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Photo from CNN

Today’s Mardi Gras celebration got off to a disastrous start on Saturday evening in New Orleans when an intoxicated driver crashed into families along a parade route. 28 people were injured, many seriously. It is a miracle no one was killed.

And in a collision today in Alabama, an SUV suddenly sped up and crashed into a marching band. 12 middle and high school students were hurt, some seriously. Alcohol is not suspected in this accident.

In the New Orleans wreck, the pickup truck driver, a 25-year-old male who worked as a bouncer at a bar, was racing down the street at 6:30 p.m. when he crashed into several vehicles. He lost control of his truck, drove across a median, bounced off a dump truck, and drove into the crowd.

The driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was a shocking .232 — almost thee times the legal limit in Louisiana (.08%) and Texas. Estimating a weight of 180 pounds, he drank 11 to 12 drinks over a three hour period, depending on food consumed and the length of time involved.

At first, these two crashes sounded like the recent terror attacks in Europe involving trucks. As I often ask, what is going on out there?

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JudgeOne oimage-e1483830192961f the most respected judges of our day, Joseph A. Wapner, died yesterday at the age of 97.

Haven’t heard of him? From 1981 – 1993 he was the TV judge who issued King Solomon-like decisions on the widely watched show The People’s Court. Judge Wapner lived a rich and productive life. With a nod to last night’s Academy Awards, in high school in Hollywood, he dated Lana Turner who went on to become a famous actress. He served in World War II and received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, practiced law in Los Angeles for 10 years, and served as a judge on the California municipal and superior courts for 20 years. He even got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. How many lawyers can say that?

His show wPerry_Mason_Title_Screenas the first of a long line of courtroom reality programs that continue today. OK, beginning in 1957 there was the Perry Mason show about a brilliant criminal defense lawyer who somehow always won his cases.

A poll showed that almost no Americans could name even one justice on our exalted Supreme Court, but more than half could name Judge Wapner, who heard small disputes about evictions and dog bites.

These two TV lawyers/judges revolutionized the court system. Wapner showed viewers they didn’t need lawyers. Mason inspired many of us young people to become attorneys and upped everyone’s game.

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dreamstime_xs_33822870-300x254So Who’s Causing The Avalanche of Accidents?

Teenagers? No, it’s their older brothers and sisters, the millennials. The largest generation of Americans between the ages of 19 and 35 are our worst drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety just released a troubling report that reveals that almost all admit that they exceed the speed limit by 10-15 m.p.h., run red lights, text while driving, and drive under the influence of alcohol or marijuana on a regular basis.

Great, 75 million of the most dangerous drivers in America are driving next to us. Talk about accidents waiting to happen!

This helps explain why we have a whopping 80,000 collisions each year in Tarrant and Dallas Counties. A paralegal got stuck behind one involving an 18-wheeler and four other vehicles this morning that shut down I-20. It’s routine but shouldn’t be.

The epidemic of collisions keeps rising, despite the constant warnings about the dangers of texting while driving and speeding. You see PSAs and signs all the time on television, social media, highway signs, and billboards. But many young drivers don’t think dangerous driving is wrong.

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Last week I helped the Cowtown Marathon hand out running shoes to the students at the school I adopted many years ago. It was a blast seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces, kind of like Christmas in February.

The staff goes out to 90 Fort Worth schools and community centers to give away 5,000 pairs of shoes. Kudos to the Marathon for this IMG_3948-521x1024wonderful work.

All proceeds generated by the Marathon are donated to the Children’s Activities for Life & Fitness (C.A.L.F.) program. Over $200,000 is raised to pay for these shoes, race entries to the 5K race just for children this weekend, and support for our kids. That’s amazing and possibly life-changing.

I’m proud to be a member of its council since it began in 2009 and a big supporter so when I heard that it was starting a running camp last summer, I sponsored it. I’m excited to hear that this year’s camp will reach even more children.

I strongly believe in C.A.L.F.’s mission of promoting active lifestyles for our children. And just as important, it encourages them to continue to exercise, eat health foods, and adopt good habits as they become adults. This is so badly needed.

The Cowtown Children’s 5K was named as the top kids running event in the U.S. several years ago and it’s easy to see why the Cowtown Marathon staff is so highly rated.

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Click-it-ticket-300x200I’ve seen far too many car wreck injuries caused by people not using seat belts. This angers me.

I was reminded of this today when I read that nine members of a North Texas family were injured after their minivan was rear ended and flipped over into a ditch on I-30. Seven children were hurt, with one in critical condition. Some weren’t restrained and were ejected from the car. That’s inexcusable.

I want to again call attention to this serious problem to try to stop these senseless injuries.

