Articles Posted in Car Accidents

use-this-photo-300x169Two 14-year-old twins were passengers being driven to school last year when their van was rear-ended by a pick up truck. The van was propelled through the walls of the Los Zarapes restaurant on the North Side of Fort Worth. Thankfully no one was inside eating.

The young women were rushed by ambulance to the hospital where their injuries and lacerations were treated. Each student attended physical therapy for the next month. I’m glad they quickly recovered from their injuries.

Their medical bills were reduced significantly by my law firm and Medicaid. That was of course good for the family, but bad for the verdict potential of the lawsuit in court. That’s because under a confusing law first passed by the Texas Legislature in 2008 and recodified in 2013 after the landmark Texas Supreme Court ruling in Haygood v. De Escabedotheir medical bills that could be used in court were reduced by $30,000.

I’m happy to report the maximum $50,000.00 available under the at-fault driver’s policy was recovered for one student and $30,000.00 for the other. The driver also sustained personal injuries and her injury lawyer recovered the remaining $20,000.00 for her, maxing out the policy.

I then set up a favorable four year payment plan starting with their 18th birthdays so they can attend college. One young lady will have approximately $17,000.00 and her sister will have $9,000.00 invested in an annuity. I am a huge proponent of these structured settlements, especially when young people are hurt.

I attended a hearing yesterday to finalize their settlements. Their mother was thrilled, said that her daughters could now go on to college, and that this would change their lives. That’s always so great to hear.

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9kThe Texas legislature ended its biennial session this week without harming the rights of injured Texans. They even helped them, which is a rarity lately. That’s music to the ears of an injury lawyer.

If you’re wondering what new laws will affect you as you drive and which will hopefully reduce the shocking number of car accidents we have, here’s a quick rundown:

This bill was passed by the legislature but has not been signed by Governor Abbott yet:

Texting while driving: 

Finally our state leaders voted to outlaw this dangerous and common practice that has sent our crash rates soaring. But there are loopholes, of course, and it is not guaranteed that our governor will sign the bill. If he does, the new law was weakened to the point that police officers will have an almost impossible job of enforcing it. But hopefully drivers will be afraid of receiving a ticket and will stop texting while driving, so it’s a start to making our highways safer.

Two bills signed by the governor become law on September 1st:

  1. Mediation of often enormous hospital bills will be expanded. Often after someone is discharged from an emergency room, he or she is billed in full or for the remaining balance due to complexities in the health insurance and medical systems. It is a big victory for Texas consumers whose unpaid bills are often turned over to aggressive collection agents and attorneys to file and collect on lawsuits. More info is here.

     2. Telemedicine will be permitted for the first time. It may not be necessary to drive to a doctor to have your pain-relieving medicines refilled or be referred to a specialist like an orthopedic surgeon.

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220killed20on20I-2020in20Arlington-300x169It was another deadly weekend on the roads of North Texas. Unfortunately driving on our highways is getting more dangerous every year.

Here are a few of the sometimes astonishing automobile, truck, and motorcycle collisions and illegal activities that were reported in the news:

  • A Garland father on his motorcycle tragically died Monday night in Forney when a presumably DWI driver of an SUV swerving and speeding the wrong way on Highway 80 crashed into his bike. Fortunately his son who was riding with him — not to mention other people — was not hurt seriously.
  • A man tragically died in north Fort Worth Monday in a multi-vehicle pileup on N.E. Loop 820 near Mark IV Parkway at noon.
  • Three people were tragically killed in a collision early Monday morning at 1:45 PM. An 18-year-old man lost control of his car when he hit the guardrail in Arlington near Kelly Elliott Road on Interstate 20. The vehicle rolled over and he was ejected, killing him and his passenger. A good Samaritan who stopped also died when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver. That driver has contacted Arlington Police and is cooperation with its investigation.
  • The new Dallas Cowboys cornerback, Nolan Carroll, was arrested Monday morning for DWI. He was pulled over after committing a traffic violation on McKinney Avenue in the bar-heavy Uptown area of Dallas around 2:15 AM after overindulging at a nightclub which had used him to promote a big party. Not that these guys can’t afford it (Carroll signed a $10 million contract) but the Cowboys offer a free Uber ride to their players who need assistance leaving bars, a good idea after this player’s death several years ago in a terrible tragedy.
  • A Dallas police officer’s car plunged 30 feet from an overpass Monday after a pickup truck ran a light and crashed into the officer’s car on South Westmoreland Road in west Dallas. Several people gallantly jumped into a creek to save the officer. He was in critical condition but fortunately is now reported as stable. Police are searching for the driver of the 2007 white Chevrolet Silverado pickup that hit him.

