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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.

This is probably the best walking photograph of all time. Maybe some of us Baby Boomers have this etched into our brains as we have been trying to get some exercise during the unending pandemic. But just crossing the street should not be the cause of a pedestrian injury. Unfortunately, this is more common every year. In 2019, 668 Texans and 6,227 Americans lost their lives when they were on foot, the highest numbers in three decades. One would have been too many. Read: Pedestrian deaths in Texas alarming Two weeks ago in east Fort Worth, a woman crossing the street was killed and a man was critically injured when a SUV ran a red light. Stories like this where walkers and cyclists are hit by vehicles should not become routine.

What has caused the pedestrian injury spike?

  1. Cell phones: it seems like half of the people around you when you drive are talking on their phones and even texting while driving. Distracting driving is a major reason for the elevated number of all collisions.
  2. Larger vehicles: over one-half of new purchases are for pickup trucks and SUVs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They are so much larger with such bigger engines that they are guaranteed to inflict worse injuries on a person not protected by a vehicle. That is despite new-fangled safety enhancements like back-up cameras and motion detectors, because many drivers can't keep their eyes on the road with all the distractions. And their cell phones.
  3. Bad drivers: coupled with the above, if you add rampant speeding, reckless driving, and intoxication, a pedestrian injury is far more likely.
  4. Poor planning and infrastructure: these include insufficient or nonexistent walking trails and dedicated bike/walking lanes, badly designed cross walks, poorly timed crossing signals and traffic lights, and insufficient public transportation.
  5. Pedestrian error: Of course, sometimes the person who is walking or cycling is at fault. They may be in the road. Or they may have failed to abide by right of way laws contained in the Texas Transportation Code, Section 522. This problem is compounded if they were distracted by music on headphones and did not hear oncoming vehicles, were zoned out, and were reading and even texting while walking. This man walking his dog is next to a paved path to his left.

How to win a pedestrian vs. vehicle case

In a motor vehicle collision collision, the key is establishing which person had the right of way. A fast and thorough investigation is required to prove liability. Photographs and video, diagrams, eyewitness statements, cell phone records, and other evidence can make or break the case. Texas uses the modified comparative negligence standard. That compares the liability of all parties involved and divides the damages accordingly. More than one person can be found to be at fault by a jury. For example, if the injured pedestrian was not to blame, the vehicle driver will be found to be 100% at fault and all damages will be paid to the victim. However, if it is shown that the person walking was 30% to blame, they lose that amount of the proceeds, and if they are 51% liable, they recover nothing.
There are complicating factors that need to be analyzed including the timing of traffic lights and existence of crosswalks, other vehicles, poor weather, and obstructions to vision.
These cases often have to go to court to be successfully resolved. If there was a wrongful death, litigation is essential unless the insurance companies agree to tender all available proceeds. We just resolved the case for a man seriously injured as he was walking beside an interstate late at night for maximum value. More information about how to proceed can be found here.

How to avoid a pedestrian injury

You never think a car or truck is going to hit you as you are walking until it does. Here are some things you must do to prevent this from happening:
  • Maintain constant vigilance and walk defensively;
  • Wear high visible clothes, especially in the early morning and late afternoon hours when drivers are dashing to and from work;
  • Don't wear headphones in both ears - or at all;
  • Don't run stop signs and lights if you are cycling; and
  • Don't walk and read your cell phone

Cases we are handling 

Our law firm just filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man who was seriously injured when his truck was rear-ended by an extremely intoxicated driver. That caused his truck to flip over and land on a man who was working outside, tragically taking his life. We just settled a major case for a man seriously injured as he walked next to an interstate highway late at night. We are representing a young man struck as he crossed the street to catch his school bus, a woman paralyzed after she was hit by a vehicle in north Fort Worth, and several other pedestrians. We have handled pedestrian and bicyclist injury cases over the past 40 years.

Berenson Injury Law can help you

Mr. Berenson runs, walks, and cycles on our roads and understands the dangers involved. He strongly recommends that Fort Worth residents use the wonderful Trinity Trail network. Here is a photo where it goes by his building for the last 37 years (his firm's offices can be seen near the top).
Other cities in North Texas also have good options including the White Rock Lake trails in Dallas, River Legacy Park in Arlington, and other off-road paths where you are guaranteed to be safer. Mr. Berenson is involved in groups working to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists by Please call us at 1-888-801-8585 or click here to chat if you have been injured in any type of motor vehicle collision. We will answer all of your questions and tell you what your best legal options are at no charge for the first consultation.
Please stay safe out there during these difficult times.

    Our roads should be safer since fewer people are driving during the pandemic. But wrongful death numbers from car and truck wrecks have skyrocketed here. North Texas just endured another tragic weekend with six fatality wrecks reported. Most were caused by hit-and-run drivers. And we have not even gotten to the Thanksgiving-New Years holiday period when alcohol-fueled collisions skyrocket every year.

North Fort Worth

A man was crossing the street at Sylvania Street and 28th Street when a Sports Utility Vehicle ran the red light Friday at 11:30 o'clock p.m. and struck him. That driver and another SUV driver hit-and-ran.

North Dallas

A 58-year-old woman was struck and killed in the 9200 block of Forest Lane in Lake Highlands Saturday night around 10:30 o'clock p.m.  The driver of a large white vehicle hit-and ran.

