December 19, 2014

Shocking Dash-Cam Video Records Texting and Driving Crash

Florida Man Survives Dramatic Auto Accident Caught on Tape

A video that went viral shows the erratic driving of a texting motorist. A Fort Myers, Florida police officer who happened to be following behind the texting driver caught the whole thing on his dash-cam. The driver was travelling down a suburban mixed residential/ commercial street during the early morning hours of January 4 of this year when the officer began to follow him. The driver is so engrossed in his text, he doesn't even notice that the patrol car directly behind him. To an outside observer, the driver appears to be drunk. He exhibits many of the same driving behaviors typical of a drunk driver.

First, the driver swerves back and forth, crossing the center line and almost driving onto the sidewalk several times. He taps the brakes for no reason as he approaches a green traffic light some distance ahead. By the time he reaches the intersection, the light has turned red. He comes to a complete stop with his blinker indicating a right turn, but then begins to pull out and slams on his brakes as a car rolls past. He hesitantly makes the right turn straight into the far lane. Suddenly his car cuts sharply across the center lane and beelines toward a cement pole. The vehicle jumps the curb, hits a sign and a tree, flips over and slams into a utility pole. All of this occurs within seconds of making the turn.

Shockingly, the driver walks away from the accident without sustaining serious injuries or hurting anybody else. 23-year-old Michael Woody admitted to sending a text message in the moments before the dramatic crash. Police charged Mr. Woody with careless driving and texting while driving.

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December 18, 2014

Running And Walking Safely on Our Dallas- Fort Worth Roads

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How To Avoid Injury As You Exercise Outside

 OK, so I'm one of those crazy guys you see running around as I try to stay in shape and I was just asked what my biggest worry was -- injuries? weather? dogs? No, it's drivers. I'm careful and have fortunately never been struck by a car or truck. But many fellow runners, others on foot, and cyclists have not been so lucky.

I'm representing a man who was seriously injured when he was walking in a highly visible crosswalk in the Fort Worth Stockyards during the day and I did some research. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (N.H.T.S.A.) reports that 4,743 pedestrians were killed and about 76,000 were injured in traffic-related accidents in 2011. This equals one pedestrian death every two hours and one pedestrian injury every seven minutes because of crashes. N.H.T.S.A. counts runners, joggers, walkers and others who are standing or sitting as pedestrians.

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December 17, 2014

Drivers Should Support "Safe Texas" Agenda

Thumbnail image for Safe Texas Logo in Red
Texas Watch Advocates for Safety Laws 

Texas Watch released its Safe Texas agenda for the 84th Legislative session. The non-partisan citizen advocacy organization lobbies for passage of important safety laws. In this upcoming session, Texas Watch plans to advocate for laws that:

  1. Prohibit junk "named driver" auto insurance policies;
  2. Ban texting while driving; 
  3. Adopt strong chemical safety reforms; 
  4. Strengthen nursing home enforcement and accountability; and
  5. Require ride-share drivers to be covered under commercial liability insurance policies

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December 16, 2014

Latest DWI Crashes on DFW Highways: These Have To Stop

bedford DWI crash - mug shotCharged with Intoxication Manslaughter in the Deadly Weekend Collision

In a deadly crash during the early morning hours on Sunday, a van flipped on Airport Freeway and caught fire. The 23 year-old Dallas man who was driving the van was arrested at the scene and charged with intoxication manslaughter, intoxication assault and driving while intoxicated.

The fatal crash occurred at 4.45 a.m. Vivence Bugilimfura drove into an impact barrier where State Highway 121 intersects Airport Freeway in Bedford. The van overturned and burst into flames. Everyone in the vehicle, including the driver, was ejected and sustained serious injuries. 21-year-old Lynker Kabera died at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. Two passengers had to be airlifted. All passengers were treated at a local hospital.

Vivence Bugilimfura remains incarcerated on a $250,000 bond.

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December 15, 2014

Liability of Ridesharing Services Like Uber in Dallas-Fort Worth

Ridesharing Driver
Worldwide Questions Have Local Impact

Ever used Uber and wondered if the driver was covered by liability insurance? I did yesterday in Dallas (as I needed a ride to and from the Dallas Marathon which I was running) and the drivers admitted that they were not covered. Luckily, we were not involved in any collisions.

Finally Uber and other pseudo-cab companies are catching flak from governments across the globe. Just this week, Spain, Thailand, the Netherlands and the Delhi region of India suspended its services. Earlier in the year, the cities of Brussels, Rio de Janeiro and Seoul banned the company from operating and Germany issued a countrywide moratorium. U.S. municipalities and state governments are also taking action, with ride sharing regulatory bills introduced and squashed in Washington, Oklahoma, Maryland, Georgia and Florida, and passed in Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Missouri and Tennessee, among other states. Ordinances have also been considered in various cities throughout the United States, including in Texas in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Some lawmakers cite concerns about unfair competition by the unregulated transportation networking companies (TNCs) -- such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar -- within the otherwise highly-regulated taxi industry. More importantly, numerous incidents have highlighted security lapses and insurance coverage gaps within the unregulated TNC model.

