The best way not to be in a car crash on New Year's Eve is obvious
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.
Berenson Injury Law donated $5,000 to support Mothers Against Driving's Walk Like MADD in North Texas. The event took place at its national headquarters in Irving. MADD works hard to reduce the number of drunk driving collisions on our roads. Between its hard work and that of aggressive law enforcement, district attorneys and personal injury lawyers, our astronomical injury and fatality rate will continue to drop. This is an urgent problem in North Texas that must be addressed. Mr. Berenson has seen far too many car and truck wrecks that were caused by a drunk or stoned driver and wants to stop them from happening.
“Joe” was driving home from work last July when an SUV rear-ended his pickup truck at a high rate of speed. That driver was intoxicated. Joe was taken to a hospital, x-rayed, and diagnosed with a strain/sprain. Joe was angry and wanted to explore his legal options. He hired us and we went to work.
We learned that the driver’s blood alcohol content was shockingly high .28%. That is three and one-half times the legal limit for driving while intoxicated. Joe’s left shoulder had been causing him a lot of pain. But he had no health insurance or way to pay for a doctor. Joe’s problem was a common one for people who have been in a car accident. Many people don’t have health insurance or if they do, their plan refuses to pay their bills by claiming that:
- the health insurance plan is secondary to the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company or other entity,
- the ambulance, hospital, or doctor was out of network, the service was not necessary, or it was too expensive, or
- vehicle crashes are somehow exempt from reimbursement.
Here's the latest elected official or celebrity to be arrested for driving while intoxicatedWhy do we have so many "car accidents" on our roads -- especially the huge number caused by drunken and drugged drivers? The chance of being injured in a DWI wreck in North Texas is a lot higher than you may realize. In Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton Counties last year, drunk drivers caused over 5,000 crashes which tragically took the lives of 90 people and injured thousands of people. We hear about the Covid-19 pandemic constantly but rarely about the DWI epidemic. But these collisions are so common that it takes someone dying in one - or a famous celebrity arrested - for the news media to mention it. Recently we blogged about how two prominent officials -- a Dallas criminal judge and a high-ranking Fort Worth police officer -- were arrested for driving while intoxicated in the same weekend. In the latest report about a public servant breaking the law, the Mayor of Granbury was arrested for DWI early Sunday morning. Worse, this was his second arrest. Ninnian Hulett, age 68, was pulled over in his highly visible red Corvette. The mayor was reportedly found guilty about seven years ago of evading arrest and later that year, was arrested for causing a DWI wreck in Fort Worth - and one more. EDITED: The mayor resigned on May 6, 2021. That's outrageous. We elect people not just to make laws but obey them, just like the rest of us have to do. We expect our officials, judges, and law enforcement personnel to lead us by exhibiting the highest conduct and setting a good example, especially when innocent drivers can be injured. We can't sit back and allow a DWI to be normal behavior when people naturally ask, "if he can do that, why can't I?" Our office handles many driving while intoxicated collision cases and sees how destructive these usually high-speed crashes can be.
Three fatal crashes in one day is insaneTexas may be fully open for business but there are less vehicles on the roads thanks to remote working, shopping, and schooling. So you would hope that at least the number of car accidents would have decreased. But looking at how many fatal crashes happened in the Fort Worth area just on Friday, it is apparent that our local highways are as dangerous as ever. This is what happened in those eight hours:
1. In Far North Fort WorthA tractor-trailer, flatbed truck and pickup were involved in a crash about 10:00 a.m. on Highway 114 at an intersection near the Texas Motor Speedway in Justin. Apparently a woman driving the flatbed truck died. Other people were injured, two of them seriously.
2. In ArlingtonA man who was driving while intoxicated took the life of a 21-year-old woman around 2:30 a.m on Interstate 20. Her car collided into an 18-wheeler that had jack-knifed and blocked all lanes of traffic after it was crashed into by the drunk man. The young woman was a college student, worked, and was loved by many. And shockingly, this was the third child that her parents had lost in a DWI collision, adding to the heart break.
3. Near DecaturAlso about 2:30 a.m., the 47-year-old assistant basketball coach at the University of North Texas died after his car hit a culvert in on U.S. 380. His vehicle flipped over and traveled through a fence. Other details were not reported. His team had finished its first NCAA tournament in the history of the school just several weeks before. These stories are devastating. Any one wrongful death from a car crash or due to any other reason is heart-breaking. There are so many ways someone can get hurt out on the roads. We send our condolences and prayers to their families and everyone impacted by these tragedies.
Guest blog written for MADD by Bill Berenson, personal injury lawyer and member of MADD’s North Texas Advisory Board of Directors
We have an alarming crisis on our Texas roads you need to know about:
- Texas has been #1 in the nation for the most commercial truck crashes for the last five years.
