Defense Attorney(s): Ronald W. Johnson (co-lead), Touchstone, Bernays, Johnston, Beall, Smith & Stollenwerck, Dallas, TX (Brittany Nicole Robinett); Marc A. Sheiness (co-lead), Sheiness, Glover & Grossman LLP, Houston, TX (Watergator Inc.); Will Conine, Touchstone, Bernays, Johnston, Beall, Smith & Stollenwerck, Dallas, TX (Brittany Nicole Robinett); Kamy M. Schiffman, Sheiness, Glover & Grossman LLP, Houston, TX (Watergator Inc.)
Facts & Allegations: On July 2, 2014, plaintiff Stacy Lee Scott, 46, a truck driver, was operating a 10-wheeler commercial truck on Interstate 20 West in Harrison County. Brittany Nicole Robinett was in a Ford F-350 pickup truck, hauling some drill pipe on a flatbed trailer. Robinett rear ended Scott, whose in-cab video camera recorded the violent jarring of the impact. Scott claimed neck and back injuries.
The Robinett truck and trailer were owned by or leased to Watergator Inc.
Scott sued Robinett for negligently failing to keep a proper lookout, driving too fast and following too closely. He sued Watergator Inc. under respondeat superior and for negligently violating its policies by failing to conduct a post-accident drug test of Robinett; by failing to investigate the wreck; and by providing Robinett a company truck even though she had five prior convictions for moving violations. Scott claimed that Watergator’s policies prohibited giving a company vehicle to anyone convicted of more than three moving violations.
Scott also alleged that Robinett was using her cell phone constantly for 44 minutes before the accident and at the time of the accident. During that period, her cell phone records showed 194 calls or text messages to or from a single number. Robinett testified that she accepted responsibility for failing to control her speed and rear-ending Scott. However, she denied using her cell phone in any manner at the time of the wreck. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the cell phone records showed unequivocally that Robinett was using her cell phone at the time of the accident, but Robinett’s counsel argued that the cell phone records were inaccurate.
Robinett’s counsel also noted that two of Robinett’s prior moving-violation convictions were for a child not wearing a seat belt, which counsel argued did not reflect on Robinett’s driving skills.
Watergator’s counsel noted that Scott violated his company’s rules by not undergoing a drug test after the accident.
Injuries/Damages: back and neck; epidural injections; fusion, lumbar; herniated disc at C3-4; herniated disc at C4-5; herniated disc at L3-4; herniated disc at L4-5; lower back; pins/rods/screws; steroid injection
Scott claimed herniated discs and facet tears at C3-4, C4-5, L3-4 and L4-5, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The accident was in the afternoon, and he sought treatment the next morning. He initially treated through workers’ compensation, but he felt that he was not receiving adequate care, and he switched to other doctors, including a neurosurgeon. He tried physical therapy, but found it too painful. He underwent lumbar epidural steroid injections and, in April 2015, a discogram.
On June 19, 2015, he underwent a posterolateral fusion at L3-4 and L4-5 with placement of pedicle screws on the left and harvesting of autologous bone from the iliac crest. The neurosurgeon opined that Scott’s neck and back injuries were caused by the accident and that he would need an anterior cervical microdiscectomy and arthroplasty at C3-4 and C4-5. He further opined that Scott would develop adjacent segment disease in both the lumbar and, after the neck surgery, the cervical spine, and that he would therefore require a second lumbar procedure and a second cervical procedure, at either the level above or the level below. Each of the three future surgeries would cost about $100,000, he testified.
Scott also claimed that he developed PTSD, as a result of risking his life trying to extricate Robinett from her vehicle, which had burst into flames after the impact. Robinett ultimately was able to extricate herself, and Scott helped her move away from the burning vehicle.
Scott claimed that, because of PTSD, he would be unable to drive a commercial truck for a living for at least several years, even if he fully recovered from his neck and back injuries. He treated with a psychiatrist and a counselor for PTSD and claimed that he would continue to need such treatment.
