Three of the Largest Verdicts in Texas in 2019

There is a wide variance in the amount of money awarded to an injured plaintiff by a Texas legal system. Though many of the largest verdicts are against trucking companies, there are so many cases working their way through the system that multi-million damage awards occur in a number of different types of cases.  We assembled a list of three of the largest verdicts awarded in the year 2019. Although these cases are in no way typical, they are instructive as to what Texas juries and judges find sympathetic, what they find reprehensible, and what they find the most worthy of compensation.

The first case was an 80 million dollar award dispersed by a jury in Hidalgo County to a truck driver who was injured while at work. The man was forced to work a shift by his employer after directly informing his employer that he had not rested for the minimum amount of time and could not safely or legally drive. Then the man was made to understand that his job was at risk, so he took the driving shift over his objections. While driving, he fell asleep at the wheel and was injured in an accident. The jury took 7 days to find his employer negligent in this injury.

The second case is 33 million dollars awarded to the family of a man killed in Dimmit County. The case was rather straightforward. The man was driving through Carrizo Springs when a cement truck suffered a sudden tire failure and veered into his car, killing him. The jury found the Goodyear Corporation, manufacturers of the tire that failed, to be 90% at fault for the accident. The company that owned the cement truck was judged to be only 10% at fault.

The third award was for 32 million dollars, and it came from a case of sexual assault against a fourteen-year-old in Denton County. The two boys that committed the assault were sued for a variety of crimes, and the jury agreed. The liability for the incident was split evenly between the two young men. Unlike the other cases, which were against large companies with contingency funds, insurance policies, and other methods of paying multimillion-dollar verdicts, it is unclear if the plaintiff will ever be able to retrieve even a substantial proportion of their payment.

The Takata Airbag Recall: What Happens when a Widely-Trusted Safety Product is Defective?

In the past several decades, one of Japan’s first automobile safety innovators has become known as a mass producer of potentially dangerous airbags. At least thirty-four automobile, truck, and van manufacturers using Takata airbags were caught up in what became the world’s largest auto safety recall.

Takata: A History of Safety-Conscious Development and Trust Earned Over Time

Takata started in 1933 as a producer of parachute lifelines, then entered the seat belt market as it grew rapidly in the 1950s. They built Japan’s first crash-test facility for seat belt testing using real-world conditions. After bankruptcy, they continue as an auto and non-auto safety equipment provider.

A Messy and Confusing Blame and Recall Process

Takata became a worldwide leader in and dominant supplier of seat belt and airbag products. This dominance led to a high-stakes situation where both Takata and its dozens of major customers were exposed to the risk of recall if products were proven defective. In one case, Takata seat belt problems were initially blamed on external causes including mishandling by users. The U.S. government eventually determined that strong sunlight in southern U.S. regions was weakening the ABS plastic in buckle mechanisms.

Takata airbag problems were initially thought to be caused by environmental moisture effects on the propellant. Eventually, the discovery of both manufacturing and production documentation faults at their Mexican plant led to tens of millions of airbag and vehicle recalls from dozens of manufacturers and governments across the globe. There were at least 24 deaths and hundreds of injuries as of 2018.

Where Things Stand Today with Takata Airbags

Overcome by endless lawsuits and compensation demands, Takata filed for bankruptcy in 2017. It now operates as Joyson Safety Systems, a Michigan-based subsidiary of a Chinese firm.

Are Other Airbag Sources Trustworthy?

In the last decade, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated problems with approximately 12.3 million ZF-TRW airbags for failure to deploy in accidents and related problems. In these cases, the problem may be with crash sensors rather than airbag inflation mechanisms. Generally, the complexity and demanding technologies involved in airbags have led to a number of problems and recalls of products made by multiple manufacturers.

Who Is the Perfect Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case?

If you watch television very long, chances are you will see dozens of ads for personal injury lawyers. They tout huge settlements and working hard for you — and, the fact is, the claims they make in their commercials are generally true. But how can you find the perfect personal injury lawyer to represent you in your case?

