Articles Posted in Accident investigation

Gilliam-TT-hits-SUVSteps You Should Take If You Are Hurt in an 18 Wheeler Crash

You may be looking for advice on how to proceed after a tractor-trailer hit you because you tried to deal with the company and got a low offer of settlement. Insurance companies know that many people will accept far less money than the fair settlement value or expected jury verdict amount. Maybe they’ve never made you an offer. But if you were injured in an 18 wheeler crash, your damages can be substantial. How do you know whether you should hire a personal injury lawyer and file a lawsuit or settle out of court?

We at Berenson Injury Law know what to do. We’ve filed many vehicle collision lawsuits over the last 38 years. We filed another yesterday on behalf of a Fort Worth man who has had to go through two surgeries after a tractor-trailer crashed into his car and other vehicles, tragically killing a woman. Here’s a photo from the scene on Interstate 35.

You might not think this could ever happen to you and we certainly hope it doesn’t. But there are a shocking 34,000 collisions involving commercial vehicles that took the lives of 601 people and injured over 17,000 people in the United States. That’s the number of people who watch a sold out concert or game at the American Airlines Center, to put the destruction in perspective.

Commercial truck collisions are often difficult legal battles because they cause serious injuries. You need to hire a good personal injury attorney who can build a strong case and win your case in court or mediation.

Continue reading

Why are there so many horrible truck collisions here?

Last week in Dallas there was another catastrophic collision between an 18-wheeler and a vehicle that took someone’s life. And last night near DFW Airport the tractor-trailer shown here crashed and caught on fire. We see these wrecks far too often in North Texas.

The federal government recently released a study that showed that 120,000 truck crashes happened in two years, and this was back in the early 2000’s. Since then, the population and number of vehicles have exploded, so the number is much higher. Seeing a speeding or reckless 18-wheeler driver or resulting crash is common. 

If you or someone you love have been involved in a tractor-trailer accident, you need the best legal assistance — and fast. There are three reasons:

  • A good lawyer will investigate liability, hire accident reconstruction experts, interview police officers and eyewitnesses, secure evidence, and prove that the trucking company driver and his company were at fault. On the other hand, the truck company will send out its attorneys and investigators to the scene immediately to do the exact opposite.
  • Survivors often suffer from permanent injuries. The attorney can arrange necessary medical care, help get expensive bills paid, and secure a good settlement or verdict to pay for damages.
  • Multiple vehicles and insurance policies are usually involved.

The key to winning  your case is to obtain as much evidence as possible. By doing so, a victim of a truck crash will greatly increase his or her chances of receiving the best financial results.

Continue reading

Injured Car Accident victims often ask if they should get an MRI after a car accident.

A Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) is an advanced diagnostic test that can be incredibly helpful. I am a big believer in them.

MRI After a Car Accident

In fact, this week I’ve had two to for my knee. I unfortunately twisted it running on the beach on the last day of my recent trip so I thought this would be a good time to blog about this important topic.

I went to my first physical therapy session early this morning hoping my partially torn medial meniscus doesn’t need surgery. I experienced what my clients go through on a daily basis – more about that later.

Why not just rely on an x-ray?

X Ray

Magnetic resonance imaging uses powerful magnets and radio frequencies to create a 3-D image that clearly shows bones, cartilage, blood vessels, muscle, tendons, and ligaments.

An x-ray only creates a flat image of the skeleton. An x-ray is useful to detect broken bones, but not to diagnose herniated disks and soft tissue injuries, which are common types of car crash injuries. The surgeon also had me x-rayed.

Furthermore an MRI does not release radiation. Although the small dose of a single x-ray is safe, your doctor will probably recommend an MRI if you are pregnant, have an underlying medical condition, or have had multiple recent x-rays or CT scans. Because your doctor can refer you to an MRI without concern about radiation exposure, he can do so in gray-area cases in which he only suspects an injury.

Is an MRI worth the cost?

There is of course one disadvantage to an MRI — the price. It can cost $2,000.00 or more, although your health insurance or my ability to secure my clients a much lower price should moot this concern. When deciding if it’s worth the cost to you, ask these questions:

  • Will an MRI more accurately diagnose my injury?
  • Does my doctor or do I suspect that I may need surgery?

