Yesterday a judge finalized a lawsuit when a 17-year-old high school student was critically injured. My client was a Ramirez-Scene-300x232passenger in a car that was being driven by another young man in south Fort Worth. My client’s driver sped through a red light and was t-boned by a dually pickup truck at the intersection shown here. My client tragically suffered a traumatic brain injury and is still in a vegetative state months later.

The young man’s injuries are catastrophic. But the driver’s substandard insurance company denied the claim, saying he was not a covered driver under his mother’s liability policy. And the truck driver’s liability carrier denied that he was at fault. There were no other insurance policies or assets to collect on. This left no money for the family’s huge medical bills and other damages.

We went to work. After a diligent investigation and negotiation, we convinced the two insurance companies to pay both insurance policies in full. The second policy for the truck driver was substantial. My staff and I fought to reduce the young man’s medical bills from $700,000 to only $7,500. I reduced my attorney’s fee by almost one-half and waived all expenses to give the young man more money for his future medical care. I quickly arranged for a special needs trust to be drafted to handle his future medical needs to preserve his Medicaid entitlement and hired an excellent but lower priced attorney to also act as the trustee. Other legal details were handled. Finally, I pushed to get the settlement approved by the court in less than four months from the day of the collision.

The young man is fortunately showing signs of improvement. That’s great news.

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imgres-1-300x168UPDATED 4/13/17:  Police found two entire marijuana cigarettes and five that had been partially smoked ones in the truck and an affidavit was filed stating that the truck driver admitted he took clonazepam and  Lexapro and Ambien (generic forms) earlier that day.

UPDATED 4/3/17: Truck driver admits to texting while driving at 65 MPH for over 20 minutes. The church bus was a retrofitted Ford 350 van.

3/31/17: A New Braunfels church is devastated over the loss of 13 of its members in a horrifying head-on collision Wednesday afternoon. The choir members were travelling home from a retreat west of San Antonio when a huge Duelly pickup truck collided head-on into their van.

The impact tragically killed all but one of the van passengers. The survivor remains hospitalized in critical condition. They were seniors ranging in age to 87 years old. The driver of the pickup, a 20-year-old man, is in stable condition.

Before the wreck, callers had alerted police that the truck was swerving all over the road and was about to crash into other vehicles. Deputies were on their way to try to stop the catastrophe.  Continue reading

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_June2016-211x300If you see somebody in distress, your first impulse may be to jump in and help. This sense of responsibility for your fellow man is a wonderful quality. But you might be putting your own life at risk, especially if you get out of your vehicle on a highway.

This is unfortunately what happened Monday night when 46 year-old Julia Zaman saw a collision on the Dallas North Tollway. A car hit a concrete barrier for unknown reasons, careened across the highway and came to rest on the inside median. Ms. Zaman pulled over and got out of her vehicle to help but was hit and tragically killed by an oncoming car. Not surprisingly, the good Samaritan was well known for her kindness.ArPduR11-300x300

Another good Samaritan, professional soccer player Ryan Hollingshead was also struck by a car in Bedford while helping a man injured in January. A car skidded on black ice and slammed into a guardrail. The FC Dallas midfielder graciously ran over to assist. Then another car hit a patch of black ice and slid out of control, striking Hollingshead. At first, doctors worried the star athlete might be paralyzed from three vertebral fractures. But this story has a happy ending — last week he was back on the field training with his team. Continue reading

imgresPatrons of an Uptown Dallas bar were socializing early this morning when a car came barreling through the wall. No surprise that the driver was drunk — so drunk that she then slammed her car into reverse and hurt the bartender and seven people on the sidewalk.

Former Texas Christian University football star and current Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Trevone Boykin was slumped over in the passenger seat.

He left the scene, returned, and was arrested for public intoxication and marijuana possession.

Yes, that Trevone Boykin who got drunk on the River Walk in San Antonio and punched out a police officer the night before a big bowl game in December 2015. And yes, the star who was given a one year deferred adjudication that may now get him locked up.

There is no law against being a drunk passenger (unless there is an open container inside the vehicle), but that does not absolve Boykin of guilt.

You can’t simply allow your friend to DWI just because you’re too wasted.  Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_5432610-300x200Yesterday history was made when Utah became the first state to lower its DWI limit to .05 blood alcohol content. Bravo! We’ve known for decades that lowering the legal limit saves lives and prevents injuries.

Texas should be next to lower the legal limit.

Our state’s drunk driving problem is way out of control. Texas always wins the dishonor of most DWI fatalities in the country. Last year, 1,323 members of our families and friends perished in these crashes.

Compare that number with California’s lower figure of 914 — but with 12 million more people.

Last year a shocking 10,265 Americans died in alcohol related crashes. One is too many.

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dreamstime_xs_28025363-300x200I regularly represent the parents of minor children who have been injured in car crashes. I was in court yesterday on a tragic collision where one teen died and her brother was seriously injured when the SUV driven by their father ran a stop sign, was t-boned, and rolled over. When the mother still had many questions, I thought it would be a good idea to blog about the unique challenges that parents should be aware of.

