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

If you lose a family member in a car accident, it will probably be the most traumatic experience of your life. As you and your family are grieving, the last thing you are thinking about is talking to a personal injury lawyer and filing a claim or lawsuit for wrongful death damages. But you may have the right to receive payment for your losses you are suddenly facing. You may be wondering what to do and how much money you might receive. We sincerely hope you are not reading this post because this has happened to you. No one ever thinks a fatal car accident will happen to someone they know and love. But they tragically cause over 3,600 deaths each year in Texas. Just in two days this week, for example, six innocent people died in DFW in two crashes:
(1) Tuesday night in south Dallas: a drunk driver speeding the wrong way killed three people; and (2) early Sunday morning in south Dallas: three people lost their lives when another drunk driver crashed into their vehicle. Wrongful death damages: what can be recovered in Texas? Whether your case settles out of court or goes to a trial, wrongful death damages can be paid by the at-fault driver's or his company’s insurance policy for the following categories:
  • Medical bills;
  • Funeral expenses;
  • Lost income and job benefits;
  • Lost lifetime benefits;
  • Lost inheritances;
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering suffered by the survivors;
  • Mental anguish suffered by the decedent;
  • Loss of companionship and consortium;
  • Property damage; and
  • Punitive damages (in very limited cases)
How much money is available to pay the family? Every fatality crash, whether caused by a car, truck, or 18-wheeler, is completely different. So there is no way to know the final result before all pertinent facts and legal issues are known. However, there are some general guidelines. The negligent driver may have only has purchased the minimum required insurance, which is limited to a maximum of $30,000.00 for the loss to any one person, $60,000.00 for the damages to all persons, and $25,000.00 for property damage. No, that is not enough, although many states require less coverage than that. If this is the case, the family will not need to hire a car accident lawyer, as it will presumably be paid this by the at-fault driver's insurance company. Our firm has assisted surviving families faced with this situation for free. On the other hand, some drivers purchase higher amounts of liability insurance. If a commercial vehicle, for example a Federal Express 18-wheeler or even a landscaping or plumbing company, is responsible for the death, the amount of its liability policy will be much higher. Federal law requires a minimum of $750,000.00 for tractor-trailers. We have handled several of these types recently. Here, the services of a Fort Worth injury attorney who has successfully obtained wrongful death damages is strongly recommended. We can help you If you are considering filing for wrongful death damages, consult with an injury lawyer. Berenson Injury Law has represented many families and individuals who have lost loved ones over the past 40 years. Please call us at 1-888-801-8585 or chat with us.

Another Saturday night, another Fort Worth DWI wreck

Three people tragically died in a Fort Worth DWI wreck when a drunk driver of a pickup truck speeding the wrong way crashed into their car on NE Loop 820. A father, mother and their 9-year-old daughter from Dallas died at the scene. The pickup truck driver was helicoptered to a hospital in Fort Worth with life-threatening injuries. He has been charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter with bond set at $100,000 per death. A lot of good that will do now. When will the next Fort Worth DWI wreck happen and how can we stop it?

Every Fort Worth DWI wreck is 100% preventable

Why? Because a driver is not legally allowed to drink and drive if their blood alcohol content is more than .08% -- which it usually is. If he or she has to drink, they can have a designated driver or Uber take them home, or better yet, never leave. We are clearly not doing enough to stop these tragedies from happening. Last year 618 people died in Texas in a DWI wreck, with 74 of them here in Tarrant and Dallas Counties. One person would be too many. Texas sadly is #1 in the U.S. in these urgent categories:
  • most drunk driving crashes,
  • most wrong way crashes, and
  • most distracted driving cases.

Wrong-way collisions

Although they only represent 3% of motor vehicle collisions, wrong-way crashes are often fatal due to their high speeds and head-on impacts. They are usually caused by an out of control pickup truck drivers crashing into a smaller cars or vehicles. A study by the National Transportation Safety Board found that almost two-thirds  were caused by drunk drivers where BAC's were typically over .15% (almost two times the legal limit). We have seen cases as high as .27%. They happen when a driver gets drunk, distracted, or falls asleep at the wheel. The driver enters a highway exit or crosses the median or line separating traffic directions. Texas has an outdated highway safety system and many poorly lit and designed rural highways  that add to the problem. These warning signs, for example, are highly ineffective. Much better alternatives and technology are available.

