Articles Posted in Court proceedings

If you have been injured in a car or truck accident, you will have a lot of questions especially these:IMG_7993

  1. Will I have to go to court?
  2. How much money can I receive?
  3. How long will it take?

This post answers the first question and the other two are addressed in these posts:

How much money is my car accident case worth?

The litigation process

Will my case settle out of court or go to a trial?

There are two ways that someone can collect his or her damages: an insurance company can pay them an agreed amount of money or a jury can award them monetary damages.

Statistics show that about 99% of all injury cases settle outside of the courtroom, usually before a lawsuit is filed.

So the chances of your case settling are excellent. But that answer as well as the amount of money you might receive and the length of time the process may take depend on many factors including the following:

Key information that is needed

  • Your case’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • Your liability facts and vehicle damage;
  • Your chance of winning a trial totally or partially, as negligence is attributed between all drivers and companies involved;
  • Your injuries – are they permanent or temporary, hard tissue or soft tissue, did you have surgery, etc.
  • Your medical expenses – how many are outstanding, were paid, and were written off;
  • Your lost wages, lost job benefits, and lost capacity to earn a living;
  • Your disability, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and other damages;
  • Your financial condition – your need for a quick recovery of money or your ability to wait for a trial;
  • Your desire to go through the usually frustrating and slow court process;
  • Your injury lawyer – his experience, ability, and reputation;
  • Your negotiating ability (if you are trying to represent yourself) and knowledge of legal, insurance, and medical issues;
  • Your goals; and
  • The other driver’s/company’s insurance company insurance policy limits and his/its assets

We at Berenson Injury Law evaluate these and other variables when we first meet with our new clients. We ask if our clients would prefer us to try to get the maximum amount of money from the insurance company or sue. After practicing personal injury law for almost 40 years, Mr. Berenson has never had a client who wanted to go to court if he could avoid it.

Later, we analyze these variables and recommend that our clients take their case to court or accept a settlement offer. We then try to reduce outstanding medical bills and perform other services to make our clients more money.

If you are undecided between entering into settlement negotiations, accepting a settlement offer, and going to a jury trial, we are happy to analyze your car or truck accident in a free no-obligation meeting or phone call. Continue reading

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Everything you wanted to know about Ezekiel Elliott

The Cowboys’ young sensation was sued yesterday in Collin County district court after he caused a wreck in January 2017, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Zeke Elliott was driving to the Cowboys headquarters at 7:00 o’clock a.m. when he ran a light on the Dallas North Tollway in Frisco and apparently severely injured Ronnie Hill.

We here at Berenson Injury Law are obsessed with car wrecks and sports and we blogged about the crash here.

Zeke, who is 23, ran for 983 yards last season and scored seven touchdowns despite being suspended for six games for legal reasons. He  was the #1 rusher in the NFL his rookie season.

Hill’s attorney said that his client was left with “serious, life-altering injuries,” so apparently his neck and back discs have been damaged.

Hill’s expensive BMW was totalled with over $33,000 in property damage. Media accounts initially downplayed the wreck, calling it a fender-bender. Both vehicles were driven away from the scene and no ambulance was called for Hill.

Of course injuries can be delayed and in the state of shock — and maybe here a little celebrity worship — the injured person may not rush to an ER or begin feeling pain until hours or even days afterwards.

Zeke was driving a huge GMC Yukon when he “accidentally” ran a red light, according to the police report which was apparently written by a big Cowboys fan.

The Yukon hit the BMW on the front driver’ side panel and, according to the lawsuit, caused it spin more than 90 degrees. A tow truck was required to pull the two vehicles apart, as they were wedged together. The air bags deployed in the Yukon but not in the BMW.

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Front-plate-SmallBerenson Injury Law has filed suit in Cameron County (Brownsville) on behalf of a Fort Worth man whose vehicle was crashed into by this 18-wheeler.

Our client, who was also driving a tractor-trailer, sustained serious injuries and had to undergo a lumbar surgery. He has huge medical bills and lost wages and may have to have a second operation.

Injured victims of car and truck crashes can face years of physical pain and emotional injuries caused by negligent drivers.

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A charter bus was taking a group of senior citizens from DFW to the casino owned by the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma.

Lloyd Rieve (photo courtesy of nbcdfw.com), who worked for Cardinal Coach, lost control of the bus in Irving. It flipped over and landed on its side. Sue Taylor, who had organized the trip, and two women, Alice Stanley and Paula Hahn, sustained fatal injuries.

Family representatives filed a lawsuit for the wrongful deaths of Ms. Stanley and Ms. Hahn. The plaintiffs settled with Mr. Rieve and Cardinal before trial and proceeded against the Choctow Nation, which denied any liability. It blamed Rieve and Cardinal for the crash.

The plaintiffs argued that the casino derived most of its income from bus trips like this, with most of them from here in North Texans. Cardinal had apparently failed to perform the required safety background check on its employee, Mr. Rieve, who had a bad driving record.

The trial took two weeks. The jury deliberated for four days.

The verdict awarded the Hahn family approximately $6 million and the Stanley family $5 million.

