Fort Worth Injury Attorney Blog

I am pleased that my firm just settled a contested car accident case this week for the entire $250,000.00 available from the insurance company for the negligent driver.

My client graciously wrote this Five Star Review Lawyer.jpgreview:

I can’t thank Bill Berenson enough for his help on my case. 

His experience in the field and caring personality is what you should look for as someone representing you on the case to help you get what you deserve from an accident.

My wonderful client was seriously injured and required two surgeries. After attorney’s fees and medical expenses and liens, which we fought to reduce for her, she received the sum of $117,524.00 in her pocket. Now she can now finish her college degree and start her new career.  Congratulations L_______!

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IMG_8791It was fun to again be the judge at “my school” on Monday.  Eleven years ago, I adopted Rufino Mendoza, Jr. Elementary as a community service project. The experience has been a rewarding one.

I have taken a special interest in their after-school running club with my love of running. I also donate money for college scholarships and for other needs during the year.

The Competition

The seven bright students made polished presentations about their leadership skills. I am always impressed with their poise and sincerity. The Power Point slide was this child’s talking point for How I Have Been A Leader. I’m pretty sure we never did anything like this when I was in the fifth grade in 1964.

The students had just been on a field trip to the University of Texas at Arlington and were excited about going to college. Several had decided they wanted to go there and become the first members of their families to pursue higher education.

The first child loved studying the earth and wants to be a geologist because “it sounds so fascinating.”  I enjoyed it when he said that he sometimes fails because he is not perfect — but that “he always learns from the experience.”

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Easy — stop distracted driving. More specifically, stop texting while driving.

I know, good luck with that, right? It seems like every other person around you as you drive is looking down at his or her seat texting away.

This alarming epidemic is out of control.

Maybe you’re the victim of a crash caused by a driver who was texting while driving.  Statistics are on your side.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distraction was a primary factor in 3,129 traffic fatalities in 2014, the most recent year in which statistics have been analyzed. And a recent study showed that people were distracted more than 50% of the time — and texting, reaching for a cell phone, browsing the Internet and reading email, and dialing numbers caused 70% of serious crashes.

We personal injury lawyers are far too busy representing injured people who were the victims of these careless drivers.

The next time someone is driving while sending a text message, he should remember  “the last emoji,” a poignansearcht reminder of the dangers of texting and driving. It’s a huge sculpture in Miami made out of car parts the artist found in a junk yard twisted into a winking, demented face.  OMG. Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_49819624An auto accident is not an everyday occurrence for you — thankfully — so you understandably may not know what to do next. But, the steps you take during the minutes and days following your car wreck can make a big difference in the amount of your damages recovery.

Based upon my 35 years of representing accident victims, I recommend avoiding these common mistakes:

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1993-572-3-smThe U.S. Supreme Court refused to rule in the controversial religious liberty case on Monday. Instead it asked the lower courts and the parties to settle the dispute.

Zubik v. Burwell, was one of this session’s most highly anticipated cases. Seven different religiously affiliated organizations, including one from Texas, challenged the Affordable Care Act’s provision that requires them to provide health insurance coverage for their employees’ contraceptives. The government created a solution that allowed the organizations to notify the insurer or the government, which would then pay for the contraceptive coverage at no cost to the organizations.

The opinion announced per curiam by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. failed to resolve any of the case’s issues. Since the parties are unlikely to reach an agreement, the 13 related cases will languish in appeals courts until the vacant seat in Washington is filled.

And in another display of how dysfunctional and polarized the Court has become, the justices had already asked these parties in this dispute over the Affordable Health Care Act’s birth-control mandate to compromise their positions, knowing it wasn’t able to craft a majority opinion.

These highly unusual moves highlight the need to fill the empty seat or have the justices achieve consensus opinions, the stated goal of the chief justice.

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160516-texas-crash-jpo-609a_ce9773193983655f985bc22dec30704a.nbcnews-ux-320-320Two recent crashes in Texas show that they are.

1. On Saturday a bus driving to a casino near Laredo rolled over and catastrophically killed eight elderly passengers and injured 44 others. Just last year, the tiny bus company was twice ordered to take one of its buses — in its fleet of two — off the road. Louisiana inspectors found 15 safety violations involving vehicle maintenance, driver records and hours reporting.

Were these violations ever corrected? Was the same bus involved? These answers have not been released but seem obvious.

2.And just two weeks ago, a Dallas jury awarded $10.9 million to the families of two victims killed in another crash.