We must continue to support Mothers Against Drunk Driving

MADD can help stop a Fort Worth DWI wreck. Since it was founded by the mother of a teen killed in a alcohol-fueled collision 40 years ago, the fatality rate has been cut in half. This is why Bill Berenson is a top supporter of MADD. He believes it is an effective way to curb drunk driving and make our roads safer. Unfortunately, as the number of drunk drivers has increased 27%, donations and funding to MADD and all nonprofit organizations have greatly diminished.
Drunk Driving
There are many problems the world now faces and drunk driving may not seem as important in the chaos. But ask anybody who has lost someone or been injured in one and you will find out that there is a huge groundswell of support for tougher criminal and civil enforcement of our drunk driving laws. The Texas legislature meets again for its every other year session in January. It must take a serious look at enhancing our statutes and adding money to police departments and courts. We all want to be able to drive safely and not risk our lives just because a drunk gets behind the wheel and aims his truck at us. For the past 40 years, Berenson Injury Law has specialized in car, truck, tractor-trailer, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian collisions. We have helped many families who lost their loved ones or people who were injured in a Fort Worth DWI wreck like the one that happened here Saturday night.
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In a blow to the Texas legal community, Justice David L. Bridges was tragically killed in a horrific collision on Saturday night. Justice Bridges was driving on Interstate 30 when a 32-year-old woman, Megan Smith of Royse City, was driving the wrong way and hit his and another vehicle head-on. Smith was driving while intoxicated and was arrested for intoxication manslaughter. Justice Bridges, 65, was elected in 1996 to the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas. He was born in Fort Worth, according to his biography on the Texas Judicial Branch website. After graduating from Texas Tech law school, he served as an assistant District Attorney and as the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the State Bar of Texas.

We extend our sincere condolences to the Justice's family.

Texas drunk driving crashes are an epidemic

DWI wrecks are the leading cause of fatalities in the Lone Star State. In 2019, statistics show there were almost 9,000 crashes caused by an intoxicated driver which killed almost 900 people. The drunk driver is often speeding in a pickup truck. Every one of these crashes is 100% preventable.

The coronavirus has not stopped reckless driving

You would think that with a lot fewer vehicles on our roads, car and truck crashes would have decreased substantially. However, the opposite has happened. Some drivers seem to feel like they can speed and drive more recklessly now that the roads are less busy. State statistics reveal that the fatality rate per mile driven has increased by a huge 14% this year. Police officers have issued more speeding citations for speeds over 150 miles per hour to people who must think that they were competing at last weekend's race at the Texas Motor Speedway. This is infuriating. We advocate for stronger drunk driving laws and tougher criminal and civil enforcement to make our roads safer. We truly hope that this terrible collision will motivate our lawmakers and justice system to make the changes we need to crack down on this public health crisis.

With people staying home and driving less, you would hope that an unexpected benefit of the terrible pandemic is that car accidents decreased. They have -- but not as much as you would have expected. That's because drunk and reckless drivers never take a break. They even seem to be out in even greater numbers, possibly now that the roads are emptier and they can drive faster. Vehicle crashes are 100% preventable. If drivers followed basic traffic laws, they wouldn't happen and people wouldn't be rushed to ERs. But just in the last few days, the media has reported on a number of fatal wrecks all over the DFW area.

1. Mesquite

Early Friday morning: a drunk driver took the lives of his two passengers. Abraham Gutierrez was speeding when he crashed into the vehicle in front of him, causing both to flip upside down. The other driver was seriously injured and was rushed to a hospital. Gutierrez was arrested on two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one of intoxication assault. We hope he is sentenced to a long prison term, if for no other reason to send a message to other intoxicated drivers so they stay home and drink.

2. Dallas

Thursday evening: a hit-and-run killed a 61-year-old Dallas woman. De'Adrian King was speeding in the left lane of I-35 near Riverfront Boulevard, lost control, and crashed into the car driven by Angela Davis. Her car flew over the barrier and horrifically fell 30 feet. King ran away but eventually returned to the scene where he was arrested. "Dee" Davis was the daughter of Priscilla Davis, who was shot by millionaire Cullen Davis. He went to trial three times for the murder of several people and the attempted murder of Priscilla in the most sensational murder trials in the history of Fort Worth.

