Does the State of Texas have a duty to warn drivers about a dangerous road condition? Last week’s decision by a Texas appellate court ruling said that it did.

The Dallas court affirmed a jury’s verdict in favor of a motorcyclist who crashed when his wheels hit a large crack in the highway. The trial court capped the $1,200,000 verdict at $250,000, the maximum damages allowed under the Texas Tort Claims Act, and the state appealed.

Brian Milton was traveling on FM Road 148 in Kaufman in 2012 at night. He couldn’t see the deep cracks in the road pictured here until he hit one and crashed his bike into a ditch. Milton had never driven on this road before. He was severely injured.

Testimony from state employees and other evidence showed that the TxDOT clearly knew about the problem before the crash. The responding officer noted the “big cracks” in the roadway.

A few days later, Milton’s wife took this photo of the severely eroded highway. And just one month earlier, a TxDOT worker had taken pictures of the poor road conditions and ordered signs to warn drivers about the failing road but the signs weren’t placed in the correct location.

In addition, the agency had begun roadwork nearby but had not yet made its way to the area of the crash where work orders were in place.

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dreamstime_s_4245594Doctors call traumatic brain injuries the silent epidemic. Victims often don’t realize they’ve suffered one until many hours or days later — if they ever find out. In the meantime, they don’t receive the medical treatment they need, not to mention the financial compensation they deserve.

It’s a terrible scenario and one that a personal injury lawyer sees often. But this could all change with a new blood test approved by the FDA on Wednesday.

Currently the only reliable way to detect brain injury is through an expensive computerized tomography scan. But because of radiation exposure and costs, doctors won’t order a scan unless they believe that a brain injury has definitely occurred. If a person doesn’t exhibit strong symptoms and have good insurance coverage, he or she might never know they have a TBI.

Now doctors will now be able to use the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator blood test to evaluate a potential head injury. This is exciting news for patients’ medical treatment and at the same time might boost their personal injury financial recovery. Continue reading

A rare Congressional victory for injured plaintiffs.

Buried within the 600 pages of the federal Bipartisan Budget Act enacted on Friday is an obscure provision that allows some auto accident victims to keep more of their settlement or verdicts.


This resolves an ongoing reimbursement battle that has been an ongoing issue in personal issue cases since a catastrophic 1996 Arkansas vehicle collision crash.

All states have statutes requiring tort claimants to repay them for medical expenses paid by their Medicaid programs. But calculating exactly how much of the plaintiff’s verdict or settlement should be reimbursed has caused vexing problems for attorneys.

For example, was it fair that the state be repaid in full while the injured person received little — if any — money? How much of the recovery had been allocated to those medical bills as opposed to other damages? And what happened in those all too frequent cases with difficult liability and damage issues and small insurance policy limits and assets that had affected case valuations in the first place?

With the new law, Medicaid enrollees will no longer be forced to reimburse state agencies from money they recovered for their non-medical expenses. As a result, they will be able to keep more of the funds for their own use.


The 1996 case: Arkansas Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Ahlborn

A young woman named Heidi Ahlborn was severely injured and her medical bills were astronomical. A portion ($215,000.00) was paid by her state’s Medicaid program. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS) obtained an assignment of rights from Ms. Ahlborn to repay the state from her settlement or verdict.

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use-thisI learned a great deal at the winter convention of the American Association For Justice in the beautiful setting of Maui, Hawaii.

Some of the useful seminars included traumatic brain injuries, commercial truck collisions, trial techniques, wrongful deaths, distracted driving, ride sharing crashes, and vehicle products liability law.

I have been working up 10 – 12 hours a day for the past few months trying to give my clients the best possible results and was happy to also bring my wife, daughter, and new son-in-law for a badly needed vacation.

What you need to know about recovering for serious cervical injuries

dreamstime_s_70848750Being hit from behind is shocking. You might not have even seen it coming. Afterwards, you may feel just fine, relieved that the accident wasn’t worse, only to feel neck pain and stiffness hours later. Even then, your symptoms might initially be mild, but could lead to chronic pain and disability.

Because of its delayed onset, car crash victims often don’t seek medical care for whiplash right away. Even if you received emergency treatment for another auto accident injury, you may fail to mention the neck injury you didn’t know you had. Predictably, insurance companies seize onto your silence as proof that your neck injuries are unrelated to your car crash.

I often have to educate insurance agents about whiplash. During 37 years of helping accident victims, I have acquired substantial data about the most common rear-end collision injury. I have also built a network of experts who provide important medical analysis of how whiplash occurs, the manner in which symptoms manifest, and potential complications of the injury. Continue reading

dreamstime_s_80813313After you received auto accident injury treatment, the hospital may file a lien against your settlement. This lien gives the hospital the right to take funds to pay your outstanding bills. Because insurance companies often refuse to pay medical bills for accident injury care, the liens can equal thousands of dollars.

