Priscilla-davis-Cullen-DavisThe sensational trials of Cullen Davis were the talk of Texas 40 years ago. The 42 year-old Fort Worth oil baron was accused of murdering his estranged wife’s boyfriend and her 12 year-old daughter and shooting his wild wife. He was acquitted of the heinous crimes and later of trying to kill their divorce attorney after three trials after clever defense work by Richard “Racehorse” Haynes.

I worked for the Dallas law firm that also defended him while I was a student at SMU Law School in the late 70’s.

Now 82, Davis again stood before a jury — this time for an automobile accident. Davis crashed a car in 2013 on South Collins in Arlington. While he claimed he was travelling 20 mph when he hit car, the woman he hit described a worse collision that caused her painful back and neck injuries.

The jury returned a verdict clearing Davis of liability for the crash — even though he was obviously at fault.

Why? The Star-Telegram noted two factors that swayed the jury. The injured person’s description of her injuries changed from mild pain at the ER immediately after the accident to extreme pain. Also, the damage to both automobiles was minor.

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Car accidents are not inevitable. In almost every case, they could have easily been prevented. Garces PD

Here are the top 10 reasons they happen.

1. Drunk driving

I’m about to file a lawsuit against a woman who was drunk and crashed into my client’s car shown here — at noon!  As a personal injury lawyer, I see DWI injury cases all the time. Texas lawmakers and police could do more to prevent drunk driving.

Learn more about drunk driving crashes.

2. Distracted driving

A whopping 3,179 people died and 431,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2014. Use of electronic devices — usually  texting and talking on the phone — is the worst culprit. These numbers would decrease if Texas passed a statewide ban on texting and phone use.

Learn more about distracted driving crashes.

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dreamstime_xs_59634563Texas teens collided their vehicles into other cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. But fortunately these frightening events did not actually happen but were only images on a virtual reality game on a computer screen.

Participants were given the eye-opening experience through the national “It Can Wait” campaign to teach them the dangers of distracted driving.

Visitors of all ages participated in the virtual video game which consists of special goggles and a wheel shaped joystick. The video takes the participant on a realistic-looking ride along winding roads, and puts joggers, bicyclists and children in the path of the virtual car. Eventually the distractions result in an inevitable car crash.

The video game should be required before driver’s licenses are issued.

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It was a pleasure to be the sponsor of the first ever running camp in Fort Worth this summer. The kids met down the street from my office at the University of North Texas Health Science Center to run, learn about healthy lifestyles and nutrition, and have fun. Congrats to Heidi Swartz, the hard-working executive director of the marathon, and her staff for starting this excellent activity.

I asked why the children liked to run. Their responcalfses were wonderful.

Jaden, who is eight years old, said that “running makes me feel proud because I achieve my goals. It’s fun because you can race your friends while concentrate on anything I don’t understand.”

“Running makes me feel free,” Rebekah wrote. “Running makes me feel happy and I love to run for causes like cancer. My Papa died over cancer and it is upsetting. I miss him a lot and he loved to run also. I love that a lot.”

Melachi impressively noted that “running has helped me win because of my speed in different sports. I ran track and made it to the Junior Olympics in Jacksonville, Florida and placed 3rd and 7th in the nation.”

“Running means I can clear my mind, have fun and stay healthy,” Avery, age 11, observed. “Running is fun because you get to enjoy the outdoors and go FAST!!”

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Lack of seat belt use a serious problem

I just settled a major wrongful death lawsuit against a construction company where the insurance company’s lawyer in Dallas tried to prove that the decedent was not wearing his seat belt. I won the dispute. But why was this even at issue?

Because the Texas Supreme Court ruled last year that seat belt non use is now admissible as evidence at trial. So defendants can now blame the injured driver/his family for not wearing a seat belt and reduce, even zero out their damages award — when the other driver is 100% at fault.

Why do I occasionally see new clients who have been injured in car wrecks but who refused to buckle up? God only knows.

The seat belt holds your body in place and prevents you from hitting the steering wheel, flying through the windshield or being crushed in a rollover crash. This important device is one of the greatest safety innovations of the 20th century.

Seat belts can help divert tragedy, like the one Friday in Fort Worth on West Loop 820. A woman was ejected from her vehicle when it collided with another car. Fort Worth police pronounced her dead at the scene. Had she just taken those two seconds to strap on her seat belt, she might be alive today.