3. Arlington

Monday morning: a Mansfield woman tragically died in an Arlington crash. Mary Pe, who was 82-years-old, was the passenger in a Toyota Camry. Her driver disregarded the red light and hit a Jeep at the intersection of U.S. Highway 287 at Sublett Road, according to an Arlington Police Department release.

Other recent deadly crashes here

We wrote about other wrecks. There have been far too many others in our North Texas area. These have to stop. Latest hit-and-run in DFW heartbreaking Fort Worth woman killed after truck crashes into hotel Burleson drunk driving crash takes life of woman We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the deceased. Berenson Injury Law has represented the victims and families in far too many of these cases over the past 40 years. Until they stop, all you can do is hope you are not involved in one. If you unfortunately are, you should talk to a good personal injury lawyer who can explain how the complicated legal, insurance, and medical worlds and get the justice you deserve.

DWI-caused collisions

Every year Texas is on the top of the list for drunk driving deaths. In 2018, 3,639 people tragically lost their lives in these collisions in the Lone Star State. North Texas is at the epicenter of the driving while intoxicated crisis. Dallas County has almost the highest number of DWI crashes in Texas, not far behind Harris County (Houston) with its much greater population. Almost 500 drunk driving crashes happened in Tarrant and Dallas Counties last year. We have seen how these crashes are deadly or cause serious, permanent injuries and tremendous pain. That is because they are often high-speed and even head-on collisions where the drunk driver is often barreling down the road in an enormous pickup truck.

Hit-and-run crashes

These can be problematic. Usually the at-fault driver has liability insurance and we are able to force his or her insurance company to pay our clients for their damages. But when the driver hits-and-runs, it can obviously be difficult to find them. We pursue them by talking to the police and eyewitnesses. We hunt for surveillance video and employ computer data bases and use other information to find them. We also file a claim on or sue uninsured motorist, health, and other insurance companies.

Road rage wrecks 

A recent study show that 80% of drivers had exhibited extreme rage in the past year. This often escalates into violence. Road rage includes the following:
  • Cutting off, blocking, and tailgating another driver;
  • Yelling at, making obscene gestures and honking the horn;
  • Hitting another vehicle; and
  • Getting out of their vehicle to confront another driver.

Available damages

If you or someone you love are crashed into, you may be wondering who will pay your bills and how much money you can recover. That is a complicated question that can't be answered in a short blog, but generally you can get paid for the following damages:
  1. Medical bills and funeral expenses;
  2. Lost wages and benefits and damage to your earning capacity;
  3. Physical pain and emotional suffering;
  4. Scars;
  5. Disability;
  6. Impairment; and
  7. Punitive damages (on rare occasions)

Action we must take

We must figure out ways to end -- or at least curtail -- these five deadly behaviors that are just getting worse on our North Texas streets and highways:
  • Speeding;
  • Drunk and drugged driving;
  • Road raging;
  • Use of cell phones; and
  • Red-light running
Every day for the past 20 years, at least one person has died on Texas 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. Funeral Mr. Berenson has advocated for stronger laws and increased law enforcement for many years. He serves on the advisory board of directors for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in North Texas and highway safety committees to try to make our roads safer. He has recovered damages for families and victims for over 40 years who were injured or died due to intoxicated, reckless, and negligent drivers. He only accepts collision cases. Car wrecks may not seem quite as important now due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, but at least the virus can be avoided with social distancing and masks. These collisions can't be avoided if you are driving down the road and a drunk or reckless motorist crashes into you.

Have you been injured in a car accident in North Texas? You should contact Berenson Injury Law today.

To learn the best way to proceed, please contact our Fort Worth personal injury lawyer by calling 817-885-8000 (toll-free at 1-885-801-8585 or by clicking on this link to schedule a free consultation. We will answer all of your questions and give you immediate solutions so that you can receive the compensation you deserve. Related posts: Representing family in fatal DWI crash Texas road rage: Wild West on wheels? Fatal car crashes by red light running at all time high
 

Dial 911

Burleson tragedy is the latest in a surge of fatal hit-and-runs

A driver hit a car on Monday night in Burleson, then fled the scene. The life of Tre Allison, a popular 16-year-old, was taken away. He was a top student at Burleson High School, a devout Christian, and found time to be start on its football, basketball, and track teams. Monday had been an exciting day for the Burleson football team. It was the first day that the quarantined players had been able to practice with their new football coach, the former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna. On Wednesday night, a huge crowd of over 1,000 people held an emotional candle light vigil at the football stadium to remember Tre. A man named Eric Padilla was caught and charged with vehicular manslaughter.
A Gofundme page has been set up. We made a donation and hope readers of this blog will do so as well.
We send our prayers and condolences to the Allison family.

