Health InsuranceHere we are in the middle of a terrifying global epidemic. The death rate is spiraling. We have been ordered to stay home, for the most part. Yes, it’s frustrating. But some people somehow continue to drive around like normal.

It’s not just that they are probably spreading the coronavirus. They keep speeding, running red lights and stop signs, and texting while driving — and causing car and truck wrecks, engaging in road rage, and hitting pedestrians.

So even though many less people are allowed to be driving on DFW roads, personal injuries and wrongful deaths continue to happen. And we wonder if the quarantine is making some people drive even more recklessly than usual, as if nothing had changed.

For example, here are just a few of the crashes that happened here in the past week:

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We know that we are operating in scary times, so we at Berenson Injury Law thought we would try to brighten things up a little at the end of the week. This is funny, at least in our world of car and truck wrecks.

Man causes road mayhem when he teaches his best friend to drive

This week, police in Seattle gave chase to a car that was driving over 100 MPH and had crashed into several vehicles.

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We are unfortunately in the grip of one of the greatest threats to humanity in our lifetimes. The death total from the coronavirus passed the number of casualties from 9/11 yesterday. We are all frightened.

If you are a client of our law firm or someone who has been in a recent car or truck crash and are seeking to hire a personal injury lawyer, you may be wondering if you should proceed with your case. This post will attempt to answer your questions and observe how the personal injury landscape has changed.

How is a car accident case affected?

coronavirus

I have been asked by several clients if the coronavirus will affect their car wreck cases. No one knows as we are in uncharted territory. On top of the anxiety we are all living through, as a Fort Worth personal lawyer, I am very concerned how the virus could affect injured people’s medical treatment and personal and financial outcomes.

Here are some specific questions I have.

       1. Will fewer police respond to crashes?

It is essential that the police come to the scene of a crash and determine which driver was at fault. Without a favorable police report and officers who can testify in court, a car accident can become a “he said/she said” dispute. These are often denied by the other driver’s insurance representatives so a lawsuit must be filed. Juries may not know which driver to side with.

Furthermore, the police report contains important information that the car accident lawyer can use to help his client win the case. This includes the names and identifying information about all drivers, insurance policies, date, time, location, speed limit, weather, vehicle damage, witness’s observations, admissions of fault made, injuries reported, alcohol use, etc.

My office obtains the police report for our clients at no charge. The sooner we get the report, the sooner we can get to work.

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Drinking and DrivingSeveral weeks ago, three teenagers tragically died when their speeding car crashed in Plano at 4:00 a.m. We all suspected that this was just another Texas drunk driving accident. After all, we are always #1 in the country for the number of DWI fatalities, with 820 Texans losing their lives in 2018. It was shocking that an investigation found that an employee of a nearby barbecue restaurant was responsible for selling alcohol to the minors.

While the employee faces criminal charges of up to one year in jail, you may be wondering

(1) how the civil aspect of a DWI crash case works; and

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Joshua’s story

Berenson Injury Law has successfully resolved the highly unusual case for a young man who was driving this commercial truck (the company’s name was deleted) in East Dallas last year.

The dump truck driver in front of Joshua stupidly activated the dump mechanism. As the bed raised, the top grazed a bridge which sheered off a piece of the truck. Our client swerved to avoid the road debris and a collision resulted. He was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with a strained back.

We immediately investigated the scene and obtained critical evidence that we needed to win the case.

We also researched the truck driver and his company and learned that he did not have a commercial driver’s license, but that he did have a criminal history.

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Medical bills payment can be a huge problem after a vehicle collision

After you have been in a car or truck crash, you may have been rushed by ambulance to an emergency room. Expensive medical treatment and tests were performed. Worrying about how these medical bills were going to be paid was probably the last thing on your mind. So you will be shocked to find out later that you owe a huge sum of money for your medical bills. This happens often.