Scott had been in one or two prior accidents, for which he treated with a chiropractor. He described them as minor accidents with minor injuries that resolved.
Scott’s paid or incurred medical bills were $161,925.47. He also sought $385,811.81 for future treatment, $1,004,266 for past and future lost earning capacity and lost household services; and unspecified damages for past and future physical pain and mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement.
The plaintiff’s wife sought damages for past and future loss of household services and consortium.
The defense medical billing expert opined that paid or incurred bills of the neurosurgeon and the surgical facility, including the bills for the surgery and injections, were significantly more than he would consider reasonable. These bills totaled a little less than $150,000.
Also, the defense noted that the treating neurosurgeon had a letter of protection from plaintiff’s counsel, and that Scott’s workers’ compensation doctor’s opinion was that the surgeries were not medically necessary.
Insurer(s): Stratford Insurance Co. for both defendants
Plaintiff Expert(s): Paula Bradley, LPC, LMFT, psychology/ counseling, Longview, TX (treater); Richard L. Fulbright, Ph.D., neuropsychology, Dallas, TX; Charles Gordon, M.D., neurosurgery, Tyler, TX (treater); Rodney Isom, Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation, Irving, TX; Catherin Ann Roberts, M.D., psychiatry, Dallas, TX (treater); John Swiger, Ph.D., economics, San Antonio, TX
Defense Expert(s): Marc Chapman, coding & billing (medical), Austin, TX
Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’, Watergator’s and Robinett’s counsel.
DRIVER OF 18-WHEELER MADE LEFT TURN IN FRONT OF PLAINTIFF’S PICKUP
Case: Lisa M. Brewer v. Downing Transportation, Inc., G&D Trucking, Inc. and Gerardo Sandoval, No. 14-1958-CV
Defense Attorney(s): George C. “Bubba” Burns, Adami, Shuffield, Scheihing & Burns, San Antonio, TX
Facts & Allegations: On May 18, 2014, plaintiff Lisa M. Brewer, 52, an employee in accounts payable for an oilfield services company, was driving north on State Highway 80 in Luling. She was in a 2005 Chevrolet 1500 pickup. Gerardo Sandoval was southbound in a 2007 Freightliner 18-wheeler owned by Downing Transportation Inc. Sandoval suddenly and unexpectedly attempted a left turn in front of Brewer, and the vehicles collided. Sandoval was cited for failing to yield the right of way in connection with the wreck. Brewer was not issued any citations. Brewer claimed multiple injuries.
Sandoval’s employer was Downing or a related company, G&D Trucking Inc., or both, and he was driving the truck in the course and scope of his employment.
Brewer sued Sandoval for failure to yield the right of way and making an unsafe left turn. She sued Downing and G&D on a theory of respondeat superior.
The electronic control module download from Brewer’s vehicle showed that she was traveling at an appropriate speed at the time of the wreck.
A settlement conference was held, at which the defense did not contest liability.
Injuries/Damages: arm; back and neck; epidural injections; headaches; herniated disc at CS-6; herniated disc at C6-7; herniated disc at L4-5; herniated disc at LS-S1; lower back; physical therapy; shoulder; steroid injection
Brewer was taken by ambulance to an emergency room in Austin. She claimed herniated discs at CS-6, C6-7, L4-5 and L5-Sl, as well as headaches and shoulder and arm pain.
The plaintiff started physical therapy, but it was painful, and her pain management doctor told her to stop. She underwent a series of epidural steroid injections, followed by lumbar and cervical MR.Is. Her pain management doctor referred her for a surgical consultation with a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon, who testified for Brewer, recommended an anterior cervical discectomy and cage interbody fusion with allograft and anterior plating at CS-6 and C6-7.
She earned about $16.50 an hour at the time of the accident. She claimed that the pain prevented her from working full time. She eventually began working part time from home.
Brewer’s paid medical bills were $116,478.73. She also sought about $100,000 as the cost of the surgery recommended by her neurosurgeon. She also sought damages for past and future loss of earning capacity, loss of household services, physical pain and mental anguish1 disfigurement and physical impairment.
