Articles Posted in Car Accidents

How does a wrong way crash even happen?

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Imagine that you were driving home late last night on an interstate in Fort Worth or Dallas. Maybe you worked the late shift or saw a movie. Suddenly, every driver’s worst nightmare occurred: a speeding car or truck was headed straight at you. You had little, if any, time to react and may have no unoccupied lane to swerve into. This is a recipe for a wrong way crash.

But this was not a horror movie. It happens here a lot, far too often. Texas leads the U.S. in the number of these wrong way crashes.

Yesterday morning, a man driving a Honda led Springtown police on a high speed chase across Tarrant County. It started when the driver fled a police officer near Lake Worth. He accelerated and drove east in the westbound lanes of Interstate 820. He wove in and out of traffic at a speed of up to 100 mph. Officers from Fort Worth and Reno joined the chase and used road spikes to prevent the driver from going further. The driver spun out of control as he exited Loop 820 and crashed his car. Miraculously, no other cars were hit during the chase or his wipe out.

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Ticket for Texting and DrivingI call on Dallas, Fort Worth, and the other cities in North Texas to establish a car crash task force to reduce our high death and injury rate on our roads. I understand that no one wants to be stopped and given a traffic ticket. And sometimes the cop is overly aggressive and the driver hasn’t been speeding or isn’t over the blood alcohol limit. But we have a shocking 80,000 car wrecks in Dallas and Tarrant Counties every year — 220 a day — that injure and take the lives of innocent drivers.

An illuminating article last week in the Houston Chronicle followed up on its previous investigation into that city’s worst auto crash rate in the country ranking. And the newspaper found that there enforcement of traffic laws had been reduced although officials knew that fatalities and personal injuries were rising. Now, in only two days in Houston, the officers on a new task force made over 400 traffic stops, wrote almost 300 tickets, and arrested 38 people — including 23 for DWI.

You never think you will be injured in a car accident. But after work yesterday, I drove a settlement check to a client who had major surgery after a young driver ran a light. I was saddened that the poor woman is still hobbling around behind a walker six weeks later. I took her to her bank since she has no car and is not able to work.

And I met a client this morning to advance her money to help pay for the surgery she is having later today after a drunk driver crashed into her car.

It is obvious that we are not doing enough to protect the public from bad drivers.

My guess is that DFW area police would have the same results here as in Houston since we know we have a major problem.  Tarrant County has 10 “No refusal weekends” throughout the year where blood draws to curtail DWIs are mandatory. This past Super Bowl weekend was one of them and the Stock Show weekends going on down University Drive from my building are also on the list.

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When is owner at fault for letting unsafe driver drive his car?

Drinking and Driving

People usually cannot be found to be responsible when someone else is negligent. But what happens when someone loans his vehicle to another person who he knew — or should have known — was not a safe or qualified driver? A car accident could result due to the negligent entrustment of the vehicle and in some cases, the owner can also be at fault. Giving a dangerous driver access to a potentially deadly 6,000 pound vehicle can be just as deadly as handing a child a loaded gun.

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Texas needs to do more to stop elderly drivers.

Texas needs a law restricting the rights of its older citizens, if unqualified, from driving. Great Grandpa should not automatically be allowed to keep ambling around until he’s 100. The graying of the population and increased rate of dementia is inevitably adding to the carnage on our highways. In Texas, every 59 seconds a reported collision occurs and every two hours and 21 minutes, a Texan loses his life in a vehicle crash. Texas has the second highest number of drivers who are 65 or older dying in motor vehicle accidents. The age-old questions, if you’ll pardon the pun, is when should we make elderly drivers stop and how would we make this happen?

World-wide problem

This is a timely topic all over the globe. For example, it was just reported that Prince Philip, who is 97, wrote a letter apologizing to the two people he crashed into last week north of London. The husband of Queen Elizabeth II caused one woman to break her wrist and injured another. He obviously needs to stick to being driven in his horse and buggy.

P-P

Texas needs a “Mr. Magoo law” to protect drivers

When I was young, I remember watching cartoons including one about Mr. Magoo, a bumbling old man with Coke bottle glasses who was always crashing his car. About 60 years ago, joke writers found humor in the declining physical and mental abilities of older people causing car wrecks. But being injured in a car accident isn’t a funny topic.

Magoo

Now that I’m going to be 65 this year, just got another invitation to join AARP, and my law firm continually gets cases where an old driver crashes into our clients,  I’m more interested in this topic that some people and wanted to share some ideas here. Continue reading

Wrecks and bad roads increasing at rapid pace.