Other recent hit-and-runs in our area

  • On Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 in the afternoon, a man who was driving while intoxicated hit a woman walking on a sidewalk in Dallas. The drunk driver crashed into some trees then ran away. He was later caught.
  •  Last week, a pickup driver hit a woman in Fort Worth at the intersection of North Main Street and 14th Street and fled the scene. She is reported as being in critical condition. Please contact the Fort Worth Police Department if you know the owner or driver of a low-riding 2005 - 2007 dark grey Chevrolet Silverado. It will have front vehicle damage, cat eye headlights, and special edition Texas rims.
  • Two weeks ago, a young  woman who was working inside a hotel died after a reckless teenager crashed his stolen truck into the side of the building, then took off. He was apprehended.
  • A 7-year-old boy was killed as he played in front of his house in Fort Worth in April.
There are many others. Of course there will be since there are so many motor vehicle collisions in our area. Just here in Fort Worth there were about 15,500 crashes in 2018.

Hit-and-runs can be a double disaster

In the typical car or truck crash, the at-fault driver's insurance company pays the victims' medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. This can be a contentious and stressful process, so the services of a good personal injury lawyer are needed. But when the liable driver takes off, what happens? It can be difficult, if not impossible, to locate them. Berenson Injury Law gets information from the victim and passengers, eyewitnesses, police officers, dash cam video, and traffic and business cameras to track down license plate and vehicle information. We use several proprietary data bases and other resources. We try to find the driver and force their insurance company to pay the maximum damages available or we file a lawsuit, and sometimes file suit immediately depending on the facts. If we cannot locate the driver, we pursue a claim with our client's uninsured motorists benefits. Many people have purchased this valuable coverage and do not remember buying it. We are sometimes able to get this money for our clients even when they did not buy this coverage. However one of the first things that we do when we are hired is to demand that our clients' liability insurance company produce the legally required rejection of coverage. If and when the company fails to do that, we demand payment for our clients. We just did this this week and made our clients a lot more money on their underinsured motorist policy after we had already obtained the maximum available of $30,000.00 from the at-fault driver's company for one and a good recovery for her daughter. The mother had already written this 5-star review on Google before we told her this new good news:

     "The staff and Mr. Berenson were awesome! They actually worked my case quicker than expected and I received money from my accident. I appreciate Mr.   Berenson's prompt response to any and all questions. Best lawyer experience I have ever had!"

We also file on personal injury protection insurance policies and work with our clients' health insurance coverage. Patient with Doctor The at-fault driver's insurance company, contrary to popular opinion, does not pay for someone's ambulance, hospital, and doctor visits up-front. So we find good medical professionals and work with them. We also get their medical bills covered so our clients do not have to pay for these before a good settlement or jury verdict can be obtained.
Later, we reduce outstanding medical bills so our clients receive even more money.

What causes a driver to hit-and-run?

We see a variety of reasons.
  • Sometimes the driver is intoxicated.
  • Other times they are unlicensed or have a suspended license.
  • Or they have no insurance --or they do have insurance and don't want a claim being filed so their rates go up.
  • Or they have previous crashes or criminal convictions.
  • They may even have stolen the vehicle.
And these miscreants know they are at fault but are not the type to admit responsibility, let alone care if they have caused someone to be injured.

Texas Law Regarding Hit-and-Run Crashes

The law requires a driver to stop, provide identification, and render aid after being involved in a vehicle collision. That is also common courtesy - something our country sorely needs. If a driver flees and an injury or death occurs, he or she can be charged with a third degree felony if there is a serious injury or second degree felony if there is not. The punishment range for a third degree felony is two to ten years in a state penitentiary and can also include a $10,000.00 fine. Even if there is only property damage, the driver is required to stop and identify themselves to the driver or leave them a note if the vehicle is unoccupied. They can be arrested for a Class B misdemeanor if they do not and fined up to $500.00 and have to serve up to six months in a county jail.