At the settlement conference, the defendants contended that Brewer was not likely to undergo the recommended surgery. They also argued that the claimed economic damages were exorbitant and not justified by the evidence that had been developed thus far.
Result: The parties settled for $550,000 at the settlement conference. The policy limit was $1 million.
On May 13, about a month after the settlement, Brewer’s treating neurosurgeon performed the surgery he recommended.
Insurer(s): Carolina Casualty Insurance Co. for all defendants
Plaintiff Expert(s): Karl Swann, M.D., neurosurgery, San Antonio, TX (treater); John Swiger, Ph.D., economics, San Antonio, TX
Defense Expert(s): None Reported
Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.
VEHICLES COLLIDE WHILE DEFENDANT WAS PASSING ON RIGHT
Case: Rhonda Butcher v. LCR-M Limited Partnership (a Delaware Limited Partnership} and Austin Gray, No. 87-11557
Defense Attorney(s): Margaret M. Knott, Knott & Doyle, Dallas, TX
Facts & Allegations: On Aug. 27, 2010, plaintiff Rhonda Butcher, 52, an inventory specialist, claimed that she was turning into her employer’s parking lot from a two-lane road in Tyler. Austin Gray, in a Ford F-350 pickup truck, attempted to pass her on the right, and they collided. Butcher was in a mid-size sedan. Gray was in the course and scope of his employment with LCR-M L.P. He received a ticket for passing unsafely on the right and did not contest the ticket.
Butcher sued Gray for passing unsafely on the right and sued LCR-M under respondeat superior. Butcher claimed that Gray actually entered the parking lot to pass her and that the impact occurred in the parking lot.
The defense contended that Butcher was stopped in the middle of the road without her turn signal on. Defense counsel argued that Gray did not enter the parking lot and that the accident occurred in the road.
Plaintiff’s counsel argued that Gray and the LCR-M corporate representative acknowledged on cross-examination. that Gray was negligent. Defense counsel argued that the witnesses made no such acknowledgment.
Butcher went to the emergency room later that night and again the next morning. She claimed an internal disc disruption at L4-5. She tried physical therapy, but said it did not help. She underwent pain management with injections and then, on April 16, 2013, an anterior lumbar fusion and posterolateral lumbar fusion at L3-4 and L4-5. The treating neurosurgeon testified that Butcher would need an additional surgery in the future, either above or below the level of the existing fusion.
The plaintiff’s paid medical bills were about $90,000. She also claimed past and future loss of household services, past and future loss of earning capacity, past and future disfigurement, past and future physical impairment, and past and future physical pain and mental anguish.
Butcher had b_een working full time and making $13 an hour. The Social Security Administration declared her completely disabled as a result of the wreck.
The defense contended that the impact was minor and that it could not have proximately caused Butcher’s internal disc disruption. Vehicle photos showed little to no damage.
The defense also contended that Butcher’s lower back problems were related to injuries sustained in a rollover accident around 1989. In that accident, she sustained compression fractures at L3 and L4, and the defense argued that this injury necessitated her surgery.
The defense further argued that Butcher’s lower back pain had existed since at least 2005 and that she was taking narcotic pain medication for eight months before the Gray wreck. The defense further argued that Butcher’s earnings history was insufficient to support her claim for future lost earning capacity. In addition, the defense disputed the need for any future surgery or other future treatment.
Also, the defense noted, Butcher’s workers’ compensation carrier determined that the plaintiff’s lower back injury was a pre-existing injury related to the 1989 rollover and not related to the Gray collision.
There were multiple layers of insurance coverage, with very high limits (exact amount unavailable).
Result: Case settled in mediation for $400,000 on July 24, 2013, about two months before the trial setting.