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cell-phoneMore good news from our state legislature

Injured or sick people who can’t get off work, away from taking care of children, or don’t have a way to go get to a doctor will be able to see one on their cell phones or computers.
The new law will be signed by the governor in the next week. More information on how this cutting-edge technology will work is here.
Companies headquartered in Texas, including Teladoc, have been fighting the Texas Medical Board for many years to allow us the freedom to have our prescriptions refilled without lengthy trips and waits in doctors offices. Teladoc had won several lawsuits against the board.
Senate Bill 1107 was written by Dr. Charles Schwertner and will allow the board to maintain disciplinary control over doctors and health care providers.Doctors will be required to review a patient’s medical records before talking to them remotely.
Texas is state 50 out of 50 to allow this long overdue practice. This follows on the heels of the legislature’s approval of the texting while driving law, where we were the 46th state to limit this dangerous practice.

How Does This Affect People Hurt In Car Collisions?

Fortunately, most people injured in car wrecks do not sustain major injuries. The majority experience soft tissue injuries or strains and sprains of their necks and backs, sometimes referred to as whiplash. This is especially true in low speed collisions and rear end accidents or when the passengers are in a truck or sports utility vehicle (which more than 50% of Texans are in).

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Thanks to MADD, New Law Passed By Texas Senate Today May Help Stop This Epidemic

A wonderful 62-year-old woman named Wyona Clardy tragically died Saturday morning in Grapevine, two weeks after being crushed by a truck in Keller on Highway 377. Her car (pictured here) was stopped at a red light when it was crashed into by a tow truck driver who was intoxicated and probably stoned. DAR7CKiVoAA52P2-1-225x300-1The 52-year-old drunk driver’s charges will to be upgraded to vehicular manslaughter.

Another drunk driving crash occurred early Saturday morning in south Dallas. A drunk woman ran the red light and crashed into a pickup truck. The intoxicated driver broke both of her legs and the passenger in the pickup truck was critically injured with a brain bleed and multiple fractures.

These collisions follow on the heels of another fatal drunk driving episode that happened earlier in the month. The drunk driver killed a couple when he also ran a red light. And once again, two more families were devastated. Promise Hamilton was just 23 years-old and her boyfriend Luis Angel Solano was 26. Luis was driving Promise to the airport to catch a flight to Paris to study art. Luis was studying aerospace engineering at UT. Two promising young lives were cut short for no reason.

That the driver was driving while intoxicated comes as no surprise to a personal injury lawyer. We unfortunately see these cases often. There are over 3,000 crashes each year in just the two counties that Fort Worth and Dallas are in caused by intoxicated drivers — that’s an astonishing eight each night.

I extend my sincerest condolences to the families and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured victims.

 MADD Helps Get New Ignition Lock Law Passed

A new bill, HB 3016, just passed the Senate today and after being reconciled with the House bill will go to the governor for signature.  The new law permits a first-time drunk driver who has used an ignition interlock successfully for six months, not caused any crashes, and met other conditions to apply to have the DWI taken off his record. That’s a powerful inducement that will undoubtedly increase the use of this highly effective deterrent.

Continue reading was another horrifying morning yesterday on our roads and sidewalks in Dallas and in New York City.

A. We still don’t know what sparked yesterday’s road rage incident in Richardson. But we know that a 27-year-old man is dead in yet another senseless act of road rage violence that plagues our country.

While many of us were getting read to go to work or already commuting at 6:30 a.m., two men were seen swerving and speeding along U.S. 75 near Campbell Road. When they both stopped at a red light, the drivers exchanged irate words. Then one driver pulled out a gun and shot the other driver in the head. The man fled the scene and left his victim to die. Police released this photo and have asked for the public’s help in identifying the psycho driver.

B. Also yesterday morning in Dallas at 11 a.m. near I-30 and Jim Miller Road, a fire truck on its way to putting out a burning building was crashed into by a pickup truck driver who couldn’t wait and decided to run the light. Though not technically a road rage episode, the truck then crossed over the median and struck a small car, shoving it into a telephone pole. Two fire fighters and the driver of the car were injured and rushed to the emergency room.

C. And in Times Square170518173809-times-square-incident-0518-overlay-tease-300x168 yesterday also around 11:00 CST, a 26-year-old man drove his car onto the sidewalk, murdered a young woman, and injured 22 other people, four critically. Then the killer tried to run away. Of course.

An ISIS terrorist was initially suspected.

The driver, a Navy veteran, had two prior DWI convictions and was on PCP.

As I often wonder here, what in the world is going on our roads? And how can we stop the madness?