We can help you

We certainly hope that you have not been in any type of automobile or truck wreck, but they are fairly common in Texas. There is no reason why we should have almost 600,000 collisions a year. Bill Berenson has aggressively represented thousands of victims of collisions over the past 40 years. He sees that car accidents happen every day across the state and knows that almost all could have easily been prevented. He wants to help change this terrible statistic: Texas has not had one day without someone dying on our highways for 20 years. His top-rated personal injury law firm wants to raise awareness of these sometimes catastrophic events so that drivers will be more careful and stop after causing a crash. Please  contact us online or at 1-888-801-8585 if we can be of assistance or you have any questions.

We are living through unprecedented chaos. Violent protests against racism and injustice coupled with the grim pandemic have rocked our country. Our hearts go out to everyone who is hurting and frightened, especially in the minority communities that are the disproportionately the victims of these two disastrous plagues that have beset the world. So the last thing we needed to see happen this weekend was this horrific crash that took the life of a woman of color. A 16-year-old male stole a truck and was driving recklessly in a parking lot in north Fort Worth when his truck hit a car. He kept driving and crashed the truck into the wall of the HomeTowne Suites. An employee who was inside a room named Maria Mancha tragically died. The teen hit-and-ran, was chased to a nearby hotel, and was arrested. We extend our sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Mancha. You can assume the teenager has no liability insurance or assets. What causes a crash case like this and what can you do if it happens to you?

Vehicle-Into-Building Crash Causes

They are such a big problem that ABC News reported on this serious topic. The videos on this clip are frightening. There are 20,000 vehicle-into-building crashes every year in our country -- about 60 a day -- that take the lives of 500 people and injure 4,000 others. Research shows that about half are caused by operator error, usually pressing the wrong pedal by mistake. But there are other causes including driving while intoxicated and still others that can't be explained, like the one on Sunday. These crashes can happen in different settings. Often a driver is arriving at or leaving a building or residence. Others happen when structures are located on busy roads, at T-shaped intersections, or curves in a road and a speeding driver loses control of their vehicle.

Liability for injuries where vehicle crashes into a building or home

There are various factors that affect the amount of money a victim can receive. The key to all personal injury cases is liability. An immediate investigation is essential. The police and witnesses need to be contacted, photographs and measurements taken, and critical evidence obtained. Intentional acts are excluded under liability insurance policies and medical emergencies, e.g. a diabetic black-out, or poor weather conditions, e.g. ice, can be too.
Building owners can occasionally be found liable if they knew there were prior safety issues. 

Consult With An Experienced Lawyer After A Serious Crash

Bill Berenson has represented the victims in similar crashes over the last 40 years. Some of his clients have been sitting or sleeping inside their homes, businesses, stores, and restaurants when they were hit by vehicles. Others have been standing outside of buildings or simply walking down a sidewalk or street. Several months ago Mr. Berenson successfully resolved a case for a man asleep in his house in Fort Worth when the truck pictured above crashed into it. The total recovered was $102,500.00, the full insurance policies from all available sources. (The net amount received by his client was $53,024.00.) Our client was extremely happy and wrote this review on Google:

"Excellent staff, they worked very hard on our case. We are so lucky to have them on our side. Mr. Berenson is the best attorney you can hire.

I am very happy with results of my case. I will recommend this attorney to anyone who needs an attorney who will fight for you.

Thank you very much."

Berenson Injury Law has been open for every day during the pandemic and we are working harder than ever. We can speak with you on the phone, by text or email, or another remote means, respecting social distance rules. Our top-rated personal injury law firm has helped the victims of car accidents for more than 40 years. We know how to investigate car accidents and we fight to get our clients the compensation they deserve. If we can help you, please contact our office by calling 1-885-801-8585 or by clicking on this link.  