Insurer(s): Chubb for both defendants
Plaintiff Expert(s): Joe Gonzalez, M.D., life care planning, San Antonio, TX; Charles Gordon, M.D., neurosurgery, Tyler, TX (treater); Carl E. Hansen, Ed.D., vocational rehabilitation, Austin, TX; Thomas Mayor, Ph.D., economics, Houston, TX; John Smith, P.E., biomechanical
Defense Expert(s): David Gushue, Ph.D., biomechanical, Penns Park, PA; Marvin Van Hal, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Hurst, TX
Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel and defense counsel.
TEXAS 18-WHEELER WRECK ATTORNEYS
The U. S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued statistics that put Texas 18-wheeler truck wrecks at the top of the list of fatal truck crashes by state. According to the U.S. DOT, there were 2,998 traffic fatalities in Texas in 2010, of which 400 involved large trucks. Similarly, for 2011 the Texas Department of Transportation reports that there were 3015 deaths and 79,573 serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle wrecks in Texas. 299 of those deaths, and 2,308 of those serious injuries involved a truck-tractor/semi-trailer.
At 55 mph, it takes a large truck two football fields to come to a stop. In general, it takes an 18 wheeler 40% longer to stop than an average car. In adverse road conditions, it can take much longer. The weight of a truck can also impact braking distance. They can also roll over or jackknife very easily when swerving to avoid hitting vehicles or other obstructions. And many fatal truck crashes result from the mounting financial pressure to push drivers beyond their limits and falsify operating logs.
Because a fully loaded commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, compared to a 3,000 pound passenger vehicle, big rigs often cause tremendous destruction in the event of a Texas truck wreck.
Common causes of big rig incidents
In addition to dangerous weather or road conditions, common causes of big rig incidents include the following:
Truck driver fatigue
Unbalanced or excessive cargo loads
Poor vehicle maintenance or mechanical failure
Fraudulent or inadequate commercial driver qualifications
Driving impaired by texting, medications, or alcohol
Other reckless behavior by the truck driver
Laws governing truck safety are complex, so it is important to seek the help of experienced attorneys to protect your rights as soon after your wreck as possible. The attorneys at Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn have experience representing victims of major truck wrecks and filing wrongful death claims on their behalf and they are ready to put that experience to work for you.
UM/UIM-Failure to Control Speed-Rear End Crash- Negligence-Lower Back Surgery-Personal Injury
We successfully negotiated a high six figure confidential settlement for our client on an underinsurance motorist claim that resulted from a violent rear end crash. Our client was a front seat passenger in a pick-up truck that was rear ended by a large pick-up truck. The at-fault driver had only $50,000.00 in insurance and that was tendered to our client upon our demand. Fault for the crash was not contested but our client’s damages were contested. Our client had a stem cell surgery, as well as a posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery. We filed suit against the insurance company and litigated the case. The case was resolved after mediation and before trial.
Commercial Vehicle Wreck – Failure to Maintain Lane – Negligence – Personal Injury
We successfully negotiated a six-figure confidential settlement for our client. This was a violent crash where our client’s vehicle was knocked into a concrete barrier when a trailer being pulled by an 18 wheeler slammed into the passenger side of our client’s vehicle. As a result, our client sustained a significant neck injury. In fact, his treating pain management doctor recommended a spinal cord stimulator to manage the neck pain. The case was resolved after mediation and before trial. At the time the case resolved, he had not had the spinal cord stimulator implanted.
Commercial Vehicle Wreck- Driver Inattention- Negligence – Personal Injury
We successfully negotiated a six-figure confidential settlement for our client. This was a violent rear end crash where our client sustained a low back injury and experienced some minor neck pain. The driver of the truck that rear ended our client was distracted because he admittedly took his eyes off the road to look for his work schedule. The investigating officer placed all blame on the driver for the violent crash.
Improper Lane Change Crash
We successfully negotiated a confidential high six figure settlement for our client with a Minnesota company where its commercial motor vehicle driver negligently attempted to make a lane change and violently slammed into our client who was traveling in the lane next to him. The Defendant driver vehemently denied fault for the crash but his testimony was not credible given the investigating trooper’s conclusions in the crash report. Additionally, based on the damage to the box truck and our client’s vehicle, the crash could not have occurred as the Defendant driver swore it occurred. Our client sustained injuries to his neck and lower back and was required to undergo two (2) surgeries, one (1) on his neck and one (1) on his lower back.