Make sure your lawyer’s expertise matches your claim.

Personal injury is an area of law that covers medical malpractice, car crash injuries, defective product claims, defamation, dog bites, and much more. No personal injury attorney can develop expertise in representing plaintiffs in every kind of personal injury claim, while you can be sure that insurance companies and well-financed businesses will retain defense counsel with extensive experience in shooting down your kind of claim.

Most attorneys will tell you the kinds of cases they take in their advertisements and on their websites. Don’t hesitate to ask your personal attorney for an introduction or use a local lawyer referral service.

Discuss fees before you sign with your lawyer.

Many but not all lawyers take personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. A typical contingency fee is 33-1/3 percent. In that case, if the court awards you $300,000, your lawyer will charge $100,000 and you will receive $200,000.

Some personal injury attorneys charge considerably more than 33-1/3 percent for their contingency fee, and will also withhold “expenses” of trial, such as payments for private investigators and expert witnesses. You need to know all pertinent fees for your representation before you agree to allow any lawyer to represent you. If an attorney thinks there is no chance of winning, they should tell you and you should owe them nothing.

Once you have found your perfect law firm, there is one very important rule you must follow for them to give you perfect representation.

Let your lawyer review any settlement paperwork before you sign.

After you file suit, you should not receive any communications from the person you are suing or their insurance companies. These “ex parte” communications can be unlawful and even a cause for an attorney to be disbarred. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be presented with an opportunity to settle out of court.

It is often better to settle rather than to go to court and take your chances with a judge and jury. However, if you are offered a settlement, be sure to have your attorney review it before you sign. When you are in a court case, the other side’s attorney never acts as your friend.

5 Ways You Can Be Compensated in Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you’ve been hurt due to the negligence of someone else, you don’t have to take it lying down. Instead, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover your losses and hold the other entity liable. When you do, you can be compensated for your realized and future losses in the following areas.

Compensation for Lost Wages

If the accident caused you to miss the opportunity to earn wages, you can be compensated. Not only can you be compensated for missed wages from the past, but you could also seek to recover future lost wages.

Diminished Earning Capacity Compensation

While some injuries may cause you to miss work, some injuries are so serious they completely change your professional earning capacity and trajectory. Whether an injury causes you to miss work or makes you less productive, you can hold the other party responsible for your lost capacity to earn wages.

Compensation for Medical Bills

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average cost of a visit to the emergency room for an automobile accident is $3,300, while hospitalization can run you $57,000. And even if you have remarkable insurance, you could be left holding a significant stack of medical bills. Because of this, you may be able to recover losses for any type of past, present, and future medical bills you may incur associated with the personal injury event.

Pain and Suffering Damage Recovery

With personal injury cases, pain and suffering can be best explained as the mental anguish or emotional distress you endure because of an individual’s negligent act. Pain and suffering could be caused by:

  1. Physical limitations, such as the inability to play tennis, watch your child’s basketball game, or play with your children.
  2. Discomfort and physical pain
  3. Memory loss, anxiety, depression, insomnia, or other emotional disorders
  4. Loss of consortium with loved ones and family members
  5. Any other type of psychological or emotional trauma

Compensation for Wrongful Death

While there is no amount of money that may be able to bring a loved one back, you can receive wrongful death compensation for your loss. Wrongful death damages can include:

  • The loss of support
  • Any funeral and medical expenses
  • The loss of consortium

Protect Your Rights with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

When it comes to protecting your rights and your family, there is no substitute for consulting with a personal injury attorney. In fact, if you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you should speak to an attorney prior to talking to the other individual’s insurance company. An experienced attorney will ensure the at-fault party is held liable and you are aptly compensated for your losses.

Juul Knew It Was Hooking Teens

One of the ongoing stories of the consumer has been the epidemic of lung injuries among young people who use electronic cigarettes. Almost 2000 people have been hospitalized after using e-cigarettes, and over 30 have died. No brand of e-cigarette has been associated with more cases of lung injury and death than Juul.

