COVID-19 UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

A car crash can cause someone's life to change in the blink of an eye, especially when a devastating spinal cord injury occurs. Fortunately very few people experience this, but for those who do, life for them and their families will never be the same. Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of a spinal cord injury. That is understandable given the size and speed of vehicles involved in a crash. Other variables like the angle of impact, body position, seatbelts, and airbags affect the severity. The injured victim will need to take immediate action so that they can get the medical treatment they need and have sufficient financial resources in the future. We strongly discourage someone with any case, let alone a catastrophic injury like this, from relying on the generosity of the other driver's insurance company.  A spinal cord injury is life-changing. Medical and other expenses will be extremely expensive. A lawsuit will need to be filed and a personal injury lawyer needs to lay the proper groundwork to prove your damages. The sooner you consult with an experienced car accident lawyer, the better.

Average Compensation for a Whiplash Settlement
If you've been in a car or truck crash, you will experience a lot of pain. But who will pay for your medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and other expenses? Unfortunately, the insurance company for the driver who caused the wreck has clever ways to pay you as little money as possible. Here are a few of them.

Swoop and settle

The next day you may get a call or text from an insurance representative who says he or she wants to pay you money immediately. But usually the amount offered is only between $500 and $1,000. They might also make a vague promise to pay some of your medical bills - if their company decides they are reasonably priced.
Here is a typical story of how this game is played: an 18-year-old woman in Frisco named Rayza was crashed into, had to give a recorded statement, and settled her claim for $1,000. But her pain increased and she had to seek medical treatment. The company refused to pay her any other money and personal injury lawyers could unfortunately not help her since she had signed a release. The biggest problem is that you don't know how much your expenses are. You will be shocked when you see how much some providers charge car wreck victims and their health insurance companies. So if the ambulance, hospital, emergency room, radiology, chiropractors, physical therapists, pharmacies and other medical providers charge a total of $10,000, accepting a company's offer of maybe $1,000 to 3,000 is not a good idea.
Our office gets calls from injured drivers like this several times a year. A man contacted us several weeks ago. It is almost impossible to rescind the release. We did this once when we proved our client could not fully understand English.

Warning: even an oral agreement can be enforced

The Dallas Court of Appeals held that a verbal offer to pay the injured driver $500 and some medical bills was a binding contract - even though the driver immediately changed his mind, hired a personal injury attorney, and returned the check. In the case of Gilbert v. Fitz, the GEICO adjuster representing Fitz admitted that Mr. Gilbert's medical bills would be $8,000 to treat his broken ribs and wrist and his other injuries. They ended up being $15,000. Gilbert sued Fitz for his damages. However, not only did he lose his case, he was ordered to pay $10,000 in attorney's fees.

New law would end these oral releases after a car wreck

State Representative Julie Johnson from Dallas introduced HB 2374 which allows a driver to revoke a verbal settlement agreement. All seven members of the House Insurance committee voted in favor of it and it awaits the vote of the House of Representatives. Of course insurance companies will continue to swoop and settle, even if this law is passed.  By asking the injured driver to sign a form acknowledging that they understand what is happening, this will keep people from making rush decisions. There should be a short cooling off period, as there is with the sales at conventions or door-to-door homes. Texas Watch, a consumer organization, has urged Texans to contact their representatives to support HB 2374.

Recorded statements

The other insurance company's representative will also demand a recorded statement. He won't tell you but his detailed questions are designed to deny or minimize (1) his driver's responsibility for causing the collision and (2) your bodily injuries, medical expenses, and other damages if you decide to pursue legal action. You are not required to give a statement and it is almost always a bad idea. Mr. Berenson rarely if ever agrees to one unless it is absolutely necessary. If he does, he first reviews the expected questions, police report, photographs and other evidence with his clients so they are prepared. He also makes sure the statement will not be used later in court.

Other tricks to expect

There are too many to list in one post. Take a look at this article which lists more ways companies take money from you.