18 Wheeler Driver Crosses Center Line and Causes Violent Crash
We successfully negotiated a confidential settlement in excess of seven figures for our client who was involved in a crash when another 18-wheeler driver crossed the center line and caused a violent crash in our client’s lane which resulted in our client sustaining significant injuries, harms and losses. The driver of the commercial motor vehicle that caused the crash died in the crash. We established that the deceased driver was woefully underqualified to operate the commercial motor vehicle he was operating on the date of the wreck. He had numerous other preventable crashes as determined by his prior employers and had job hopped for several years before the crash. His driving record established that he was inadequately trained and should not have been operating the commercial motor vehicle at the time of the crash. The investigating DPS trooper placed all blame on the deceased driver for the violent and deadly crash. Our client sustained injuries requiring him to undergo surgery on his neck (a fusion) and has been unable to return to work as a truck driver because of the violent nature of the crash. After payment of fees, doctor bills and expenses, our client received in excess of seven figures.
Commercial Vehicle Wreck-18 Wheeler-18 Wheeler Hit Plaintiff’s Tractor Trailer While He Was Asleep in His Cab-Neck Surgery
We successfully negotiated a high six-figure confidential settlement with a trucking company and its driver for our client. The tractor and trailer violently crashed into our client’s tractor trailer while our client was parked and asleep in his sleeper berth. Our client had to have a pain pump implanted to attempt to control his neck pain.
Commercial Vehicle Wreck-Box Truck-Rear End Crash-Negligence-Personal Injury-Recommended Neck Fusion
We successfully negotiated a $450,000 settlement with a commercial company and its driver for our client wherein a large box truck rear ended our client on IH 35E in Dallas County, Texas. Our client had a pre-wreck MRI that revealed no disc herniations in his neck. A post-wreck MRI revealed a herniation at C6-7. Our client’s treating spinal surgeon recommended a fusion at C6-7 because of the symptoms our client was experiencing, including numbness and tingling in his hands and arms. After payment of attorney’s fees ($180,000.00), expenses ($10,703.19) and medical bills our client netted more than $203,000.00.
We successfully negotiated a $1,000,000.00 policy limits settlement for our client with a California trucking company where its driver, who was admittedly unfamiliar with the highway, made a U-turn in the dark on US Highway 69. As a result of making the U-turn, his tractor and fully loaded trailer were covering both lanes of the oncoming two lanes of traffic. Our client was traveling in the outside lane of these lanes. Our client, who was traveling home to change clothes and return to the hospital to be with her husband, sustained significant injuries, harms and losses as a result of the violent crash. The driver of the tractor trailer was cited for failing to yield the right of way at an open intersection. Our client was not cited by the investigating DPS Trooper. Our client sustained a fracture of her left leg that required an open reduction internal fixation (“ORIF”) of her left leg wherein rods and screws were inserted into her leg. She also sustained a brain injury (subdural hematoma) that required brain surgery in the form of a craniotomy so the blood could be evacuated from her brain. After payment of attorney’s fees ($396,000.00), expenses ($56,888.63) and medical bills our client netted more than $400,000.00.