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Depositphotos_52856875_m-2015-e1494867547538It seems like there is news of a wrong way crash practically every day in our state, This isn’t your imagination or media hype. Wrong way collisions really do occur almost daily in Texas.

Tragically, 251 people were injured and 102 were killed in wrong way crashes in 2015.

Texas remains consistently in first place for most wrong-way accidents in the nation. Yet another first place trophy we need to retire.

But there is some light at the end of this tunnel. As I reported earlier this year, the Texas Department of Transportation has implemented a special program focused on ending wrong way accidents. The first part of the money is earmarked here for Tarrant County to analyze the best means for stopping drivers from entering highway ramps going in the wrong direction.

The pilot program focuses mainly on I-30 and Highway 360 interchange in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Already, TxDOT has installed high tech tools to prevent drivers from entering the highway in the wrong direction, to alert drivers that do go the wrong way, and to get police on the scene as quickly as possible to stop the driver before he injures somebody. Continue reading

IMG_4564-300x154After a car wreck, you are often rushed by ambulance to an emergency room for immediate treatment.  Before the ambulance arrives or later as you lay in the ER bed, you assume that your Aetna or Blue Cross will pay for all of your bills, right?

No, not necessarily. It’s a complicated system that is extremely anti-patient for these reasons:

  • If your health insurance plan should decide to pay the bills, it usually files a lien and demands full reimbursement from your car wreck settlement or verdict.
  • Your hospital may be out of network,
  • Your Aetna plan may say that it is secondary to the at-fault driver’s primary auto insurance policy and refuse to pay anything, and/or
  • You may not have met your annual deductible or have a large co-pay.

You won’t know this until later. Much later. What happens then?

You are stuck paying for $10,000 and often more of medical bills. You take it for granted that the other driver’s insurance company will reimburse you in full, and still give you plenty of extra money for your lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.

Good luck if you don’t have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side.

And to make matters worse, the emergency room department will also generate a separate bill which runs from $500 to $3,000 or more. This may also not get paid for the above reasons.

The hospital will file a lien so they get paid in full — or has the lien reduced by your attorney. Take a look at horrible story in today’s paper about a Good Samaritan who just had a $151,000 hospital lien filed on her after she had to have her legs amputated.

And a new bill has been approved by the Texas Senate that unfortunately allows emergency room physicians to also file a lien for their bills that must be paid from the proceeds and clarifies that any ER admission qualifies for the payment. SB 2066 will further reduce the amount of money an injured person will receive for his damages and I hope it does not get passed by the Texas House of Representatives and signed into law.

But at least there’s a little good news. State lawmakers just passed a bill that gives patients some recourse. The bill does not go as far as I would like but it is a good start to resolving this ludicrous system that hurts Texans. I urge Gov. Abbott to sign SB 507 so it becomes law.

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HR-2-150x150Apparently local drunk drivers still haven’t gotten the memo that fleeing a car wreck is a bad idea, especially here in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

Intoxication is one of the biggest reasons drivers speed off from the scene of a crash. They seem to believe they will not get caught, and if they do, they won’t get a DWI conviction.

Where this assumption might have been true in the past, police now have ever better tools for tracking down and arresting hit-and-run drivers. Cameras and cell phones that produce higher resolution images are everywhere. Law enforcement has better technology and techniques for identifying vehicles through paint splotches and auto parts inevitably left behind at the crash scene.HR4-150x150

And social media spreads the word quickly to witnesses. We just contacted several critical eyewitnesses thanks to photos posted by a local TV station to its website.  Here are two photos of my client’s cars in hit-and-run cases I’ve handled recently.

Yes, some hit-and-run drivers do get away with it. But at least those who are arrested face harsher penalties than drunk drivers.

This was not always the case. In the past, an intoxicated driver who seriously or fatally injured somebody might flee and lay low until he sobered up. If he were subsequently convicted of a hit-and-run, he would get a slap on the wrist.

Texas lawmakers passed a sensible hit-and-run law in 2013 that increase the penalties to do away with the incentive for drunk drivers to take off.
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C8HqSwqWsAAir07-e1493918519252Despite numerous innovations in auto and road safety, car collisions are increasing by the fastest pace in 50 years.

Car crash deaths jumped a huge 14 percent from 2014 to 2016. It is shocking that 40,200 people lost their lives in auto wrecks last year. Pedestrian deaths skyrocketed during that time period by an incredible 22 percent.

The reason? You guessed it: distracted driving.

This conclusion is not based merely upon my observations as an injury lawyer. The insurance industry has identified distracted driving as the catalyst for this alarming trend. In fact, texting and driving has had such a tremendous impact on the industry’s profits that insurance companies are finally jumping on board to combat the crisis. Continue reading

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