August 2013 Archives

Texas Work-Related Deaths Increase by 20 Percent

Texas' work-related death toll jumped by over 20 percent last year, despite an overall decrease across the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas lost 531 workers in 2012 compared to 433 workers just the year before. At the same time, the total number of lives claimed on the job across the U.S. decreased from 4,693 to 4,383. While strides are being made nationally to improve workplace safety, Texas appears to be falling behind the 8-ball on keeping this state's workforce out of harm's way.

Dangers of Truck Wrecks

Two days ago, freeway traffic was snarled for hours after a multiple vehicle collision that involved a tractor-trailer. For most motorists, it caused frustration and delays during their commute time. However, for at least two people, it involved personal injuries that required emergency medical care.

Threat Of Water Contamination Enough To Ban Fracking

Mora County, New Mexico may have been one of the first communities in the United States to completely ban fracking - the use of water and chemicals to extract oil and gas from the earth - despite the economic benefits that it may have brought to this community of 5,000. Despite an unemployment rate of double the national average, the County decided that the threat of water contamination caused by fracking far outweighed the potential benefits of allowing hydraulic fracturing in the area.

Texting While Driving - New Liability for Remote Texter

It is common knowledge that a person who causes an accident because they were texting and driving is responsible for any injuries resulting from the accident. However, this week a New Jersey appeals court may have expanded that liability to the person sending the driver text messages, writing that "...a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving."

NHTSA Investigating SUVs After Vehicle Fires

According to the Associated Press, auto safety regulators are investigating complaints of ceiling fires in 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the probe covers an estimated 146,000 vehicles and investigators will determine if the problem is serious enough to warrant a recall.

Johnson & Johnson Considering Settling Hip Litigation

According to a recent article by Bloomberg, Johnson & Johnson has discussed paying more than $3 billion to settle lawsuits over its recalled hip implants. J&J seeks to resolve as many as 11,500 lawsuits in the U.S. and has considered paying more than $300,000 per case, according to some people close to the litigation. Michael Kelly, attorney for plaintiff Loren A $3 billion settlement would dwarf a 2001 accord Sulzer (SUN) agreement reached with patients who claimed that company's hip and knee implants were defective. Any settlement would be affected by the outcome of seven product-liability trials between September and January, according to the people, who aren't authorized to make the negotiations public.

Two Bus Rollovers within One Week

Within the past week there have been two serious bus rollover accidents. The first involved a senior citizen casino-bound tour bus on an interstate in California. This accident caused approximately 50 injuries. The second rollover accident caused approximately 20 injures to 6th grade Missouri school girls travelling to a school campout in northeast Kansas.

Changes to Low-Level Texas Courts Designed to Make Justice More Accessible to All

On August 31, 2013, small claims courts in Texas will merge with Justice courts, which are run by Justices of the Peace. Justices of the Peace have overseen the the small claims cases before, and the two dockets will now be merged. Under the merger, and in conjunction with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the Justices of the Peace will get more leeway in running small claims trials.

Golf Cart-Related Injuries and Deaths on the Rise

Last year, approximately 15,000 Americans were sent to the emergency room for injuries sustained in golf cart accidents. Unfortunately, this number is steadily increasing as golf carts today are used in a variety of settings, both on and off the golf course. In a study led by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, the number of golf cart-related injuries rose by a staggering 132% from 1990 to 2006.

Safety Fears at Trampoline Parks

According to the Associate Press, governmental entities have begun to look at regulating indoor trampoline parks due to the rate and severity of participant injuries. Stephen Merrill was finishing his freshman year of college two years ago when he and a group of friends went to an indoor trampoline park in Utah for a day of flipping, jumping, and bouncing.

Illinois Cornfield Goes Up In Flames After Natural Gas Pipeline Leak

Exploding cornfields are more often thought to be an event in a sci-fi movie than a real-life experience. But, residents in Eerie, Illinois who were as far as 20 miles from the epicenter of the blast saw just that: a cornfield going up in flames, with some flames reaching as high as 300 feet in the air. Pilots in the air while the fire was ablaze reported seeing flames from as far away as 160 miles.

Recent Fatality From Tire Failure

In the past week, another life was lost and two other people were injured in a crash caused by a tire failure. The collision further demonstrates the vital role played by tires in automotive safety, and the terrible results an unexpected failure can cause.

Toyota Recalls 340,000 Tacoma Trucks for Seat Belt Problem

Toyota has announced a voluntary recall of about 342,000 of its Tacoma pickup trucks. The recall affects the 2004 to 2011 Access Cab models with a small door to the rear passenger compartment. Toyota has issued the recall because of a flaw in the seat belts.

