Articles Posted in Trials

Ticket for Texting and DrivingWhat if you have been in a car accident in Fort Worth and it was clearly the other driver’s fault for rear-ending you? But when the police officer arrives, the other driver argues loudly that you slammed on your brakes. The officer finds that you — or both of you — are at fault. What do you think will happen when you make a claim against the other driver to recover your damages? When the insurance company denies or minimizes your claim and you have to file a lawsuit, can the police officer testify in court that you were at fault? This is a problem that a personal injury lawyer sees often and it requires immediate attention so that you get paid for your damages.

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tarrant-county-courthouse-1Getting in a car accident can be a living hell. You may have already had a surgery or need one. You won’t be able to move without pain.  You can’t sleep. You won’t have your car. You might not be able to work. You will owe a ton of money to a hospital and doctors. For example, today a client of ours found out she needed a major cervical fusion after she was rear-ended a few weeks ago in Dallas. If this has happened to you, here’s a question you need answered: should you settle with or sue the other driver?

This photo was taken from the Tarrant County District Courts building of the Tarrant County Courthouse after a hearing.

This is a difficult but critical decision. This is why your best course of action is to hire a good personal injury lawyer who will make the right decision and speed you through this complicated process.

We at Berenson Injury Law have seen this on a daily basis for almost 40 years and do everything possible to help people get through a horrible period of their lives.

Mr. Berenson met with a young man and his parents on Friday to give him his settlement check from his devastating DWI crash — which only happened two months ago. He had to have a major surgery to his back. He and his family were thrilled with the results. Now we are fighting to get him paid another sizeable insurance payment.

Later, after Mr. Berenson had obtained a giant settlement for a nice young woman and saved her over $100,000 in medical bills, her mother very nicely wrote him this email: “Thank you for being such a warrior and making the outcome positive. We would have been lost without you. Thank you always for your and your team’s valued support.”

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I successfully represented my client at a mediation where I resolved a complicated lawsuit several days ago. I have fought for people injured in collisions at numerous mediations over the past 38 years and wanted to share some thoughts about how to make them work.

The tractor-trailer pictured here crashed into seven stopped vehicles at 60 miles per hour. Three caught on fire. The tractor ended up on top of the bridge’s guardrail. The collision shut down I-35 in Fort Worth for the rest of the day.

Seven people were hurt, one critically. My client seriously injured his low back. It was a miracle no one died.

There was a minimum commercial insurance policy of $750,000 available to settle the claims, and only through an endorsement that adds unlisted vehicles like the 18-wheeler here to the existing liability policy.

I was able to recover a favorable amount of money for my client (the exact figure is confidential) and substantially reduce his medical bills. I am now working to obtain more money for him from his underinsured motorists (UIM) and another insurance policy.

Update on 10-8-18: I was able to recover additional money from the UIM policy.

The team at Berenson Injury Law specializes in these car, truck and tractor-trailer crash cases, but this post applies to all mediations.

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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With the explosive news that the attorney for Stormy Daniels, the “adult film actress,” just filed a motion to take the depositions of President Trump and his attorney, you might be wondering what they are.

(Latest update on President Trump’s deposition: Judge denies motion)

Without getting into politics here, it was almost exactly 20 years ago that the deposition of former President Clinton was released in the lawsuit filed by Paula Jones that lead to his impeachment.

What is a deposition?

It is an intense question and answer session taken under oath. The involved parties and people involved with a lawsuit are interrogated at length about facts and opinions related to the litigation.

Plaintiffs, defendants, and other parties and witnesses can be ordered to provide testimony. If a corporation is a defendant, it must designate a person with knowledge of facts.

Since our office specializes in car and truck collision cases, this post will concentrate on how they are used in personal injury cases.

Why take a deposition?

Just because there was a car crash and the police report blames one driver and a person is injured doesn’t mean the at-fault driver’s insurance company is going to be fair about making an offer of settlement.

Usually the opposite is true. The injured party must often file a lawsuit and prove his case to get paid his damages.

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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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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.

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I am proud to have successfully resolved a difficult truck collision case Friday at a mediation for a substantial amount. I wanted to thank Michael Carnahan for his excellent work.

You might not know what a mediation is or how it can help you if you have a dispute with an insurance company, so here is information that can help you understand this critical process.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary procedure where the parties to a lawsuit agree to hire a neutral third party, who is a retired judge or an experienced trial attorney, to help them resolve their impasse.

After a lawsuit is filed and the discovery of evidence has been made (and on rare occasions before suit is filed), the attorneys for the opposite parties can agree that it is time to see if they can reach an out of court settlement.

In the personal injury world, the injured persons, insurance company representatives, and their attorneys meet at a neutral site, usually the mediator’s office. He or she attempts find a number to compensate the plaintiffs for their damages that the parties believe is equitable.

The plaintiffs have already or will make an initial demand, either in a written demand or a joint meeting (rarely used now). All sides will have provided the mediator with their position papers, with key exhibits and briefing of relevant cases, weeks prior to the mediation date.

Usually the plaintiffs and defendants are far apart on what they estimate the case is worth after a jury reaches its verdict. And of course no one knows what that number will be in advance. I analyze 62 variables to help evaluate how much a jury might award in damages.

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Insurance companies are notorious for denying and minimizing payments to people injured in car accidents, especially to those with pre-existing injuries. That is not fair. This is another reason you need a good injury lawyer fighting for your rights if you have been crashed into.

After all, hardly any Americans are in perfect health. So how can an insurance company refuse to pay fair compensation to someone who

  • has been in a previous wreck or hurt his body after falling down, lifting a heavy object, or playing sports — often many years ago?
  • has a previous injury that had totally healed?
  • has had surgery to a different part of his body, say his neck, and has now only injured his back?
  • has a medical condition that results in much worse damage than the defendant could have expected?

The defendant in court must pay for these damages. This important legal concept is referred to as the eggshell skull rule.

What is the rule?

Tort law has always held that the defendant takes the plaintiff as he finds him, including all hidden symptoms, fragile conditions, and unforeseeable medical problems. You should not be punished for being injured or weak before the crash, unless the damages you are claiming were not caused by it.

Imagine that a fictional plaintiff has a skull that is as thin as an eggshell. What if the injured person is elderly or frail? A fender-bender that might cause a mere bruise to a normal person’s head could potentially crack open the plaintiff’s extremely fragile skull. The defendant can’t possibly know this of course. However the defendant is liable for killing the plaintiff even though he could not have foreseen that the minor accident would be deadly.

The eggshell skull rule illustrates the most extreme example. But in real life, this doctrine applies to such medical conditions as previous herniated disks, osteoporosis, torn rotator cuffs, concussions, or use of blood-thinning medications to treat blood clots. Continue reading

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.

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