Serious Personal Injury May Happen While Texting And Walking

No doubt you have seen the video of the woman texting and falling into a fountain at a shopping mall. While the video was funny and no one was serioiusly hurt, the ramifications for texting and walking have the potential to be fatal.

It used to be that everyone got to where they were going by just walking there. If they had anything to say to the person when they arrived, that was when the conversation took place. Cell phones had not yet been invented, and no one seemed to miss being out of touch with others. It was just the way life was back then. Now, with the advent of cell phones that do just about everything, staying in touch is not only easy, it may also kill.

Many people do not see the harm in texting while walking. After all, they are safe on the sidewalk, mall or wherever they happen to be headed. But, are they? Consider the case of the young teen who was texting her boyfriend about their planned date, when she walked out between two parked cars, right into the path of an 18-wheeler. The cell phone survived the impact. The young girl did not. Was her life worth texting dangerously?

What about the case of the young man who was walking down the stairs at work and texting his buddy about their weekend plans? Because he was not paying attention to where he was walking, he missed the last two steps, fell hard and hit his head on a cement floor. His cell phone survived the impact. He sustained traumatic brain injury. Was his forever altered life worth texting dangerously?

If you do not think texting and walking is a big deal, because maybe, nothing has ever happened to you, consider the emergency room statistics across the U.S. that show over 1,000 pedestrians have needed emergency medical care because of texting and walking accidents. Each year, the numbers go up, not down. While texting and walking is not a smart thing to do, texting and driving is markedly worse, as you can kill someone else by negligently not paying attention to the road. Be smart and above all, be safe.

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

Gas station lies about selling booze and jury returns 15 million dollar verdict in wrongful death case

Sometimes it is the little things in life that, once discovered, change the outcome of a trial.

This particular case took seven years to finally offer the family some sense of closure over the death of their 13-year-old son. The young boy was killed in a car wreck, as the drunken driver of the vehicle lost control and slammed into a tree. The car was full of teens that had been partying and everyone was inebriated. In fact, the group of friends had been going back and forth to a local convenience store that fateful night, buying booze.
They didn’t buy booze just once. They ultimately came to the gas bar and convenience store three times that night, stocking up on more alcohol each time. In short, the gas bar was selling liquor to underage minors. However, it wasn’t until the last few years that they finally admitted they had sold the kids booze. For years they denied the sales had ever happened.

When the case got to trial, the jury was angry that the former owners of the store had blatantly lied about the role they played in the deadly accident. It appeared they did not want to admit they had illegally sold alcohol to minors and that in doing so had precipitated the death of a young boy and created the perfect storm of events that would seriously injure three other teens. The jury handed down a $15 million verdict.

Although the young boy’s family was relieved to have the case finally resolved, they didn’t care that much about the jury award. The main reason they went to court was to try and ensure that others would get the message that it is dangerous to sell alcohol to minors. Nothing would bring the young boy back, but perhaps the fact that the former owners were held responsible for his death would demonstrate that such actions are illegal, immoral and unethical, and that eventually, those who sell to minors or over-serve those already drunk will be held responsible for their negligence.

Wrongful death lawsuits are usually not about revenge. They are a vehicle to make a point and get a message heard. They are one way for a grieving family to achieve some form of closure. If you have been in a situation similar to this one, make contact with an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer. You need to know what your legal rights are and what to expect should your case go to trial.

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

Should Facebook be used during a wrongful death trial?

Is using Facebook during a wrongful death trial an ethics issue or a legal issue?

This is one of those cases that make waves — not so much for the case itself, but for the presence of and use of social media during a trial by the jury foreman.

The case itself related to the wrongful death of a woman at the hands of a medical practitioner. The statement of claim filed on behalf of the plaintiffs in 2009, alleged careless and negligent treatment of their mother in 2008. The sons were under the age of 18 at the time the lawsuit was filed, and therefore the father filed on their behalf. They also asked the court for damages in excess of $25,000.

