Fatal Accident Closes Westbound Highway 114 at Belt Line Road/635 to Close

Truck Jumps onto Car, Crushes Passenger’s Seat

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

A fatal car accident forced the closure of westbound State Highway 114 at Belt Line Road/635, causing hundreds of commuters to halt immediately and eventually divert to alternate routes.

These drivers, as well as others involved in similar accidents, often find out that being involved in the accident, being injured, trying to get their property damages to their vehicles repaired, or getting their cars replaced is just the beginning of the nightmare. It is important to realize that the insurance company has a different goal than you do in these situations. The insurance company is not concerned with whether or not you get paid in full. The insurance company simply wants to reduce its exposure to lawsuits and to paying claims.

What Should You Do If  You Are Involved In a Crash?

If you are involved in an accident like this one, you need to get legal advice as soon as possible. In the case of a multi-car crash, it is essentially a race to get your claim paid. In these cases, the person at fault has a limit of insurance coverage. Once those funds have been paid, even if you have a valid claim, you are likely to find that there is no insurance coverage remaining to pay your claim and that the person who caused your wreck does not have enough personal assets to pay your damages.

In 1994, the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Texas Farmers Ins. Co. v. Soriano et al, 881 S.W.2d 312 (Tex. 1994) addressed the responsibilities of a liability insurance company when it is faced with a settlement demand arising out of multiple claims and inadequate proceeds, an insurer may enter into a reasonable settlement with one of the several claimants even though such settlement exhausts or diminishes the proceeds available to satisfy other claims.

It is essentially a first come, first serve rule. The first person to present a valid and reasonable demand is entitled to get paid even if other valid claims are known to exist. Depending upon the unique facts of the case, there are a number of specific requirements that have to be included in the demand to make it a valid demand. If the demand does not include these specific requirements, technically speaking, it is not a valid demand and the insurance company may be forced to pay other people’s claims before paying you. It may even exhaust the policy limits and have no additional funds to pay your claim if you delay or fail to present a valid demand. As a result, if you are involved in one of these multi-car crashes, you should run, not walk, to a lawyer to get immediate legal advice. Do not let yourself end up in a situation where you are victimized twice.

In addition, you need to make sure you report the accident to the police and notify your insurance company of the wreck promptly. You may have coverages under your policy – such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Medical Payments (Med Pay), and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists (UM/UIM) coverages – that will pay for your damages, whether or not the person who is at fault is uninsured or underinsured (they do not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for your damages).

Montes Law Group, PC.

Attorney: Rachel Montes

1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100

Irving, Texas 75063

Telephone: (214) 522-9401

www.monteslawgroup.com

SOLDIER TRAGICALLY KILLED IN FORT WORTH CRASH | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

SOLDIER TRAGICALLY KILLED IN FORT WORTH CRASH

By Rachel E. Montes posted in Auto Accidents on Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of a young man who had dedicated his life to serving our country in the military. Clinton Young, who had just finished basic training in the U.S. Army was killed Tuesday when he was struck by a car and fell off a highway overpass just miles from his home.

Clinton had stopped along a bridge after his car was side-swiped by a van in a hit-and-run crash, police said. While he was standing near his parked car on the side of the highway, another vehicle then hit him, forcing him over the bridge. He had called his parents after the first accident, and they arrived at the scene minutes later, soon after he was killed.

Friends and family members say that Young, who had always wanted to serve his country, went straight into boot camp soon after he graduated high school in May, and had planned on becoming a military police officer. He had planned to graduate next month at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and was home for two weeks at Christmas. He had recently learned his first assignment would be in Germany.

After his death, the Army notified the parents that their son would still be honored during the graduation ceremony, and they said they plan on attending.

Tragedy can happen. Prepare yourself to be able to take extra precautions if you are in an accident on a busy highway or break down. Build a road safety kit that you can carry with you in your car at all times. The kit should include the following items:

– torch
– reflective triangle road safety signs
– traffic cone
– cell phone
– jumper cables
– a tow rope
– portable air compressor
– raincoat
– first aid kit

If you do find yourself stuck on the side of a busy road, first, DON’T PANIC! If possible, make your way over to the left hand side of the road and do not stop on the right hand shoulder.

Avoid stopping on or near bends in the road. Make sure you are visible from ideally 100 meters in each direction.

Pull over as far as you possibly can. You will be amazed by how many cars get hit when parked beside a road.

If you need to change a tire, do your best to stop on a flat road that is not on an incline.

Stop with your wheels pointing towards the barrier (A very important road safety tip). In the event that your car starts to roll, this way it will roll into the barrier and not into the line of traffic.

Turn on your hazards immediately

Make sure all passengers get out the car and stand at a safe distance from the road.

Open your car hood to show other drivers that you are broken down and not just stopped next to the road, this way road safety officers will also be able to identify you and come to your rescue.

Tying a white cloth or t-shirt to your driver side door handle can help alert other drivers.