In April 2013, after stopping in Bedford to pick up passengers, the bus headed up the Bush Turnpike. In Irving, the driver lost control of the bus, hit barrels in the right lane, swerved across two lanes of traffic and hit a concrete barrier to the left, flipping the bus over. The senseless collision killed two people and seriously injured 40 others.

In addition to the size of the verdict, the case is unusual because the defendant is the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma that chartered the bus to drive seniors to its Oklahoma casino. However the casino operator was not driving it.

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Self driving vehicle

Self driving vehicle

Crash avoidance and driving automation make cars safer, but create legal conundrum 

A lot of us grew up watching The Jetsons and Lost in Space but never thought we’d have see self-driving cars. Now they appear to be the wave of the future. Or are they?

Many vehicles already are equipped with nifty automated features. They beep, flash warning lights, assist, or even work by themselves to help drivers with steering, parking, braking and avoiding collisions.

Crash avoidance systems make vehicles safer. A tractor-trailer installed with an automatic braking system can now “see” an obstacle 650 feet ahead. Cameras and sensors detect and alert the driver to the upcoming obstacle. If the driver fails to respond, the brakes engage to stop or slow down in time to prevent a crash. Several auto manufacturers have announced plans to offer automatic braking technology on cars as well.

But many important  legal, insurance and safety questions have arisen.

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dreamstime_xs_59940340How Do We Know Exactly When A Driver Is Impaired?

We had a big march to legalize marijuana here in Fort Worth last weekend. Lots of people smoke it — and any personal injury lawyer in Texas has seen his share of crashes caused by those driving under its influence.

But at what point is someone so high that they are too impaired to be driving? If a blood test is taken later, can its findings be admitted? Can they be automatically found to be negligent in a civil trial for damages?

Police who suspect a driver has had too much to drink perform a Breathalyzer or blood test to measure the amount of alcohol in his or her system. Several studies have set .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as the legal limit when a person is too impaired to drive and Texas uses this standard. OK, easy enough.

But marijuana also interferes with a person’s judgment, perception, vision and reaction time and  Texas law does not define a comparable legal limit for how much marijuana results in impairment.

Anything that distracts the driver, lowers response time or interferes with judgment and cognition is dangerous. This includes legal amounts of alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs.

This doesn’t mean a person is permitted to drive under the influence of marijuana, just that the amount considered “safe” is vague. Of course, unless a driver has a legal prescription for marijuana, possession remains illegal in Texas, so any use is unlawful regardless of whether a person also drives.

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dreamstime_xs_37408397Sister of Retired Supreme Court Justice Among the DWI Victims

This weekend’s mayhem left a deadly path on our roads. In just these six collisions, drunk drivers drove the wrong way and crashed head-on into other vehicles. These people were so drunk that some actually entered the highway in the wrong direction or veered over the center lane.

  • At 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, a car was travelling the wrong way on the Dallas North Tollway near I-635. A 20 year-old Lewisville woman crashed into two cars at Royal Lane, fled that scene, crashed into two more automobiles at Walnut Hill Lane, fled again, then hit another vehicle at Park Lane before police were finally able to stop her. In addition to arresting the wrong-way driver for DWI and fleeing the scene, police arrested one of the drivers she hit for DWI. Really?

dreamstime_xs_37117254Car Wreck Victims Should Not Be Harmed A Second Time

To add to the unknown insurance company procedure I blogged about on Wednesday – how injured victims often have to repay their health insurance companies for their medical care after they have been crashed into – here’s another serious problem that affects any one crashed into in Dallas-Fort Worth.

What if you have to go to the nearest hospital to treat your pain and assess your injuries and it is

A. Out of network — and you are billed for its full rate of $5,000?

B. In network and bills your health insurance carrier the $5,000, but your Aetna plan only pays the reduced rate of $1,000,– and you are billed for the balance of $4,000?

C. In network, but the ambulance, emergency room physician, x-ray technician, radiologist, pharmacist and consulting doctors are all out of network — and you are billed for $10,000?

D. In network, but you haven’t met your deductible or can’t afford the co pays, often 20% or more?

We often see clients’ bills of $10,000 or more — just for that first day. The ambulance bill alone in Fort Worth is routinely $1,500 or more.

You won’t even know this until a month later when you receive “balance bills” — or worse, complete bills — leaving you with excessively high amounts. And the other driver’s insurance company won’t pay these until you or your injury lawyer settles the case or a jury awards you damages after a trial.

What should you do? Here are some useful tips.

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