Commercial Vehicle Wreck-18 Wheeler-Negligence-Personal Injury-Lower Back Surgery
We successfully negotiated a $1,100,000.00 settlement for our client who was involved in an incident where a board flew off a manufactured home being transported by GKD Management, LP d/b/a A&G Commercial Trucking (“GKD”) and crashed through the windshield of our client causing him to leave the roadway and violently bounce through rough terrain causing injuries to his neck and back. Neither the owner of GKD nor GKD’s driver of the tractor were familiar with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (“FMCSR”) relating to the securement of cargo. Additionally, the driver had not been provided any training by GKD concerning the proper manner in which to secure cargo being hauled across interstate highways as required by the applicable FMCSR. Further, the driver was clearly off the route planned by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, which off route transport would have resulted in a criminal charge against the driver and GDK if reported to the DMV. Thus, Plaintiff asserted this was the reason the wreck was not reported by the driver or GKD to the proper law enforcement authorities. GKD also had a contractual responsibility to inspect the cargo prior to beginning transport to ensure that the cargo was properly secured for transport across interstate highways. This inspection did not occur. The driver also testified that he texted and drove while hauling cargo despite a documented GKD policy that prohibited drivers from texting and driving. The driver also testified that he routinely used his cell phone while driving and GKD’s president testified the use of a cell phone by drivers was prohibited while the driver is transporting cargo. The driver’s cell phone records reflected that he was constantly talking on his cell phone during the entire period he was transporting the cargo, including making numerous calls in the two hours leading up to the crash. Our client sustained significant injuries, including herniated discs in both his neck and lower back. At the time the case settled, our client had undergone one lower back surgery and his treating surgeon testified that two-three additional surgeries would be medically necessary to treat his injuries during his lifetime. After payment of attorney’s fees ($440,000.00), expenses ($86,710.90) and medical bills our client netted more than $464,000.00.
Commercial Vehicle Wreck-18 Wheeler-Failure to Share Half of the Roadway-Negligence-Personal Injury-Back Surgery
We successfully negotiated a mid-six figure settlement with a trucking company and its driver for our client wherein there was disputed liability because the crash occurred on bridge of a ranch road in rural South Texas. The testimony established that the custom for that bridge crossing was to allow the traffic to alternate and take turns crossing the bridge. The tractor-trailer did not alternate but rather followed another tractor trailer across the bridge and violently crashed head-on with a pick-up truck being operated by our client. Our client was life-flighted to a hospital in San Antonio where he underwent surgery to his knee. Subsequently, as a result of injuries to his lower back, he had a “360 fusion” performed on his lower back.
Defendant Truck Driver Had Several Prior Moving Violations – Negligence
We successfully negotiated a $1,000,000.00 policy limits settlement for our client who was involved in a violent rear end wreck with a large oil field service vehicle. The oil field service company, Watergator, Inc., allowed a female contract driver, Brittany Robinett, with very little experience or training to permissively operate a company vehicle despite her having five (5) convictions for moving violations. In view of Robinett five (5) convictions, allowing her to drive the company vehicle was in direct violation of a written policy of Watergator. Additionally, Robinett cell phone records established she was texting when she violently slammed into the back of our client vehicle causing him to sustain significant injuries and resulting in approximately $50,000 in property damage to the 10 wheeler he was driving. Further, Robinett vehicle burst into flames and our client bravely pulled Robinett out of her burning truck while she was screaming for him not to let her burn to death. Our client sustained significant injuries, including herniated discs in both his neck and lower back, left leg and foot injuries, and left arm and hand injuries. He was also diagnosed with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder and continues to seek treatment for this condition. At the time the policy limits were paid, our client had undergone one lower back surgery and his treating neurosurgeon testified that three (3) additional surgeries (two for his neck and one more for his lower back) would be necessary to treat his injuries during his lifetime. After payment of attorney fees ($400,000.00), expenses ($34,479.34) and medical bills our client will net more than $400,000.00.
Interstate Highway Accident – Negligence
We obtained a settlement for the insurance policy limits for a woman who was part of a husband/wife tandem 18 wheeler driving team for Covenant Transport. The woman was sleeping in the cab of the 18 wheeler during the early morning hours when her husband encountered a vehicle that was partially parked in the right hand lane of IH 40 Westbound in North Texas. The car had no lights turned on, including no parking lights, and took no measures to attempt to warn approaching traffic of his stalled vehicle. It was completely dark at the time of the encounter and the husband unsuccessfully attempted to take evasive action to avoid the accident. However, the husband side swiped the parked vehicle and the 18 wheeler ended up rolling on its side and our client sustained severe injuries, including a torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder and a torn meniscus in her left knee, both of which required surgery. She was unable to medically return to work as a truck driver after the accident because of her injuries.