Let’s say your family was unfortunately involved in a car crash. Obviously a baby cannot talk about what happened. The law also recognizes that children and teens lack the maturity and experience to appreciate the full consequences of their decisions. Until a person is 18, he or she cannot make a legal decision. For these reasons, all states impose special protection on these minor plaintiffs.

How does being under the age of 18 affect the settlement process and the preservation of the damages awarded to your children? Continue reading

I was driving from Arlington to Fort Worth Saturday on I-20 when the traffic suddenly slowed.  A motorcycle had been hit in this collision. Several people had rushed over to IMG_4190-300x202get the man’s bike off the highway.

Fortunately he was OK but it reminded me how fragile life is.

The next morning, I read about a tragic collision just a mile down the highway a few hours later that afternoon. The article in the Star TelegramTWO PLUNGE TO THEIR DEATHS IN FORT WORTH MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, said that a 29 year old man and woman were thrown off their bike from the southbound ramp going from I-20 to I-35. It is not clear if another vehicle was involved or what caused the horrendous accident.

You’ve got to wonder why we have so many auto, truck, and motorcycle accidents in Dallas-Fort Worth and how they can be prevented. Here are some others that were reported just this weekend:

Friday:

12:15 p.m.   FORT WORTH GIRL RIDING SCOOTER DIES AFTER BEING STRUCK BY CAR THAT FLED. What an unbelievable tragedy. An 8-year-girl was hit in front of her house near Interstate 30 and Loop 820 on a pretty spring break afternoon. Surveillance video from a neighbor showed a Dodge Charger racing down the street. The vehicle has been located and Fort Worth police have announced they have apprehended what they call a person of interest.

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Automobile insurance companies make vast sums of money by charging high premiums, then delaying, lowballing or denying collision claims. ALvBa5xEPlj4AAAAAElFTkSuQmCC-300x76

State Farm has a staggering net worth of $87.6 billion. It paid its CEO $8 million last year. Its new regional headquarters in North Dallas cost over $500 million and will employ over 8,000 people. But just try to pry money from an adjuster’s hands without a tough fight – and a good lawyer.

What is one good way to make these companies pay you a fair amount of money after you’ve been crashed into by one of their lousy drivers?

One tool injury lawyers employ in Texas is the Stowers demand. Used properly, it forces automobile insurance companies to engage in good faith negotiations and pay off large trial judgments.

The Stowers doctrine dates back to a 1929 Texas Supreme Court decision in G.A. Stowers Furniture Co. vs. American Indemnity Co. when the court provided injured people a more level playing field.

Before then, an insurance company could just deny a claim. And if the injured person sued its driver, the company was willing to take its chances in court where it hoped to win the case or minimize the size of the verdict. If it lost, it would simply pay off the judgment after several years without penalty or pressure.

So how does the Stowers doctrine help you? Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_33822870-300x254Distracted driving is one of the main reasons Texas again led all states with an incredible 3,757 fatalities and 263,000 injuries from auto and truck crashes last year. Everyone knows it’s dangerous — but almost everyone does it, especially younger drivers.

Hopefully we are one step closer to finally stopping — or at least reducing — texting while driving. Today the House of Representatives approved a bill that bans this dangerous practice. On Monday a Senate committee approved the companion Bill 31 which is now headed to the full Senate for a vote.

Texas lawmakers first sponsored an anti-texting bill in 2009 but it was defeated. Knowing the law was vital, lawmakers led by former Speaker of the House Tom Craddick also sponsored bills in the next three sessions, but all were struck down.

As a result, more than 100 towns and cities have had to pass their own ordinances prohibiting cell phone use including Arlington, Grand Prairie, Hurst, and Denton here in North Texas. It’s hard to know where you can and can’t text legally. A state-wide ban would end the confusion and extend this badly needed protection to all Texans.
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dreamstime_xs_64308272-300x200If you’ve had the painful and miserable experience of being in an accident, you’ve got a lot of questions.

Like who is going to pay for my medical expenses and lost wages? How can I collect insurance benefits? What is available?

Here are come answers about a basic and extremely useful policy that you may be paying for and not even know it: Personal Injury Protection benefits or PIP.

What is PIP?

It is an optional coverage that the driver can get money from when he or she is injured. PIP is no-fault because a driver can recover money under the policy even if he or she caused the crash.

The $2,500 for every person in the vehicle amount is the lowest amount of coverage a Texas driver can buy, but for a few dollars more each month, you can purchase up to $100,000 in benefits. This large amount presumably will never be necessary, but you never know.  And even if you have health insurance, often these carriers refuse to pay if you were in a car accident. Or they pay some of your bills but subrogate, that is demand reimbursement of bills paid.

PIP pays in addition to the at-fault driver’s maximum of $30,000 for any one person injured and $60,000 for all people injured in a collision that most drivers have available under their liability policies and other insurance that may be available.

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