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

Saturday was another disastrous day on our area roads. Five people died and many others were injured in five deadly collisions.
  • North Fort Worth: an off-duty police officer was tragically killed when a man ran a red light on Boat Club Road and crashed into Euless Police Department Detective Alejandro Cervantes's car. The extremely intoxicated man also seriously injured the officer's wife and two sons, to make this story even more heart-breaking. The drunk driver had already crashed into another vehicle and was fleeing from that collision. He again tried to hit-and-run but was chased down by witnesses. His blood alcohol content was .144%, which is almost two times the legal limit. The bar that sold him the alcohol, Fuzzy's Tacos, is being investigated by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for violating the Dramshop Act that forbids overserving customers. The drunk remains in jail with a $300,000 bond and has been charged with five counts including intoxication manslaughter. It is hard to believe that it was only 1:30 in the afternoon when this exemplary police officer lost his life at the hands of a criminal he would normally have been putting behind bars. Berenson Injury Law made a donation to the family's expenses fund.

Hit and Run

Texas pedestrian injuries and deaths have reached all-time highs. Sunday morning’s tragedy on Interstate 20 in Fort Worth was just the latest. Two young women tragically lost their lives and a man was injured after they were in a collision at 2:30 a.m. near McCart Avenue. The three had started to walk on the right shoulder to get assistance when they were crashed into. The police identified the victims as Isabel Vasquez, 20, and Allison Zarate, 12. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and have made a donation to their GoFundMe account.

Some people ride motorcycles for the freedom and excitement they provide. But that unfortunately comes with an increased risk of death or serious injury since they offer no protection after a collision. Tragically, there were another three fatal motorcycle accidents in the past few days in Tarrant County. That made us want to get the word out about motorcycle safety.

9 people lost in 3 days in 3 deadly crashes

Tuesday's collision north of Fort Worth

In the first of the three deadly crashes, a high-speed wreck happened between two pickup trucks. They collided outside of Springtown on FM 51 (Main Street) two miles north of the intersection with State Highway 199. Tragically, there were no survivors. It is not known at this time what caused this wreck. The police report has not been released yet. If this happened at an intersection, either the silver truck failed to yield the right of way or the other truck failed to slow down and it turned. We see that young men driving oversized trucks and speeding, wrongfully passing or turning, and driving while looking down at their cell phones - or all of the above - often cause deadly crashes like this one.

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.

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?

Texas wrongful death lawsuits will provide answers; Griddy also sued for price gouging

A lawsuit was filed by three people injured in the massive 133-vehicle pile-up on the express lanes of I-35 on February 11. Six people tragically lost their lives and at least 60 people were injured. Many other Texas wrongful death lawsuits and personal injury suits will be filed to establish liability and collect damages. The plaintiffs accuse five companies of failing to hire, train and supervise capable drivers. The drivers are accused of driving too fast for the icy road conditions. The lawsuit was filed in the 93rd District Court in Hidalgo County where one of the companies is headquartered. The 18-wheeler companies sued were Federal Express Package System Inc., JB Hunt Transport, Inc., Rich Transport, LLC, GG's Produce Transport, LLC, and Go To Logistics, Inc. The chain reaction was caused by
  • a thin layer of black ice;
  • freezing rain;
  • darkness;
  • 75 miles per hour speed limit;
  • lack of shoulders; and
  • no warning signs.
This was a catastrophe waiting to happen. Drivers reported that when they hit their brakes, there was no way to stop their vehicles. NTE Mobility Partners, which operates and maintains the toll lanes, said that it had applied brine on Tuesday evening. It is not clear at this point whether (1) more or a different de-icing agent should have been applied closer to the time of the crashes; and (2) if the toll lanes should have even been open. That photograph is crazy, especially since today's temperature will get to 81 a week or so later. But it is troubling that our city and state were so unprepared for bad weather. Several state representatives have demanded answers to how these disasters could have happened. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation. Trials in the Texas wrongful death lawsuits will provide answers and accountability.

Deadly winter storm caused by energy grid and local power companies according to new suits

In related litigation news arising out of the historic freeze, several lawsuits have been filed against the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on behalf of those who died in last week's paralyzing storm. ERCOT was widely condemned for its management of the electrical grid, turning off power to four million Texans when the wind chill was below zero. It then left power off for days instead of providing rolling blackouts as it first promised. ERCOT provides almost all of Texas's energy and we cannot borrow energy from the other two national sectors. Several local Houston-based energy company have been also sued. Several people froze to death, including an 11-year-old boy. It is tragic that at least 29 Texans were killed during the storm, including the six in the tragic Fort Worth collisions. That number is more than one-half of the 56 people who died in the United States. And we were 4 1/2 minutes away from having no power for months. Investigations are needed to make sure we understand how these deaths occurred and how they can be prevented in the future. The legal process will provide relief to the surviving families and victims.