A good car accident lawyer can help you

The insurance representative will usually tell you that don't need to hire a car accident attorney since they are taking care of you. Don't believe it. The last thing he wants you to do is to hire a personal injury lawyer who can guide you what can be a confusing medical/legal process. We have been written blog posts for years about these insurance tactics guaranteed to result in small settlements or jury verdicts. Texas Watch advises drivers not to speak to the at-fault driver's insurance company before consulting with a car accident lawyer. The first consultation with Berenson Injury Law is free. We can explain how we can help get you the results you want after your wreck. And there is no fee due until the case is won in court or settled.
Mr. Berenson has successfully represented injured Texans for over 40 years. He only handles vehicle crash cases (not medical malpractice, dangerous drugs and products, etc.).
Still not sure if you want to talk to us and let us answer your questions at no charge? See what some of Mr. Berenson's clients have written about how satisfied they were with their results.

For more on this topic:

Recorded statements: why you need an attorney Need help paying your medical bills? Podcast about Rayza's claim

Here's the latest elected official or celebrity to be arrested for driving while intoxicated

Drinking and Driving Why do we have so many "car accidents" on our roads -- especially the huge number caused by drunken and drugged drivers? The chance of being injured in a DWI wreck in North Texas is a lot higher than you may realize. In Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton Counties last year, drunk drivers caused over 5,000 crashes which tragically took the lives of 90 people and injured thousands of people. We hear about the Covid-19 pandemic constantly but rarely about the DWI epidemic. But these collisions are so common that it takes someone dying in one - or a famous celebrity arrested - for the news media to mention it. Recently we blogged about how two prominent officials -- a Dallas criminal judge and a high-ranking Fort Worth police officer -- were arrested for driving while intoxicated in the same weekend. In the latest report about a public servant breaking the law, the Mayor of Granbury was arrested for DWI early Sunday morning. Worse, this was his second arrest. Ninnian Hulett, age 68, was pulled over in his highly visible red Corvette. The mayor was reportedly found guilty about seven years ago of evading arrest and later that year, was arrested for causing a DWI wreck in Fort Worth - and one more. EDITED: The mayor resigned on May 6, 2021. That's outrageous. We elect people not just to make laws but obey them, just like the rest of us have to do. We expect our officials, judges, and law enforcement personnel to lead us by exhibiting the highest conduct and setting a good example, especially when innocent drivers can be injured. We can't sit back and allow a DWI to be normal behavior when people naturally ask, "if he can do that, why can't I?" Our office handles many driving while intoxicated collision cases and sees how destructive these usually high-speed crashes can be.

Street racing has been deadly in North Texas

EDITED: Last night after street racing had closed a Duncanville intersection, a 54-year-old woman who was walking was fatally struck by a bullet.

Last month, a Frisco couple tragically lost their lives after two 19-year-olds who were street racing crashed into their vehicle. They were shockingly driving over 100 mph on a a road with a 40 mph limit just after lunch. This doesn't seem possible but the horrific crash was not an isolated example. Other street races have resulted in the deaths of innocent drivers, notably a wonderful couple named Ben and Meg Arbour who tragically lost their lives in November in Fort Worth. In Dallas over one weekend in February, 181 traffic citations were issued and 33 people were arrested for street racing. And in the last one and a half years, DFW police have received over 2,500 reports of street racing.

Speeding drivers are common on our roads

Routine speeding causes two-thirds of collisions in Texas. We all think nothing about it when someone blows by us on the interstate going 80 or 90 mph. And we are pushed out of the left lane if we are not doing at least 15 to 20 miles over the limit. And we sure don't ever expect to get crashed into in a high-speed collision with a wannabe street racer. There is probably a 100% chance that another driver is going to be speeding by or towards us when you set out in your vehicle.  We need to be hyper alert and ready. And we have to crack down on street racing and speeding before they kill or injure other people.

Less Street Racing Due to New Fort Worth Law?

Here's a good start: due to the public pressure after the Arbours' tragedy, the Fort Worth City Council passed a law this week that makes it illegal to watch street races. People will be fined up to $500 when they do. Street racing is against state law. Charges range from a Class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony under the Texas Transportation Code. Incarceration up to 20 years is a possibility. But it is perfectly legal in Texas to gather to watch these reckless drivers. So large crowds gather to cheer for and place bets on these miscreants who turn our streets into drag strips and shut down intersections to do donuts. The state should have outlawed these street parties many years ago. Police officials say they will use video and social media posts to track down the spectators. Fort Worth's crackdown will help curtail the glamour of street racing. Hopefully all other Texas cities -- and our Texas Legislature meeting in Austin -- will follow.