- These wrecks took the lives of 685 Texans and injured 6,204 others – many severely – in 2019.
- By comparison, California which has over 10 million more people, only suffered 463 deaths that year.
- The number of fatalities caused by 18-wheeler crashes rose by almost 30% here since 2016.
1. Stay home! New Year's Eve is just an excuse for the overconsumption of alcoholic beverages. And with 2020 being such a terrible year, this might make even more people go out and drink even more tonight. They will be celebrating at nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, then drive home and cause a possible fatal DWI accident in Fort Worth.Not to be a party-pooper, but please stay home tonight due to Covid-19 precautions, bad weather, and just plain common sense. Our main goal at Berenson Injury Law is to use the civil justice system to get our clients the best possible compensation for their damages. We also try to change the behavior of negligent drivers so that our highways will be less dangerous. We just filed a lawsuit against a man whose blood alcohol content was an unbelievable 3.5 times the legal limit -- at only about 7:00 p.m. The Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote an excellent article about this tragic case that claimed the life of a man. Publicizing the inevitability of severe criminal punishments and substantial civil judgments can warn others and hold down the chance of another Fort Worth DWI accident like this one. We often write about what people should do after they are involved in a driving while intoxicated collision since they are so common and hurt so many people. Shockingly, 30 Americans lose their lives each day, in a DWI crash. That is one every 50 minutes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. We must stop the madness. Every driving while intoxicated collision is preventable. Tonight is the perfect time to start.
The epidemic of DWIs in DFW is officially out of controlWhen a judge and police officer were disgracefully jailed last week for driving while intoxicated, you know that we have a crisis. How can people paid to enforce the law break it? Committing DWIs in DFW is outrageous for drivers plus being hypocritical when committed by those supposed to protect us from drunk drivers in the first place. So what happened and why do we bring this to your attention? 1. Dallas County criminal district judge Friday night, a judge crashed into a light pole in the 13500 block of Midway Road around 11:00 p.m. She was arrested and taken to the Farmers Branch Police Department jail and released the next day on bond. Criminal judges make life-changing decisions that can imprison people for the rest of their lives. Civil judges determine the amount of damages to be paid to victims of DWIs in DFW who are injured in auto and truck collisions. The judge involved here has served for two years. Before then, she practiced as a criminal defense attorney. She obviously knew better. 2. Fort Worth Police Department lieutenant On Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., a lieutenant was arrested for driving while intoxicated in front of an elementary school. He was spotted asleep behind the wheel of his police cruiser. And for some unexplained reason, there was a child in the back seat. He is a high-ranking and experienced 14-year veteran with the FWPD. He clearly knew better.
3. Firefighter injured in wrong-way crashAs just one of thousands of examples of how serious DWIs in DFW are, early Sunday morning an Irving firefighter suffered a traumatic brain injury when a drunk driver who was going the wrong way on State Highway 183 hit him. Aaron Donohue was working a five-vehicle collision caused by (guess who) a drunk driver in the closed-off westbound lanes. The 23-year-old woman from Arlington had been driving the wrong way for miles on this busy highway. She said that she thought she was headed east towards Dallas. She continued to drive after nearly killing Mr. Donohue. It is truly a miracle that someone - or some people - did not die. This crash has become an unfortunately routine collision in North Texas.
DWIs in DFW epidemic rage onNorth Texas is always at the top of the list for these especially deadly crashes in our state. There were about 5,000 collisions last year in the four counties that make up the heart of the Metroplex. They tragically took the lives of 131 people. Every one of these crashes was 100% preventable. Wrong-way and hit-and-run crashes are often caused by intoxicated drivers. If they are caught, it is common for a personal injury lawyer to investigate and learn they have no liability insurance or any way to pay for the (often enormous) damages they have caused.
What should be doneThe illegal actions of these two are aberrations, since virtually every other judge and police officer is a hard-working, law-abiding professional who does a good job performing their duties. This judge and lieutenant are entitled to a presumptions of innocence and trials. Until then, we call on them to be suspended and even fired. If found guilty, they must be given the maximum punishment. Further, their sentences must be heavily publicized to serve as warnings to others who would violate already thinly-enforced DWI laws. We understand that the pandemic is the #1 problem now. But the DWI crisis existed long before the virus began this winter and will keep surging after we hopefully can bring Covid-19 under control. MADD was started by a mother 40 years ago after her teen-aged daughter was killed in a drunk driving crash and its work is more urgent now than ever. We must take action to prevent the driving public from the never-ending saga of DWIs in DFW. The fact that a district judge and police official think nothing of violating the law is alarming. OK, we already know about the countless celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kevin Hart, and Keanu Reeves, not to mention the high-profile sports figures like Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, and Mike Tyson who have been charged with driving while intoxicated. But when the public sees criminal laws being so flagrantly disregarded by the very people who take oaths to uphold them, this obviously sends the wrong message. Trust in government and law enforcement is already badly eroded. Our country is still reeling from protests against the police and officials after one of the most turbulent years in our history. We expect and need the highest standard of conduct from our elected representatives, judges, and police officers. That is why this topic is so important.