Use the road safety cones and reflective triangles that you have in your road safety kit. Place these at a considerable distance behind your car so that oncoming traffic has lots of time to react.

If the problem is serious and you are unable to fix it in a short amount of time, do not try and be a hero, call roadside assistance immediately and get them to sort the problem out as they are better equipped with road safety equipment for these exact situations.

Remember, it is all about being prepared, not just with the correct road safety equipment, but also the knowledge to deal with these situations. Spread the word, distribute this article amongst your friends and family and do as much as you can to stay safe.

www.montesherald.com Rachel E. Montes and Thomas A. Herald voted Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Dallas. Rachel E. Montes voted Texas Superlawyer. We specialize in personal injury and wrongful death. Call us, we can help.

11 STUDENTS INJURED IN DEADLY SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENT NEAR HOUSTON | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

11 STUDENTS INJURED IN DEADLY SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENT NEAR HOUSTON

By Rachel E. Montes posted in Auto Accidents on Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A school bus carrying the Crosby High School’s ninth-grade girls basketball team was involved in a major collision last night when it was struck by an SUV driven by Sideny Eugene Kelton. Police say a vehicle ahead of Kelton was stopped to yield to oncoming traffic to make a left turn onto Tall Cedars Street and Kelton moved into the southbound lane, apparently to avoid hitting the vehicle, but then Kelton hit the school bus head-on. Police report that Kelton died at the scene.

BUS ACCIDENT HOUSTON.jpg

The eleven students and two adults on the bus were all taken to area hospitals and have been released. The school bus did not have seat belts. Read our previous blog on WHY DON’T OUR SCHOOL BUSES HAVE SEATBELTS? http://www.montesheraldblog.com/

 

WHO PAYS IF YOUR CHILD IS HURT IN AN ACCIDENT ON A SCHOOL BUS?

Obviously, it is important to get your child the appropriate medical care he or she needs. The question is who is going to pay for the medical bills?

In Texas, the answer to that question, depends on who is at fault for the collision, and how much insurance coverage is available to pay for those damages.

Let’s assume that the Mr. Kelton was negligent and that he alone was the sole cause of the collision. If that is the case, then hopefully he is insured, and claims can be made with his insurance company. However, most drivers are either not insured at all, or have only the minimum amount of insurance coverage required by law. As a result, it is very likely, that in any car wreck where 13 people are treated at a hospital, that there will not be enough insurance to pay for everyone’s medical expenses, not to mention other damages. The minimum amount of insurance coverage is set to increase in 2011, but for now, the minimum liability coverage is $25,000 per person or $50,000 per occurrence. See our blog post entitled: HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH INSURANCE I NEED? http://www.montesheraldblog.com/insurance-claims/

 

TOO MANY PEOPLE AND NOT ENOUGH INSURANCE

We previously wrote on our blog about a similar situation following a 32 car accident in Arlington, Texas. What Should You Do If You Are Involved In a Multi-Car Crash? To view that post go to “Insurance Claims” in the Montes Herald Blog or click on the following link. http://www.montesheraldblog.com/insurance-claims/

If you are involved in accident like this one, you need to get legal advice as soon as possible. In these cases, it is essentially a race to get your claim paid. The person at fault has a limit of insurance coverage. Once those funds have been paid, even if you have a valid claim, you are likely to find that there is no insurance coverage remaining to pay your claim and that the person who caused your wreck does not have enough personal assets to pay your damages.

In 1994, the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Texas Farmers Ins. Co. v. Soriano et al, 881 S.W.2d 312 (Tex. 1994) addressed the responsibilities of a liability insurance company when it is faced with a settlement demand arising out of multiple claims and inadequate proceeds, an insurer may enter into a reasonable settlement with one of the several claimants even though such settlement exhausts or diminishes the proceeds available to satisfy other claims.

It is essentially a first come, first serve rule. The first person to present a valid and reasonable demand is entitled to get paid even if other valid claims are known to exist. Depending upon the unique facts of the case, there are a number of specific requirements that have to be included in the demand to make it a valid demand. If the demand does not include these specific requirements, technically speaking, it is not a valid demand and the insurance company may be forced to pay other people’s claims before paying you. It may even exhaust the policy limits and have no additional funds to pay your claim if you delay or fail to present a valid demand. As a result, if you are involved in one of these multi-car crashes, you should run, not walk, to a lawyer to get immediate legal advice or you may find yourself in a situation where you get victimized twice.

 

DO SCHOOL DISTRICTS HAVE UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST (UM/UIM) COVERAGE OR COVERAGE FOR PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION (PIP)?

Based upon the assumption that Mr. Kelton is the only person at fault, and that he is either uninsured or does not have sufficient insurance coverage (underinsured) to pay for everyone’s damages, the question then changes to is there any other insurance money available to pay for these damages?