Speeding has increased across the U.S.

Exceeding the speed limit is such a national problem that even the business publication The Wall Street Journal just wrote a long article about it. The publication quotes safety officials from across the country who decry the number of injuries and deaths caused by speeding. According to the National Safety Council, 42,000 Americans died last year in vehicle wrecks, a substantial 8% rise over the year before, especially considering the lock-down. And the busy summer driving season when families can be packed into their vehicles is around the corner. What's the big rush? Drivers who mash the gas pedal down risk their lives and of course, those of their passengers and other drivers. Often they are driving while intoxicated, driving huge pickup trucks, young, male, texting, or all of the above.

How to prove speeding

In a civil lawsuit for damages, which is the area of law that Berenson Injury Law specializes in, proof that a driver has violated the statute constitutes negligence per se or automatic liability. Reckless driving is a serious civil offense. This leads to a prima facie case that the speeding driver must pay for your damages. The first thing that a personal injury lawyer will do is prove that the other driver was speeding. He or she will go to the Texas Transportation Code, Section 545.351, that contains the law about exceeding the maximum speed requirement. They will obtain the police report, speak to the officer and eyewitnesses, take photographs and measurements of skid marks, yaw marks, gouges in the pavement, and crush damages. They will try to locate video cameras which may have recorded the collision. They will possibly download the black box and use accident reconstruction experts, depending on the case. The other driver and their insurance company often denies they were speeding, so immediate investigation and proof is critical. The car accident lawyer will prove facts that entitle their client to win on liability. That happens when they show the other driver breached their duty to drive safely, here driving under the speed limit, and possibly other duties including the failure to yield the right of way, pass safely, keep a proper lookout, not text while driving, etc. The attorney will also help his client obtain compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain, and other damages.

Contact Berenson Injury Law if you have any questions

Speeding causes way too many car wrecks in North Texas, and street racing causes even more. The higher the speed, the more likely injuries and even deaths will occur. Berenson Injury Law has specialized in car and truck crashes for nearly 40 years. Our goal is to help every client get the maximum compensation, then cut down their outstanding medical bills and claims for reimbursements from hospitals, health insurance companies and government agencies which may have liens on the proceeds.
If you have been injured in a speeding or any other vehicle crash, please contact us at 888-801-8585 or chat with us.
The first consultation is free and we only get paid when you do so there is no risk.

Three fatal crashes in one day is insane

Texas may be fully open for business but there are less vehicles on the roads thanks to remote working, shopping, and schooling. So you would hope that at least the number of car accidents would have decreased. But looking at how many fatal crashes happened in the Fort Worth area just on Friday, it is apparent that our local highways are as dangerous as ever. This is what happened in those eight hours:

1.  In Far North Fort Worth

A tractor-trailer, flatbed truck and pickup were involved in a crash about 10:00 a.m. on Highway 114 at an intersection near the Texas Motor Speedway in Justin. Apparently a woman driving the flatbed truck died. Other people were injured, two of them seriously.

2. In Arlington

A man who was driving while intoxicated took the life of a 21-year-old woman around 2:30 a.m on Interstate 20. Her car collided into an 18-wheeler that had jack-knifed and blocked all lanes of traffic after it was crashed into by the drunk man. The young woman was a college student, worked, and was loved by many. And shockingly, this was the third child that her parents had lost in a DWI collision, adding to the heart break.

3. Near Decatur

Also about 2:30 a.m., the 47-year-old assistant basketball coach at the University of North Texas died after his car hit a culvert in on U.S. 380. His vehicle flipped over and traveled through a fence. Other details were not reported. His team had finished its first NCAA tournament in the history of the school just several weeks before. These stories are devastating. Any one wrongful death from a car crash or due to any other reason is heart-breaking. There are so many ways someone can get hurt out on the roads. We send our condolences and prayers to their families and everyone impacted by these tragedies.

Insurance companies use Colossus program to pay less money. Here's what you can do about it.