The case did go to trial in Oct 2012, and the jury found in favor of the defendants, and further awarding court costs to the plaintiffs. Many thought that would be the end of the case. It wasn’t. About a month later, the plaintiff’s attorney filed a motion for a new trial. Evidently one member of the jury did not reveal, despite being questioned, that she and her deceased husband had arterial stents. There was also the matter of the court possibly erring by denying the plaintiffs five challenges to ineligible and unqualified jurors from the pool.

Those issues aside, the biggest objection, and leading reason to call for a new, fair trial, was the jury foreman’s use of social media during the course of the trial. He regularly posted on Facebook about being on the jury, made jokes about wanting booze and about how he was instrumental in getting a verdict delivered in under an hour.

On review by a judge, who commented the actions of the jury foreman were not pleasing to the court, the finding for the defendant was allowed to stand. It was allowed to stand because despite the man openly using social media to tell the whole world about his part in the trial, he did not reveal any case details, discuss any of the evidence presented in court and did not express an opinion on the case. This case may yet move forward to a higher court to determine the role of social media use in court cases and what is or is not acceptable for jurors while on duty during a trial.

While this might seem like a minor issue, because everyone uses social media these days and thinks nothing of it, it has ramifications beyond the obvious. Court cases are not to be discussed in public. Evidence is not to be openly talked about in social media settings. Opinions or thoughts relating to the trial, the facts, the deceased or the defendant are not public fodder. Talking about a trial in progress could prejudice the outcome and drastically affect the course of justice. Because those instructions, to not speak about the deliberations are so important, this case is contrary to a number of cases around the country that have resulted in new trials due to jurors’ use of social media.

Social media is far too prevalent in this day and age, and there are just some places it should not be allowed.

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

Texas employers must report workplace injuries and illness

If you work in Texas, it is the law that employers report all injuries and illnesses.

If you have been injured on the job in Texas, or become ill as a result of conditions in your workplace, your employer is obligated to file an OSHA 300 Log. The log must offer a complete picture of the accident and contain the identity of the worker involved, complete details of the incident, where it happened, what kind of injury was sustained and how many days the worker missed due to the injury.

This section, relating to how many days are missed, is where things get a bit complicated. Although the method of calculation is laid out in 29 Code of Federal Regulations, section 1904.7(b)(2), trying to decipher what it means usually requires the services of an experienced Austin injury lawyer. The guidelines basically cover how to take into account holidays, temporary plant closures, layoffs and weekends. There are often difficulties in assessing the number of days a worker misses, due to how the employer may interpret the regulations. If your injury keeps you off the job for over 180 days, your employer does not need to keep any further records.

Keep in mind that an injury or illness needs to meet certain criteria before it may be filed. For a log to be kept, the injury/illness must be related to work, must be new, not a re-injury, and it must be classified as significant, on the basis of a doctor’s diagnosis. Furthermore, the injury must result in loss of consciousness, medical intervention greater than just first aid, time off work, job restrictions, or a transfer to another job and/or death.

When it comes to significant workplace injuries, medical expenses can be staggering, and any injured worker would likely be looking for a way to obtain compensation. In Texas, there are a number of ways to get compensation, and discussing what those routes are is vital when you reach out to talk to an Austin injury lawyer.

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not always provide you with the amount that you deserve, according to the severity of your injury. Additionally, if your injury is the result of someone’s intentional negligence or the result of some form of misconduct by your employer, full financial recovery is possible through filing a personal injury lawsuit.

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

Van versus bicycle accident results in $2.3 million wrongful death lawsuit verdict

A 52-year-old man was hit by a van belonging to a hotel corporation, driven by a hotel employee.

This case was about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A 52-year-old man was out riding his bicycle early in the evening in September 2008, when he was struck by a van being driven by an employee of one of the local hotels. At trial, the van driver and the hotel corporation were found equally liable in a civil suit filed by the family of the deceased bike rider.