Natural gas supplier Griddy also sued

In further related storm news, the power supplier was named in a $1 billion class action lawsuit yesterday. It was accused of price gouging by a Houston-area woman whose usual bill of $200 to $250 per month shot up to $9,340.

Due to the deregulated Texas energy market, Griddy and other electrical providers can increase their prices, depending on market conditions.

Natural gas bills increased by 10,000% for many customers. That is outrageous.

People need to be protected

Federal and state officials need to prevent deadly but preventable highway crashes, power outages, and energy price gouging from happening so innocent Texans are not hurt and killed next winter if the temperatures plummet.
Please contact Berenson Injury Law if we can assist you with a car, truck, or 18-wheeler collision causing you injuries.

This is probably the best walking photograph of all time. Maybe some of us Baby Boomers have this etched into our brains as we have been trying to get some exercise during the unending pandemic. But just crossing the street should not be the cause of a pedestrian injury. Unfortunately, this is more common every year. In 2019, 668 Texans and 6,227 Americans lost their lives when they were on foot, the highest numbers in three decades. One would have been too many. Read: Pedestrian deaths in Texas alarming Two weeks ago in east Fort Worth, a woman crossing the street was killed and a man was critically injured when a SUV ran a red light. Stories like this where walkers and cyclists are hit by vehicles should not become routine.

What has caused the pedestrian injury spike?

  1. Cell phones: it seems like half of the people around you when you drive are talking on their phones and even texting while driving. Distracting driving is a major reason for the elevated number of all collisions.
  2. Larger vehicles: over one-half of new purchases are for pickup trucks and SUVs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They are so much larger with such bigger engines that they are guaranteed to inflict worse injuries on a person not protected by a vehicle. That is despite new-fangled safety enhancements like back-up cameras and motion detectors, because many drivers can't keep their eyes on the road with all the distractions. And their cell phones.
  3. Bad drivers: coupled with the above, if you add rampant speeding, reckless driving, and intoxication, a pedestrian injury is far more likely.
  4. Poor planning and infrastructure: these include insufficient or nonexistent walking trails and dedicated bike/walking lanes, badly designed cross walks, poorly timed crossing signals and traffic lights, and insufficient public transportation.
  5. Pedestrian error: Of course, sometimes the person who is walking or cycling is at fault. They may be in the road. Or they may have failed to abide by right of way laws contained in the Texas Transportation Code, Section 522. This problem is compounded if they were distracted by music on headphones and did not hear oncoming vehicles, were zoned out, and were reading and even texting while walking. This man walking his dog is next to a paved path to his left.

How to win a pedestrian vs. vehicle case

In a motor vehicle collision collision, the key is establishing which person had the right of way. A fast and thorough investigation is required to prove liability. Photographs and video, diagrams, eyewitness statements, cell phone records, and other evidence can make or break the case. Texas uses the modified comparative negligence standard. That compares the liability of all parties involved and divides the damages accordingly. More than one person can be found to be at fault by a jury. For example, if the injured pedestrian was not to blame, the vehicle driver will be found to be 100% at fault and all damages will be paid to the victim. However, if it is shown that the person walking was 30% to blame, they lose that amount of the proceeds, and if they are 51% liable, they recover nothing.
There are complicating factors that need to be analyzed including the timing of traffic lights and existence of crosswalks, other vehicles, poor weather, and obstructions to vision.
These cases often have to go to court to be successfully resolved. If there was a wrongful death, litigation is essential unless the insurance companies agree to tender all available proceeds. We just resolved the case for a man seriously injured as he was walking beside an interstate late at night for maximum value. More information about how to proceed can be found here.

How to avoid a pedestrian injury

You never think a car or truck is going to hit you as you are walking until it does. Here are some things you must do to prevent this from happening:
  • Maintain constant vigilance and walk defensively;
  • Wear high visible clothes, especially in the early morning and late afternoon hours when drivers are dashing to and from work;
  • Don't wear headphones in both ears - or at all;
  • Don't run stop signs and lights if you are cycling; and
  • Don't walk and read your cell phone

Cases we are handling 

Our law firm just filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man who was seriously injured when his truck was rear-ended by an extremely intoxicated driver. That caused his truck to flip over and land on a man who was working outside, tragically taking his life. We just settled a major case for a man seriously injured as he walked next to an interstate highway late at night. We are representing a young man struck as he crossed the street to catch his school bus, a woman paralyzed after she was hit by a vehicle in north Fort Worth, and several other pedestrians. We have handled pedestrian and bicyclist injury cases over the past 40 years.

