dreamstime_s_20865098Air ambulance bills are sky high

When 17-year Colton Lightfoot crashed his motorcycle, his parents didn’t hesitate when doctors suggested that he rushed to the emergency room by air ambulance. At that alarming moment, they didn’t think to ask questions like how much that would cost or whether their insurance covered it in full or at all.  Naturally all they cared about was their son’s recovery.

But nothing could prepare the East Texas family for the enormity of the bill for that flight — $58,000. After their health insurance carrier only paid $15,000, they were stuck with a whopping $43,000 bill. And many of these carriers refuse to pay all medical bills when they find out that they were the result of a car wreck.

Their story is typical and I’ve seen the victims of car accidents grapple with this serious problem. Continue reading

CalfOn Saturday I was proud to again sponsor the Cowtown Marathon’s exciting C.A.L.F. 15K, 5K, and one mile runs/walks and healthy foods cooking competition. It’s become one of my favorite causes as I’ve gotten older: encouraging people to be more fit and healthy.

By 6:45 a.m. school children from more than 30 schools had arrived at the Will Rogers Coliseum area and were getting ready for their events. Music was blaring and there was electricity in the air as the sun rose.  

Rufino Mendoza School Children Participate

I met up with the group of 18 students and their teachers and parents from Mendoza School who were going to walk and run said hello. This is the 13th year I have sponsored the school.

I will be going to see “my kids” this afternoon to encourage the students as they run around the school, play football, eat healthy snacks, and study in the after-school program.

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CPS-Postcard-Sneaker-thumbThe U.S. Department of Transportation has designated this week as the Child Passenger Safety Week. Parents, here is a good opportunity to learn more about how to prevent your children from being injured in a car or truck crash. And on Saturday you will be able to speak to a child seat expert if you still have  questions.

Even if you think you’re strapping your children in correctly, recommendations change, equipment changes, and it can’t hurt to double check that you are making your child as safe as possible.

Why is this so important? The numbers speak for themselves. 43 percent of children who were killed in auto accidents were not properly retrained.

Sadly, many well-meaning, devoted parents just didn’t know what they were supposed to do or had trouble correctly installing the sometimes complicated car seat apparatus.  Continue reading

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I will be attending Mother Against Drunk Driving’s first annual seminar for personal injury attorneys this afternoon. This is designed to teach how we can more effectively represent injured people in drunk and drugged collision cases. It is being held at the national MADD headquarters in Las Colinas.

Some of the topics being discussed include

  • Investigating crash scenes and obtaining evidence
  • Working with law enforcement, prosecutors, and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
  • Evaluating and prosecuting a dram shop case (where a bar or restaurant over serves a customer)
  • Suing other responsible companies
  • Resolving evidentiary problems
  • Counseling victims and their families
  • Utilizing available resources

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These helpful apps can lower your chances of being in a car wreck

For the first time in Texas history, texting while driving is illegal. Finally! We were almost the last state to outlaw this incredibly dangerous practice. The new law just started on September 1st and many people still don’t know about it.

And the common habit of tweeting or surfing the net at 60 MPH will be hard to break. After all, we are all addicted to our cell phones.

Is there a way to prevent getting a ticket or far worse, causing an auto accident? Yes, fortunately. The Fort Worth Star Telegram just reviewed several new apps that you might find helpful. I discussed some of them here.

1. Do Not Disturb While Driving. On Tuesday Apple unveiled the new iOS 11 software and iPhone 8 which include an exciting Do Not Disturb feature that you can enable when you get into your car — or make your teenager do. The feature blocks text messages and phone calls and sends an automatic reply that the user is driving. The driver can still receive phone calls through a hands-free device. The app eliminates the temptation to take a peek when a ping announces a text message.

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TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_June2016It’s exciting — and scary — that we will be “driving” self-driving cars soon. How quickly and safely depends upon the actions of lawmakers in the next few weeks.

Today much less restrictive Department of Transportation guidelines are being announced. Last week the U.S. House passed the SELF DRIVE Act. This past Friday a similar bill was proposed in the U.S. Senate which has bi-partisan support.

While these news laws and regulations will expedite the development of self-driving technology, they unfortunately relax standards for vehicle safety. While the auto industry cheered the new rules and plan to rush new models to market

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Many safety advocates have voiced objections. Why? These laws exempts manufacturers from crucial safety regulations controlling braking, airbag and steering systems.