The bike rider was not wearing a helmet at the time of impact, and he was ejected from his bike, slamming into the pavement, sustaining serious traumatic brain injuries. Although he made it to the hospital alive, and survived emergency surgery, he died three days later. He left behind a wife and three sons.

The jury ruled that the bike rider and the van driver were both at fault for the accident. However, the van driver and therefore the driver’s hotel employer were responsible for 58 percent of the negligence in the accident. The cyclist was deemed to be 42 percent responsible, as no one could ascertain for sure if he had obeyed a stop sign prior to the collision. It was determined that the van driver did not have a stop sign, but also revealed that he was traveling 40 mph in a 25 mph zone.

Other evidence that came to light during the trial determined that the van driver may also have been using a cell phone just prior to the impact; a violation of state law. The driver denied that he was on his phone. In assessing the case, the jury awarded $1,709,840 in damages to the estate of the deceased cyclist and $580,000 in damages to the widow, who had asked the court to award expenses for medical bills, funeral and burial costs, lost wages and the permanent loss of her husband’s earning ability, companionship and moral support. The deceased had been a doctor in his native homeland.

Most wrongful death lawsuits are not about exacting revenge. They are about making sure something horrible does not happen to someone else’s family. They are about seeking compensation in order to be able to move forward with their lives. They are about trying to heal and deal with the sudden loss of income provided by the deceased who died a wrongful death.

None of these cases are easy, and many of them take a number of months, if not years to get through court. This is why a family who has lost someone in such a manner needs to seek compassionate and experienced legal counsel from an Austin personal injury lawyer. Assessing damages in cases like this is part of the experience counsel needs to help a family get the compensation they deserve. A seasoned personal Austin injury lawyer will get the family through their ordeal with as little anxiety and grief as possible.

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

This case is an example of a personal injury case and not one of our firm’s cases.

Increased big rig speed on highways may account for more accidents

The good news is that the number of car accidents has gone down. The bad news is that the number of big rig wrecks is on the rise.

There are a number of factors at play during a car accident — anything from texting while driving to mechanical failure. And yet, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is indicating that fatal accidents are down 1.9 percent since 2010. This is good news. The bad news is that on the other side of the statistics column is an increase in truck accident deaths.

A closer look at the car collision numbers indicates that for the first time since 1949, when these types of figures were first recorded, U.S. car accidents are at an all-time low. In 2011, there were 32,367 deaths, and while this sounds on the high side, it is much lower that previous years, sparking hope that drivers are getting the message to drive with due care and attention.

As for tractor trailer units, or big rigs, between 2010 and 2011, the number of fatal accidents jumped by 20 percent— from 530 in 2010 to 635 in 2011. Anytime figures like this take a jump, it is not a good sign. Although these numbers relate to fatal accidents, the number of injury accidents involving trucks also shot up by 15 percent. The cause is a mystery. However there are many industry pundits, and those in law enforcement, that speculate when speed limits for trucks were raised, more accidents followed. Add in the fact that there are now more trucks on the road than ever, and the results may be self-explanatory.

It’s not just speed that kills.  Drivers on the highways need to be aware that truckersare human. This opens the door for things like speeding, texting while driving, falling asleep while behind the wheel, distracted driving, improperly lashed down loads, or the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The causes are many. The results, should something go wrong, are a disaster.

It’s a fact that when a passenger vehicle gets into an accident with a large transport truck, that the truck wins. There are very few survivors in an accident such as this, and those who do make it out alive, are seriously injured to the extent that their lives may never be the same again – ever. They face years of medical care, pain, suffering, depression and rehabilitation— an expensive proposition to say the least.

If you have been involved in an accident with a big rig, reach out and contact an experienced Austin injury lawyer. If you want compensation for your injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and so on, an Austin injury lawyer is the one to take your case to court— your voice seeking justice when you need it the most.

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

Toddler run over by truck does not survive

When an emergency call goes out for help involving a child, the crews know it will be a tough call.

