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.

An injured passenger has the right to be compensated for his or her medical bills and other damages. But the legal process can be difficult and confusing, especially if you try to handle your case yourself. The insurance company adjuster and lawyer will not want to pay you what your claim is worth. Don't fall for these insurance company tricks. In the meantime, your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages will pile up. What should you do? As a personal injury lawyer, I have handled countless injured passenger cases. Here are answers to questions that my clients have asked me over the past 41 years that should help you.

1. What should I do after the collision?

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.

How much money can you receive for your injured finger or hand?

The hand is a very complex and fragile structure. It has many small parts that can easily be hurt including 27 bones, 34 muscles, 27 joints, and over 100 tendons and ligaments. After a car accident, people often suffer an injured finger or hand. The pain can be crippling and must be dealt with -- along with a lot of financial and legal concerns -- as soon as possible. If you are suffering from an injured finger or hand, you may be wondering

What should you do about your shoulder injury?

No one ever expects to be in a car or truck collision but their brute force and high speed can easily hurt different parts of your body. You may have just suffered a shoulder injury. Your pain can be excruciating. And your financial damage can be serious if not handled properly. You can be left with huge medical bills, substantial lost wages, and other adverse effects. Fortunately, medical treatment and the passage of time often resolve someone's injury. We thought to write about this topic because we just resolved a case for a man who underwent an arthroscopic shoulder surgery and a man on a motorcycle was diagnosed yesterday with shoulder tears that will require surgery. We only represent people injured in collisions so we have seen countless people who have suffered a shoulder injury over the last 41 years.

How do you win your case? Car accidents can be overwhelming. If you have been injured in a car accident and believe that someone else is at fault, you naturally feel that you are entitled to recover compensation for your damages. Screaming at her or him is not going to help you. Proving liability is the key, as the at-fault driver often denies responsibility and their insurance carrier refuses to make any payments.

The most maddening thing about being in a car accident in Fort Worth -- or anywhere in Texas -- is that it was easily avoidable. It would not have happened if the other driver had followed basic traffic laws. But sadly our number of motor vehicle crashes is soaring along with our sky-rocketing population. What used to be a sleepy Cowtown when Mr. Berenson moved here back in 1979 after graduating from SMU Law School in Dallas is suddenly the 12th largest city in the country. Almost one million people live in Fort Worth and there are 7,500,000 in the Metroplex -- and more every day. Cattle ranches are now bustling suburbs.  A sprawling new subdivision in North Fort Worth with 10,000 houses was just announced. But more people = more vehicles = more roads = more collisions. And to make the chances of being injured even higher, it seems that almost every one has an oversized truck or SUV and and is texting as they race around town.

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.

Average Compensation for a Whiplash Settlement
If you've been in a car or truck crash, you will experience a lot of pain. But who will pay for your medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and other expenses? Unfortunately, the insurance company for the driver who caused the wreck has clever ways to pay you as little money as possible. Here are a few of them.

Swoop and settle

The next day you may get a call or text from an insurance representative who says he or she wants to pay you money immediately. But usually the amount offered is only between $500 and $1,000. They might also make a vague promise to pay some of your medical bills - if their company decides they are reasonably priced.
Here is a typical story of how this game is played: an 18-year-old woman in Frisco named Rayza was crashed into, had to give a recorded statement, and settled her claim for $1,000. But her pain increased and she had to seek medical treatment. The company refused to pay her any other money and personal injury lawyers could unfortunately not help her since she had signed a release. The biggest problem is that you don't know how much your expenses are. You will be shocked when you see how much some providers charge car wreck victims and their health insurance companies. So if the ambulance, hospital, emergency room, radiology, chiropractors, physical therapists, pharmacies and other medical providers charge a total of $10,000, accepting a company's offer of maybe $1,000 to 3,000 is not a good idea.
Our office gets calls from injured drivers like this several times a year. A man contacted us several weeks ago. It is almost impossible to rescind the release. We did this once when we proved our client could not fully understand English.

Warning: even an oral agreement can be enforced

The Dallas Court of Appeals held that a verbal offer to pay the injured driver $500 and some medical bills was a binding contract - even though the driver immediately changed his mind, hired a personal injury attorney, and returned the check. In the case of Gilbert v. Fitz, the GEICO adjuster representing Fitz admitted that Mr. Gilbert's medical bills would be $8,000 to treat his broken ribs and wrist and his other injuries. They ended up being $15,000. Gilbert sued Fitz for his damages. However, not only did he lose his case, he was ordered to pay $10,000 in attorney's fees.

New law would end these oral releases after a car wreck

State Representative Julie Johnson from Dallas introduced HB 2374 which allows a driver to revoke a verbal settlement agreement. All seven members of the House Insurance committee voted in favor of it and it awaits the vote of the House of Representatives. Of course insurance companies will continue to swoop and settle, even if this law is passed.  By asking the injured driver to sign a form acknowledging that they understand what is happening, this will keep people from making rush decisions. There should be a short cooling off period, as there is with the sales at conventions or door-to-door homes. Texas Watch, a consumer organization, has urged Texans to contact their representatives to support HB 2374.

Recorded statements

The other insurance company's representative will also demand a recorded statement. He won't tell you but his detailed questions are designed to deny or minimize (1) his driver's responsibility for causing the collision and (2) your bodily injuries, medical expenses, and other damages if you decide to pursue legal action. You are not required to give a statement and it is almost always a bad idea. Mr. Berenson rarely if ever agrees to one unless it is absolutely necessary. If he does, he first reviews the expected questions, police report, photographs and other evidence with his clients so they are prepared. He also makes sure the statement will not be used later in court.