Juul e-cigarettes packaged nicotine extracted from tobacco with fruit flavors attractive to teenagers. It turned out that the combination of nicotine and certain flavorings formed chemicals that are highly damaging to lung tissue.

Scientists found that as few as six puffs were sufficient to release chemicals that cause lung damage. The concentration of nicotine in Juul was responsible for most of its ill effects, but a combination of nicotine and menthol made the cell-killing effects much worse.

Juul contains up to 40 times as much nicotine as competing brands. It contains as much as 156 times the concentration of flavor chemicals, especially in its “Cool Mint”, “Classic Menthol”, “Cool Cucumber”, and “Fruit Medley” e-cigarettes. Its “Virginia Tobacco” e-cigarette is relatively safe.

It is hard to believe that executives at Juul were unaware that their products used vastly higher amounts of problematic chemical flavorings and nicotine than their competitors. And it has become common knowledge that the company knew their e-cigarettes were addictive as early as 2015.

Two Juul researchers told the Reuters News Agencies they cautioned the founders of Juul and its top company scientists about the potential for youth e-cigarette addiction. The executive leadership of Juul took their cautionary reporting seriously enough to discuss building safeguards into the product, such as a timer that kept the e-cigarette from being used for more than 30 minutes at a time, but not seriously enough to make any changes in product design.

Instead, Juul marketed its e-cigarettes as “less harmful than cigarettes” and did nothing to stop a 500 percent annual growth rate in sales. CEO Kevin Burns only stepped down after the Food and Drug Administration admonished the company not to make further unfounded claims about the safety of its products.

A survey in September of 2019 revealed that one out of every four high school students had used e-cigarettes in the last month. President Trump proposed a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, but no further regulatory action has been taken.

Simple Guide to Optimizing Your Personal Injury Claim

You work hard day in and day out to create the life you can be proud of. Don’t let someone else’s negligence destroy your hard work and derail your vision. If you’ve been injured, you owe it to yourself, your family, and those you care about to be justly compensated for your losses. And here are a few quick tips you can use to optimize your settlement and not sell yourself short.

See the Big Picture

It’s vital you see the bigger picture, consider all current damages and future damages you’ll incur because of the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will help you step back and take a holistic view of the entire event. Of course, the insurance adjuster will do their best to close the case for as little as possible. However, it’s up to you to have a clear indication of what you need and what you’re willing to accept.

Types of Potential Damages

Your personal injury claim will hinge on a variety of factors that can directly impact the amount you receive. Some of the most common factors can include:

  • Current medical visits
  • The medications required following the injury
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent alteration of mobility and life, such as severe scarring, paralyzation, amputations, and reduced range of motion.
  • Current and future wages lost
  • Impact on potential earnings
  • Severe injuries, such as bone spinal cord, neck/head/brain, and internal organ injuries

A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Words

Sometimes, an image can speak volumes. When you have images of the road conditions, images of your injuries, or images of any illicit substances in the vehicle of the driver who is at fault, you significantly strengthen your case. In these instances, images can lead to higher settlements.

It’s Not Just About You

When you are injured, you’re not the only one who hurts: your loved ones suffer as well. At the same time, your company or business could suffer. The stress an injury has on your marriage, ability to parent, or ability to grow or manage a business can all be emphasized to highlight the butterfly effect of the negligent actions of the individual at fault.

Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve been hurt in a personal injury incident, it’s critical you understand the other party’s insurance company doesn’t work for you. On the contrary, their goal is to offer you as little as possible, which is often in direct conflict to your best interest. In fact, they have teams of adjusters and attorneys working around the clock to minimize their losses.

With this in mind, it only makes sense to have an experienced ally in your corner. A personal injury attorney will go to bat for you, defending your rights and working in your best interest. So when it comes to getting the best personal injury settlement, it starts and ends with finding the right personal injury attorney.

Revel: New Transportation Mode or Public Health Hazard?