We know that with millions of Takata airbags that had to be recalled after some exploded and shot shrapnel into drivers and passengers, killing at least 11 people, the GM ignition switches that suddenly shut engines off, and the other auto safety debacles in the past 10 years, our vehicles are already more dangerous than ever.

 

Thorny new legal questions

And how will personal injury litigation be affected? Here are just some of the questions lawyers and judges will have to confront:

  • Who will be held responsible if there is a collision — the manufacturer, say Tesla? The software developer, say Google? The driver, say you?
  • How much control will the driver have to maintain?
  • Can the driver take over the self-driving mode to prevent a collision, and if he doesn’t, will he or she be at fault?
  • Can these vehicles be hacked into and disabled, causing crashes?

Just yesterday Google accepted some of the liability for the crash that killed its driver last year as he was test driving a Tesla.

How will courts be able to determine liability without complicated and expensive scientific and engineering experts? What if the driver claims the software suddenly stopped working? What if it does? What if the driver fails to download needed updates? It’s a potential legal nightmare.

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imagesHurray, it’s finally football season! Tomorrow TCU takes on Arkansas and Sunday the Cowboys – Giants rivalry resumes.

After last week’s tragic weather in Houston and soon in the Florida area, we could all use a diversion from bad news. But many football players face their own crisis every time they play.

Each tackle can cause a concussion which can accumulate over the course of a football career. The level of brain damage they suffer came to light when former professional players sued the NFL to recover for their permanent brain injuries and scientific research showed permanent brain damage to many players.

Those medical studies could now be helpful in shaping auto accident treatment and lawsuits. Continue reading

fatal087-cover-e1504799924455Did you know that almost 4,000 people died in auto accidents in Texas in 2016? And that this was a huge increase of 5 1/2 percent just over the previous year?

Who ever talks about Texas having such a startling number of serious injuries each year —close to 20,000 in 2016? Those people would fill up the AAC Arena in Dallas, to put that number in perspective.

Texas roads are way too dangerous. But they shouldn’t be.

I am always amazed at how easy making driving safe could be. If we could make people not drink and/or take drugs, pay attention to the road, put down their cell phones, slow down, not suddenly change lanes or tail gate, and be cautious, we would all be a lot safer.

Most “car accidents” could be avoided if drivers took this life-and-death task more seriously.

Every day there are more and more crashes reported in our local news. We take them for granted. We shouldn’t.

But take a look at these local stories in just the last few days:

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In January a brother and sister were driving on the north side of Fort Worth when a young man ran a stop light and crashed into their car shown here. They went to the emergency room the next day and were diagnosed with strains and sprains of their necks and backs. They were then treated by a chiropractor.

My firm just resolved their claims for the full amounts of the drunk driver’s insurance policy of $60,000.00. I was going to file a lawsuit if the company continued to balk. We then slashed my clients’ medical bills, legal fees, and expenses and today they received $35,600.00.

Now we are proceeding to obtain additional funds from their underinsured motorists policy. I only wish that we could have proved a dram shop case against a bar or restaurant if we could have proved they had over served the drunk.

This is hardly the largest case we have handled in the past month but is discussed to show what a personal injury lawyer does on a daily basis — to get the maximum compensation for injured people.

The clients were pleased with our services. The young woman graciously wrote this five star review:

Mr.Berenson worked on my case and both me and my brother were pleased with the outcome. Thank you again Mr.Berenson for the outstanding job and we will definitely tell others about you.

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main_600-300x162Almost every adult in the Houston area owns a car. Now hundreds of thousands of vehicles have been ruined by the torrential rainfall. This, added to the loss of life and staggering property and commercial damage, has become the worse natural disaster in the history of the United States.

Insurance companies have received more than 100,000 Harvey-related auto insurance claims. That number is expected to reach 500,000.

As car owners begin to review their policies, some might get an unwelcome surprise. Policies that seemed just fine at the time they were signed might actually exclude the types of damages caused by Harvey.

Unfortunately many car owners figured flooding was highly unlikely and opted for lower premiums instead of comprehensive coverage.

The thing about insurance is you have to predict what you might need and decide whether paying higher premiums is worthwhile. You could potentially pay premiums for a lifetime and never file a claim. Or, as with Harvey, your insurance might be a financial lifesaver. In many ways, it’s a gamble. But usually choosing the better coverage pays off. Continue reading

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