If the answer to either is yes, you should have one. Continue reading

Does the State of Texas have a duty to warn drivers about a dangerous road condition? Last week’s decision by a Texas appellate court ruling said that it did.The Dallas court affirmed a jury’s verdict in favor of a motorcyclist who crashed when his wheels hit a large crack in the highway. The trial court capped the $1,200,000 verdict at $250,000, the maximum damages allowed under the Texas Tort Claims Act, and the state appealed.

Brian Milton was traveling on FM Road 148 in Kaufman in 2012 at night. He couldn’t see the deep cracks in the road pictured here until he hit one and crashed his bike into a ditch. Milton had never driven on this road before. He was severely injured.

Testimony from state employees and other evidence showed that the TxDOT clearly knew about the problem before the crash. The responding officer noted the “big cracks” in the roadway.

A few days later, Milton’s wife took this photo of the severely eroded highway. And just one month earlier, a TxDOT worker had taken pictures of the poor road conditions and ordered signs to warn drivers about the failing road but the signs weren’t placed in the correct location.

In addition, the agency had begun roadwork nearby but had not yet made its way to the area of the crash where work orders were in place.

Continue reading

After being in a car wreck, a person is often injured and in shock. In the middle of this unexpected turmoil and pain, he or she may forget to call 911.

That’s a serious mistake. You need a police report. If you can’t identity that driver or have an officer testify in court that he caused the car accident, good luck collecting compensation for your damages.

While you are waiting for the police to arrive, make sure all drivers give you identifying information. Write down or photograph driver’s licenses and insurance cards and take photos of vehicles showing property damage, license plates, the scene with the position of vehicles (if not moved yet) and injuries. And don’t forget to get the names, emails and phone numbers, and observations from witnesses.

Importance of police report 

The report contains a wealth of useful information that a personal injury lawyer needs to prove liability and initial damages. The report will have the date, time, location, road, speed limit, vehicles, drivers, licenses, liability insurance, property damage, injuries and severity codes, alcohol and drug use, ambulances, hospitals, and other crucial facts.

Key observations including a diagram showing the position of vehicles, traffic control devices are included. Potential problems like obstructions to view, weather issues, and vehicle defects will be noted. Admissions of fault and excuses by drivers and the names and phone numbers of eyewitnesses are written down.

For example, I am about to file a lawsuit against a young man who was speeding and crashed his sporty car into my client’s SUV, causing him to flip over multiple times and severely injure him. The police report also notes that the defendant driver claimed the reason for him crashing was that he was “tired” — at 4:30 in the afternoon. Who on a jury is going to believe that? The police officer found the kid was speeding.

The report lists which driver the officer believes was at fault and includes traffic citations and codes for traffic laws that were broken. Here’s the list of these details and what the fault codes mean.

After we are hired, my staff immediately buys the report and goes to work. An assistant drove to Hurst to pick one up today. We highlight key details and investigate troublesome findings. If the report has errors, we ask the officer to correct them. We try to locate and interview drivers, passengers, and witnesses. In “he said, she said” cases, these recordings can be decisive.

If the other driver failed to stop at a red light or stop sign, we try to get a statement from him. We also do a complete internet search of his background including prior crashes and criminal history, including DWIs. We look at his assets and try to learn how much insurance coverage he purchased and also review your auto policy with you to see if additional benefits are available. We can attempt to subpoena the other driver’s phone records to determine if he was texting or ask an expert to analyze any available video footage.

Continue reading

After a car crash, a police officer comes to the scene, interviews the drivers, and writes a detailed Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3). Its importance cannot be overstated.

Accident Report

Why? It provides an unbiased account of the crash and is written by a trained expert. The insurance company and/or jury will use it to help decide what happened, who is at fault, and how much money to pay you.

The officer records the information about all of the people who were in the vehicles, such as seating position and severity of injuries. The officer also notes whether the drivers were impaired by drugs or alcohol and sometimes even the blood alcohol level — one of the most powerful ways to enlarge your recovery.

I have been reading these accident reports almost daily for almost 40 years and know what to look for. It is essential to get and scrutinize the report as soon as possible.

