September 16, 2014

Distracted Driving Causes Buses To Crash In South Dallas?

What the hell is going on out there? On Sunday a lot of people were injured when two Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) buses collided. According to a report by CBS DFW, around 11:00 in the morning near the intersection of Ledbetter Drive and Bronx Avenue, on DART bus stopped to pick up some passengers.

buses.jpgSuddenly another DART bus crashed into the back of it at a high rate of speed. How could you not see a bus in front of you at a stop?

Ten people were injured and taken into the hospital, including both drivers and several children. Fortunately there were no other vehicles involved in the accident.

Did Distracted Driving Cause This Wreck?

Distracted driving causes a significant number of the collisions we see in this office. We hope that a DART bus driver would not be talking on his cell phone and/or texting, but it happens. It is significant that school bus drivers are prohibited by state law from using a cell phone if children are present, but other bus drivers are allowed to do so.

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September 12, 2014

Playing Fugitive Game, 15 Year Old Gets Hit By Car In Fort Worth

THE fugitive.jpgIsn't life already dangerous enough? Or is that boring? Now our teens are playing a game where they have to dart across dark streets late at night to have fun?

About midnight Friday night, a 15-year-old young woman had to be rushed to the ICU at John Peter Smith Hospital after she was hit by a car in the 8000 block of Boat Club Road in north Fort Worth. Ashlee Aguilera, a student at nearby Boswell High School, was playing this popular driving/running game with friends. She suddenly ran across this busy four lane road and was accidentally hit by a 26 year old man. Thankfully, she is expected to fully recover.

OK, I hadn't heard of this game before. I grew up watching this TV show in the 60's and love the movie starring Harrison Ford. But today, groups of "cops" form on social media and drive around at night trying to tag other groups of "fugitives."

A hospital injury-prevention outreach coordinator in Fort Worth that she had seen other injuries caused here while kids played the game and that it is "extremely dangerous." In Arizona last year, a young man died after he fell out of a speeding truck. The father in me, not to mention the personal injury attorney, thinks that this activity should be outlawed immediately.


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September 11, 2014

Jerry Jones, The Stripper, and The Statute

Cowboys.jpgThe attempt by the owner of the Dallas Cowboys to dismiss the shocking lawsuit brought by Jana Weckerly and to impose sanctions on the plaintiff's attorney just for filing it was denied yesterday. The hearing conducted by state district judge Dale Tillery was reported here.

Wenderly vs. Jones and Dallas Cowboys Football Club Ltd.

The lawsuit, filed by a "former exotic dancer" from Oklahoma who is now 27, claims that she has been damaged in excess of $1 million due to Jones's sexual assault. The case was filed many years after she allegedly took the photos of two other women in somewhat compromising positions with Jones. They were released by a man who claims that he is the son of God. Apparently there are no photos or other evidence of her even being near Jones.

It's impossible to know what really happened. Whether this woman was actually injured and, if so, why she would wait so long to file suit is the province of the judge and jury to determine.

While I don't handle cases like this, this one is fascinating. In one corner stands a self-described family man and a business tycoon, an egotist, one of only two NFL owners who also chooses to be the GM with his team is mired in mediocrity.

Contrast this rich, famous, and old Hugh Hefner-type in these lurid photos to the powerless, unknown "working girls." It's the ultimate haves vs. have-nots. With this powerful NFL owner's attempt yesterday to dismiss the lawsuit and its sexually suggestive photographs coupled with the horrific Ray Rice video and its apparent cover-up by the league, the openness and reputation of the NFL and its leadership comes into play.

Jones's Next Move

Jones's attorneys will now try to dismiss the suit based on the failure of the plaintiff to timely bring her lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, sometime in May or June of 2009 -- the date is not clear -- Jones committed various sexual assaults or demanded sexual acts. The lawsuit was not filed until this Monday, September 8, 2014, over five years later.

The statute of limitations for sexual assault cases is five years pursuant to Texas Civil Remedies & Practices Code, Section 16.0045. The petition allegeges that this period was suspended pursuant to Section 16.063 due to the plaintiff's temporary absence from Texas. It is not clear when she lived in Texas, how long she has been out of the state, and whether she is a permanent resident of Texas.

What Is A Statute Of Limitations?

Generally, there is a two year period to file a lawsuit for personal injuries, Statutes of limitations are deadlines regulating how long a person has to file a civil suit or be prosecuted for a crime. The time period begins to run on the date the claim arises, for example the day a motor vehicle collision occurs. After the statute expires, a suit generally cannot be brought.9138166-man-s-hand-holding-stopwatch-isolated-on-the-white-background.jpg The purpose of these laws is to make sure that conflicts are resolved within a reasonable amount of time, as witness recollections can easily fade, evidence can be lost, and disputes need to be resolved.