In Texas, public schools do not carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. While school districts are authorized to purchase insurance protection for claims made against the school district and their employees by injured parties as indicated under the Texas Tort Claims Act (Chapter 101, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code), under Article 3, Sections 50, 51 & 52 of the Texas Constitution, a school district is not authorized to spend funds to benefit private individuals.

Under Articles 5.06-1 and 5.06-3 of the Insurance Code, the no-fault character of the coverages would provide benefits to the persons to whom the school district owes no legal obligation.  Thus, the Attorney General of Texas has held in Opinion No. H-602 (1975) that the provisions of such coverage, at the expense of the school district, would amount to granting of public money or thing of value to an individual which is in violation of the Texas Constitution.

According to that opinion, to purchase UNINSURED MOTORIST/UNDER-INSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE or PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION COVERAGE with district funds would be unconstitutional and that such coverage does not in any way meet any obligation of the school district created by the Texas Tort Claims Act. The opinion may be accessed on line at (Article no longer available online)

 

OTHER PIP OR UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE

If one of the parents of the students on the bus have PIP, MEDPAY or UM/UIM coverage on their personal auto insurance policy, then that parent and student can submit a claim to their insurance company for their injuries and damages.

 

CAN YOU SUE THE BUS DRIVER OR THE SCHOOL DISTRICT?

Just because the students were on a school bus going or coming home from a game does not mean the school district is responsible to pay for those medical bills. The school district would only be responsible if the bus driver was negligent and, to some degree, proximately caused the collision. If the bus driver was negligent, but that negligence was only 1% of the cause, then the school district would only be responsible for 1% of the damages.

In Texas, if you are injured in an auto accident with a public school bus, you can sue the school district for your damages, but The Texas Tort Claims Act requires that you bring your claim or lawsuit against the governmental entity for whom the officer works (i.e. the school district), not against the bus driver. See Section 101.026 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code.

Depending upon which governmental unit the driver works for, the law also limits how much can be recovered. The law caps the amount of damages that people get government to pay on these claims. See Section 101.023 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code.

Although in Texas there is a 2 year statute of limitations, when the person driving a vehicle is a local or state government employee, the law (Section 101.101 of Texas Tort Claims Act) requires that you submit proper written notice of your claim to the correct governmental entity within a much shorter time period, within 6 months from the date of the incident. However, depending on the unique facts of a particular case, there may be other laws that impose shorter notice periods and other notice requirements in addition to those in this section of the Texas Tort Claims Act.

In addition, if the case involves a claim against a federal employee, there are different notice requirements imposed by federal law. In any event, the lesson to be learned if you are every involved in any type of incident with a governmental employee, you need to appreciate that there are probably requirements imposed by that require you to submit proper legal notice of your claim within a very short amount of time to a specific person, and the failure to provide this proper and timely written notice of your claim, may cause you to lose all of your rights against the responsible person even if you file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations.

32 CAR CHAIN REACTION COLLISION IN ARLINGTON | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

32 CAR CHAIN REACTION COLLISION IN ARLINGTON

By Rachel E. Montes posted in Auto Accidents on Tuesday, November 30, 2010

32 car wreck Arlington.jpg

For the second time in less in 2 weeks, a major, multi-car crash in Arlington shuts down the freeway. On November 17, 2010, 14 cars were wrecked at Cooper and Interstate 30. This time, 32 vehicles were involved in a pileup that completely shut down Highway 360 as ten people were transported to local hospitals.

The chain-reaction crash began during the early morning rush hour commute around 5:30 a.m. Police have indicated that they suspect the crash sequence began when a vehicle going north on Highway 360 slowed down to exit onto Division Street and another vehicle rear-ended that car and then spun into traffic causing a series of collisions that even Nascar fans would be shocked to witness. Once the wrecks started to occur, other drivers report that they felt they had no where to go to get out of the way and that they were trapped between concrete barriers on either side of the highway.

A number of other factors are also believed to have come together to contribute to the cause of this multicar collision. Police have indicated that in addition to excessive speed and driver’s who are following too closely behind other vehicles, the roads is also under construction and may have been somewhat slick .

That stretch of 360 has long been known as a dangerous area on Highway 360 because of the unusual exit and entrance ramps. The area is currently under construction. The State is in the process of completing a $56 million highway construction and renovation project between Abrams Road and Division Street that is scheduled to be completed in about a year.

We recently posted an article in our blog on What Should You Do If You Are Involved In a Multi-Car Crash? To view that post go to “Insurance Claims” in the www.MontesHeraldBlog  or click on the following link. http://www.montesheraldblog.com/insurance-claims/.com

In that blog post, we stressed how important it is that if you are in this type of wreck, you need to take immediate action to protect your rights. If you delay, you could easily find that your claims for property damage and for personal injuries will not be paid.

Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P.

Attorneys: Rachel Montes and Tom Herald

1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100

Irving, Texas 75063

Telephone: (214) 522-9401

www.MontesHerald.com

www.MontesHeraldblog.com

Facebook at Montes Herald Law Group, LLP