If you have been injured in a vehicle crash, you want to know how you can recover your damages. Our personal injury law firm will fight to get you fairly compensated. But almost every car insurance company uses a manipulative software program called Colossus to minimize the amount of money they pay to injured victims. This post explains how you can combat this software to make more money.

The pandemic caused people to drive less last year. Roads were almost empty for months due to lockdowns, virtual work and school, and home deliveries. So a new report showing that 2020 was one of the worst years for fatal car accidents came as a shock to safety officials.

All time high for fatal car accidents

According to the National Safety Council
  • Over 42,000 Americans lost their lives in car accidents in 2020 -- a huge increase over the year before and the highest total in 13 years;
  • A shocking 5,000,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes last year;
  • For the first half of 2020, while the number of miles dropped by 17%, the number of fatal car accidents increased by 20%;
  • Collisions are now the leading cause of death for our children and young people from ages 1-25; and
  • The cost to our country is an astonishing one-half trillion dollars a year.
  • Almost 4,000 Texans perished in a vehicle crash, the highest total in years. Year after year, Texas has the highest number of fatal car accidents in the United States.
This is crazy. How could this possibly have happened?

After the horrific February 11th chain reaction that took the lives of six people and injured scores of others, it was announced that a federal agency would investigate. Well, that was the least that could happen. We need to find out what caused Fort Worth's deadly crash and how another tragedy like this can be avoided. However, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported that the National Transportation Safety Board will only look into whether the toll lanes had been deiced before the historic storm shut down Texas for a week - if it makes a report at all. Critics say a complete investigation and remedial action is needed. We wholeheartedly agree. This was the worst massive collision in our city's history. It could have and should have been prevented.

How Fort Worth's deadly crash scene unfolded

Early that morning, freezing rain began falling. This added to the already iced over roads. It was dark outside. Motorists driving down a hill on Interstate 35 between 28th Street and Northside Drive had no time to react to cars and trucks that had wrecked ahead of them. They slammed on their brakes but were unable to stop, causing a whopping 133 vehicles to collide into each other. There are no shoulders on the toll lanes on the toll lanes. But they would not have been of much use with cars and trucks driving 75+ miles an hour on treacherous roads. This bad weather was predicted. We warned drivers days before to stay off the roads and gave winter driving tests since we rarely, if ever, see them. But the toll lanes remained open for business as usual, as if nothing bad could happen. There were no warning signs, barriers, lane closures, or police to reduce or slow down traffic. After the tragedy, we asked
  • why the toll roads with the 75-mile-per-hour speed limits were open in the first place, and
  • whether the poor design of the toll roads made this pile-up inevitable.

What will happen next

It is not clear what will come out of the federal investigation, if anything. Usually, NTSB defers to state and other agencies and does not get involved in vehicle crashes. Further, it did not send out its own crash team as it should have done. Who will investigate and who (if anyone) will be blamed? The Texas Department of Transportation is not going to fault the North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners which owns and operates the toll lanes. That private company gets to keep all of the tolls collected for 52 years in exchange for funding and building them. It allows as many drivers as possible to make more money -- even during a crippling ice storm. TxDOT is obviously not going to held liable since it was not in charge of the toll lanes and enjoys sovereign immunity from prosecution in most cases. We may have to wait until the verdicts in the lawsuits that have and will be filed to learn what really happened. The first one was filed in South Texas against six of the 18-wheeler drivers and their companies, not against Mobility Partners. That business has denied that it is at fault for causing Fort Worth's deadly crash because it applied deicing brine on Tuesday night. This disaster happened Thursday morning. Any report that blames road crews sweeps the real blame under the rug.

Is 75 mph a safe speed?

Further, the state legislature passed a law that set 75 miles per hour as the default speed limit unless a slower (or faster) limit was prescribed. However the test that determined that 75 mph was safe was conducted in perfect conditions when the weather was good and traffic was light. And we know that many drivers speed, so they may have been exceeding that limit that morning. NTSB has the power to recommend that Congress or a federal agency make or revise laws based on what its investigation reveals.