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December 12, 2014

Think It's OK to Text While Driving? You Won't After You Watch This

From One Second to the Next tells four heartbreaking stories about the devastation caused in the few seconds when a driver looks down at her or his phone and texts while driving. This must-see documentary adds human faces and voices to the tragic consequences.

Texting while driving is incredibly dangerous. Statistics show that 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 people were injured in 2012 in collisions involving distracted drivers. Texting takes five seconds on average, which if you are driving at 55 mph is tantamount to travelling the length of a football field while wearing a blindfold.  From One Second to the Next shows the human costs of those five seconds.

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December 11, 2014

Why Are More People Being Killed At Railroad Crossings In Texas?

Amtrak Train Could Not Stop in Time to Avoid Truck on Track North of Austin

In a horrific collision, 54-year-old Donald Patrick Turner was killed when he drove into the path of an Amtrak train. Why are deaths like these rising in Texas when they are decreasing nationally?

In this case, the fault belongs to the driver. The train collision occurred just before 1:00 p.m. on State Highway 95 and County Road 387 near Bartlett on November 25th. The train was en route from San Antonio to Chicago and had just left the Taylor station when the train hit Mr. Turner's Chevrolet Silverado. The pickup truck burst into flames and was pushed about three-quarters of a mile down the tracks until the train came to a stop. Fortunately, none of the 239 passengers sustained injuries. The Fort Worth conductor, 58 year-old Edward Hobbs, was treated for minor injuries at the scene.

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December 10, 2014

Arlington DWI Which Killed Three Gets Drunk Driver Long Jail Term

Yesterday Benjamon Stewart, who was convicted in September of three charges of intoxication manslaughter, was sentenced to 22 years in prison. I support the jury's decision.

This 43-year-old crashed into a husband, wife, and their 11-month-old daughter in July of 2013 on Interstate 30 in Arlington and tragically killed them. Stewart then fled the scene and hid in the woods for over an hour until he was located by police. His blood-alcohol level was a shocking .28% -- more than three times the legal limit. I blog about these horrible crimes, including this one when it happened, and was glad this man got the justice he deserved. I hope it sends a message to others who think nothing of driving while intoxicated and causing mayhem on our Dallas Fort Worth streets and highways.

We Must Stop The Insanity

We have to crack down on drunk drivers in Texas. We have more of them here than in any other state -- even California which has 12 million more people. A shocking 1,296 people died from these crashes in 2012. This figure increased 7% from the year before. The problem is out of control.

In my practice, I've seen that drunk driving crashes are often the most serious auto and truck accidents because they are often high speed, head-on crashes. Here's a photo of my poor clients' car after it was hit by a drunk driver in a case I just resolved.Front (6)_237.jpg

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December 10, 2014

How To Avoid Being In An Accident In Bad Weather

You Can't Control the Weather, But You Can Control How You Drive

Dallas-Fort Worth drivers had to negotiate a blanket of fog yesterday morning. Traffic moved slowly and there were many accidents. No wonder given the conditions as reflected in this photo published in the Dallas Morning News Daily Scoop. My law firm has received several calls from people who were unfortunately involved in collisions.  


But thankfully the fog didn't lead to a catastrophic crash like the one two years ago when heavy Texas fog contributed to a 140-auto pileup that resulted in two deaths and 80 injuries in Beaumont. On Thanksgiving Day morning, a chain reaction of crashes occurred one after another on Interstate 10. A couple lost their lives when a tractor-trailer drove over their SUV. 

Maybe drivers yesterday realized that their lives are more important than reaching their destination on time. It's that time of the year when ice, poor visibility, and rain can create treacherous driving conditions.

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December 9, 2014

So You Think Your Minivan Is Safe?

Crash Tests Show Serious Defects in Popular Minivan Models

The minivan is a staple for many Texas families that need to tout several children around town. Parents are able to fit their kids, sports equipment, groceries and multitude other items into these convenient vehicles, which also have a reputation for being very safe.

But how safe is your minivan? Although popular minivan models performed well on older testing platforms, they exhibited serious flaws when subjected to the new small overlap front crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In some cases, the researchers had to cut the test dummy out of the vehicle using a crowbar. Had the dummy been a human being, the driver would have suffered horrific leg injuries.

Small Overlap Front Crash Tests

The small overlap front crash test replicates a common accident scenario in which the driver strikes another car or s stationary object -- such as a pole or tree -- with the front corner of the vehicle. The new test was introduced because these types of frontend corner crashes account for one-fourth of fatal and severe automobile accident injuries in vehicles that had previously earned a Good rating in the IIHS's older version of the front overlap test. In the new test, 25 percent of the front end of the vehicle on the driver's side hits a solid barrier at a speed of 40 mph, mimicking a typical real-life situation.