Houston Man Tasered for Months by Co-Workers Files Suit

Earlier this month, Bradley Jones, a 45 year-old Harris County resident filed suit against his former employer, Fred Fincher Motors, and two co-workers for repeatedly shocking him with a Taser gun. According to the lawsuit, Jones, who had been a car salesman for over four years at the Houston-based dealership, was repeatedly shocked for the past nine months before he filed charges for assault, battery, and failure to provide a safe workplace.

Truck Traffic Destroying Rural Roads In South Texas

The toll of a $61 billion economic boom in South Texas can be seen on city streets and rural roads that criss-cross and provide entry and exits to the Eagle Ford Shale play. "Our infrastructure is just not designed for the big trucks or the traffic that we have now," Nixon City Manager George Blanch commented to Austin's Your News Now.

Airline Offers $10,000 as Initial Compensation

According to Bloomberg, Asiana Airlines Inc. plans to pay initial compensation of $10,000 to each of the survivors. A spokesperson for the airline said the carrier may pay more after the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation into the accident. According to the airline, the survivors "need money to go to hospital or for transportation so we are giving them the $10,000 first," Lee said in a telephone interview. "Even if they are not hurt or they don't go to hospital, we will still give them this money."

Numerous Small Cars Fail Crash Tests

Front-end crash tests were recently conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Only six of 12 small cars performed at or above average in the front-end crash tests, and several popular models fared poorly. The two-door and four-door Honda Civic models earned the top rating of "good" in the safety evaluations. The Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and the 2014 Scion tC got "acceptable" ratings. Popular models like the Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic and the Volkswagen Beetle got "marginal" ratings, while the Nissan Sentra and the Kia Soul and 2014 Kia Forte were rated "poor." The Toyota Corolla was not tested because a new version is due in the fall. The Corolla is the number 2 selling small car in America, behind the Civic.

Study Shows Tort Reform Causes Little Change in Physicians' Practice

In a new study released by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), researchers believe that traditional malpractice reforms enacted by states, such as caps on damages that we have in Texas, do not actually change how physicians practice. In the August edition, it was noted that Medicare patients receive more diagnostic tests and emergency department referrals when treated by physicians who worry more about medical malpractice liability, regardless of whether the state in which they practice has adopted so-called medical malpractice tort reform.

Credit Report Company to Pay Millions for Inaccurate Credit Report

A jury has ordered Equifax to pay an unprecedented eighteen million dollars to an Oregon woman who spent over two years trying to get her credit report corrected.

Abraham Watkins Attorneys Ready to Go to Trial Despite National Trends

It is no secret that the number of cases that result in a jury trial has decreased dramatically over the past 20 years. Recent litigation surveys by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the number of civil cases going to trial has decreased by 40%. When cases do go to trial over 50% of the cases are ruled in favor of the Plaintiff.

Rise in Trucking Fatalities

The American Association for Justice recently issued a report showing that accidents involving big-rig trucks have increased, including those that caused death or serious bodily harm. In 2011, 3,757 people nationwide died in accidents with trucks, and Texas had the highest number of deaths at 381. Trucks currently represent 4.7% of all vehicles on the road, yet they account for 12.4% of all fatal collisions, and 83% of the time it is the occupants in the other vehicle to die rather than the truck driver.

Fatal Crashes Up 40 Percent in South Texas

Production of oil and gas is not the only thing on the rise in South Texas. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), fatal traffic wrecks have increased by 40 percent since last year in the Eagle Ford Shale region, a 20,000 square-mile area that runs from the Mexican border across 20 counties in South Texas. One of the major reasons for this increase, TxDOT officials report, is because of the large number of cars and commercial trucks that now occupy many of the deteriorating roads without shoulders that connect this rural region. Traffic Operations Division Director for TxDOT, Carol Rawson, estimates that roads that once carried 200 vehicles per day now have 2,400 vehicles traveling on them, most of which are 80,000 pound 18-wheeler trucks.

Supreme Court Overturns Ruling for Nursing Home Patient

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court of Texas overturned a decision issued by the court of appeals in favor of a nursing home patient who alleged that a nursing home had retaliated against her after her family complained about its conditions. The Court treated the claim like a medical malpractice case, and dismissed it because some of the many procedural rules governing medical malpractice cases were not addressed.

1 Million Pounds Of Propane Threatened Plant-Area Residents

The explosion of multiple propane tanks sounded like an array of bombs going off that lasted for almost 30 minutes according to residents near a Blue Rhino plant earlier this week. There were more than 53,000 20-pound propane tanks at the plant at the time of the explosion; the propane storage tanks at that location could hold up to 90,000 pounds of propane each.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

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  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

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