The lethal combination of higher speed limits and poor road design

To hold down the cost of the $1.4 billion reconstruction of I-35 West, shoulders and break-down lanes were eliminated. Speeds limits were increased to encourage drivers to pay large tolls to use them. The vice president of government affairs at the National Safety Council, Jane Terry, was furious about what happened here. "We need people to become outraged over this because we need to do better," she said. You have to wonder if speed limits are safe to begin with. A national group called the Governors Highway Safety Association has urged the federal government to reduce speed limits to save lives. Its director called on Congress to curtail drivers who go to fast: "Let's treat speeding the same way we treat seat belt use and drunk driving." The Biden administration is proposing that billions of dollars be added to the federal highway construction program. This is the perfect time to look into how our roads can be safer. You can bet that the speed limits on the toll lanes are not going to decrease or that the expressway will be closed down the next time we have deadly weather like we did last month. And it is a given that the roads will not be redesigned to allow more room to avoid crashes. But they should. Berenson Injury Law has successfully represented thousands of motorists over the past 40 years. We only handle car, truck, 18-wheeler, motorcycle, and pedestrian injury and death claims. We also advocate to make our roads safer so that crashes don't happen in the first place. Please contact us if you need any help with a crash that you have been involved with. Star Telegram article: Will NTSB expand its probe into deadly I35W pileup? 

The Texas Supreme Court issued its 36th Emergency Order since the pandemic began one year ago. It permitted live Texas jury trials to proceed if safeguards are in place. Governor Abbott is fully reopening Texas businesses and withdrawing the mask mandate tomorrow.

Trying to achieve a happy medium

The Supreme Court is apparently seeking a balance between a return to normalcy and the safety of judges, attorneys, jurors, parties, and witnesses participating in Texas jury trials. Inoculations are being quickly administered, many people are still wearing masks and socially distancing, and the coronavirus is fortunately moderating. That is great news. However, with contagious variants spreading and Spring Break happening, a surge has been predicted. The Court implied that live proceedings should wait until June 1st.

Requirements to conduct Texas jury trials

The required protocols include
  • approval from the local administrative district judge;
  • ruling on objections made to live jury proceedings within seven days of the commencement of trial;
  • assurance that no participants have tested positive or exhibited any symptoms for COVID-19 within the previous 10 days or been exposed to the coronavirus within the last 14 days;
  • notification of potential jurors of the precautions that are being taken to protect their health and safety;
  • receipt of questionnaires to prospective jurors asking about their health and possible recent exposure; and
  • removal of jurors who confirm their infection or exposure.

Which courts can and cannot hold live trials and appellate hearings

The Court continued to allow district and county courts to modify their procedures and deadlines and procedures through June 1st. Further, the Supreme Court will not allow in-person arguments through the duration of its 2020-21 docket. Three justices dissented to the new order.

Texas courts valiantly pivot to remote proceedings

The commitment of Texas judges and attorneys to continue to work during this crisis has been remarkable. Texas reported its first COVID-19 case on March 5, 2020. Within one week the courts had immediately implemented virtual hearings by telephone or videoconference. Some courts even set up YouTube channels enabling the public to watch their proceedings. An estimated one million virtual hearings have been conducted in the past year. Pre-trial hearings, appeals, depositions, mediations, and appeals have continued. There have been several notable trial results, including last week's stunning $2.1 billion verdict against Intel last week in a patent infringement trial in federal court in Waco.

Growing backlog

With few Texas jury trials during past year, the growing dockets will take a long time to resolve. According to the Office of Court Administration's statistics, there are about 600,000 active cases just in the district courts across the state. A tiny fraction were disposed of last year by non-jury (852) or jury trials (130). The stoppage has especially a problem in the criminal courts due to their speedy trial requirements. The additional deaths and infections from the more crowded jails have been called an urgent threat. Effectively trying a case to a jury has also prevented civil cases from being fairly resolved. Virtual trials have problems. Litigants have had to choose between remote trials or waiting for the courts to reopen. Cases sometimes are not resolved until the juries are being empaneled or testimony begins.

What happens next

It is not known which counties and courts can achieve the safety requirements and proceed with in-person proceedings. The major counties have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars retrofitting their courtrooms with plastic barriers and other distancing devices. It is also not clear whether jurors will appear for jury duty. Appearance rates were already low. For now, courts will continue to recalibrate so they can return to relative normalcy. Hopefully, the pandemic will be subdued more quickly than expected and Texas jury trials can safely resume. For more on this subject: Will coronavirus affect Texas car accidents? - March 10, 2020 blog post

  • How does a child collect money from the other driver's insurance company?
  • Is the money paid now?
  • What can it be used for?
  • Do I have to file a lawsuit and go to court?
  • Will my child have to testify?