This story had one of the worst endings possible, the death of a toddler. A three-year-old boy was run over by a truck backing up through a parking lot. For some reason, like most small children do, the boy bolted away from his mother and ran off. A short time later, a truck ran him over. Although the boy was only pinned under the truck for a short period of time, it was enough for him to sustain life-threatening injuries. He died at the hospital later that day.

Stories like this bring home the very real safety issues that we all need to be concerned about. Small children simply do not understand why they can’t run free in places like parking lots, and drivers in those lots, and other locations need to be on constant alert to avoid accidents like this one. Drivers need to be even more cautious during holiday seasons, as there are far too many distractions for everyone.

Although many people condemn the use of child leashes as being inhumane and humiliating, a restraint such as that would have saved this boy’s life. Perhaps the most important thing to consider in keeping a child safe is not what looks odd or punitive, but what will keep them alive when they are out in dangerous situations, even if they are with a parent.

Being with his mother in the parking lot did not help this three-year-old, and once he had broken free from his mother, there was no way she could catch up to him before the accident. It’s a devastating blow to watch a child get run over, not only for the parents, but for the driver that struck the boy.

In this instance, there will be more questions to answer before the police get a clear picture of how this misfortune happened. For instance, was the driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Was the driver texting while driving? Or otherwise distracted and not paying attention? Not to mention the biggest question of why was the truck driving backwards through a crowded parking lot? It is not clear whether charges will be laid, but should law enforcement discover the truck driver could have avoided the accident, but for a negligent action, there may be charges pending.

In a wrongful death case such as this, parents may wish to speak with an Austin injury lawyer. They need to know what their rights are and how to move forward with a lawsuit seeking compensation for the sudden death of their loved one. Avoid dealing directly with insurance companies, as their main goal is to settle quickly and cheaply. They do not consider the agony of the parents. They are more interested in their fiscal bottom line. Take any questions about personal injury accidents to an Austin injury lawyer, particularly if you want justice.

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

Former football player with Traumatic Brain Injury Related Dementia Takes his Own Life

Traumatic brain injury is often misunderstood because it is not seen. Only the symptoms indicate there is a problem.

The difficulty with traumatic brain injury is that many in the sports world still laugh about having their ‘bell rung.’ Many also pick up and get on with their game, not wanting to look less than macho on the field or ice. While macho might be fine for them, they are taking a huge risk with their mental and physical health. If you want to get up close and personal with a hockey player’s long journey to recovery from traumatic brain injury, search for information on Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Traumatic brain injury doesn’t just happen in hockey, as the story about Ray Easterling points out.

Just recently, defensive back Ray Easterling, best known for playing with the Atlanta Falcons in the late 70s, took his own life at the age of 62. On the field he took no prisoners and played hard; a real football hero with the right mix of aggression and intuition to make his sport seem effortless to others. He was watched with awe and envy by others wanting to be him when they grew up and went to college.

Easterling got banged up during his football years and suffered consecutive concussions that eventually led to mental difficulties for him. In 2011, he and six other former National Football League players filed a class-action lawsuit, suggesting the league withheld their knowledge of what frequent concussions would do to players.

Easterling, diagnosed with dementia last year, could not live with the changes he faced on a daily basis. He had struggled to deal with it, made changes to his life to work with it, and did the best he could to just be. He lost that battle one day, but his memory and his legacy lives on.

If anyone does not believe in the dramatic effect that serial concussions has on a person playing sports, you only have to read the stories of those dealing with the side effects now. While many currently involved in sports think that nothing like this could happen to them, they are wrong. It can happen to anyone, and the most frightening thing is that some concussions do not produce symptoms, but that does not mean internal brain damage has not been done.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of traumatic brain injury while playing sports, discuss your case with a qualified Austin personal injury lawyer. You need to know what options you have available, and how to move forward with your life. Be aware that traumatic brain injury happens in many other ways as well, such as motorcycle, bicycle, slip and fall accidents and exposure to concussive shock waves from explosions. If you are not sure if you have a case, contact a seasoned Austin personal injury lawyer and find out the lay of the land.

