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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.

Berenson 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. Berenson Injury Law has provided people in North Texas injured in car accidents and truck collisions high quality legal representation for almost 40 years. Please contact us if you have been injured in a wreck. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.  

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

Badly 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.

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.

How does someone recover damages when they are hit by an uninsured driver?  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.

hit by an uninsured driver

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.

An arbitration clause is the new normal in health care provider contracts that patients must sign. Why? They usually favor the big hospital over the little consumer and remove the possibility of a lawsuit.

arbitration clause

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).

Stranger Things

Does the State of Texas have a duty to warn drivers about a dangerous road condition? Last week’s decision by a Texas appellate court ruling said that it did.The Dallas court affirmed a jury’s verdict in favor of a motorcyclist who crashed when his wheels hit a large crack in the highway. The trial court capped the $1,200,000 verdict at $250,000, the maximum damages allowed under the Texas Tort Claims Act, and the state appealed. Brian Milton was traveling on FM Road 148 in Kaufman in 2012 at night. He couldn't see the deep cracks in the road pictured here until he hit one and crashed his bike into a ditch. Milton had never driven on this road before. He was severely injured. Testimony from state employees and other evidence showed that the TxDOT clearly knew about the problem before the crash. The responding officer noted the “big cracks” in the roadway. A few days later, Milton’s wife took this photo of the severely eroded highway. And just one month earlier, a TxDOT worker had taken pictures of the poor road conditions and ordered signs to warn drivers about the failing road but the signs weren’t placed in the correct location. In addition, the agency had begun roadwork nearby but had not yet made its way to the area of the crash where work orders were in place.

Judicial nominee Matthew Petersen had to withdraw today from consideration for the U.S. District Court after muddling through a dismal interview before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Thank goodness. Peterson squirmed when Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, asked him to define such basic legal terms as motions in limine. They are submitted just before a trial begins and limit what evidence can be considered. Senator Kennedy also asked Petersen about the well-known Daubert test and the abstention doctrine and again the potential federal judge had no clue. Peterson admitted that he had never tried any cases in court. Instead, he had held desk jobs working for the Republican National Committee and the Federal Energy Commission. Of all possible trial lawyers who already know the complicated litigation process, how did he ever get nominated? As Senator Kennedy said, "You can't just walk into a federal courthouse for the very first time and say "Here I am, I think I wanna be a judge." It just doesn't work that way." What's worse is that federal judges are given life tenure to the bench. Firing an incompetent or unethical judge is nearly impossible.

Third Involving Girl Is On Tuesday. Why So Many?

This week I was in court finalizing two cases where small children were hit by big vehicles. And I will be in court on Tuesday where the young front seat passenger was seriously injured when her driver started ingesting drugs and crashed into the concrete median. What in the world is going out there? Fortunately all three young ladies have recovered from their injuries. I don't know why we have so many pedestrian injuries. But a lot of good questions were asked by the parents about the legal process so I wanted to discuss how the personal injury case of a child differs from an adult's. For an example, today's hearing involved a two year old who was walking next to her mother holding her hand in a crosswalk next to I-20 last year. They had the "walk" sign. Suddenly a young woman ran into them with her SUV. Then after apologizing, the woman fled the scene and could not be found. I went to the scene and located several eyewitnesses. I then tracked down the driver and made her admit fault. I worked with the mother to get her daughter the medical, dental, and psychological help she needed, paying for some of this treatment up front so the mother didn't have to. She was also badly injured and I assisted her in every way possible with her case. I later negotiated with several adjusters and attorneys and collected the entire insurance limits from three different policies for both the mother and her daughter. To put more money into the four year old's recovery, I reduced my attorney's fee, waived expenses, slashed medical bills, and shopped for the best annuity plan which will allow the girl to attend college. The mother was thrilled -- her very kind review is here. Wednesday's case successfully resolved the case where a seven year old girl was crashed into by a truck driver who refused to stop for her school bus on the side of the road with its red lights flashing. She broke her leg and required surgery. I again maxed out the driver's large liability insurance policy, reduced my client's medical bills, cut my fees, didn't charge expenses, and set up a favorable annuity for her college tuition. I also made the driver's insurance company pay a large sum for the emotional distress of the girl's brother who was standing next to her and could have also been hit. My client was also very happy with the outcome.
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