We can help youWe are ready and able to investigate motor vehicle collisions, work with medical professionals, develop files, handle insurance claims, get medical bills and lost wages paid, answer all questions, and file lawsuits as necessary against reckless drivers - especially drunk ones. Last week, we filed suit against an extremely drunk driver in Fort Worth who caused a man to die and another to be seriously injured. Many of our clients have been injured by intoxicated (or stoned) drivers. And one woman was crashed into by two drunk driver within the last year. Here is a photograph of her SUV upside down on Interstate 20. We successfully obtained all insurance available from several policies in both of the cases. If you have been injured by any negligent driver, call us at 1-885-801-8585 or chat with us. There is no charge with the first consultation. We will guide you through what can be a complicated process and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Here's another thing out of control: Texas car accident deathsWe reached a sad new milestone yesterday: one or more Texas car accident deaths have happened every day for the past 20 years. During that time, over 70,000 innocent lives have been taken due to fatal collisions. That would almost fill up the AT&T Stadium for a Cowboys game last year. We are #1 in the country in this dismal statistic, even though California has 10 million more people. The head of the Texas Transportation Commission said that 90% of Texas car accident deaths were preventable. But she noted that we were "numb" to the carnage and took it for granted. That should not be happening. To combat this problem, the Texas Department of Transportation has started a campaign to #EndTheStreakTx. It has encouraged a grassroots movement to stop or at least curb the number of Texas car accident deaths. If you don't think this is a serious issue, consider what just happened here.
Seven Die in Fort Worth car wrecks -- just on Friday morningTraffic on our North Texas roads is back to normal, so bad drivers have returned with a vengeance. Here we all are, stuck in the middle of a grim pandemic with a lot of people still unemployed and staying home. But some can't even obey basic traffic laws designed to keep us all safe. Friday morning was an especially deadly time to be driving. There were four separate Fort Worth speeding accidents over a three hour period that killed seven people. That is shocking. We wanted to focus on one of these crashes that was especially devastating. Meg and Ben Arbour, who were both 39, were almost back to their home in far south Fort Worth when two cars racing on West Risinger Road near Hulen crashed into them. One of the racers then hit a wall and flipped over. The Arbours and that driver, who was 19, died at the scene. The Arbours were a wonderful couple. Graduates of Texas A&M University, they were very involved with their church and Christian causes. Ben held a Ph.D. degree from the University of Bristol in England, worked at Sewell Lexus, and was a professor of philosophy at Weatherford College. And to make this story even more heart-breaking, they were the parents of four beautiful children who range in age from 10 to 16. We extend our sincere condolences to their children and family. May God bless, comfort and sustain you. We made a donation to their GoFundMe account and ask others to consider doing so. The hit-and-run driver is at large. Hit-and-runs are another big problem here in North Texas that must be stopped by criminal and civil means. We support the Fort Worth Police Department's effort to to find this killer and file vehicular manslaughter charges immediately. Anyone who has knowledge of his identity should call them at 817-393-4885. Further, area residents have started an online petition to stop street racing on Risinger Road. They demand more four-way stops, stop lights, flashing lights, lit pedestrian crossings, speed bumps, and police patrols. Please sign and share it. We call on the city to make these necessary changes so that we don't have any more street-racing crashes there -- or anywhere else.
Speeding is a huge problem on Texas roadsThe two top causes of Texas car accident deaths involve speeding. Our state suffered almost 48,000 vehicle wrecks caused by speeding in 2019. That's 130 a day. READ: Car crash epidemic has to be stopped It is obvious that the faster a vehicle is traveling, the greater the chance that it will cause serious injury or death. Due to their extreme force, speeding drivers cause up to 30% of all fatalities in Texas. And in the above tragedy, street racers often drive at speeds up to 100 miles an hour -- in residential zones with 35 to 40 mile per hour limits. And you see reckless drivers screaming by cars which are already doing 70 on our interstates. We have just been hired on a case where a man was passed by two street racing vehicles who must have been going over 100 miles and was in a major crash. While street racing is illegal, it is hard to stop. The criminal justice system attempts to do so by assessing long jail terms for second degree felonies and huge fines. The civil justice system, which is our side of the docket, also can exact a substantial punishment with substantial verdicts awarded. But we have way too many drivers who seem to think they are trying to win a race at the Texas Motor Speedway. By exceeding the speed limit, often while looking at their cell phone or being inebriated or high, they turn their vehicles into deadly weapons. The resulting collision is violent and almost guaranteed to lead to serious injuries or even deaths.
