Roadside Safety Check Prevents Serious 18-Wheeler Accident

Case proves an ounce of prevention can prevent a serious accident.

“If the police had not been out checking tractor trailers for various infractions of the law, the rig in this story could have seriously injured or killed someone. There are times when an ounce of prevention may avert a disaster. It did in this instance,” said Brooks Schuelke, a personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P in Austin, Texas.

The big rig was pulled over into a traffic safety check point. The inspecting officers discovered 25 safety violations, including defective brakes, a shredded tire, four bald tires and a broken trailer cross member. Eight of the violations were serious enough to pull the truck off the road.

“With four bald tires, a shredded tire and defective brakes, that 18-wheeler was an accident waiting to happen,” said Schuelke.

When big rigs meet smaller vehicles, the results are never good. If someone does make it survive a wreck of such magnitude, they are often severely injured, and their lives are irrevocably changed. Recovery may take years, if at all.

“The trucker was cited by the police for vehicle maintenance violations and for being over his industry regulated hours of service. The trucking company was cited for the brakes and tires and other assorted violations. What is disturbing is the light fines they received. The driver was fined $276, and the trucking company $620. These arehardly punitive and not likely to stop them from trying to patch together their vehicles to keep them running. This is a serious loophole in monitoring trucking safety violations,” said Schuelke.

Without proper safety regulations, stiffer fines and a commitment to compliance, the trucking industry is likely to remain a leader in fatal accidents. “Even with checkpoints set up to monitor drivers and equipment, they can’t catch everyone,” Schuelke said.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC at or (512) 476-4944.

Austin Car Wrecks — Austin Doesn’t Fare Well In Safe Driver Survey

Allstate recently released their 8th Annual “Best Driver’s Report.”  While Austin driver’s weren’t the worst in the country, they were way down the list.  Austin ranked 149 out of the 200 cities surveyed (and sadly, this was an improvement over last year).   According to the survey, Austin drivers were about 24% more likely to be in car wrecks than the national average.

According to the report, Austinites, on average, are in a car wreck every 8.1 years.


Age May Be a Factor in Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury

New evidence shows brain trauma healing rates in children may not be predictable.

There is good news and bad news on the horizon for child victims of brain trauma. The bad news is recent studies suggest it is difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy how well the children will do in the long term, despite a higher survival rate.

Over the years, medical technology has improved so that children who sustain brain trauma now have a higher survival rate. The difficulty is no one is able to predict how they will fare in later years. Brain injuries in kids are very complex to monitor, as their brains are still in the process of growing and forming. Protecting them from further accidents and infections is a major priority.

The latest research, published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests the age of the child when injured may play a major role in recovery and that the common belief that younger brains are more elastic does not appear to be the case. What is painfully evident is that there is not enough information to formulate any solid theories about how to care for children with brain trauma or how to determine when and if to stop medical care.

The major issue when dealing with traumatic brain injuries in children appears to be what psychological issues they may sustain that do not manifest until later. When their motor skills recuperate, it may mask their psychological issues, largely because an injury at an early age may radically alter how the brain develops. While the recovery of motor skills is a cause for celebration, no one may notice the cognitive difficulties until further down the road.

The ongoing research into traumatic brain injury is encouraging in that it has the potential to open doors for adults and children. The good news is that there is more research into how head trauma affects children, as they are among the growing numbers of victims with brain injuries. Most children play a number of sports, such as hockey, football, soccer and volleyball. Each one of those sports has the potential for injury to occur.

One only has to look at the most recent lawsuits against the National Football League to know how playing football results in brain trauma or read about the suicides of sports figures whose constant exposure to concussions affected their ability to think normally. The world is not what it once was, and we need to look out for the younger crowd, as well as continue to make advances in medical science to treat head traumas in adults.

Head injuries are not just caused by playing sports. Many times a fall or an accident will result in brain damage. If that is the case, and you have been injured in an accident, seek the skills of an Austin personal injury lawyer who is familiar with handling head injury cases. He or she will know about the long-term effects of such an injury. Damages may be higher in traumatic brain injury cases. Speak to an Austin personal injury lawyer to find out what your rights are, and what to expect if you file a lawsuit.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at or (512) 476-4944.

Brooks on Judicial Tort Reform

We’ve been in trial so we haven’t had time to share this, but a week or so ago, Brooks was interviewed for an Austin YNN story about a recent case and judicial tort reform.  For some reason, YNN doesn’t allow the embedding of their stories, but you can watch the story  by clicking on this link:  Judicial Politics Leave Some Plaintiffs In Limbo.



Hit and Run Drunk Driver Kills Pedestrian

Texan arrested in fatal hit and run was driving under the influence.

“In this case, two brothers were walking beside I-37 when one of them was hit by a blue Chrysler PT Cruiser that took off. The man, a 39-year-old, died at the scene,” said Brooks Schuelke, a personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P in Austin, Texas.

The police had their work cut out for them, as eyewitness reports were unreliable. However, a break in the investigation came when a passenger in the PT Cruiser called police to tell them what happened. The witness said he was passed out in the passenger’s seat when he was startled awake by a loud crashing noise and was then showered in glass. Further investigation led to eventually identifying the Cruiser owner, a 32-year-old female, as the driver of the vehicle at the time of the accident. She was charged in connection with the incident.

“It was evident from the eyewitness report, and from other sources, that the Cruiser driver had been drinking the night of the hit and run. The woman was arrested and put in jail. In jail, she told a cellmate she had hit a man, after spending time in a bar, but that ‘he should not have been on the road in the first place,’” said Schuelke.

