Articles Posted in Court proceedings

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.

Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_48208777-300x199Good news for policyholders! Insurance companies must now pay for deceptive practices under a Texas Supreme Court ruling released this week.

The opinion hinged on whether the policyholder was entitled to benefits. If so, the policyholder could recover damages for the insurance company’s wrongdoing, even if there was no breach of the insurance policy.

The Case

USAA Texas Lloyd’s v. Menchaca involved a claim for damages caused by Hurricane Ike on the Gulf Coast in 2008. Gail Menchaca filed a claim with her homeowner’s insurance for damage to her home. The adjuster for the USAA Texas Lloyds insurance company determined that the estimated repair costs were less than Ms. Menchaca’s deductible so he declined to pay her anything for the damage. A second adjuster also estimated only minimal damage from the storm.

The policyholder sued USAA for breach of her homeowner’s policy and for the company’s violation of the Texas Insurance code that governs fair settlement practices. She argued that the company’s failure to properly investigate her claim resulted in her loss of insurance benefits.

The jury found that the company did not breach the policy but did violate the insurance regulations and awarded her the damages the company should have paid on her hurricane claim. The company appealed, arguing that since it did not breach the policy, no damages for bad faith could be awarded. However the court ruled in favor of the consumer and established five new ways to determine how these cases should be decided.
Continue reading

Have you received a call from someone who threatens you with going to jail for not showing updreamstime_xs_29662892-300x199-300x199 for jury service? He says he’s from the U.S. Marshall’s Office, gives his badge number, mentions the name of the judge who told him to call you, and even has the Tarrant or Dallas Courthouse listed on caller ID. The victim is told he must pay a huge fine immediately and some people do. One woman paid the fraudsters $2,000. That’s terrible to hear. But it’s a scam.

I’ve been a personal injury attorney in Texas for 36 years and have tremendous respect for our civil justice system and the jurors who are the backbone of this essential process. This rip-off angers me.

If you do receive one of these calls, report the incident to the U.S. Marshals Service to stop these horrible scammers from victimizing anybody else.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

Page PD photoThe Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul character, Saul Goodman, portrayed a despicable but hysterical lawyer.

However it’s no laughing matter when a real life personal injury lawyer preys upon vulnerable people.

This just happened in Dallas, where a city councilwoman used her position to solicit business for another lawyer, according to this article in the Texas Lawyer. A woman was rushed to the ICU after being horrifically mauled by a dog and later died. The politician is accused of pressuring the grieving family to hire her out of state friend — who had been disbarred. The two were just sued by the deceased woman’s family for barratry, or the illegal solicitation of a client.

Unfortunately this is routine after an accident or tragedy. If lawyers or medical clinics start cold calling you or your family after an auto or truck collision, you should hang up. Then you should call the State Bar of Texas and report them. It’s the only way this harassing conduct will stop. And there is a $10,000.00 reward.

Continue reading

6323255388_c18b6207d5_bMonday’s Landmark 5-3 Decision Throws Out Texas’s Draconian Abortion Restrictions

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court issued its most important abortion ruling in over 20 years. The opinion, authored by Justice Breyer, was predictably joined by Justices Kagen, Ginsburg, and Sotomayer from the liberal branch and often swing vote Justice Kennedy to reach the required majority.

And on Friday, in another bombshell lobbed at the right, Justice Kennedy provided the key fourth vote in Fisher v. University of Texas II which held that the affirmative action policy of the University of Texas did not violate the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The opinion in the long-running case was written by Justice Kennedy. Justice Kagan abstained since she had worked on the case when she was Solicitor General, causing the highly unusual 4-3 split.

Two liberal decisions in three days! Seismic shocks reverberated in Washington and across the legal world.

Continue reading

Dallas firefighters at scene of deadly car crash. (@FOX4Terry, Terry Van Sickle)

Dallas firefighters at scene of deadly car crash. (@FOX4Terry, Terry Van Sickle)

Another reminder why this is such an important issue

Early Thursday the driver of a Mercedes died after running into a tree at the intersection of Royal Lane and Inwood Road. The Dallas auto crash, which occurred at 3:30 a.m., was presumably caused by the over consumption of alcohol and/or drugs. Fortunately, no one else died or was injured.

Getting drunk drivers off the roads before they hurt themselves — or us — is an upward battle for police. With Texas leading the nation in drunk driving deaths, this is a battle we cannot afford to lose.

But the number of drunk driving fatalities increased by 8.2 percent in 2015, putting the year’s total DUI deaths at 1,446. This accounted for over 40 percent of all traffic deaths.

You’d think that we’d be trying to figure out a way to stop this deadly epidemic, right?

Continue reading

Contact Information