East Fort Worth

A woman was in a car accident and was lying in State Highway 121 in east Fort Worth Saturday when several vehicles ran over her and kept driving.

South Dallas

A man and woman on a motorcycle were involved in a collision on Interstate 45, then tumbled down an embankment. He died in a hospital and the passenger is reported as being in a critical condition.  The other vehicle left the scene.

West Fort Worth

A 19-year-old man lost his life in the 7200 block of Camp Bowie Boulevard when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a metal pole early Friday morning. It is not clear if other vehicles were involved.

Kaufman County

go-kart packed with six kids ranging from age 7 to 12 was hit by a Sports Utility Vehicle at an intersection, causing two of the children to lose their lives. Four other children were seriously injured. The photograph above was posted by the local fire department. It is not clear why the go-kart was driving on a road, why so many kids were on it, or how the collision happened. These stories are devastating. We wish to extend our condolences and prayers to the families of the deceased and the injured.

What is a wrongful death claim?

Texas law defines a wrongful death as one that results from the "wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default" of another. It is a civil (not criminal) action that can arise after a vehicle collision. The sudden end of a person's life is often the worst experience their spouse and family can go through. There is no sum of money or punishment that can lessen the pain. The civil justice system allows the survivors to file a lawsuit or make an insurance claim to recoup their damages. However there are many legal, financial, medical, religious, and emotional issues that need to be dealt with.

Damages that are available

Texas law allows certain family members and heirs to recover damages they or the decedent incurred. They include the following:
  • Physical pain and emotional distress;
  • Medical and funeral bills;
  • Loss of wages and job benefits;
  • Loss of support, love, maintenance, society, and advice; and
  • Loss of inheritance

Amount of money that can be paid

Usually the at-fault driver has purchased the standard liability insurance policy which caps the payment to one person at $30,000.00. In a clear liability case, the at-fault driver's company will extend that amount and the services of a car accident lawyer are not needed. We have provided our services on a pro bono (at no charge) basis to help families with questions in this situation. Sometimes there are legal issues including the
  • involvement of other drivers,
  • liability of employers if they were on the job,
  • existence of other insurance policies or assets, and
  • payment of hospital, health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and other liens.
If a commercial truck driver caused the wrongful death, this case is much more complicated and a personal injury attorney is required. The insurance policy and assets of the company and all participants need to be verified and all damages provided by Texas and federal law need to be obtained.

Why do we have so many wrongful death collisions here?

Texas is always ranked as one of the most dangerous places to drive. We have the number one ranking for fatalities on our highways. Texas just passed a gruesome milestone last week. Every day for the last 20 years, there has been at least one traffic fatality on our roads. And six Texas cities rank in the top 13 in the U.S. for the most traffic fatalities. The list is headed by Dallas.

We can help you

Berenson Injury Law has represented families in wrongful death cases for over 40 years. If you have any questions, call us at 817-885-8000 (toll-free at 1-885-801-8585) or click on this link to chat with us. Related posts: Texas car accident deaths hit new record Latest hit-and-run in DFW heartbreaking

It is great to see so many cyclists, runners, and walkers getting exercise and fresh air on the Trinity Trails in this horrible pandemic. So it upset me to read that a serious Fort Worth bicycle accident just happened there. This treasure has 90 miles where you can ride, run and walk without fear of being hit by a car or truck. It is one of my favorite things about our wonderful city. Since I have trained for 58 marathons and several 100-mile bike rides, live nearby, and have seen it out of my office window which overlooks the trail for nearly 40 years, it feels like a second home to me. How did this Fort Worth bicycle accident happen? On Saturday Jerry Heaton had been running on the new foot bridge near Pappasito's when another runner approached him. But it was so muddy that the other runner suddenly moved to his left without looking behind him. A cyclist who was riding too fast hit that runner and threw him onto Jerry's leg which caught the fall. Without that, Jerry said that man would have died when he hit the concrete. The cyclist sped away. Jerry had fractured his tibia. Now he is stuck with huge medical bills.
I felt more connected to this terrible story because I was on my Saturday morning long run on the other side of the river. This could have happened to me -- or anyone else.

You need to be extra careful on the roads starting today

We are all glad that Governor Abbott has relaxed the quarantine and that many people are returning to jobs, stores, and restaurants. But we Texans have not driven much for the past few months, are antsy, and maybe even a little rusty. There were many more vehicles on the road this morning as Mr. Berenson drove to the office and saw many vehicles driving way too fast -- almost like they wanted to be on the track of the Texas Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, we can unfortunately expect an increase in car and truck wrecks in the coming weeks. Statistics from Austin were just revealed that show that serious injuries from vehicle crashes actually increased during the last two months when driving was curtailed. So we wanted to give you ways to keep safe while driving to prevent you from being the victim of a Fort Worth car accident.

It was exciting that school began last week but every year, a lot of people forget how much potential danger lurks. That's because roads are more congested in school areas and people won't put down their cell phones, even as kids are darting across the street. School buses pick up and unload over one million kids in Texas. So the need to be hyper-vigilent as we drop children off or make our morning and afternoon drives has greatly increased. Here are some helpful tips that will help stop these preventable car accidents with children.
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