While most people consider scooters and mopeds to be a safer mode of transportation, residents of Brooklyn and Queens have an entirely different experience thanks to Revel — the new moped-rental service. With a valid driver’s license, $5, the Revel smartphone app, and no training; users can rent one of the 1,000 electric-powered scooters and carouse through the boroughs. To the start-up company’s dismay, however, Revel has hit several speed bumps — primarily due to poor training and faulty parts. The result has been an onslaught of personal injury lawsuits by drivers as well as those injured by scooter drivers.

A Moped Gange of Personal Injury Lawsuits

Among those bringing lawsuits is Paul Dicesare who was a bicyclist that suffered a broken ankle in June allegedly due to a Revel rider. Dicesare’s attorney claims Revel was “vicariously liable” for the negligent, careless, and reckless acts of its driver. At the same time, Revel rider Afadikwei Reyes filed a lawsuit claiming the moped locked up and caused him to wreck, which left him with two leg fractures. Together, Reyes and Dicesare are among seven different people who have filed personal injury lawsuits against Revel. This amounts to an astronomical rate of one lawsuit per month since Revel expanded its offering to 1,000 back in May 2019.

Speeding Toward Danger Under 30 MPH

Currently, a motorcycle license isn’t required for mopeds that do not exceed 30 MPH. As an obviously low barrier, many experienced motorcycle drivers suggest this loophole is a fast track to disaster. Nick Trocano, manager of Brooklyn motorcycle shop Union Garage, says he has consistently witnessed inexperienced Revel riders circumvent laws and engage in aggressive driving practices, such as speeding along areas that are designated off-limits to scooters and cutting against traffic through bike lanes. He said he has also witnessed Revel riders driving without helmets, which are required by law. And when drivers engage in such reckless practices in densely populated areas, everyone is in danger.

When asked to comment on the trend, the company asserted they do not comment on pending lawsuits. However, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn-based startup explained that Revel offers free, in-person lessons to new riders who are looking to practice and learn more about the vehicles in a supervised, comfortable setting.

Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Marijuana-Related Accident?

While the side effects of marijuana usage have always been hotly contested, a nine-month-old baby’s injuries tell a completely different story. On Feb 7, 2020, at approximately 9:30 a.m., a 19-year-old woman was leisurely pushing a stroller through a crosswalk. All of a sudden, 28-year-old Ashley Bowman failed to yield to a pedestrian and plowed her Honda Civic into the stroller, causing it to flip over. Fortunately, the 9-month-old baby only sustained facial injuries.

Following the incident, Bowman briefly spoke to the 19-year-old victim and fled the scene. Ironically, Bowman was driving with her own 6-month-old daughter. She was later apprehended and arrested on three different felony charges:

  • Hit-and-run resulting in injury;
  • Causing bodily injury while driving; and
  • Willful cruelty to a child.

Fleeing the scene of an accident

Based on preliminary reports, Ms. Bowman’s liability is inherently clear because she was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana and fled the scene. And leaving the scene of an accident is a crime.

However, this scenario isn’t entirely unique. Many motor vehicle crashes and accidents involve a hit-and-run scenario. Typically, suspects choose to flee the scene of the accident because they are concerned about being arrested, are intoxicated, or are driving without a license.

Marijuana Legalization and DUI

In California, the legalization of marijuana has resulted in a spike in accidents, which was the case illustrated by Ashley Bowman’s severely impaired judgment. However, just because marijuana is legal doesn’t mean it’s legal to drive under the influence.

If you’ve been injured due to a driver operating a vehicle under the influence of any type of substance, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your losses. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process and file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. Your attorney will work closely with you to lead an independent investigation of the accident to determine all factors at play.

Should I Take the Settlement Offered by the Insurance Company?

Far too often, insurance companies pressure victims into accepting a quick payout for significantly less than the case is worth. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you are justly compensated. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and advocate for you.