How a personal injury lawyer proves speeding to win your caseSpeeding is the number one cause of wrecks. Sometimes it is obvious or the at-fault driver admits he was going too fast. But at other times, it can be difficult to prove. Police officers rarely, if ever, personally witness a crash. When they arrive at the scene, hopefully they can determine that the other driver's negligence caused the collision and issue a citation. However, there is no law in Texas that prescribes speed limits. Instead, the Transportation Code merely discusses maximum speed requirements in Section 545.351. And subpart (b) weakly states the obvious: the operator shall control the speed of their vehicle as necessary to avoid a collision and to use due care. This allows a reckless driver a lot of wiggle room in court about whether their speed was reasonable. Here is a truck from a recent crash that killed one person and seriously injured our client and several others. We worked the case immediately - the two photos below are from the scene about 100 miles from Fort Worth - and obtained the full insurance company policy limit ($100,000 with our client netting $62,500). We are now going to file suit and attempt to get additional compensation.
Other ways to determine speedThe injury attorney and accident reconstruction expert, depending on the case, can use a combination of the following:
- interviews with drivers and eyewitnesses;
- photographs of the vehicles and analysis by an expert;
- photographs of the scene, including skid marks, yaw marks, and crash debris patterns;
- dash cam and area surveillance videos;
- downloads of the vehicle event data recorders;
- speed/reaction/stopping distance calculations; and
- aerial photography
Texas needs to increase law enforcement to save livesMost states have cracked down on speeders. We need to do more. Most other states heavily rely on points systems and quickly suspend and revoke driver's licenses for speeding offenses. We don't. Most other states have more police officers and cameras recording speed. We need more. According to a shocking study by Wallet Hub, these are the states and the District of Columbia ranked from strictest in law enforcement for reckless and speeding drivers (Delaware) to the least strict (care to guess?).
|Overall Rank (1=Strictest)||State||Overall Score||Reckless Penalties Rank||Speeding Enforcement Rank|
|T - 3||Arizona||17.00||7||2|
|T - 3||New Mexico||17.00||7||2|
|T - 8||Illinois||14.00||16||4|
|T - 8||Virginia||14.00||25||1|
|T - 8||Alabama||14.00||7||19|
|T - 8||Washington||14.00||12||8|
|T - 13||West Virginia||12.50||5||36|
|T - 13||Maryland||12.50||25||5|
|T - 17||Wyoming||11.00||11||32|
|T - 17||Vermont||11.00||12||29|
|T - 17||Georgia||11.00||25||17|
|T - 20||District Of Columbia||10.50||34||11|
|T - 20||New York||10.50||41||5|
|T - 20||Florida||10.50||34||11|
|T - 20||Rhode Island||10.50||25||19|
|T - 24||Hawaii||10.00||25||23|
|T - 24||Alaska||10.00||16||29|
|T - 24||Louisiana||10.00||40||11|
|T - 24||Maine||10.00||16||29|
|T - 29||Missouri||8.50||41||19|
|T - 29||Tennessee||8.50||41||19|
|T - 29||Pennsylvania||8.50||45||11|
|T - 29||South Dakota||8.50||16||40|
|T - 29||Utah||8.50||25||32|
|T - 34||Indiana||8.00||41||23|
|T - 34||Connecticut||8.00||25||36|
|T - 34||Minnesota||8.00||25||36|
|T - 34||Nevada||8.00||22||40|
|T - 34||North Dakota||8.00||22||40|
|T - 39||Massachusetts||7.00||34||36|
|T - 39||New Hampshire||7.00||16||49|
|T - 39||Michigan||7.00||16||49|
|T - 39||Wisconsin||7.00||45||23|
|T - 43||Kentucky||6.50||45||26|
|T - 43||Montana||6.50||33||45|
|T - 43||Ohio||6.50||45||26|
|T - 43||South Carolina||6.50||45||26|
|T - 47||Nebraska||6.00||34||45|
|T - 47||New Jersey||6.00||34||45|
|T - 49||Oklahoma||5.50||34||48|
|T - 49||Mississippi||5.50||45||32|
Most other states heavily fine speeders. We don't. The maximum ticket in Texas is about $300.00 but in Oregon, it is $6,250.00. Mr. Berenson related that he and his wife were traveling in Oregon years ago and were pulled over. The officer announced that the ticket was going to cost them $750.00. He nicely let them off with a warning. Fort Worth has a good aspirational goal, but we need solid results. Fort Worth adopts Vision Zero to reduce Fort Worth car crash deaths
The above measures would help reduce Texas car accident deaths. We wanted to publicize this urgent cause. One life lost is one too many.