But as with all things related to the law, there are exceptions. Texas and most jurisdictions provide that limitations may be tolled, i..e. delayed. This usually happens if the injured party is a minor or incapacitated, an injury was actively concealed by the tortfeasor or was not discovered by the injured victim, bankruptcy was filed, or an agreement to extend is reached between the parties. In addition, under the theory of equitable tolling, the deadline may be extended if an individual intimidated the plaintiff. And the loosely defined doctrine of laches can be invoked in cases of equity, allowing a judge to refuse to issue an injunction if the requested party waited too long to ask for it.

Below are the statutes of limitations in Texas for various injury claims and the section of the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code where they can be located:

Fraud 4 years §16.004(a)(4)

Libel 1 year §16.002(a)

Medical malpractice 2 years §74.251(a)

Personal Injury 2 years §16.003(a)

Product liability 2 or 15 years §§16.003(a) and 16.012(b)

Property damage 2 years §16.003(a)

Wrongful death 2 years §16.003(a) and (b)

The Plaintiff's Strategy

Judge Tillery has scheduled a hearing on Jones's motion to dismiss based on the statute of limitations defense on September 26th. Since the five year statute has expired, the key question is whether the statute was somehow tolled. The plaintiff must show how long she plaintiff has resided outside of Texas and whether that absence was merely temporary.

Residency is a thorny legal question and can be loosely interpreted. I learned this when I filed a lawsuit in 2000 against George Bush and Dick Cheney based on their violation on the Constitution's 12th Amendment which prohibits the presidential and vice-presidential nominees from both residing in the same state (Texas). The U.S. District Court and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals somehow held that Cheney was a resident of Wyoming, even though he had continually resided in Dallas for five years prior to that time when he was the CEO of Halliburton.

She can also argue that she was incapacitated somehow, perhaps by the severe trauma of the episode, if that can be proven. That seems to be a stretch.

Anything can happen in this -- or any -- case. Perhaps a confidential out of court settlement will be reached. Stay tuned.

September 10, 2014

Why Are We Allowed To Text While Driving?

mobile-phone-in-hand-1438233-3-m-thumb-300x450-86356.jpgDistracted driving caused over 90,000 collisions in Texas in 2012, resulting in 453 fatalities and 18,468 serious injuries -- up a shocking 4% over the year before. Texting and driving is six times more likely to cause a wreck than drinking and driving.

The Texas Legislature banned this deadly practice in 2011, but Governor Perry inexplicably vetoed the bill. As a result, we are one of the only remaining states that mostly allows people to drive and text. Texas only bans drivers from texting if they are younger than 18, driving a bus, or are driving in or near a school zone. Arlington and Denton are the only cities in the Metroplex that always prohibit this dangerous practice.

Ever notice how many people in the next car are looking down at their phones as you are driving? We always subpoena the other driver's cell phone records.

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September 8, 2014

Facebook Kills; Young Driver Takes Life Of Elderly Woman

Here's the dark side of Facebook and cell phones: a 20-year-old North Dakota woman has been charged with negligent homicide after she rear-ended an SUV. She was driving at 85 miles per hour while posting messages to her Facebook account on her phone. The crash killed an 89-year-old great-grandmother from northwestern Minnesota.

Abby Sletten, of Hatton, N.D., appeared last week in court after being charged with killing Phyllis Gordon in the crash that occurred on Interstate 29 in May.

North Dakota Woman killed car accident facebook.jpg
Police searched Sletten's cellphone and "determined that [she] was viewing pictures on her Facebook ... at the time of the crash," according to the criminal complaint. "Sletten had also sent and received several text messages since she departed."

A driver heading north told a Highway Patrol officer that he was traveling at 80 mph when Sletten's SUV passed. The witness also saw another SUV slowing in an attempt to make a U-turn using an unauthorized crossover.

Sletten then crashed into the other SUV. According to the witness, her brake lights never engaged.

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September 4, 2014

Arlington Drunk Convicted Of DWI In Deaths of Family Of Three

A Tarrant County jury convicted an Arlington man yesterday of three counts of intoxication manslaughter after he drove while he was intoxicated and killed a family of three last July.

Benjamon Ray Stewart, 43, will be sentenced by state District Judge Scott Wisch. He faces 20 years in prison on each count in additioon to 10 years for his failure to stop and render aid. I hope they lock him up and throw away the key.

Stewart rear-ended the Najim Intidam's Toyota about 2:20 a.m. on Interstate 30 between Eastchase Parkway and Fielder Road in Arlington. The car couldn't move and sat in a middle lane of the freeway before it was struck again from the rear by a Ford F-450 pickup pulling a loaded trailer. Mr. Intidam, his wife Hanane, and their 11-month-old daughter Nour were tragically killed.