Drinking and DrivingMemorial Day is the most dangerous weekend of the year

Yesterday marked Memorial Day when we honored those who died on battlefields to give us our precious freedom. But there is little remembrance of those who lose their lives on roads every day due to drunk or reckless drivers. These victims need to be remembered. And the drunk and reckless drivers need to be stopped. Here were just a few of the weekend's crashes in the DFW area:
  • Saturday night: a one-year-old girl died when a SUV driven by a drunk 19-year-old crashed into her family's Mustang in Garland. The drunk driver was being chased by police. He was driving erratically in and out of traffic at speeds up to 100 mph when ran a red light. Then he and his apparent girlfriend ran from the scene.  The child's father, mother, and brother were seriously injured. Here is the accused drunk driver and his passenger.
  • Sunday afternoon: two sisters, ages 18 and 17, died in an horrific collision when their mother lost control of their SUV and hit a bridge support south of Fort Worth. It is not known what caused the collision. And their grieving mother is in critical condition at a local hospital. The older daughter was just about to graduate from Alvarado High School.
  • Early Monday: a 23-year-old man pictured who was DWI and who had a previous DWI ran a red light in West Dallas. He rammed his car into a car going through an intersection. That driver and two young women tragically died. Another woman suffered serious injuries and a teenage boy was also hurt.
  • Early Tuesday: a man got into a fight outside of a Seventh Street bar in Fort Worth. He got in his truck and drove it into a crowd. The drunk hit a woman and fractured her jaw. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with serious bodily injury.
That's horrific, six lives taken away just like that and others seriously injured. We send our prayers and healing wishes to the victims and their families. This holiday also serves as the unofficial start to summer and brings out a lot of drunk drivers. Each year, an average of about 400 Americans die on our country's highways and roads over the three-day weekend and DWIs are the #1 reason.

Quarantine has not stopped bad drivers

Our roads have less traffic than in decades. You might assume that with less drivers, there would be less car wrecks. But there is never a holiday on drunk drivers, aggressive drivers, and red light runners. And the quarantine seems to have emboldened some people to go even faster than ever. According to the latest statistics, the fatality rate per mile driven increased by a whopping 14% from last year. Law enforcement officials have reported that they have issued speeding tickets for drivers going 150 mph and many are not at all apologetic.

The latest way to get hurt driving in Dallas

Dallas police have already issued hundreds of citations for deadly street racing this year. There are organized events where people drive in from other states to participate. This epidemic began several months ago and was captured here. Last week in Fort Worth, just down University Drive from our offices, a racer was killed and his fellow racer was critically injured. Several other men have lost their lives, including a driver run off the road and another man thrown off of a racing truck in Dallas. Street racing has led to a sharp rise in drug dealing, illegal gun possession, and stolen vehicles, not to mention mayhem and death. The Dallas City Council is considering increasing penalties for street racing. We hope they do.

He was doing what?!

Finally it was reported that the Utah Highway Patrol recently pulled over a swerving SUV on the interstate. The officer could not believe it when he walked up to the driver and found a 5-year-old behind the wheel. The kindergartner had already driven three miles from his home. He could barely reach the pedals, let alone see out of the windows, although he was a large boy. That is frightening, right? How did this happen? The boy said that he had gotten into a fight with his mother when she would not buy him a Lamborghini. He grabbed the keys and took off for California to buy one. Chalk this up to the strange toll the pandemic is taking on our bored children. Maybe he was headed to this dealership in LA. Or he could have drove to the one in Dallas. In his dreams.

We can help you

Berenson Injury Law specializes in car, truck, and 18-wheeler crashes. For the last 40 years, we have successfully represented many families seeking damages for their loved ones in wrongful death cases. We have also helped thousands of innocent drivers who were injured by reckless and intoxicated drivers. We have written hundreds of articles on our blogs that can help you if you have been injured and need some guidance. And we are available to discuss your case on the phone or remotely by video. We have not missed one day helping injured drivers and their families since this horrible pandemic began. If we can help you, please contact us here.  

We are unfortunately facing a grave threat with the rapid spread of the coronavirus. If you are a client of our law firm or someone who has been in a recent car or truck crash and are seeking to hire a personal injury lawyer, you may be wondering if and how you should proceed with your case. This post will attempt to answer your questions and observe how the personal injury landscape has changed. How is a car accident case affected? Almost everyone working for a company is restricted and incomes have been slashed. We are getting calls and emails from our clients asking us what to do. We wrote about some of the ways that personal injury cases might change or have changed. Has the pandemic affected the economic value of a case? And given the financial hardship that has happened since your collision, should you settle your case now or continue on with the claim or lawsuit? The answer is complicated. It depends on the answers to these questions and others.