18 Wheeler Pulls Out In Front of Traffic – Negligence
We successfully negotiated a substantial pre-suit settlement for a woman who sustained personal injuries when, on a very foggy day, an 18 wheeler negligently pulled out in front of her while she was traveling down US Highway 80 in Kaufman County, Texas and caused an accident.
18 Wheeler Runs Stop Sign – Negligence
We negotiated a favorable settlement for a woman who sustained personal injuries when an 18 wheeler ran a stop sign and collided with her.
18 Wheeler Wreck – Negligence
We successfully negotiated a settlement of $550,000.00 for our client who was involved in a violent wreck with an 18 wheeler near Luling, Texas. Downing Transportation, Inc.‚ employee/driver, Gerardo Sandoval failed to yield the right of way, turned left in front of our client and caused a violent wreck. Sandoval was issued a citation for failure to yield right of way in connection with the wreck. Our client sustained personal injuries, including injuries that required a neck surgery. The net recovery to our client after the deduction of attorney fees ($220,000.00), case expenses ($5,478.44) and repayment of medical bills was $246,745.08.
What to do if you are involved in an accident, including car accidents and 18 wheeler accidents
Top 10 things to do if you are injured in an accident, including a car accident or 18 wheeler accident.
By Craig Zips, Member of Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC
Accidents involving 18 wheelers can cause serious injuries because of the size and weight of the tractor and trailer.
Immediately call the police or 911 to report the accident, do not leave the scene of the accident and attempt to ensure the other party also stays at the scene.
Contact a lawyer immediately. The insurance company for the at fault driver and your insurance company will act only to protect their respective financial interests. The insurance companies only care about saving their money. Do not sign any documents prior to consulting with an attorney.
Attempt to identify any witnesses to the accident and write down their names, addresses and telephone numbers. If possible, also write down their license plate numbers.
Exchange the following information with the other driver; name, address and telephone number, make and model of the car or 18 wheeler, license plate number, the other driver‚his employer, if applicable, if the driver does not own the car then obtain the name, address and telephone number of the owner of the car or 18 wheeler, obtain all insurance information, including the name of the insurance agent for the other driver. Also, if the accident involves and 18 wheeler then write down the Unites States Department of Transportation (US DOT) number that is typically located somewhere on the tractor or trailer.
Write down any statements that are made by the other driver that indicate the other driver is at fault. These statements may be used against the other driver and/or their employer in settlement negotiations or if a lawsuit is filed. Conversely, do not make any statements to the other driver or witnesses in connection with the accident. Please remember to make sure that any statements made to the police are truthful and accurate. Do not guess or speculate about any answer to any question asked by the investigating officer.
Take photographs of the property damage to your car and the other car(s) or 18 wheeler while you are at the scene of the accident. Also take photos of the accident scene, including any visual obstructions, road signs, speed limits signs, and any skid marks made by any vehicle involved in the accident.
Immediately seek medical treatment if you are even slightly injured. Sometimes accident victims can sustain internal injuries without realizing he/she is injured Internal injuries can be fatal if not treated. Do not be embarrassed to ask for an ambulance if you have been injured in any manner. Please also make sure you attend all doctor and physical therapy appointments. If you miss these appointments, then the insurance company will argue these missed appointments mean you are not really hurt.
Do not give any written or recorded statements to any insurance company or insurance company representative without consulting with an attorney.
Prepare a brief summary of the accident. Our memories fade about the details of an accident as time passes. These notes about the accident will be helpful later in jogging your memory of the details of the accident. Also, keep a daily diary of your medical visits, as well as a daily diary of the pain you are experiencing after the accident.
Obtain a police report if one is available.
Craig Zips is one of the two founding members of the firm now known as Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC. He is board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and has been given the premier AV rating by Martindale Hubbell. Craig has represented numerous clients for over 15 years in a variety of litigation matters, from complex commercial matters, including business disputes and securities fraud, as well as the representation of plaintiffs in serious injury cases.