As if this weren't bad enough, Stewart ran off and hid in nearby woods for an hour before firefighters found him.

His blood alcohol content was a staggering .28%, more than three times the legal limit of .08%.

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.

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September 3, 2014

Dallas Car Accident Kills Six People

A tragic car crash left six people dead on Sunday night in southeast Oak Cliff, Dallas.

A 20-year-old man was driving a 2004 Chevrolet Impala near the 5400 block of Bonnie View Road when one of the back wheels hit the curb. The car spun swerved across three lanes of traffic and crashed into a tree.

Oak Cliff Crash.jpgPolice say four people died at the scene and two more were taken to Baylor Hospital, where they were pronounced deceased. The deceased includes the 20-year-old driver, a 15-year-old boy, a 16-year-old boy, a 21-year-old woman, a 23-year-old woman and one other male whose age was unavailable Monday.

Police say the car was speeding at the time of the crash. Alcohol is not believed to have been a factor.

Three teenagers in the car were students and football players at Kimball High School in Oak Cliff.

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September 2, 2014

Is It Worth It To Hire An Attorney In a Collision Case?

Absolutely!

When I get calls from prospective clients, one of the most common questions I get is "How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?"

Attorney Fees

Legal Fees Attorney Blog.jpgIf you've had a car wreck or traffic accident, what do attorney fees cost to recover damages? At Berenson Injury Law, hiring an attorney costs nothing unless we win for you. The insurance company for the at-fault party generally pays at least three times more than it would if the victim did not retain an attorney, so the attorney's fee is built into the settlement. In other words, it is virtually free. And no out of pocket expenses are required.

Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis. That means we only get paid when and if we win. After recovering money, we are paid a portion of the settlement or verdict which is paid by the defendant or insurance company. And this law firm is one of the only ones that does not charge the client for internal expenses like photocopying, postage, deliveries, mileage, and other expenses that can mount up.

Our law firm doesn't charge any up-front fees or retainer fees, and we don't bill our clients based on hours we work. We're paid based on the results.

Settlements often are negotiated with no need for a trial. Indeed, the majority of traffic accident cases are settled out of court, via negotiations between a law firm and an insurance company. If we are able to settle your case out of court, our fees are lower and you can often get your settlement in a matter of months rather than several years in court.

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September 1, 2014

Fort Worth Drunk Driving Accident Takes Life of Teenager

This evening a 17-year-old girl was killed in a grisly two-vehicle collision when the Ford Mustang she was riding in collided head-on with a van. According to a report by the Star Telegram, the accident occurred just after 8:15 on White Settlement Road near the Fort Worth city limits.

molokai-mustang-599843-m.jpgEvidently, the driver of the Mustang was the victim's friend's father. It is currently not known which vehicle crossed the median and collided with the other. However, emergency crews noted that they smelled alcohol on the breath of the Mustang's driver when they were treating him.

The force from the accident split the Mustang in two, severing the car's front and rear seats. Several of the car's occupants were ejected from the vehicle. The 17-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Several others, including the driver and his daughter, were also taken into the hospital. The driver and passenger of the van were also hospitalized.

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August 28, 2014

What Should You Do If The Other Driver Has No Insurance?

It's a worst-case scenario. You're in an auto accident that results in a serious injury and substantial property damage, and the person who caused it is an uninsured motorist. You automatically assume you'll be on the hook for thousands and thousands of dollars. While this type of situation is definitely a huge hassle, you may have options you didn't realize.

Long Picture (Custom).jpgBill Berenson Injury Law wants to help explain what you can do if you or someone close to you is involved in this type of accident.

First, Call the Police and Get Medical Treatment

It is obviously imperative that you call the police so they can investigate the accident scene. If you're hurt, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you don't, there is a chance that you will suffer complications. While you may be able to obtain compensation for the original injury, you may be responsible for paying your own medical expenses should additional problems occur as a result of not seeing a doctor promptly.

Make Sure You Have Uninsured Motorist Insurance

This is actually a step you should take before you are involved in an accident. Do it now if you can. Your insurer, must, by law, offer both uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage. It is very important that you always accept this coverage whenever you purchase a policy - even though it is more expensive, you'll find that added cost will be more than worth it should you ever be involved in this type of accident. You may be able to pursue compensation for accident-related medical bills, loss of income due to missing work, and other losses you have suffered.