Everyone must know that it’s the law that front and back seat passengers have to buckle up. Texas has a tough primary enforcement law where a police officer can issue you a misdemeanor citation even if no other traffic law has been violated. The ticket can cost up to $250.00 plus court costs.

If that doesn’t get your attention, presumably everyone knows that seat belts reduce the likelihood of injuries and deaths.

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20130614_095558MediumYesterday the National Safety Council announced that an estimated 40,200 Americans died in traffic collisions last year. Picture the crowd inside the Texas Rangers ballpark to get an idea of how many people that is.

This number is just shy of the highest number ever in U.S. history.

While 3,412 Americans have died in any terror attack in the last 16 years (including the 2,996 people who perished on 9/11), by comparison 650,000 fellow citizens have died on our highways.

Americans very rarely die at the hands of jihadists. But each day about 100 Americans — including 10 Texans — die in a vehicle crash. Fortunately my client in this car was not killed when an 18-wheeler suddenly pulled out in front of her.

Even worse, 2016’s crash fatality rate is a substantial six percent increase from the year before, and that was seven percent higher than the year before that — the fastest two year increase in over 50 years.

Why is it that even though new cars and roads keep getting safer, more and more people die each year driving? And why doesn’t any one seem to care?

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https://www.fortworthinjuryattorneyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/233/2017/02/2016-01-18-Sifuentes_PD-Sifuentes.pdf-Adobe-Acrobat-Pro-Extended.jpgBerenson Injury Law has successfully recovered $385,00.00 on behalf of two clients in a commercial vehicle collision.

One man received $139,105.00 and the other received $95,504.00 after deducting medical bills (that I reduced substantially), fees, and expenses. The damage to their vehicle from the tractor trailer was relatively minor, they experienced neck, shoulder, and back injuries, and no surgeries were performed, making settlement negotiations harder.

My clients were extremely happy with their recoveries.  One kindly wrote this review on Google:

madd_1-246x300Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a group I heartily support, has calculated that one-third of intoxicated drivers arrested are repeat offenders. So consider what has happened here in the last few days:

Yesterday an intoxicated driver who fled a Tarrant County Sheriff at over 100 m.p.h. was sentenced to 14 years in jail. The 32-year-old man plead guilty in Weatherford after he crashed into another vehicle and fled the scene. His blood alcohol limit was more than two times the legal limit of .08%.

And on Wednesday night at 11:00 p.m., a drunk driver in a SUV crashed into two construction workers protected by a giant truck with flashing neon arrows. They were repairing Stemmons Freeway near Inwood Road in Dallas. The drunk kept driving, of course. Police arrested the 33-year-old man miles away and charged him with intoxication assault. The two construction workers were rushed to Parkland Hospital with serious injuries.
I blogged about how a Weatherford man was sentenced to life in prison after his 12th DWI conviction and a Houston man was jailed for life after his ninth one.

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IMG_0958It was just revealed by NBC5  that the Dallas school district has settled 680 personal injury claims and paid $2.3 million in settlements over the past few years.

Most are fortunately small injuries, so the recoveries are just a few thousand dollars each. But sometimes the injuries were substantial — and the settlements were not proportionately large.

The Phillips family, whose daughter suffered a ruptured spleen when a bus collided with the family’s car, told the reporter how the money did not cover their damages.

Due to laws governing the maximum amounts that can be paid by state, county, city, and branches of local governments like the school district here, the total amounts are limited.

How do those caps affect injury claims against governmental branches and units?

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This weekend was extraordinary for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jerry Jones, TCU, Dallas Cowboys fans, Lady Gaga fans, and all football fans — OK, practically everyone who lives in North Texas.

The incredible come-from-behind, first overtime game in history was riveting. And our Fort Worth and Dallas stars, Tomlinson and Jones, were inducted into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame the night before.

What a game! We’re all still trying to figure out how

  • Brady, only a sixth round draft pick, was able to win his record fifth Super Bowl out of a record seven he’s played in,
  • The Patriots, the best team in the NFL, were blown out in the first half,
  • The team then scored 25 unanswered points to tie the game, then marched 75 yards to win the game,
  • Brady passed for 466 yards (282 in the second half),  the most in Super Bowl history,LT
  • Julian Edelman hung on to the ball to make the greatest catch in Super Bowl history,
  • The Patriots were able to score on two extra point tries, the second necessary due to a missed gimme PAT, and
  • The NFL allows the team that wins the overtime coin flip to win the game.

And how about “LT” Tomlinson who

  • Grew up in the Waco area idolizing the Dallas Cowboys,
  • Came to TCU in 1997 and turned around the struggling Horned Frogs,
  • Is ranked sixth in rushing in NCAA history,
  • Led the San Diego Chargers for nine years, gaining 13,684 rushing yards and also 4,772 yards catching the ball, and
  • Still holds the NFL record for most touchdowns scored in a season (31).

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