Frustratingly, you might negotiate a fair settlement only to have the insurance company write a check to you and the hospital. This ensures the hospital gets the money it claims it’s owed. But, this common practice can create headaches for you as you try to reach a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In addition, this practice complicates recovery of your settlement funds if the lien was invalid. Continue reading

dreamstime_s_60539434The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that distracted driving costs $46 billion in economic losses and $129 billion in societal harm every year. It also cost 3,477 lives and about 391,000 injuries in 2015.

That’s a high price to pay. And if there’s a way not to pay, insurance companies will figure it out.

Distracted driving crashes have resulted in higher insurance premiums for everyone. This means you’ve borne the cost of other people’s texting. Unfair? You bet.

Allstate is looking at a different approach. Instead of jacking up everyone’s premiums, the insurance giant is charging texters more. Seems fair enough.

How does the company know you’ve been texting? And how does it know whether you’re posting that selfie while barreling down the highway? Like everything else, there’s an app for that. Here’s how it works.

Your smartphone has an accelerometer and a gyroscope that sense movement of the device. It can also tell whether you picked up the phone to glance at a text message or the phone was laying flat on the seat while the car was in motion.

The Allstate app utilizes these technologies to track whether you are using your phone while driving and your agent sets premiums accordingly.

Don’t worry, your insurance company can’t do this without your knowledge. You must first sign an agreement and download the app. Also, Texas Department of Insurance has to approve use of the technology first. Continue reading

BuzzedDrivingText out the invites, put out the snacks, and make sure your television is set to go. The New England patriots face off against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Super Bowl LII.

This is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s eighth Super Bowl and Justin Timberlake’s second. (Will his performance be as memorable as the infamous wardrobe malfunction?) Pop singer Pink will perform the national anthem and Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. will perform “America the Beautiful.” They both have announced they’re routing for the Eagles.

It’s going to be an exciting game and amazing entertainment.  What’s the best way to spoil the evening? A car crash. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be driving. Continue reading


photo   “What can I say, Bill Berenson is the man! If I ever have to deal with anything along the lines of what I have been through previously, I would love to have him and his team along for the ride. Bill, Jessica, Andrew, and Mindy have been more than a rock for me and my family … and when it came down do it they got the job done! It was amazing watching Bill Berenson work …. such a ball of fire! From what I was able to gather a case like mine was impossible to achieve the settlement amount that awarded! My life will never be the same! 
Thank you Bill Berenson and the Berenson Law Firm!”
Michael, Fort Worth – on Google

Surprise balance bills can be a financial catastrophe.

dreamstime_s_5126046After being in a car accident, you smartly checked your health insurance policy and only went to an in-network hospital and doctor so that you would only have to pay a small copay. They assured you at the front desk that they would bill your Aetna plan.

Then a few weeks later you may have started screaming when you opened the mail and read whopping medical bills for thousands of dollars. It happens every day to people who are injured in collisions in Fort Worth and North Texas. Medical bills cause a staggering 643,000 Americans to file bankruptcy each year.

Here’s what causes enormous medical bills to happen:

  • Even if you are even covered by Blue Cross, not every hospital and doctor is your plan’s network,
  • Or you haven’t met your annual deductible yet, especially now at the beginning of the year,
  • Or you may have a large deductible, say $5,000.00, and never meet it each year,
  • Or the ambulance, hospital, doctor, or MRI facility refuses to file with the plan,
  • Or the hospital files a lien and demands payment in full from you and your recovery from the other driver,
  • Or the plan refuses to accept any claims, falsely claiming it is not required to do so,
  • Or the plan slowly pays some of the bills and then bills you for the enormous balance still due and/
  • Or the plan pays bills and demands subrogation (repayment) when you receive funds from the at-fault driver’s liability policy or another source.

This financial roulette is a catastrophe. Medical bills can be astronomical even if health insurance steps up and pays the bills in full. This process is unfair to Texans for so many reasons and must be reformed.

You can’t guarantee that every medical provider you saw and will see is in your network.The ambulance that showed up at the scene drove you to the nearest available hospital. By sheer luck, the ambulance and hospital might have been in-network, but the separate company’s emergency room doctor often is not. Even if you knew this (which isn’t likely unless you searched your plan documents first) you weren’t exactly in a position to demand to be transferred to a different hospital that was in-network. It’s a dangerous game of financial roulette and it can be ruinous to your bank account.

Why does it matter if the hospital is out of network? Because it will charge whatever it wants, many times higher than the negotiated insurance rate of your in-network one. So a $1,000.00 bill that should have only been $200.00 in the first place can be billed at $5,000.00 or more.

Guess who pays the difference — you. That is, unless you hire a good personal injury lawyer.

I regularly negotiate for the maximum possible damages as well as getting the lowest possible reductions for the medical bills of my clients. Success on both of these fronts is crucial for a successful outcome. After all, it doesn’t matter if you get more money from the other driver’s insurance policy if you have to hand all of your proceeds to hospitals and doctors. This is especially true if you had health insurance and should have been covered to begin with.

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