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photo__1496361_bill_at_windowGet more qualified help you need after your car wreck

I chose the field of personal injury because I felt like this area of practice allowed me to best utilize my advocacy skills and make a difference in the lives of people. I am able to make an immediate impact by helping victims get the medical care they need and pay their living expenses, even if an injury has forced them out of work. Long-term, I am able to help clients improve their quality of life after an injury by obtaining the compensation they need to get any further medical care they need and get their medical bills, lost wages, and other damages paid.

I earned the coveted status of Texas Board Certification as a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer in 1992 and have renewed it ever since over the past 24 years.

What is Board Certification?

The State Bar of Texas established the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) to oversee the certification of lawyers who are specialists in their areas of practice. The Supreme Court of Texas has jurisdiction in matters related to the certification process.

Only about 10% of the almost 100,000 attorneys in Texas have earned certification in any of the 21 fields available. Lawyers must undertake a rigorous application, examination, and review process.

We have many good personal injury lawyers in Fort Worth and Dallas. We charge the same fee as non certified lawyers. A person who has been injured in a car accident would be foolish not to hire a more experienced board certified attorney in any area of practice.

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dreamstime_xs_45188587Our Dallas-Fort Worth highs are hovering up in the 90s and will be in the 100s before you know it. The hotter it gets, the more dangerous our roads become.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, August was the deadliest month in 2013 with 3,136 traffic fatalities. Death rates also spiked during the three summer holidays — 334 during Memorial Day weekend, 461 over July 4th, and 371 during Labor Day holiday. And it comes as no surprise that about 40 percent of these traffic deaths involved alcohol.

Staying cool headed as you drive is more important than ever this time of year to avoid these common causes of car and truck accidents.

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Not too hard to figure this out — it’s Interstate 35

I-35W is one of the busiest highways in North Texas. We were all familiar with its constant traffic congestion, bottlenecks caused by crashed cars and trucks, and bumper-to-bumper commutes — and that was before construction began several years ago. Now the highway is much worse and even more dangerous.

I-35 construction contributed to huge 20% increase in Fort Worth traffic crashes this year

Construction began on I-35 in 2013. Since then, it has almost shut down the interstate, as this article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram describes. This has made driving north and south in Fort Worth extremely difficult for hundreds of thousands of drivers. But beyond the frustrations, the seemingly never-ending construction — the 10.1 mile project won’t be finished until 2018 — has put and will continue to put drivers in danger of getting into a collision.

Since construction began, the I-35 corridor has accounted for nine of the top 10 crash sites in the city. 9,862 traffic accidents occurred there from the start of 2016 just through June 20th. That means at least 20,000 wrecks will happen on I-35 this year. Wow!

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IMG_9306I enjoyed meeting with one of my favorite clients this afternoon to give her the maximum available under her large underinsured motorist policy. I had previously given her the at-fault driver’s maximum automobile liability policy. I was also able to reduce her medical bills by 90% to put a lot more money into her pocket.

She was extremely happy with her outcome and graciously wrote this review:

Recently I was in a car accident resulting in serious injuries. It quickly became a stressful time for our family dealing with the insurance companies and mounting medical bills. We needed help and we found wonderful support from our amazing and caring attorney, Bill Berenson. Since the day we hired him, he took control and handled everything in our case. Bill and his team are absolutely amazing – he got 100% of medical bills paid, handled all insurance claims, and fought and won us a large settlement. I just wanted to share how amazing Bill is and how hard he fights for his clients. If you are ever in a serious car accident – call Bill Berenson. It was the best decision we made to get past this horrible event in our lives. I am so grateful for Mr. Berenson and the incredible outcome of our case.

jim-terry_1467735294547_3761317_ver1.0-1Victim on his way to work; driver on his way home from drinking

Denton County jail Officer Jim Terry was riding his motorcycle to work on Sunday when he was hit by a car. The driver of that car, Oscar Salmaron, then sped off.

Terry’s colleagues at the Denton County Sheriffs Department quickly arrested 42 year-old Salmaron. No surprise, he was drunk.

The intoxicated man was also responsible for another hit-and-run crash just before barreling into Terry’s motorcycle.

Terry remains in critical condition, with multiple fractures and other extensive injuries that will require surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, according to a GoFundMe account set up by his coworkers at the Denton County jail.

Salmaron was brought to the Denton County jail on charges of intoxication assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury and fleeing the scene of a crash. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also placed a hold on him.

On a related subject, I just met a young man to give him his substantial settlement proceeds. He was injured by an intoxicated driver who had spent all afternoon watching his LSU football team play in a bowl game.

In addition, I was just called to represent a young woman critically injured by her drunk driver in Dallas this weekend. She is still in ICU.

These stories — all too routine around Dallas-Fort Worth these days — anger me.

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