Articles Posted in Car Accidents

How Texans Are Harmed new-crash-pic-300x177

You assume that other drivers next to you are covered by liability insurance, right?

Not necessarily. We have 2.6 million uninsured drivers in Texas. And Texas insurance companies are allowed to sell “junk policies” that eliminate coverage to anyone who is not listed. As a result, many people buy them so they can exclude their reckless 16-year-old sons and spouses with histories of DWI’s and car accidents.

This means you won’t be able to collect any money for your medical bills, lost wages, and damages if one of these uninsured drivers crashes into you. Does that sound fair to you?

When the 1.2 million drivers with these junk policies are added to all those without insurance, there’s a 30% chance you won’t get paid back.

I’ve had to deal with this situation more often than I’d like as an injury lawyer for the past 37 years and I’m concerned that people are often placed in this unjust position.

Everyone loses: the injured driver who must file a claim with his own company and pay a big deductible (assuming he paid for uninsured motorist coverage), the at-fault driver left open to being sued, and doctors who are not repaid.

Since Texans are the worst drivers in the U.S., we need all the protection we can get on our roads.

I’ve advocated that our state leaders meeting in Austin keep motorists safer by passing laws which will

Requiring that ALL drivers be covered by liability insurance is another easy and sensible way our legislators should be safeguarding our rights. Continue reading

hand-shakeThe largest insurance company in the world, State Farm, spent a whopping $525 million dollars last year to gain your trust and convince you that it is your good neighbor.

Don’t fall for it. When you are in a car wreck, liability insurance companies are definitely not your friends. They pay you the least amount of money they can get away with to maximize their gargantuan profits.

Here are some of their most common ruses you should be aware of.

1. They call you immediately

You may still be recovering in the hospital or just be getting home after the collision. You may be on pain medications. They catch you off guard, make vague promises like “we’ll pay for your bills,” and rope you in before you have had time to consult with a lawyer to learn what your rights are.

2. They demand a statement

They ask you leading questions that can be used against you later. But you are not required to give a recorded statement. Only if one is absolutely necessary, a good personal injury attorney will review the facts, tell you the questions you can expect, practice with you, and require strict guidelines so the answers can’t hurt you in court.

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Document. . . But TTexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_June2016exas Is Trying To Ban Them

The Dallas City Council voted to renew the city’s contract for red light cameras last week just after the Texas Senate voted to eliminate them. At least 40 cameras, a lot less than the 66 first authorized when the program began 10 years ago, will be in place at dangerous intersections.

Although some Dallas residents objected for various reasons, council members pointed to a 47 percent decrease in car accidents at the camera-enforced intersections to back their decision.

Texas Lawmakers Want to Put the Brakes on Red Light Cameras

These cameras have been controversial since they made their appearance in Texas a decade ago. Some towns have gone so far as to pass referendums, including in Arlington where residents voted to remove them.

Two years ago the Texas House passed a bill to end red light cameras but it died in the Senate. So the practice of ticketing people through the mail continues across the state.

A new bill has been filed in the Texas Senate to ban red light cameras across the state, excepting on toll roads. Another bill filed would prevent counties from refusing registration of a vehicle based upon too many red light tickets, which is the policy in Dallas. The Senate bill now moves to the House for approval. Continue reading person who creates a problem should also be part of the solution. That’s why Texas has had the Driver Responsibility Surcharge Program (DRP) since 2003.

The program requires reckless drivers to pay fines that fund trauma centers where the victims of car accidents receive care. Under the program, drivers receive points for various traffic infractions. Drivers pay $100 for six points in three years and an additional $25 per point above six. A drunk driver wracks up even more fines — $1,000 for a first time DWI conviction and $2,000 if the drunk driver’s blood alcohol concentration was above .15. A driver who has an invalid license owes $250.

The money goes to Level I trauma centers such as John Peter Smith Hospital (pictured here) in Fort Worth that accept all patients regardless of ability to pay. Often these trauma centers are the only place critically injured patients can receive lifesaving urgent care.

Now some Texas lawmakers have deemed this program unfair to the bad drivers and have introduced a bill to repeal it. There’s no word on how the victims of these bad drivers will get the medical care they need without the funding.