The report is often useful to you. But it can be inaccurate or just plain wrong and be kept out of evidence as hearsay. How this report is handled can make or break your case whether you are trying to obtain a high settlement or jury verdict – or any money at all.

I go over these reports with a highlighter. The items in orange to the right are some of the things I look for.

Identification and Location 

The top section on page one gives basic information about the crash including the date, time and location.

If it happened at night, an injury lawyer immediately investigates if alcohol, drugs, drowsiness, or recklessness are involved.

Drinking and Driving

Which road the wreck was on, traffic lights, street signs, stop signs, video cameras, speed limits, and other considerations are vital pieces of information.

For example, school zone, construction zone, and high speed interstate cases are treated much differently than low speed residential street, four way stop, or parking lot accidents.

Pinpointing the exact place and time of the accident is essential in reconstructing and locating evidence at the crash scene.

Lighting, weather, obstructions to vision, rush hour traffic, holidays, and other considerations must be factored into the evaluation.

Vehicle, Driver and Persons

There are two sections on the remainder of page one that ask for information about two drivers involved in the crash. The officer records the name, address, age, sex, race, driver’s license status, state, and type, level of injury, seating position and severity of injuries of the drivers. The officer also notes whether they were impaired by drugs or alcohol and sometimes even the blood alcohol level — one of the most powerful ways to get a large recovery of money in a DWI case.

All passengers are listed with some of this same information.

Continue reading

Facebook Status Used by Dallas Prosecutor To Do What?

OMG, we are all so addicted to our Facebook and Twitter feeds, right?

But today’s article about an Assistant District Attorney so drunk early Saturday morning that she crashed into a tree near her home in East Dallas was especially shocking. Not only because the lawyer paid to prosecute the masses driving while intoxicated was herself guilty of DWI. She then had the nerve to ask the arresting officer to let her off because they were Facebook friends!

Social media is so pervasive that it impacts all areas of the law including the one I specialize in, car wrecks.

Can someone’s use of Facebook hurt their claim for reimbursement of their personal injury damages?

Yes, more than you might imagine.
Continue reading

Insurance companies are businesses, not charities. Their only purpose is to make a profit, which they do by paying less money to automobile accident victims than the premiums they charge to the drivers who caused them. It’s a racquet.

And sometimes their adjusters get overly aggressive, even ruthless. That’s why you need someone on your side protecting you.

Here are some of the ways I see insurance companies trying to cheat my clients:

Demanding recorded statement immediately after the crash

You were just in a car crash. You might have just been released from the ER and are feeling a lot of pain. You are taking medications that can affect your memory, mood, and sleep. You might not be able to work and are naturally worried about your job, income, medical bills, and your wrecked car.  So this is the worst time you should talk to the at-fault driver’s “friendly” insurance adjuster to answer “a few questions.” He or she knows this and often wants to take advantage of your vulnerability.

Continue reading

It’s Time We Wake Up to the Risks

You wouldn’t drive after drinking too much, but would you drive after sleeping too little?

For far too many responsible people, the answer is a surprising “yes.”

Getting enough sleep can be a serious challenge. In our fast paced world, many people are perpetually sleep-deprived and yet still have to get to work, pick up their children from school and handle daily tasks.

Sleep is often the first to go when trying to meet life’s demands.

In fact, a National Sleep Foundation survey found that almost one-third of people  are perpetually tired. Only about 30 percent regularly slept more than seven hours a night.

Continue reading

Interstate Shut Down For Analysis

Police closed I-30 in Rowlett east of Dallas yesterday to reconstruct a fatal auto accident that happened early on New Year’s Day. Commuters were presumably cursing the delay as they drove into work. But it was necessary to determine who caused the crash. Attorneys and investigators were there.

The Importance of Evidence Preservation

The more time that goes by, the greater the chances that critical evidence will be destroyed or altered. Road crews clear the accident debris and rain washes away skid marks. Attorneys for large corporations are called by insurance companies to go to the scene after a crash if a commercial vehicle is involved. Video footage is permanently erased. And witnesses forget details — if they can later even be located. To preserve crucial evidence, a good injury attorney starts investigating the accident as soon as he is retained

Continue reading

Contact Information