Berenson Injury Law can help you

Mr. Berenson runs, walks, and cycles on our roads and understands the dangers involved. He strongly recommends that Fort Worth residents use the wonderful Trinity Trail network. Here is a photo where it goes by his building for the last 37 years (his firm's offices can be seen near the top).
Other cities in North Texas also have good options including the White Rock Lake trails in Dallas, River Legacy Park in Arlington, and other off-road paths where you are guaranteed to be safer. Mr. Berenson is involved in groups working to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists by Please call us at 1-888-801-8585 or click here to chat if you have been injured in any type of motor vehicle collision. We will answer all of your questions and tell you what your best legal options are at no charge for the first consultation.
Please stay safe out there during these difficult times.

    Our roads should be safer since fewer people are driving during the pandemic. But wrongful death numbers from car and truck wrecks have skyrocketed here. North Texas just endured another tragic weekend with six fatality wrecks reported. Most were caused by hit-and-run drivers. And we have not even gotten to the Thanksgiving-New Years holiday period when alcohol-fueled collisions skyrocket every year.

North Fort Worth

A man was crossing the street at Sylvania Street and 28th Street when a Sports Utility Vehicle ran the red light Friday at 11:30 o'clock p.m. and struck him. That driver and another SUV driver hit-and-ran.

North Dallas

A 58-year-old woman was struck and killed in the 9200 block of Forest Lane in Lake Highlands Saturday night around 10:30 o'clock p.m.  The driver of a large white vehicle hit-and ran.

East Fort Worth

A woman was in a car accident and was lying in State Highway 121 in east Fort Worth Saturday when several vehicles ran over her and kept driving.

South Dallas

A man and woman on a motorcycle were involved in a collision on Interstate 45, then tumbled down an embankment. He died in a hospital and the passenger is reported as being in a critical condition.  The other vehicle left the scene.

West Fort Worth

A 19-year-old man lost his life in the 7200 block of Camp Bowie Boulevard when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a metal pole early Friday morning. It is not clear if other vehicles were involved.

Kaufman County

go-kart packed with six kids ranging from age 7 to 12 was hit by a Sports Utility Vehicle at an intersection, causing two of the children to lose their lives. Four other children were seriously injured. The photograph above was posted by the local fire department. It is not clear why the go-kart was driving on a road, why so many kids were on it, or how the collision happened. These stories are devastating. We wish to extend our condolences and prayers to the families of the deceased and the injured.

What is a wrongful death claim?

Texas law defines a wrongful death as one that results from the "wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default" of another. It is a civil (not criminal) action that can arise after a vehicle collision. The sudden end of a person's life is often the worst experience their spouse and family can go through. There is no sum of money or punishment that can lessen the pain. The civil justice system allows the survivors to file a lawsuit or make an insurance claim to recoup their damages. However there are many legal, financial, medical, religious, and emotional issues that need to be dealt with.

Damages that are available

Texas law allows certain family members and heirs to recover damages they or the decedent incurred. They include the following:
  • Physical pain and emotional distress;
  • Medical and funeral bills;
  • Loss of wages and job benefits;
  • Loss of support, love, maintenance, society, and advice; and
  • Loss of inheritance

Amount of money that can be paid

Usually the at-fault driver has purchased the standard liability insurance policy which caps the payment to one person at $30,000.00. In a clear liability case, the at-fault driver's company will extend that amount and the services of a car accident lawyer are not needed. We have provided our services on a pro bono (at no charge) basis to help families with questions in this situation. Sometimes there are legal issues including the
  • involvement of other drivers,
  • liability of employers if they were on the job,
  • existence of other insurance policies or assets, and
  • payment of hospital, health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and other liens.
If a commercial truck driver caused the wrongful death, this case is much more complicated and a personal injury attorney is required. The insurance policy and assets of the company and all participants need to be verified and all damages provided by Texas and federal law need to be obtained.

Why do we have so many wrongful death collisions here?

Texas is always ranked as one of the most dangerous places to drive. We have the number one ranking for fatalities on our highways. Texas just passed a gruesome milestone last week. Every day for the last 20 years, there has been at least one traffic fatality on our roads. And six Texas cities rank in the top 13 in the U.S. for the most traffic fatalities. The list is headed by Dallas.