Between all the drivers staring at their cell phones, our roads that are rated a D, and the thousands of new residents pouring into North Texas, you are probably lucky not to get into a car accident when you drive around Dallas-Fort Worth. Adding to the chances are the pavement problems caused by last year easily being the rainiest in our history with a whopping 53 inches falling, a lot of it last month. The latest reported example is a  10 foot wide pothole in Fort Worth that shut down an intersection for two weeks after a car sank into it and had to be towed out. You may be wondering if the state or local government is liable for your damages if you are injured in a car or truck wreck caused by bad roads, broken stop lights, missing stop signs, or poor highway design or maintenance. This post will explain how Texas law works.

Road Defects

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Car AccidentIf injury claim is denied, take action

Texas personal injury law provides a procedure for people who have been injured in a car accident caused by another driver to receive compensation for injuries and damages. However, it’s not an easy process. After you have tried to represent yourself by filing your claim, you often will get a letter or phone call saying that the company has denied it. Is it allowed to do that? What should you do in response?

Why are claims denied? 

It is obvious that the claims adjuster works for the other driver’s insurance company, not you. His job is to carefully review each claim and either (a) find a way to deny it or (b) pay out as little money as possible. It is in the company’s best interest to deny claims. A few small companies even seem to make it their business model to deny every claim, hoping injured people go away. Then they get to keep the money they had reserved as profit.

These are the main reasons a claims adjuster uses to justify denying a claim:

  1. The driver did not have liability insurance: Even though Texas law requires that all drivers carry minimum liability coverage of $30,000 for any one person’s injuries, $60,000 for all people’s injuries, and $25,000 for property damage, approximately one-fourth of drivers here are not insured. But a lot of these people have fraudulent identification cards or official insurance cards that have expired that they hand to the police officer or you at the scene. This is an old trick that can cost you a lot of money unless you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage or file a lawsuit against the other driver and hope to get him to pay your damages, usually not worth your time and money.
  2. The driver or vehicle was excluded from coverage under the policy: this is similar to the above, when the other driver claims he is covered but you later learn that he was excluded. This often happens with teenage drivers, older vehicles, or where people are trying to save money and only list one person or car on the policy.
  3. The policy does not cover the accident or excludes the location where the crash occurred. There are other exclusions, including vehicles used for business purposes, ride-sharing (Uber and Lyft), racing, out of country crashes, and intentional collisions. Continue reading

A blow to a driver’s or passenger’s head can change his or her life. Huge medical bills, pain, disability, lost wages, loss of future employment, and other damages can result. If this has happened to you, you will naturally wonder how much money you can receive. The answer is not an easy one but here is a list of over 80 variables that Berenson Injury Law uses to calculate a range of settlement values or jury verdicts for our injured clients. The factors include the severity, liability, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, bills paid and incurred, and insurance available. More information about how to estimate the average concussion settlement follows.

Average Concussion Settlement

This post is a part of a series about injuries for those people who have unfortunately been hurt in a car or truck accident. Others related topics including head, neck and back injuries and broken bones are here.

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Black Ice

Today’s dangerous driving conditions are not what we wanted to kick off 2019. It’s been a bad morning on our roads. And the bigger problem is that we are not used to driving on icy roads in Fort Worth or North Texas. So many people don’t make any changes in their usual driving habits in their hurry to get from Point A to Point B. They refuse to slow down, brake, or maintain a proper distance behind the vehicle in front of them. They keep dialing phone numbers and texting while driving. So it t will be a busy day for police, tow trucks, and injury lawyers.

UPDATED WEDNESDAY NIGHT: The Star Telegram reported Fort Worth experienced 51 traffic wrecks from 5 a.m. until noon, way more than the 21 the day before. Tomorrow, roads will remain icy in patches and a little snow might even fall.

The good news is these bad roads didn’t hit us on New Year’s Eve or on Saturday when the Cotton Bowl was in Arlington. And that it is going to warm up. And that Mr. Berenson’s University of Texas football team won their big bowl game last night. And that we don’t live in Detroit!

Hopefully today’s and tomorrow’s bad weather is all we have this winter.

Here are a few tips to help keep you safe today.

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Happy New Year

Huge Problem Every Year: New Year’s Eve DWIs

Tonight is one of the most exciting and enjoyable holidays of the year. But some people get overly excited about the possibility of a fresh year. The holiday is synonymous with excessive consumption of alcohol. Starting on the weekend and culminating with New Year’s Eve DWIs are common. With all of the parties and events going on all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area tonight, car accidents causing serious personal injuries will increase.

To counter the increase of people who are driving while intoxicated and under the influence, this is a No Refusal Weekend across North Texas. Police departments will be out in force and will draw blood or take suspected drunks to hospitals, even without their consent. Tarrant County is particularly aggressive in pulling over drivers and prosecuting them for DWIs.

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