Questions to ask

  • Are you still injured? How seriously?
  • Are you still under a doctor's care? Will continued treatment reduce your injuries? Are pain-relieving medicines and anti-inflammatories helping?
  • Are you still not able to perform your normal job duties?
  • Will you need medical treatment in the future? Do you need additional diagnostic testing? Surgery? If so, how much is that estimated to cost?
  • How much are your damages? Do you know how they are calculated?
  • Have any of your medical bills been paid by health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or some other source?
  • Do you have other insurance policies that may also be required to pay you?
  • Can any of your medical bills be reduced or written off?
  • How much is your case worth in court? What do similar cases settle for in the county where a lawsuit will be or has been filed?
  • Can you get a larger verdict from a court or jury than you have been offered by the insurance company?
These next weeks and months will be extremely difficult for most people.

Tips to help make ends meet

Less traffic on the roads - the only upside from the crisis

We are mostly ordered to stay home. So that has to be good news with the resulting decrease in car accidents. After all, almost 40,000 people die in traffic wrecks each year and almost 4.5 million are injured. Most states have ordered residents to shelter in place except for limited reasons like driving to the doctor or grocery. In addition, 80 counties and 17 cities have seen the wisdom in doing so. The best way to restrict the spread of the coronavirus is to keep people away from each other.

Who has to stay home?

This is also complicated. There is a patchwork of regulations in Texas, with local officials getting to decide whether or not to impose more restrictive orders. Most have. Here in North Texas, all counties have restricted movement except the more rural Parker, Wise, and Hood Counties on the other sides of Fort Worth. And Dallas, Fort Worth, and other cities have cracked down. Across the state, other counties which have done this include the following: Amarillo, Bell, Bexar (San Antonio), Brazoria, Cameron, Chambers, El Paso, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Harris (Houston), Hidalgo, Hunt, Kaufman, Liberty, McLennan, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Scurry, Smith, Star, Travis (Austin), and Willacy Most counties have clearly defined which businesses are "essential." But in Collin County, all businesses were somehow deemed to be essential so traffic north of Dallas is reported to be much heavier. Further, the governor asked people driving in from Louisiana to self-quarantine for 14 days. However there is no enforcement and no screening at the state border. You have to wonder why there are still so many people driving around. And even with the light traffic, we still see people speeding, running red lights and blowing through stop signs. Crashes like this horrible one early Sunday morning should never happen, especially not now.

Deadly Dallas crash

A Dallas girl died and five people were injured in an horrific crash outside of downtown Dallas. An ambulance was transporting someone to a hospital at around 6:00 o'clock a.m. when a 15-year-old driving who was not allowed to drive carrying three teens was speeding. He caused his car to leave the road, where it crashed into a bench before flipping upside down. The car kept sliding and collided into the ambulance taking someone to the hospital. What a nightmare. The 15-year-old is being charged with vehicular manslaughter and assault charges.

We can help you

The coronavirus has impacted the lives of everyone in the world. And no one knows what will happen next. You may think that worrying about your injury case is not a high priority item. But if you have been the victim of a car accident and need help getting the results you need, please contact us. Rest assured that our dedicated staff is working as hard as ever to help our clients recover from their injuries and get compensated for their damages. We are working remotely but have all the technology we need to get our jobs done. Most insurance companies and law firms continue to do business. Courts have restricted their trials and hearing schedules but are resolving disputes. We submitted an affidavit to help resolve a court case today, for example. Please stay safe. We wish everyone the best of health.

Drinking and DrivingSeveral weeks ago, three teenagers tragically died when their speeding car crashed in Plano at 4:00 a.m. We all suspected that this was just another Texas drunk driving accident. After all, we are always #1 in the country for the number of DWI fatalities, with 820 Texans losing their lives in 2018. It was shocking that an investigation found that an employee of a nearby barbecue restaurant was responsible for selling alcohol to the minors. While the employee faces criminal charges of up to one year in jail, you may be wondering (1) how the civil aspect of a DWI crash case works; and (2) what damages are available to the families of the young men, if any.

What happens if you are involved in a Texas drunk driving accident?

While this crash was unusual due to the involvement of the restaurant employee, there are several options for the families from a civil court perspective. To recover their damages, they could file claims or lawsuits for one or all of the following:
  • wrongful death and survival damages for their sons. More information is here.
  • negligence against the estate of the driver if the other two sets of parents could prove that his drunken driving was the sole cause of the wreck. They must also show that their sons were not also negligent when they joined in on the intake of alcohol.
  • violations of Texas liquor law by the restaurant for allowing its employee to sell alcohol to the minors.
The available insurance proceeds for the first two options will be limited, if paid at all. Most drivers in Texas carry the required amount of $30,000.00 any one person's injuries and $60,000.00 for all people who are injured in a crash. The focus of this post is on this last option since there will be a commercial insurance policy with substantially higher limits.