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11867031-stethoscope-on-money-dollar-cash-currency-banknote-background-using-for-healthy-financial-and-insuraBadly Needed Victory for Injured Texans.

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an uninsured woman who challenged her whopping hospital bill of $11,000.

The opinion written by Debra Lehrmann, formerly a district court judge in Fort Worth, held that hospitals must disclose the lower rates that are given to people covered by health insurance or government assistance.

The case

Crystal Roberts was injured in a car wreck in Houston in 2015 and taken to North Cypress Medical Center. After x-rays, CT scans, and routine care she was discharged.

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Seizure of President’s lawyer’s files sheds light on client protection.

A federal judge will rule on an urgent motion filed by attorney Michael Cohen’s attorneys who have challenged the controversial search of his home, office, and hotel room on Monday.

They claim that the documents and items seized were protected by the attorney-client privilege and cannot be disclosed to the special counsel or anyone else.

Mr. Cohen, of course, is the longtime attorney for President Donald Trump and has been representing him in various lawsuits and legal matters.

Whether you are involved the personal injury cases I specialize in or any other legal proceeding, communications between you and your attorney are usually confidential under the attorney-client privilege.

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You probably think that the driver who rears-ends another car or truck is automatically at fault.

Since there are a shocking 1.7 million rear-end collisions each year in the U.S. which take the lives of 1,700 people and injure 500,000 others, they are serious problems that need to be prevented.

But juries and courts have eased up on the quality and quantity of the evidence required to defeat these cases.

A new decision from the Fort Worth Court of Appeals, Lee v. Carmona,  appears to make it harder to win rear-end lawsuits.

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dreamstime_s_104477322Or if he doesn’t carry a large enough amount?

This is unfortunately a common question since here in Texas, 20% of drivers don’t have a liability policy, and from my personal experience, this number is much higher.

That means there are at least four million uninsured drivers on our roads. Yikes!

And that doesn’t even count the huge number of highly restricted “junk policies” our state legislators allow to be sold where the driver has been excluded from coverage by the owner.

A good personal injury lawyer will chase down these subprime companies, their insureds, and drivers and demand proof that there is no insurance. We have been successful at making some of them change their coverage decisions and pay claims, and when this doesn’t happen, sue the driver (and by extension his company) for our client’s damages and collect money that way.

Usually the other driver will have liability insurance coverage, but probably in the minimum amount of $30,000 for any one person’s injuries, $60,000 for all people he injured, and $25,000 for all vehicle damage.

Of course, this is often insufficient, especially if there are serious injuries with large medical bills and lost wages and/or multiple vehicles involved in the highway chain-reactions we see far too often on the highways in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In this case, if you and your attorney can negotiate a successful settlement with his liability adjuster or you have to file suit and either settle at a later stage of the litigation (which happens 99% of the time) or go to a trial, you will be paid this amount.

But what happens if and when he or she didn’t have insurance — or didn’t have enough? If you file a lawsuit and take a judgment, how will you collect your damages?

This is a serious problem that Texas drivers often have to deal with.

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Arbitration clauses have become the norm in health care provider contracts that patients must sign. Stranger

Why? They usually favor the big hospital over the little consumer and remove the possibility of a lawsuit.

But what happens when a patient is better off trying to resolve a billing dispute in front of a jury of his peers, not a panel of businessmen?

On Monday an all-too-rare appellate decision allowed that to happen when it sided with an injured Texan in Cardon v. Goldberg.

Why did hospital file a lien against patient’s settlement?

Susan Goldberg received treatment at the Seton Healthcare Services emergency room in Austin for injuries she sustained in an automobile collision. Ms. Goldberg incurred $7,800 in charges which were billed to her health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. BCBS had the standard reduction contract with the hospital and the bill was reduced to $6,503.

BCBS agreed to pay its share of $4,600 and Ms. Goldberg was billed the remaining $1,903. She forwarded that to her own automobile insurance provider, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. So far, so good.

However, instead of just paying that lower amount, Nationwide somehow paid the full $5,000 available under her personal injury protection (PIP) policy.

You might think this situation could be easily corrected. After all, the hospital was paid in excess of the original bill, let alone the adjusted bill as negotiated by BCBS, and could simply refund the difference. Ms. Goldberg never agreed that all $5,000 of her PIP proceeds was to paid to the ER and had other medical bills and lost wages that she presumably wanted to pay with those funds.

But nothing is straightforward in the often Upside Down world of insurance (“Stranger Things” fans will quickly agree). Continue reading

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Our use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms is rampant. We think nothing of exchanging our private thoughts online. But those posts can come back to haunt people who have been injured in car wrecks. Look at what just happened to this woman.

A New York appeals court just delivered a decision that will help insurance company lawyers further pry into the social media accounts of people injured in car wrecks. The court held that a woman’s “private” Facebook status did not prevent disclosure of photos showing her physical condition before and after an accident.

In the discovery phase of lawsuits, one piece of evidence can lead to another. So courts are liberal in what attorneys can obtain if there is justification for its release. While you might assume that your post was not meant to be read by strangers, courts have taken the opposite approach.

Social media is a hot topic in the law. As the law and technology are rapidly evolving, questions about privacy versus their use at trial are common.

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