Other tricks to expect

There are too many to list in one post. Take a look at this article which lists more ways companies take money from you.

A good car accident lawyer can help you

The insurance representative will usually tell you that don't need to hire a car accident attorney since they are taking care of you. Don't believe it. The last thing he wants you to do is to hire a personal injury lawyer who can guide you what can be a confusing medical/legal process. We have been written blog posts for years about these insurance tactics guaranteed to result in small settlements or jury verdicts. Texas Watch advises drivers not to speak to the at-fault driver's insurance company before consulting with a car accident lawyer. The first consultation with Berenson Injury Law is free. We can explain how we can help get you the results you want after your wreck. And there is no fee due until the case is won in court or settled.
Mr. Berenson has successfully represented injured Texans for over 40 years. He only handles vehicle crash cases (not medical malpractice, dangerous drugs and products, etc.).
Still not sure if you want to talk to us and let us answer your questions at no charge? See what some of Mr. Berenson's clients have written about how satisfied they were with their results.

For more on this topic:

Recorded statements: why you need an attorney Need help paying your medical bills? Podcast about Rayza's claim

Street racing has been deadly in North Texas

EDITED: Last night after street racing had closed a Duncanville intersection, a 54-year-old woman who was walking was fatally struck by a bullet.

Last month, a Frisco couple tragically lost their lives after two 19-year-olds who were street racing crashed into their vehicle. They were shockingly driving over 100 mph on a a road with a 40 mph limit just after lunch. This doesn't seem possible but the horrific crash was not an isolated example. Other street races have resulted in the deaths of innocent drivers, notably a wonderful couple named Ben and Meg Arbour who tragically lost their lives in November in Fort Worth. In Dallas over one weekend in February, 181 traffic citations were issued and 33 people were arrested for street racing. And in the last one and a half years, DFW police have received over 2,500 reports of street racing.

Speeding drivers are common on our roads

Routine speeding causes two-thirds of collisions in Texas. We all think nothing about it when someone blows by us on the interstate going 80 or 90 mph. And we are pushed out of the left lane if we are not doing at least 15 to 20 miles over the limit. And we sure don't ever expect to get crashed into in a high-speed collision with a wannabe street racer. There is probably a 100% chance that another driver is going to be speeding by or towards us when you set out in your vehicle.  We need to be hyper alert and ready. And we have to crack down on street racing and speeding before they kill or injure other people.

Less Street Racing Due to New Fort Worth Law?

Here's a good start: due to the public pressure after the Arbours' tragedy, the Fort Worth City Council passed a law this week that makes it illegal to watch street races. People will be fined up to $500 when they do. Street racing is against state law. Charges range from a Class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony under the Texas Transportation Code. Incarceration up to 20 years is a possibility. But it is perfectly legal in Texas to gather to watch these reckless drivers. So large crowds gather to cheer for and place bets on these miscreants who turn our streets into drag strips and shut down intersections to do donuts. The state should have outlawed these street parties many years ago. Police officials say they will use video and social media posts to track down the spectators. Fort Worth's crackdown will help curtail the glamour of street racing. Hopefully all other Texas cities -- and our Texas Legislature meeting in Austin -- will follow.

Speeding has increased across the U.S.

Exceeding the speed limit is such a national problem that even the business publication The Wall Street Journal just wrote a long article about it. The publication quotes safety officials from across the country who decry the number of injuries and deaths caused by speeding. According to the National Safety Council, 42,000 Americans died last year in vehicle wrecks, a substantial 8% rise over the year before, especially considering the lock-down. And the busy summer driving season when families can be packed into their vehicles is around the corner. What's the big rush? Drivers who mash the gas pedal down risk their lives and of course, those of their passengers and other drivers. Often they are driving while intoxicated, driving huge pickup trucks, young, male, texting, or all of the above.

How to prove speeding

In a civil lawsuit for damages, which is the area of law that Berenson Injury Law specializes in, proof that a driver has violated the statute constitutes negligence per se or automatic liability. Reckless driving is a serious civil offense. This leads to a prima facie case that the speeding driver must pay for your damages. The first thing that a personal injury lawyer will do is prove that the other driver was speeding. He or she will go to the Texas Transportation Code, Section 545.351, that contains the law about exceeding the maximum speed requirement. They will obtain the police report, speak to the officer and eyewitnesses, take photographs and measurements of skid marks, yaw marks, gouges in the pavement, and crush damages. They will try to locate video cameras which may have recorded the collision. They will possibly download the black box and use accident reconstruction experts, depending on the case. The other driver and their insurance company often denies they were speeding, so immediate investigation and proof is critical. The car accident lawyer will prove facts that entitle their client to win on liability. That happens when they show the other driver breached their duty to drive safely, here driving under the speed limit, and possibly other duties including the failure to yield the right of way, pass safely, keep a proper lookout, not text while driving, etc. The attorney will also help his client obtain compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain, and other damages.

Contact Berenson Injury Law if you have any questions

Speeding causes way too many car wrecks in North Texas, and street racing causes even more. The higher the speed, the more likely injuries and even deaths will occur. Berenson Injury Law has specialized in car and truck crashes for nearly 40 years. Our goal is to help every client get the maximum compensation, then cut down their outstanding medical bills and claims for reimbursements from hospitals, health insurance companies and government agencies which may have liens on the proceeds.
If you have been injured in a speeding or any other vehicle crash, please contact us at 888-801-8585 or chat with us.
The first consultation is free and we only get paid when you do so there is no risk.
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