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December 8, 2014

DWI Crash Takes Life Of San Antonio Driver; No Seat Belt Worn

San Antonio DUI Crash Scenario All Too Familiar

In an all too familiar headline, a woman died in a DUI car crash over the weekend in San Antonio. She was not wearing her seat belt at the time of the wreck. Sadly, DUI accidents are so common that the news puts aside a single paragraph to report what should be an extraordinary event -- the unnecessary death of a human being because of the totally preventable action of driving while intoxicated.

The DUI accident occurred in the early morning hours on Sunday. The drunk driver was turning onto West Military Drive from West Commerce when he lost control of his Mitsubishi, jumped a curb, hit a tree and rolled into a drainage ditch. The car became wedged between the tree and a guardrail. The drunk driver suffered internal injuries and was rushed to the University Hospital in critical condition. His passenger was pronounced dead en-route to the hospital in the ambulance. To reach the seriously injured couple, emergency rescue technicians had to cut the roof off the vehicle.

San Antonio law enforcement has charged the drunk driver with intoxicated manslaughter for the death of his passenger.

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December 5, 2014

Bill Berenson Named A Top Injury Attorney in Tarrant County

2014 Fort Worth Magazine Top Attorney LogoHonored to Be Chosen as a Top Tarrant County Plaintiffs' Personal Injury Lawyer Again

Fort Worth, Texas Magazine has listed me as a Top Attorney in the Personal Injury Plaintiff category. I am proud to be chosen for this honor.

Each year, lawyers in the Fort Worth-Dallas region vote for lawyers in their field of practice to be included on the Top Attorney list. A panel of lawyers, themselves Top Attorneys, reviewed the nominations and made the final decisions.

Thank you to my colleagues for your votes for this prestigous award.

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December 4, 2014

Road Rage In Houston: Deputy Sheriff Shoots Driver In Head

Off-Duty Texas Law Enforcement Officer Injures Woman in Violent Road Rage Shooting 

We've all been here: An angry driver speeds down a busy highway, swerves between lanes, pulls in front of traffic and generally drives recklessly. No matter how infuriating this conduct is, the best thing to do is to stay clear and, if the driver appears to be a danger, call police. Engaging the driver puts your life at risk. A 20 year-old Houston woman discovered this after a road rage incident ended in a shooting.

Harris County Reserve Deputy Takes Out his Rage on Fellow Drivers

The victim is lucky to be alive after encountering an angry driver on the 610 Loop at the Stella Link between Buffalo Speedway and Kirby. On November 11, Harris County reserve deputy Kenneth Caplan was speeding down the Houston highway when he cut off the victim. She honked at him, switched to the other lane and pulled in front of him. After the cat-and-mouse exchange, the angry driver shot at his victim. The bullet grazed her head, fortunately causing only moderate injuries. One inch lower and she might have been killed or suffered much more serious head and face injuries.

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December 3, 2014

Drunk Driver Seriously Injures 11-Year-Old In North Fort Worth

Charged with Intoxicated Assault, Driver Claims She Was Reaching for Water Bottle

In a devastating Thanksgiving weekend automobile crash, an SUV plowed into two young girls walking on a sidewalk in a quiet residential street in Tarrant County. One 11-year-old girl had to be air ambulanced to Cook Children's Medical Center and remains hospitalized with broken bones in both legs and head injuries. This happened at 9:45 o'clock a.m.

As I often say, what in the hell is going on out there?

The 28-year-old driver, who sustained back and neck injuries, was arrested and charged with intoxication assault. Drug and alcohol blood tests are pending, but police suspect the driver was drunk or on drugs at the time of the vehicle crash because of her erratic driving and conduct after the accident. The driver, Laura Martin, says she was not drinking or on drugs, but that she was angry after an argument with her mother and that she was reaching for a spilled water bottle when the car accident occurred. 

Whether because of alcohol or a distraction, the fact remains that Ms. Martin should never have gotten behind the wheel. Her reckless driving has put a little girl in the hospital with severe, potentially permanent, injuries and injured another young lady.

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December 2, 2014

Texting and Driving Outlawed In Bedford; Which TX City Is Next?

Woman Texting While DrivingPopular New Law Will Increase Safety on This Fort Worth Suburb's Roads

The Bedford City Council just passed an ordinance that makes texting while driving a Class C misdemeanor that is subject to a $200.00 fine. Reading, writing and sending texts and emails and using the Internet while driving are now unlawful. Exceptions include using the smartphone in its hands-free mode or as a GPS system by affixing the device to a rear view mirror. 

The popular measure gained the support of 90 percent of Bedford residents and won unanimous votes of the full City Council. Texting while driving is already unlawful in other Texas jurisdictions and will hopefully one day be banned statewide. The dangers associated with using electronic devices while controlling a vehicle so far outweigh any possible benefits that banning the activity is common sense. 

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 460 of the 3,377 fatal automobile and truck accidents in Texas in 2013 involved distracted drivers.

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