We can help you

Berenson Injury Law has represented families in wrongful death cases for over 40 years. If you have any questions, call us at 817-885-8000 (toll-free at 1-885-801-8585) or click on this link to chat with us. Related posts: Texas car accident deaths hit new record Latest hit-and-run in DFW heartbreaking

Here's another thing out of control: Texas car accident deaths

We reached a sad new milestone yesterday: one or more Texas car accident deaths have happened every day for the past 20 years. During that time, over 70,000 innocent lives have been taken due to fatal collisions. That would almost fill up the AT&T Stadium for a Cowboys game last year. We are #1 in the country in this dismal statistic, even though California has 10 million more people. The head of the Texas Transportation Commission said that 90% of Texas car accident deaths were preventable. But she noted that we were "numb" to the carnage and took it for granted. That should not be happening. To combat this problem, the Texas Department of Transportation has started a campaign to #EndTheStreakTx. It has encouraged a grassroots movement to stop or at least curb the number of Texas car accident deaths. If you don't think this is a serious issue, consider what just happened here.

Seven Die in Fort Worth car wrecks -- just on Friday morning

Traffic on our North Texas roads is back to normal, so bad drivers have returned with a vengeance. Here we all are, stuck in the middle of a grim pandemic with a lot of people still unemployed and staying home. But some can't even obey basic traffic laws designed to keep us all safe. Friday morning was an especially deadly time to be driving. There were four separate Fort Worth speeding accidents over a three hour period that killed seven people. That is shocking. We wanted to focus on one of these crashes that was especially devastating. Meg and Ben Arbour, who were both 39, were almost back to their home in far south Fort Worth when two cars racing on West Risinger Road near Hulen crashed into them. One of the racers then hit a wall and flipped over. The Arbours and that driver, who was 19, died at the scene. The Arbours were a wonderful couple. Graduates of Texas A&M University, they were very involved with their church and Christian causes. Ben held a Ph.D. degree from the University of Bristol in England, worked at Sewell Lexus, and was a professor of philosophy at Weatherford College. And to make this story even more heart-breaking, they were the parents of four beautiful children who range in age from 10 to 16. We extend our sincere condolences to their children and family. May God bless, comfort and sustain you. We made a donation to their GoFundMe account and ask others to consider doing so. The hit-and-run driver is at large. Hit-and-runs are another big problem here in North Texas that must be stopped by criminal and civil means. We support the Fort Worth Police Department's effort to to find this killer and file vehicular manslaughter charges immediately. Anyone who has knowledge of his identity should call them at 817-393-4885. Further, area residents have started an online petition to stop street racing on Risinger Road.  They demand more four-way stops, stop lights, flashing lights, lit pedestrian crossings, speed bumps, and police patrols. Please sign and share it.  We call on the city to make these necessary changes so that we don't have any more street-racing crashes there -- or anywhere else.

Speeding is a huge problem on Texas roads

The two top causes of Texas car accident deaths involve speeding. Our state suffered almost 48,000 vehicle wrecks caused by speeding in 2019.  That's 130 a day. READCar crash epidemic has to be stopped It is obvious that the faster a vehicle is traveling, the greater the chance that it will cause serious injury or death. Due to their extreme force, speeding drivers cause up to 30% of all fatalities in Texas. And in the above tragedy, street racers often drive at speeds up to 100 miles an hour -- in residential zones with 35 to 40 mile per hour limits. And you see reckless drivers screaming by cars which are already doing 70 on our interstates. We have just been hired on a case where a man was passed by two street racing vehicles who must have been going over 100 miles and was in a major crash. While street racing is illegal, it is hard to stop. The criminal justice system attempts to do so by assessing long jail terms for second degree felonies and huge fines. The civil justice system, which is our side of the docket, also can exact a substantial punishment with substantial verdicts awarded. But we have way too many drivers who seem to think they are trying to win a race at the Texas Motor Speedway. By exceeding the speed limit, often while looking at their cell phone or being inebriated or high, they turn their vehicles into deadly weapons. The resulting collision is violent and almost guaranteed to lead to serious injuries or even deaths.