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

Bizarre Wrongful Death Case Arises in Tandem with a Near Death by Bombing

Human emotion often gets in the way of common sense. This case clearly demonstrates that premise.

This is a twisted tale of a doctor, convicted of a bombing that nearly killed the head of the state medical board. That alone would be incredible enough, but there is more to this story. The doctor also was in court dealing with a wrongful death lawsuit. He lost and had to pay $300,000 to the family of a former patient who died in his care. The patient had been prescribed at least ten different drugs before her death in 2003. Her autopsy revealed she died of multiple drug intoxication.

The doctor in question had his license to prescribe narcotics suspended by his state board after several of his patients died from fatal drug overdoses. That is the back story for the rest of this case. Once suspended, the physician then decided to bomb the home of the state medical board chairman, responsible for the sanction. It was retaliation in the extreme and nearly caused the chairman’s death.

The suspension of the doctor’s license to prescribe narcotics was not the first sanction he had received. The man had a history of walking on the wrong side of the state’s medical practices law. There were two further instances in 2003 and 2006, when the state board issued sanctions. The latest out-of-control bombing behavior landed the rogue physician in prison for life on a conviction of a weapon of mass destruction count, among other charges.

Not all wrongful death cases have stories such as this one, but one should be aware that wrongful death does come in many forms, such as a drug overdose or bombing. The way the wrongful death transpires is typically not the issue when a victim’s family speaks to an Austin personal injury lawyer. The issue is whether or not there was negligence involved in the death of the victim. If there was, someone must take the responsibility for that negligence and its consequences.

For someone who has been involved in a situation where they lost a loved one, suddenly and as the result of another’s negligence, don’t second guess the legal outcome. Reach out to an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer and talk about your situation. There are many things you will need to know to make an informed decision about moving forward.

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

Wrongful Death Lawsuits are Often Filed as a Result of a Crash involving a Negligent Driver

Big rigs do an enormous amount of damage when they hit another vehicle. This accident killed four.

This case did not have to happen, but for a trucker who ran a red light because he was in a hurry. That decision cost four women their lives. They were on their way home from a birthday party, when they were broadsided in the middle of an intersection – despite the fact they had the right of way and the green light. Four families were left in shock. Relatives of one of the deceased women chose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucker and his employer.

The statement of claim alleged that the trucker showed a wanton and willful disregard for the safety of others on the road. But more than that, the lawsuit outlines the trucking company had a history of leaky brakes on their rigs and a whole host of other mechanical issues that indicated poor and slipshod maintenance. In fact, the trucking company’s record for unsafe driving was cited as being far worse than 64.1 percent of all federally authorized trucking companies between 2009 and 2011, and its vehicle maintenance violations were worse than 71.4 percent.

The rig being driven that day was an accident looking for a place to happen. Whether or not the trucker did not stop because he wanted to get to where he was going sooner, or whether he elected not to stop because his brakes were not working, is a moot point. The decision to run the red light was negligent. The lawsuit seeks damages for pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of guidance, affection, support and companionship.

Will this case be successful? Chances are it will. The evidence is clear and compelling. The man ran a red light and was driving a poorly maintained truck with questionable brakes. He knew the rig was in poor shape, yet still drove it. His employer was also aware their semis were not properly maintained, and yet let them out on the road. It doesn’t much matter what the reasons were for why the trucker ran the red light. The fact is he did and that the resulting crash killed four innocent people.

Cases like this one are as near as one can get to being open and shut. The evidence speaks for itself and the Austin personal injury lawyer that handles this case knows precisely how to ensure the family gets justice. They have lost someone they loved and they don’t need to lose anything more, or be left in economic desperation by that loss. If you have been in a similar situation, do not hesitate to call a veteran Austin personal injury lawyer. That is their job, to help victims find some sense of closure and justice.

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

Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC 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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