The parents should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. He or she can usually represent all people injured in the collision, including the parents if they were the driver or passenger. One or both of them will represent their child/children as their guardian or "next friend." The car accident attorney will attempt to negotiate a favorable settlement, depending on the facts of the case. If this can be accomplished, the adults can settle their claims and and receive their proceeds immediately. If a good settlement cannot be reached, the injury lawyer will file a lawsuit. However, the child cannot be paid until he or she reaches the age of 18 and is emancipated. Until then, they obviously do not have the legal capacity to make decisions, including hiring an attorney or settling a personal injury claim. Instead, the parents will approve the final settlement or decide to file a lawsuit. Many times, an attractive settlement can be attained. At that time, the parents' lawyer files what seems like an oxymoron -- a"friendly lawsuit" where the details have been agreed to in advance.


The judge appoints a guardian ad litem to represent the child's best interests. They investigate the case, meet with the parents, consult with the attorneys involved, and study the medical records and bills. They advise the court whether the offer is fair, all medical bills have been paid or will be paid, and the needs of the child have been carefully considered. When I am appointed by a judge as the guardian ad litem, I also reduce or further cut down outstanding medical bills and liens to get the child a larger recovery of money. The parties appear before the judge (by Zoom during the pandemic) at a hearing. The minor child does not need to attend. The court hears the testimony and normally approves the settlement. This hearing is required or the child could file a lawsuit when he or she attains the age of 18. A record is made showing that the parents and the insurance company understood the legal details to prevent future disputes. The fee for the guardian ad litem is paid for by the insurance company.


The money belongs to the child, not the parents. The funds cannot be paid to someone even if they are 17.
The money cannot be given to the parents before then. The funds are solely for the use and benefit of the child injured in a car accident and as a matter of law, have to be protected for the child's future. You occasionally hear of stories like one in Utah where several months ago, a man was recently charged with felony theft for stealing his daughter's substantial settlement.
A court allows the minor child's funds to be used to pay for things that directly help the child, particularly paying medical bills and liens. If there are future medical expenses, they are the responsibility of the parents until the child turns 18.  If the child is still undergoing medical treatment, the case should be postponed until he or she has recovered and the value of the claim can be determined. The parents' lost wages caring for the child are not reimbursed. Special educational needs (e.g. an arts program the parents cannot afford for a budding artist) can occasionally be paid from the funds. Buying a car is rarely allowed unless there is a compelling reason. I am involved in a case now where a 15-year-old really wants to start driving when he turns 16. I have explained to the mother that unless that is the only way he can get to school, this will not be approved by a judge.


There are two choices for how the money is distributed. A. Annuity: This is a guaranteed insurance contract that will be used when the amount of the settlement is higher. There are different plans that can pay money on different payout schedules. Most courts like to see a "college plan" where money is divided between ages 18 - 22 in annual, semi-annual, or monthly payments. Other schedules can be chosen by the parents. This is preferable to giving a large sum of money to the just turned 18-year-old who can plunk the money down on a new car or take a vacation. The advantages to an annuity is that the funds are protected and offer favorable interest rates and tax benefits.
B. Registry of the court: (the bank account administered by the county).However if the child's settlement is relatively small, usually less than $10,000, payment can often be made up front. That is because most annuity companies cannot fund such a small amount of money due to start-up costs. The insurance company writes a check to the county clerk and the money is deposited into the "registry of the court." The fund accrues interest and when the child reaches the age of 18, they can go to the county administration building and with be paid in full. C.  Disability payments: if the car wreck is very serious and the child is disabled, consideration must be given to whether Social Security disability benefits can be paid. If so, a special needs trust may be needed.


My law firm can answer your questions and help you through what can be a complicated process. We only handle car and truck wreck cases. There are far too many of them in Texas. One just happened this morning here and four children are reported injured. There is never a charge for the first consultation and all legal services and costs are free unless and until you recover money. Please contact our office at 1-885-801-8585 or click here.
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