts: All right. Thank you.
For information about the topics covered in today’s episode and more, you can visit our website at waltersgilbreath.com. Thanks for tuning in to today’s episode of For Better, Worse, or Divorce, where we post new episodes every first and third Wednesday. Do you have a topic you want discussed or question for our hosts? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening. Until next time.