The wrongful death of the 39-year-old man was a sudden and horrific shock for his family. They are trying to pick up the pieces after their son’s death and are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit with the hope that what happened to their son will never happen to someone else.

“If you have been in an accident like this, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. They can advise you of your legal rights and explain what needs to be done, should you wish to file a lawsuit, either a personal injury or a wrongful death suit. Doing so may help you cope with your injuries or loss,” said Schuelke.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC at or (512) 476-4944.

Has Tort Reform Gone Too Far?

Of course it has, but we’ve been telling you that for years.

Now, it seems that others are starting to recognize it as well.  Late last week, the Houston Chronicle ran a column agreeing with what we’ve been telling you.  In it, the writer noted:

In Texas, we’re learning what happens when you can’t turn to a lawyer for help.  Two strong forces are making it nearly impossible to seek redress for injury in state courts: sweeping tort reform laws and a Texas Supreme Court with an activist conservative bent.  The results aren’t pretty.

The article notes that the two-pronged tort reform attack are killing 7th amendment rights to trial by jury.

And it’s not just a problem that plaintiff’s lawyers are talking about.  Law professors and even tea-party leaders are starting to be concerned. (I’ve actually written about both of these issues — including the same studies mentioned — for years.  See Judicial Tort Reform In Texas, The Vanishing Jury Trial and the Texas Supreme Court, The Vanishing Jury Trial Part 2, and A Tea Party Leader on Tort Reform. )

I wish I had time to write more about it, but I’m preparing for a trial.  But you can rest assured that with a new legislative session convening relatively soon, tort reform advocates will be at it again trying to take away more and more of your rights.  I hope you’ll stand up and protect yourself.


Car Wrecks: Good News/Bad News On Car Wreck Deaths

Late last week, Austin American Statesman writer Ben Wear had a great story on auto accident fatalities.

The good news: a Texas Department of Transportation report found that traffic fatalities in Texas have decreased by almost 15 percent since 2006.

The bad news: Texas is still significantly more dangerous than the United States as a whole.

There’s also a catch.  The improvement numbers are based on number of deaths per miles driven.  In 2010, Texas saw 3,028 traffic deaths, equating to 1.29 deaths per 100 million miles driven.  In 2006, the death rate was 1.5 deaths per 100 million miles driven.  I haven’t been able to find raw data on the actual number of traffic fatalities in 2006, but given the states’ increased population growth and increasing miles driven, I am guessing that the actual number of deaths were pretty similar for both years.

The other bad news:  There wasn’t a decline in highway deaths 2011.  The number of US highway traffic fatalities decreased for much of the country, but the numbers for Texas stayed flat.

Generally, the number of deaths should be decreasing.  Vehicly safety has improved significantly; people are getting better about wearing seat belts; there is increased awareness about drunk driving and distracted driving.

One reason that Texas may not be improving as much as the rest of the country is the trucking industry.   With I35 being a huge trucking corridor and the increased number of trucks in the South Texas area due to the resurgence of the oil and gas industry in Eagle Ford shale areas, Texas has a disproportionate number of trucks and big rigs on the road, increasing the likelihood of fatal accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a traffic accident, please allow us the opportunity to help by calling (512)476-4944 or submitting a case using the forms on this site.

Nanotechnology May Revolutionize Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment Protocols

Exciting new technology may hold the key to better treatment for brain injuries.

An exciting development in science is the increasing use of innovative technology in the medical health field. The latest new research, being conducted by the Department of Defense, deals with using nanotechnology to treat a wide range of injuries from infections to traumatic brain injury and treat them more rapidly than is possible now.

The project, referred to as In Vivo Nanoplatforms for Therapeutics, hopes to create a vehicle to deliver various forms of medications and other treatments. This is the stuff science fiction is made of, but it has the potential to become reality. The idea behind this project is to use new classes of nanoparticles, capable of sensing a patient’s physiological well-being, to treat abnormalities and other conditions. Even though this may be reminiscent of the best stories in the world of fiction, the potential is mind-blowing.

A particle, when referring to this kind of technology, is a small object considered to be and to act like a whole unit as it relates to its properties and transport capabilities. A nanoparticle is the smallest of the small particles and has a wide variety of potential for use within not only the human body to deliver various payloads but in the optical field.

The most exciting potential is the possibility that these nanoparticles may help revolutionize the treatment protocol for traumatic brain injury, especially for soldiers returning from war. There is talk of coating these particles with a type of ribonucleic acid (RNA) because the smaller molecules are capable of binding to other messenger RNA molecules to deliver what they are carrying internally to its end destination.

The key to the effectiveness of this technology is that the payload injected into an individual’s body targets the disease process and halts it by delivering therapeutic but passive ultrafine particles that reduce side effects and prevent an immune system response. While this idea itself is not new, it is going beyond the original nanoscale systems created to monitor soldiers’ health and body systems. The hope is to move forward into diagnosing and treating.

This future-looking technology may be an important partner to those who have been exposed to improvised explosive devices during the course of their tour of duty overseas. The military does have a blast gauge attached to helmets, a vehicle or personal gear that is capable of measuring the amount of exposure a solider gets in the vicinity of an explosion; this helps in diagnosing brain injuries more accurately. However, if the nanoparticle technology is as successful as hoped, the lives of soldiers who sustain brain trauma may improve significantly.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at or (512) 476-4944.

Schuelke Law maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke

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