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August 26, 2014

Hit-and-Run Accident Leaves One Dead in Fort Worth

Earlier this month in Fort Worth, a hit-and-run accident took the life of one man as he was riding his moped down the North Freeway, near Long Avenue. According to a report by CBS DFW, the accident occurred shortly before 3 in the morning on a Thursday.

aiguines-179736-m.jpgEvidently, the moped rider was driving on the North Freeway with his "hazard" lights on when the driver of a black SUV came up from behind the moped, striking it. According to one witness, the SUV continued down the highway, dragging the moped and the rider along for several hundred feet. Eventually, the driver of the SUV pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of a closed business, where he dislodged the moped from underneath his truck and continued on his way.

The driver of the moped was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Law enforcement officers are still looking for the driver responsible for this awful accident. When they find him or her, it is likely that he or she will face very serious criminal charges for what happened in the fatal accident.

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August 25, 2014

Teenage Passenger Dies in Tarrant County Hydroplane Accident

Earlier this week near Azle, a 13-year-old girl was killed when she was ejected from the SUV in which she was riding after the vehicle hydroplaned. According to a report by the Star-Telegram, the SUV was traveling on Farm Road 3325 near Azle around 3:30 in the afternoon when the accident occurred.

night-riders-804056-m.jpgEvidently, it had been raining earlier that day, and water had accumulated on the road, creating the hazard. As the vehicle hit a patch of water, it hydroplaned, leaving the driver with little to no control of the vehicle. The SUV left the road before it rolled twice and then struck a steel pole.

Three teens were ejected from the SUV during the accident. One of them, a 13-year-old-girl was pronounced dead by emergency responders. The other teens, another 13-year-old and an 11-year-old, were taken to the hospital and are believed to be in stable condition.

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August 22, 2014

Leading GM Ignition Switch Case Sent Back To State Court in GA.

Despite an attempt by General Motors (GM) to move the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Melton family to the federal court system, U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash, Jr. ruled that the case should be handled in a Georgia state court. That happening made it a very bad day for GM. By trying to move the Melton lawsuit to federal court, the automaker was attempting to avoid having to defend the case in Cobb County, Ga. GM didn't want to have key company lawyers, engineers and officers put up for depositions and be questioned under oath. They also had to know that a jury, after hearing the damning evidence against GM, including its lengthy cover-up of a known safety hazard, would punish GM severely. The awarding of punitive damages is something the automaker definitely wants to avoid.

GM Recall Ignition Parts.jpgAs we have previously written, Brooke Melton, a 29-year-old nurse, was killed in a car crash near Atlanta in 2010 while driving her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The ignition switch in her car failed and caused her death. We will prove that the defective switch caused the Cobalt to lose power, stall and crash. Brooke's parents sued GM after their daughter's crash was linked to the defective ignition switch. They settled with GM last year for $5 million. But then in February the automaker finally admitted the existence of a defect it had known about for 11 years. GM, as a direct result of the Melton lawsuit, issued a massive recall. The Meltons asked that their settlement be rescinded and they refiled the lawsuit against GM. Brooke's parents, Ken and Beth Melton, wanted to keep the case in Cobb County, Ga., where it belonged. As expected, Judge Thrash rejected GM's claim that the Meltons had fraudulently joined the dealer, and sent the case back to state court.

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August 20, 2014

Three-Vehicle Accident on I-20 Leaves one Woman Dead

Earlier this month in Arlington, a three-vehicle accident involving a semi-truck, an SUV, and a passenger car left one woman dead and several other people seriously injured. According to a report by CBS DFW, the accident occurred on I-20 around 2:30 a.m. in South Arlington.

Evidently, a car struck the rear-end of a semi-truck and subsequently lost control, eventually crashing into a nearby SUV. The SUV and the car both careened off the roadway and into the center median. Three occupants of the car and one occupant of the SUV needed to be extricated from their vehicles by emergency personnel.

All four of the people injured in the accident were taken to various local hospitals. One woman was pronounced dead after her body succumbed to the injuries she sustained in the accident. The other three are believed to still be in serious condition.

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August 19, 2014

How Do You Get Paid Your Underinsured Motorists Insurance?

Daniel Juarez.jpgI've represented a lot of people over the last 34 years who were hit by an underinsured driver, and since I posted about uninsured drivers yesterday, I'd explain how this related topic works today.

I just represented this hard-working client during the required recorded statement with his insurance company's adjuster in Austin this morning. I'm fighting to get him more than the $30,000.00 from the at-fault's insurance company (the total limits available) and $5,000.00 Personal Injury Protection benefits that have been paid. If his company doesn't agree to tender his $30,000.00 policy, I will file suit to recover that amount. I believe that we have a strong case and that we will win.

And it meant a lot when my client shook my hand several times after the statement and said that he appreciated all the hard work I had done in a short period of time and that he considered me his friend. Here's a selfie I took of us just last week when I met him downstairs in our parking garage (to save him the trip upstairs) to give him the first check.

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