It was a typical Thursday two weeks ago when a horrific crash on I-40 in New Mexico reminded drivers across the country the very real dangers from commercial truck accidents. In a disaster scene straight out of Hollywood, a tractor-trailer swerved over the median and crashed into a Greyhound bus head-on.

Commercial Truck Accidents

Eight people tragically died and more than two dozen, including three children, were rushed to area hospitals with serious injuries.

How could such a disaster happen? News reports reveal that the truck lost the tread on a tire. The truck driver’s and his California company’s inspection and maintenance of the truck are being scrutinized. The front tires have been sent to the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. to be examined. Two lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the victims and their families to learn more about what caused this avoidable crash — and hopefully prevent future ones.

5-stars-from-RTFWe hope that you have not been injured in a car or truck wreck in North Texas, but if you unfortunately were and are seeking a good attorney to help you tackle the complicated issues that arise, we can help you.

Berenson Injury Law only represents the victims of car, truck, 18-wheeler, motorcycle, and bicycle collisions. We’ve been doing this successfully for almost 40 years.

Last week we were very pleased to receive these reviews from our clients:

The force that accompanies the impact of a car accident makes the neck and spine especially vulnerable to injury. That’s one reason why it’s very common to have a back injury after a car accident, even if you don’t realize an injury has occurred immediately afterwards. Another is the structure of the spine itself.

Spine Structure

The spine extends from the base of your skull to your tailbone. The entire spinal column is made up of small bones called vertebra. The area where one vertebra joins to the next is called a facet joint. Like other types of joints throughout your body, facet joints are what allow the spine to move in different directions.

There is cartilage between the facet joints, which gives the joints flexibility. Flat, round, gel-like cushions called the inter-vertebral discs act as a shock absorber between the vertebrae. The spinal cord and nerves pass through an opening in the middle of the vertebrae called the spinal canal.

The shape of the spine is also designed to protect it. Even when you ‘stand up straight’, like your parents and teachers probably told you as a child, the spine has a natural ‘S’ shape when viewed from the side. These curves help support your body’s weight and make it more resilient to stress than it would be if it were straight.

The spine also consists of soft tissue including tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The muscles provide movement while the tendons and ligaments connect muscle to bone and bone to bone. During a car accident, damage can occur to any area of the spine, leading to damage and pain.

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The future is now, at least with regards to our roadways. Self-driving cars are already legal in some states and some serious issues have already come to light. A concept that we once thought of as something out of a sci-fi movie is already a reality in a few areas of DFW, including Frisco in a closed business park and on public streets in Arlington starting next month.

Although it’s difficult to say when autonomous cars will become the standard, there’s already been an impact on personal injury law. Even if it is gradually implemented into our roadways over time, now is the time to determine some important issues about liability.

Self-Driving Cars

Changes in Legislation

Proving fault has always been the primary task of any personal injury attorney. Without it, there is no way to make the liable party pay for the damages he or she has caused. But who is liable when there is NO driver behind the wheel? Some legislation is already law and more is in the works. But some of the new laws are leaving drivers unhappy with the potential effect it could have.

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Few people love freedom more than a motorcycle driver in the Lone Star State. While Texas tends to frown on imposing too many regulations in any field, most will agree that Texas motorcycle laws enhance safety for drivers, passengers, and others on the road.

Texas Flag

Texas boasts more motorcycle owners than any other state in the country. This reflects the Lone Star State’s well-known culture emphasizing freedom and rugged individualism. The state’s unique landscapes, wide-open spaces, and huge highway system also attract millions of motorcycling enthusiasts from around the country.

Everyone, from both Texas and other states, however, should learn the specific rules governing the use of motorcycles in the state.

School started today and the streets of Dallas-Fort Worth have suddenly changed. Roads that were not busy in the morning and afternoon are now crowded school zones. Buses are back on the roads carrying one million of our precious students between their homes and schools in Texas.

School is Starting

Unfortunately there were 671 accidents in school zones throughout Texas during the 2015-2016 school year.

UPDATE 8/22/18: The Star Telegram reports that a car crashed into a school bus in north Fort Worth this morning causing one child to be rushed to the emergency room and injuring nine other children. It’s only the third day of the new school year.

One collision or injury is too many. We adults have to use extreme caution to make sure no more children are injured this year.

Ways to protect our kids

These accidents most often occur as children are walking or riding their bikes to school. When you fail to heed the school zone laws including the slower speed limits, you could be the cause of a child getting injured. We all know how frustrating it is to get stuck behind a slow school bus or waiting while a group of children cross a crosswalk. But these rules protect kids from getting serious injuries. We have to be responsible for them and assume they might be careless.

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USE

There are far too many people getting hit crossing the street in Texas.

It has become dangerous to be outside of a vehicle. Pedestrian collisions are more common — and deadlier — all the time.

550 Texans tragically died and thousands were injured last year. And almost 6,000 pedestrians died in the United States in 2016, the highest number in 20 years.

The failure to yield right-of-way to walkers can be catastrophic. You can ironically end your life trying to stay healthy.

What causes these crashes?