How a personal injury lawyer proves speeding to win your case

Speeding is the number one cause of wrecks. Sometimes it is obvious or the at-fault driver admits he was going too fast. But at other times, it can be difficult to prove. Police officers rarely, if ever, personally witness a crash. When they arrive at the scene, hopefully they can determine that the other driver's negligence caused the collision and issue a citation. However, there is no law in Texas that prescribes speed limits. Instead, the Transportation Code merely discusses maximum speed requirements in Section 545.351. And subpart (b) weakly states the obvious: the operator shall control the speed of their vehicle as necessary to avoid a collision and to use due care. This allows a reckless driver a lot of wiggle room in court about whether their speed was reasonable. Here is a truck from a recent crash that killed one person and seriously injured our client and several others. We worked the case immediately - the two photos below are from the scene about 100 miles from Fort Worth - and obtained the full insurance company policy limit ($100,000 with our client netting $62,500). We are now going to file suit and attempt to get additional compensation.

Other ways to determine speed

The injury attorney and accident reconstruction expert, depending on the case, can use a combination of the following:
  • interviews with drivers and eyewitnesses;
  • photographs of the vehicles and analysis by an expert;
  • photographs of the scene, including skid marks, yaw marks, and crash debris patterns;
  • dash cam and area surveillance videos;
  • downloads of the vehicle event data recorders;
  • speed/reaction/stopping distance calculations; and
  • aerial photography

Texas needs to increase law enforcement to save lives

Most states have cracked down on speeders. We need to do more. Most other states heavily rely on points systems and quickly suspend and revoke driver's licenses for speeding offenses. We don't. Most other states have more police officers and cameras recording speed. We need more. According to a shocking study by Wallet Hub, these are the states and the District of Columbia ranked from strictest in law enforcement for reckless and speeding drivers (Delaware) to the least strict (care to guess?).
Overall Rank (1=Strictest)  State Overall Score  Reckless Penalties Rank  Speeding Enforcement Rank 
1 Delaware 20.00 1 8
2 Colorado 18.00 2 11
T - 3 Arizona 17.00 7 2
T - 3 New Mexico 17.00 7 2
5 California 16.50 4 11
6 Oregon 16.00 6 8
7 North Carolina 14.50 12 5
T - 8 Illinois 14.00 16 4
T - 8 Virginia 14.00 25 1
T - 8 Alabama 14.00 7 19
T - 8 Washington 14.00 12 8
12 Arkansas 13.50 3 40
T - 13 West Virginia 12.50 5 36
T - 13 Maryland 12.50 25 5
15 Kansas 12.00 7 32
16 Iowa 11.50 22 17
T - 17 Wyoming 11.00 11 32
T - 17 Vermont 11.00 12 29
T - 17 Georgia 11.00 25 17
T - 20 District Of Columbia 10.50 34 11
T - 20 New York 10.50 41 5
T - 20 Florida 10.50 34 11
T - 20 Rhode Island 10.50 25 19
T - 24 Hawaii 10.00 25 23
T - 24 Alaska 10.00 16 29
T - 24 Louisiana 10.00 40 11
T - 24 Maine 10.00 16 29
28 Idaho 9.50 12 40
T - 29 Missouri 8.50 41 19
T - 29 Tennessee 8.50 41 19
T - 29 Pennsylvania 8.50 45 11
T - 29 South Dakota 8.50 16 40
T - 29 Utah 8.50 25 32
T - 34 Indiana 8.00 41 23
T - 34 Connecticut 8.00 25 36
T - 34 Minnesota 8.00 25 36
T - 34 Nevada 8.00 22 40
T - 34 North Dakota 8.00 22 40
T - 39 Massachusetts 7.00 34 36
T - 39 New Hampshire 7.00 16 49
T - 39 Michigan 7.00 16 49
T - 39 Wisconsin 7.00 45 23
T - 43 Kentucky 6.50 45 26
T - 43 Montana 6.50 33 45
T - 43 Ohio 6.50 45 26
T - 43 South Carolina 6.50 45 26
T - 47 Nebraska 6.00 34 45
T - 47 New Jersey 6.00 34 45
T - 49 Oklahoma 5.50 34 48
T - 49 Mississippi 5.50 45 32
51 Texas 2.50 45 51
Most other states heavily fine speeders. We don't. The maximum ticket in Texas is about $300.00 but in Oregon, it is $6,250.00. Mr. Berenson related that he and his wife were traveling in Oregon years ago and were pulled over. The officer announced that the ticket was going to cost them $750.00.  He nicely let them off with a warning. Fort Worth has a good aspirational goal, but we need solid results. Fort Worth adopts Vision Zero to reduce Fort Worth car crash deaths
The above measures would help reduce Texas car accident deaths. We wanted to publicize this urgent cause. One life lost is one too many.
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