Berenson Injury Law has been representing injured Texans for the past 40 years and this can be one of the biggest hassles of the car/truck crash process.

We see one or more of these happening:

  • Objections and delays are made by health insurance companies and medical professionals to avoid paying medical bills;
  • The hospital or medical providers may be out-of-network; or
  • The deductible, copayment, or coinsurance rate is not paid; or
  • The patient is required to repay the medical bills later from his settlement or jury verdict.

If this sounds familiar, that is because you were not told any of this at the hospital or by your doctors. You may not find out until months later when you open your mail and see “surprise bills” which can be $10,000 or more. You naturally assumed that the other driver’s insurance company or your health insurance plan would have paid these by now.

The medical bills morass is unfortunately a common problem after a car wreck, especially here in Texas. A recent study showed that we had almost the highest number of these out-of-network charges in the U.S.

If you have health insurance, you probably do not know which hospitals and doctors (other than your PCP) are in-network. You will have no idea what medical procedures cost. Before this happens to you, you should study your plan’s directory and research costs so you will be prepared.

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Driver-of-Other-truck-549Alfredo’s story

Berenson Injury Law has successfully resolved a case for an 18-wheeler driver who was side-swiped by another tractor-trailer driver. This happened three years ago in Fort Worth early on Halloween morning.

The vehicles bumped where the lanes slowed and merged on Interstate 35 just north of downtown in the construction area (back then). Alfredo’s cab and trailer (which are pictured in the distance) and the other driver’s big rig (in the foreground) showed minor physical damage.

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Yesterday it was fun going to the school I adopted many years ago to help the Cowtown Marathon. Its staff had come to the Rufino Mendoza Elementary School to give running shoes and socks to many students. I always enjoy being part of this Christmas in January because the children are so excited to get their gifts.

The Marathon pours over $200,000.00 each year into its charitable beneficiary, the Children’s Activities for Life & Fitness (C.A.L.F.) Program. This one-of-a-kind plan teaches our students the value of exercise, hard work, nutrition, and citizenship.

EDITED 2/10/20  The Marathon was just named as the best youth running program in the country by Running USA at the annual conference in Las Vegas this weekend. It was given a prize of $10,000 to invest into the C.A.L.F. Program. Congratulations to its Executive Director Heidi Swartz and her hard-working staff!

The staff goes to a whopping 125 schools and community centers and delivers an incredible 5,000 pairs of shoes and socks to underprivileged children. C.A.L.F. also pays for over 5,000 race registrations. Further, it helps train these kids so they can complete their own special children-only 5K race in late February. This is one of the largest races for youths in the U.S.

Every year, I pay for any child at my school, even their parents and teachers, to enter the race.

Thank you to the Cowtown Marathon for all that you do to help our students live better lives.

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Dickies-Arena-from-windowInspectors found that a main entry gate had failed safety codes but the glamorous new $540 million Dickies Arena – magnified from our law office’s windows – still opened in November. But one month later, a man who was on the overnight cleaning crew tragically died as a result of allowing that gate to remain in its dangerous condition. We described this horrific event in a previous blog.

In case you missed this story, on December 7th in the early morning hours, Juan Carlos Julian, Jr., 24, was locked out of the building. But even though safety regulations prevented someone from being able to reach through a locked gate, he stuck his arm through the iron bars to hit the nearby button to let himself inside. He was crushed to death after his arm was trapped.

To prevent this from happening, safety measures require that the open-close switch must be more than 10 feet away from the gate’s moving arm. They also require gates with gaps of more than two and one fourth inches have screened wire mesh. Fort Worth adopted this national building code.

But a city official admitted that the arena made a deal to allow it to open on time. The gate would remain as long as it was kept locked in an open position. That obviously didn’t happen.

A lawsuit has been filed in Dallas County by the man’s family against the company that runs the arena, Trail Drive Management Corp., and its two building contractors, The Beck Group and TDIndustries.

This was an accident just waiting to happen.

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