There are many reasons but in the last few years we see more caused by distracted driving and SUV’s/pickups.

1. Cell phones: trips to emergency rooms blamed on distracted driving have jumped a whopping 83 percent to almost 18,000 since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.  It seems like everyone is driving while talking on the phone or texting.

Government statistics show that about about 2/3 million drivers are using their cellular devices while driving at any given moment. The head of the National Traffic Safety Administration called this a deadly epidemic. I’m sure this number is a lot higher because people don’t want to admit that they they do this.

Distracted driving is an accident just waiting to happen to someone crossing the street or walking through a parking lot.

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Photo courtesy of NBCDFW.com

I successfully represented my client at a mediation where I resolved a complicated lawsuit several days ago. I have fought for people injured in collisions at numerous mediations over the past 38 years and wanted to share some thoughts about how to make them work.

The tractor-trailer pictured here crashed into seven stopped vehicles at 60 miles per hour. Three caught on fire. The tractor ended up on top of the bridge’s guardrail. The collision shut down I-35 in Fort Worth for the rest of the day.

Seven people were hurt, one critically. My client seriously injured his low back. It was a miracle no one died.

There was a minimum commercial insurance policy of $750,000 available to settle the claims, and only through an endorsement that adds unlisted vehicles like the 18-wheeler here to the existing liability policy.

I was able to recover a favorable amount of money for my client (the exact figure is confidential) and substantially reduce his medical bills. I am now working to obtain more money for him from his underinsured motorists and another insurance policy.

The team at Berenson Injury Law specializes in these car, truck and tractor-trailer crash cases, but this post applies to all mediations.

New Law Not Working

The number of injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving in Texas keeps increasing every year.

It’s the new normal. We take it for granted. But this is a serious mistake we are making.

We at Berenson Injury Law were hopeful when Texas finally became one of the last states to adopt an anti-texting while driving law last year. But unfortunately that hasn’t stopped — or even slowed — this deadly problem on our roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation reported a shocking increase of 20% of distracted driving crashes last year.

Texts on the Rise

Those collisions were responsible for at least 450 of the more than 3,721 people who sadly perished on our roads.

And there’s good reason to believe that this number is far higher, as it is often impossible to know exactly what caused a car crash.

Even before the new state-wide texting while driving law was finally passed, this was such a vital issue to public safety that 100 cities had already enacted statutes to prevent their residents.

It’s also made drivers far less likely to admit they were texting before the accident. They know it’s illegal and no one wants to take the blame for an accident; especially if they are responsible for another person’s serious injuries or death.

There’s also the issue of single driver accidents. A car might run off the road because of a deer . . . or be distracted by an incoming text. If there aren’t any witnesses, it’s often a matter of taking the driver’s word about what happened.

If the accident ends in a fatality, law enforcement officers never know what caused the wreck, so the numbers are artificially lowered and we are not as afraid to text as we blissfully drive on roads at 65 or more miles per hour.

We talk about this alarming topic a lot on our site because this is a problem that needs to stop.

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If you have been injured in a car or truck accident, you will have a lot of questions especially these:IMG_7993

  1. Will I have to go to court?
  2. How much money can I receive?
  3. How long will it take?

This post answers the first question and the other two are addressed in these posts:

How much money is my car accident case worth?

The litigation process

Will my case settle out of court or go to a trial?

There are two ways that someone can collect his or her damages: an insurance company can pay them an agreed amount of money or a jury can award them monetary damages.

Statistics show that about 99% of all injury cases settle outside of the courtroom, usually before a lawsuit is filed.

So the chances of your case settling are excellent. But that answer as well as the amount of money you might receive and the length of time the process may take depend on many factors including the following:

Key information that is needed

  • Your case’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • Your liability facts and vehicle damage;
  • Your chance of winning a trial totally or partially, as negligence is attributed between all drivers and companies involved;
  • Your injuries – are they permanent or temporary, hard tissue or soft tissue, did you have surgery, etc.
  • Your medical expenses – how many are outstanding, were paid, and were written off;
  • Your lost wages, lost job benefits, and lost capacity to earn a living;
  • Your disability, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and other damages;
  • Your financial condition – your need for a quick recovery of money or your ability to wait for a trial;
  • Your desire to go through the usually frustrating and slow court process;
  • Your injury lawyer – his experience, ability, and reputation;
  • Your negotiating ability (if you are trying to represent yourself) and knowledge of legal, insurance, and medical issues;
  • Your goals; and
  • The other driver’s/company’s insurance company insurance policy limits and his/its assets

We at Berenson Injury Law evaluate these and other variables when we first meet with our new clients. We ask if our clients would prefer us to try to get the maximum amount of money from the insurance company or sue. After practicing personal injury law for almost 40 years, Mr. Berenson has never had a client who wanted to go to court if he could avoid it.

Later, we analyze these variables and recommend that our clients take their case to court or accept a settlement offer. We then try to reduce outstanding medical bills and perform other services to make our clients more money.

If you are undecided between entering into settlement negotiations, accepting a settlement offer, and going to a jury trial, we are happy to analyze your car or truck accident in a free no-obligation meeting or phone call. Continue reading

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