Articles Posted in Car Accidents

dreamstime_xs_5432610-300x200Yesterday history was made when Utah became the first state to lower its DWI limit to .05 blood alcohol content. Bravo! We’ve known for decades that lowering the legal limit saves lives and prevents injuries.

Texas should be next to lower the legal limit.

Our state’s drunk driving problem is way out of control. Texas always wins the dishonor of most DWI fatalities in the country. Last year, 1,323 of our families and friends perished in these crashes.

Compare that number with California’s lower figure of 914 — but with 12 million more people. That’s crazy, right?

Last year. a shocking 10,265 Americans died in alcohol related crashes. One is too many.

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dreamstime_xs_28025363-300x200I regularly represent the parents of minor children who have been injured in car crashes. I was in court yesterday on a tragic collision where one teen died and her brother was seriously injured when the SUV driven by their father ran a stop sign, was t-boned, and rolled over. When the mother still had many questions, I thought it would be a good idea to blog about the unique challenges that parents should be aware of.

Let’s say your family was unfortunately involved in a car crash. Obviously a baby cannot talk about what happened. The law also recognizes that children and teens lack the maturity and experience to appreciate the full consequences of their decisions. Until a person is 18, he or she cannot make a legal decision. For these reasons, all states impose special protection on these minor plaintiffs.

How does being under the age of 18 affect the settlement process and the preservation of the damages awarded to your children? Continue reading

I was driving from Arlington to Fort Worth Saturday on I-20 when the traffic suddenly slowed.  A motorcycle had been hit in this collision. Several people had rushed over to IMG_4190-300x202get the man’s bike off the highway.

Fortunately he was OK but it reminded me how fragile life is.

The next morning, I read about a tragic collision just a mile down the highway a few hours later that afternoon. The article in the Star TelegramTWO PLUNGE TO THEIR DEATHS IN FORT WORTH MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, said that a 29 year old man and woman were thrown off their bike from the southbound ramp going from I-20 to I-35. It is not clear if another vehicle was involved or what caused the horrendous accident.

You’ve got to wonder why we have so many auto, truck, and motorcycle accidents in Dallas-Fort Worth and how they can be prevented. Here are some others that were reported just this weekend:

Friday:

12:15 p.m.   FORT WORTH GIRL RIDING SCOOTER DIES AFTER BEING STRUCK BY CAR THAT FLED. What an unbelievable tragedy. An 8-year-girl was hit in front of her house near Interstate 30 and Loop 820 on a pretty spring break afternoon. Surveillance video from a neighbor showed a Dodge Charger racing down the street. The vehicle has been located and Fort Worth police have announced they have apprehended what they call a person of interest.

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Automobile insurance companies make vast sums of money by charging high premiums, then delaying, lowballing or denying collision claims. ALvBa5xEPlj4AAAAAElFTkSuQmCC-300x76

State Farm has a staggering net worth of $87.6 billion. It paid its CEO $8 million last year. Its new regional headquarters in North Dallas cost over $500 million and will employ over 8,000 people. But just try to pry money from an adjuster’s hands without a tough fight – and a good lawyer.

What is one good way to make these companies pay you a fair amount of money after you’ve been crashed into by one of their lousy drivers?

One tool injury lawyers employ in Texas is the Stowers demand. Used properly, it forces automobile insurance companies to engage in good faith negotiations and pay off large trial judgments.

The Stowers doctrine dates back to a 1929 Texas Supreme Court decision in G.A. Stowers Furniture Co. vs. American Indemnity Co. when the court provided injured people a more level playing field.

Before then, an insurance company could just deny a claim. And if the injured person sued its driver, the company was willing to take its chances in court where it hoped to win the case or minimize the size of the verdict. If it lost, it would simply pay off the judgment after several years without penalty or pressure.

So how does the Stowers doctrine help you? Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_64308272-300x200If you’ve had the painful and miserable experience of being in an accident, you’ve got a lot of questions.

Like who is going to pay for my medical expenses and lost wages? How can I collect insurance benefits? What is available?

Here are come answers about a basic and extremely useful policy that you may be paying for and not even know it: Personal Injury Protection benefits or PIP.

What is PIP?

It is an optional coverage that the driver can get money from when he or she is injured. PIP is no-fault because a driver can recover money under the policy even if he or she caused the crash.

The $2,500 for every person in the vehicle amount is the lowest amount of coverage a Texas driver can buy, but for a few dollars more each month, you can purchase up to $100,000 in benefits. This large amount presumably will never be necessary, but you never know.  And even if you have health insurance, often these carriers refuse to pay if you were in a car accident. Or they pay some of your bills but subrogate, that is demand reimbursement of bills paid.

PIP pays in addition to the at-fault driver’s maximum of $30,000 for any one person injured and $60,000 for all people injured in a collision that most drivers have available under their liability policies and other insurance that may be available.