Often they have no health insurance, and if they do their company denies or minimizes payment, the hospital is out-of-network, and/or deductibles and co-pays are prohibitive.  Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_27451221-300x200We have the technology and the knowledge to bring pedestrian deaths to zero. Instead, the rate keeps rising.

In 2015, injury lawyers were surprised that pedestrian deaths had increased by the largest amount since national records were first recorded more than four decades ago. But 2016 has topped the previous record with 6,000 pedestrian deaths, another 11 percent spike. And no doubt, this year’s number will be even higher.

What is responsible for this record number of deaths? I’m sure you guessed correctly: texting.

But not just texting drivers. Texting walkers.

Everywhere you look, people’s eyes are glued to their phones, whether they are walking, biking, running, pushing baby strollers, and of course driving.

The phone-obsessed are oblivious to danger. We saw that firsthand last week when a texting driver killed 13 members of a church choir when his pickup truck collided with the charter van. If there were ever a case that should get our state legislature to outlaw texting while driving, this is it.

On Tuesday, a young woman plunged 60 feet from a bridge in Northern California and barely survived after taking a selfie.

People are so focused on the phone rather the risks around them that they are just accidents waiting to happen.

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Yesterday a judge finalized a lawsuit when a 17-year-old high school student was critically injured. My client was a Ramirez-Scene-300x232passenger in a car that was being driven by another young man in south Fort Worth. My client’s driver sped through a red light and was t-boned by a dually pickup truck at the intersection shown here. My client tragically suffered a traumatic brain injury and is still in a vegetative state months later.

The young man’s injuries are catastrophic. But the driver’s substandard insurance company denied the claim, saying he was not a covered driver under his mother’s liability policy. And the truck driver’s liability carrier denied that he was at fault. There were no other insurance policies or assets to collect on. This left no money for the family’s huge medical bills and other damages.

We went to work. After a diligent investigation and negotiation, we convinced the two insurance companies to pay both insurance policies in full. The second policy for the truck driver was substantial. My staff and I fought to reduce the young man’s medical bills from $700,000 to only $7,500. I reduced my attorney’s fee by almost one-half and waived all expenses to give the young man more money for his future medical care. I quickly arranged for a special needs trust to be drafted to handle his future medical needs to preserve his Medicaid entitlement and hired an excellent but lower priced attorney to also act as the trustee. Other legal details were handled. Finally, I pushed to get the settlement approved by the court in less than four months from the day of the collision.

The young man is fortunately showing signs of improvement. That’s great news.

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TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_June2016-211x300If you see somebody in distress, your first impulse may be to jump in and help. This sense of responsibility for your fellow man is a wonderful quality. But you might be putting your own life at risk, especially if you get out of your vehicle on a highway.

This is unfortunately what happened Monday night when 46 year-old Julia Zaman saw a collision on the Dallas North Tollway. A car hit a concrete barrier for unknown reasons, careened across the highway and came to rest on the inside median. Ms. Zaman pulled over and got out of her vehicle to help but was hit and tragically killed by an oncoming car. Not surprisingly, the good Samaritan was well known for her kindness.ArPduR11-300x300

Another good Samaritan, professional soccer player Ryan Hollingshead was also struck by a car in Bedford while helping a man injured in January. A car skidded on black ice and slammed into a guardrail. The FC Dallas midfielder graciously ran over to assist. Then another car hit a patch of black ice and slid out of control, striking Hollingshead. At first, doctors worried the star athlete might be paralyzed from three vertebral fractures. But this story has a happy ending — last week he was back on the field training with his team. Continue reading

imgresPatrons of an Uptown Dallas bar were socializing early this morning when a car came barreling through the wall. No surprise that the driver was drunk — so drunk that she then slammed her car into reverse and hurt the bartender and seven people on the sidewalk.

Former Texas Christian University football star and current Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Trevone Boykin was slumped over in the passenger seat.

He left the scene, returned, and was arrested for public intoxication and marijuana possession.

Yes, that Trevone Boykin who got drunk on the River Walk in San Antonio and punched out a police officer the night before a big bowl game in December 2015. And yes, the star who was given a one year deferred adjudication that may now get him locked up.

There is no law against being a drunk passenger (unless there is an open container inside the vehicle), but that does not absolve Boykin of guilt.

You can’t simply allow your friend to DWI just because you’re too wasted.  Continue reading

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 members 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.

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

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