Victims of Wawa Data Breach Pursue a Class Action Lawsuit

The Christmas season is normally a time for shopping, celebrating, and exchanging gifts with loved ones. Instead, customers of Wawa convenience stores got a not-so-merry surprise just before the holidays. On December 19, 2019, the nationwide chain announced a massive data breach that compromised the credit and debit card data of thousands of customers. In the aftermath of the breach, several customers are suing the chain for negligence, claiming the company failed to take suitable security measures to protect sensitive data from cyberattacks.

Wawa is the latest in a string of major companies targeted by hackers who install malicious software to gain ongoing access to payment data. According to CEO Chris Gheysens, hackers used malware to breach the payment processing systems at in-store terminals and fuel stations across 850 locations. For unsuspecting customers who swiped their credit or debit cards, the breach potentially exposed their names, card numbers, and expiration dates — the only details needed for many online purchases. While the company isn’t sure which of its stores were affected, Gheysens assured the public that debit card PINs, CVV security codes, and ATM transactions weren’t compromised in the cyberattack.

In an apology letter on behalf of Wawa, Gheysens stated that the malware was introduced sometime after March 4, 2019, and wasn’t detected until December 10. With the help of forensic specialists and law enforcement, Wawa was able to contain the breach by December 12 and narrow down the nine-month timeframe when the intrusion likely took effect. Gheysens also announced that the company is offering one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to safeguard customers from further threats. Unfortunately for some customers, the company’s efforts didn’t come soon enough.

As of December 29, 2019, Wawa is facing six lawsuits that may develop into a class action complaint. One data breach plaintiff, Tabitha Hans-Arroyo, says she lost access to her Capital One credit card funds on Christmas Eve when the company blocked a suspicious $2,535.15 charge. Like other victims of cyberattacks, Hans-Arroyo has to deal with the inconvenience of an account freeze during the holidays, as well as the lingering uncertainty about other data that could have been exposed.

The suit seeks to hold Wawa accountable for falling short of consumer protection laws and taking a “cavalier” approach to cybersecurity. In the meantime, other retail chains should learn from this recent data breach and be vigilant about conducting routine security checks and keeping up with the latest risk prevention recommendations from the Federal Communications Commission.

Common Failure to Diagnose Personal Injury Cases

When physicians and other healthcare providers fail to accurately and correctly diagnose a life-threatening medical condition, it can have dangerous consequences. Mistakes and misdiagnoses may leave many patients and their families with no other option but to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to get the financial assistance and compensation they now need. Issues such as a stroke or heart attack can result in permanent disability and death in the event that they are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed in time. There are some conditions that are misdiagnosed more commonly than others.

Pulmonary Embolism: This is a condition caused by a blood clot that obstructs the flow of blood through the lung arteries. This embolism is a serious health issue since the lack of blood flow causes damage to the lung tissue, as well as other organs in the body. Prompt care is essential in order to help with the chances of a successful recovery. The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are usually confused with other medication conditions, which delays treatment. Patients that do manage to survive a pulmonary embolism after a misdiagnosis usually suffer permanent disability.

Mental Illness and Depression: Mental illness and depression are more common than most people realize and the conditions are hard to correctly diagnose. Those who suffer from mental illness may be more likely to harm others around them or themselves, especially in a situation where an incorrect diagnosis leaves them unable to get proper care and supervision. It’s rare for mental illnesses to pose a direct physical threat to a patient but a psychiatric emergency can still be life-threatening. A healthcare provider that doesn’t have the right experience can miss the signs that a patient can be at risk for violence or self-harm.

Heart Attack or Stroke: Despite their prevalence, heart attacks still go undiagnosed regularly. Confusing symptoms of a stroke or heart attack with another medical condition means that treatment can be delayed until it is too late. Patients may not get the surgical procedure or anti-coagulates that could end up saving their life.

While healthcare providers do everything in their power to accurately diagnose an illness, failing to properly diagnose a condition is one of the leading causes of healthcare providers getting sued for medical malpractice. Those who suffer due to improper care can be entitled to compensation.