The 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.
What Does it Take to Win a Minor Impact Soft Tissue (MIST) Trial?
As you see from this case, they are often the hardest cases to successfully settle out of court or win in court.
This is unfortunate. People sometimes experience little or no symptoms immediately after the crash and might be in shock, but later develop progressively painful injuries. And if the investigating police officer initially assigns an injury code of N (not injured), it is difficult to change this opinion.
Victims may walk away from an accident but with a concussion or bulging disc. Symptoms of head injuries can manifest over time as cognitive impairment, memory lapses, dizziness, altered eyesight, and headaches. Tingling in the hands or feet, pain, numbness and weakness may develop slowly as a result of the disk’s fluid pressing on surrounding nerves and surgery to the cervical or lumbar spine may be required months later.
An injured person should go the the ER or his or her doctor to treat their injuries and to build an accurate medical record. One of the reasons insurance companies extend small offers in MIST cases is the delay or lack of medical treatment — and conversely, for over treatment.
Just because vehicle damage appears to be minor doesn’t necessarily mean that no one was hurt. Although the level and type of vehicular damage is one way to assess injuries, there is not always a direct correlation.
Some vehicles absorb impact better than others. Damage may also be underneath and not easily visible. The angle of impact and direction the person was facing and whether he was thrown forwards, backwards or to the side, or hit an object inside the vehicle, can make a huge difference. Further, people who have certain medical conditions, have a prior injury, are older or have a smaller frame or weaker core might sustain injuries at a lower impact. Everyone is different.
The person’s choice of attorney also affects the value of his claim. Berenson Injury Law is an experienced personal injury law firm located in Fort Worth, Texas and is one of the few that exclusively practices in the area of auto accidents, truck collisions, and 18 wheeler crashes. We help injured people across Texas in all aspects of their injury and wrongful death cases.