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March201920tbiandbrain_optimized-300x300Did you know that almost 500,000 children up to age 14 suffer a traumatic brain injury every year in our country? That 435,000 are rushed to an emergency room and almost 2,700 of them pass? And that the number one cause of these injuries is (you guessed it) auto accidents, which cause nearly 40 percent of them?

This reality hit yesterday as I was at a hearing with the parents of a 17-year-old who has suffered a devastating brain injury. He tragically lies in a coma three months after the car he was riding in was t-boned by a pickup truck in Fort Worth.

These shocking statistics don’t do justice to the everyday reality of the parents of TBI patients. First come the gut-wrenching questions. Will my child be able to return to school? Will he or she have a normal childhood, be able to reach her full potential, or in the worst cases, ever wake up from a coma? The best doctors will not have immediate answers and the wait-and-see can be agonizing.

Next comes the practical aspects of TBI. Treatment costs a huge amount of money. Pediatric TBI costs more than $1.5 billion total every year in hospital charges alone, with more than half of that cost arising out of car wreck-caused brain injuries. TBI treatment and rehabilitation is incredibly expensive. And parents want, and should get, the best medical care possible for their child. Continue reading

dreamstime_xl_51353731-300x200Many ER doctors and surgeons prescribe narcotics to their patients since many are in dire pain after a car accident or surgery. Opioids provide quick relief, so what harm can a script for some OxyContin possibly do? Plenty, according to a new study.

Opiate addiction in patients of “high-intensity prescribers” was 30 percent more likely than in patients who saw “low-intensity prescribers.” The study shows that doctors who were overly generous with the prescription pad may be causing addiction to high potency medications.

Texas has a serious addiction problem. So does the rest of the country. Almost 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014 according to the CDC. Back in 2003, Rush Limbaugh famously admitted he was addicted to OxyContin. Addiction to opiods is a raging epidemic in the U.S.

What does this have to do with driving? Personal injury lawyers are seeing more and more crashes caused by drivers intoxicated on these prescription drugs. A man who crashed into our client’s car said he had taken 12 pills and had no idea how the collision happened.

Medications like Vicodin can impair a driver just as much as illegal drugs or alcohol. But shockingly there is no law that effectively stops the use of prescription medications while driving. Continue reading

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Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

This week lawyers claimed in a class action suit in Miami that four major automobile manufacturers knew the airbags they bought from Takata Corporation were dangerous but they continued to install them anyway.

The internal company documents allegedly show that Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and possibly BMW knew the bags were lethal but wanted to save a few dollars each on their expensive vehicles.

As a result, at least 11 people have been killed, two from Texas, and over 100 people have been injured, many seriously, after their airbags ruptured. Shards of metal were shot into drivers and passengers when canisters with dangerous gases overheated and inflaters exploded..

Wait, aren’t airbags supposed to prevent injuries?

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Photo from CNN

Today’s Mardi Gras celebration got off to a disastrous start on Saturday evening in New Orleans when an intoxicated driver crashed into families along a parade route. 28 people were injured, many seriously. It is a miracle no one was killed.

And in a collision today in Alabama, an SUV suddenly sped up and crashed into a marching band. 12 middle and high school students were hurt, some seriously. Alcohol is not suspected in this accident.

In the New Orleans wreck, the pickup truck driver, a 25-year-old male who worked as a bouncer at a bar, was racing down the street at 6:30 p.m. when he crashed into several vehicles. He lost control of his truck, drove across a median, bounced off a dump truck, and drove into the crowd.

The driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was a shocking .232 — almost thee times the legal limit in Louisiana (.08%) and Texas. Estimating a weight of 180 pounds, he drank 11 to 12 drinks over a three hour period, depending on food consumed and the length of time involved.

At first, these two crashes sounded like the recent terror attacks in Europe involving trucks. As I often ask, what is going on out there?

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JudgeOne oimage-e1483830192961f the most respected judges of our day, Joseph A. Wapner, died yesterday at the age of 97.

Haven’t heard of him? From 1981 – 1993 he was the TV judge who issued King Solomon-like decisions on the widely watched show The People’s Court. Judge Wapner lived a rich and productive life. With a nod to last night’s Academy Awards, in high school in Hollywood, he dated Lana Turner who went on to become a famous actress. He served in World War II and received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, practiced law in Los Angeles for 10 years, and served as a judge on the California municipal and superior courts for 20 years. He even got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. How many lawyers can say that?

His show wPerry_Mason_Title_Screenas the first of a long line of courtroom reality programs that continue today. OK, beginning in 1957 there was the Perry Mason show about a brilliant criminal defense lawyer who somehow always won his cases.

A poll showed that almost no Americans could name even one justice on our exalted Supreme Court, but more than half could name Judge Wapner, who heard small disputes about evictions and dog bites.

These two TV lawyers/judges revolutionized the court system. Wapner showed viewers they didn’t need lawyers. Mason inspired many of us young people to become attorneys and upped everyone’s game.

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