What is the Texas Dram Shop Act?

Texas and almost every other state provide a remedy for the victims of drunk driving accidents. They (and their survivors) can sometimes sue the restaurants, bars, and retail establishments that served or sold the alcohol that caused the Texas drunk driving accident. The so-called Texas Dram law originated in England 200 years ago when a "dram" was similar to what we call a shot. Governments recognized that the control of the sale of alcohol is required to insure public safety and realized that the best place to regulate its use is through its distributors. The Texas Alcohol Beverage Code says that a licensed provider cannot sell, furnish or make alcohol available to someone who is so obviously intoxicated that he presents a danger to himself and others. In this case, if the young men had met that definition, the restaurant employee incurred liability for her business if she broke the law. Learning about the restaurant's hiring, training, and supervision of its employees regarding the sale of alcohol is essential. The usual scenario is when the bartender continues to pour drinks for a customer who is falling out of his bar chair. That's because they are likely to drive home and cause a drunk driving accident - and when the drunk has little or no liability insurance, the victim has no way to pay their medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. We specialize in car and truck wrecks we have handled a lot of these DWI collision cases over the past 40 years. Of course, the alcohol provider must also obtain proof that the customer is 21 years or older, which these teenagers weren't.

What should you do if you have been in a drunk driving accident?

Winning these dram shop cases is not easy. Insurance company lawyers know the tricks they can use to beat liability arguments. For example, the plaintiff's lawyer must prove that the bar over- served the customer. There is no way to calculate that just by the number of drinks served, if that can be proved. Further, the liquor establishment must be proved to have known or that it should have known the customer was intoxicated. That is obviously difficult, since warning signs are not always present. It's not like taking your temperature. And some people hold their liquor better than others. There are other defenses they can use. Bars send their servers and bartenders to classes or have training in-house. They are taught to discourage their customers from over-drinking and to consume nonalcoholic beverages. Finally, they can promote the use of Ubers and cab rides as well as "designated drivers." These defenses are called "safe harbors" and can present serious challenges to the successful prosecution of one of these lawsuits. Even if the injury lawyer can prove over-serving with expert testimony, after obtaining receipts and eyewitness, video evidence and medical records showing blood alcohol levels and weight, he or she must also prove that the only reason the collision happened was the alcohol that was provided by the bar, not by another bar or the customer themselves. We have seen cases when the customer got even more drunk after he left bar #1 to go to bar #2, a friend's house, or just sat in their vehicle and drank from a bottle. The use of illegal drugs and other substances, other drivers, and other factors further complicates the picture. Note that two types of these dram shop cases can be filed, a first party case when the injured, intoxicated person sues the alcohol establishment and more commonly when the injured, innocent victim of the drunk driver files suit. More information about dram shop act cases and DWIs can be found here: Dram shop trial starts today: Did bar cause death of Dallas Cowboy? Fort Worth DWI collision results in $225,000 recovery

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Car accident lawyer Bill Berenson has advocated for many years on behalf of the victims of drunk driving accidents. He has a long history of supporting Mothers Against Drunk Driving and has served on its North Texas Board of Directors for several years. If you need help with a drunk driving crash or any collision you have been involved with, please call us at 817-885-8000 or click here. We are here to help you get the compensation that you deserve.

Fort Worth man crushed by gate at new arena

A report that was just released showed that Dickies Arena made at least 14 mistakes installing a gate. Tragically, this caused a hard-working man to lose his life. You have to wonder how safety inspectors failed to notice all of these obvious problems -- and why there is such a lack of job safety in Texas. Last month, Juan Carlos Julian, Jr., who was 24, was locked out of the building after a TCU basketball game. He was on the janitorial crew and needed to start working. He saw the on button through the gate and tried to let himself in. But his arm got wedged between the bars as the gate opened and he was crushed. The man's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the arena's management company and the building contractors. It has sought damages of more than one million dollars. Workplace accidents can be devastating for the victims and their families. If you or someone you know have been the victim of a work accident, you need to contact a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer who can explain your legal rights and get you the justice that you deserve.
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