October 2014 Archives

"Caps" on Damages Ruin Health Care

Three new studies in the field of medical malpractice research have confirmed that "caps" lead to more medical errors, higher health care costs, and no increase in patient care physician numbers. The study analyzed states that enacted caps within the last ten years with data before and after the cap with states that had not enacted a cap. From this data, researchers discovered that states that had enacted caps had an increase in medical errors compared to control states, with patient safety generally decreasing. They inferred that this would lead to more medical malpractice cases. Secondly, they discovered that cap states had no impact on Medicare Part A (hospital) spending, but lead to 4-5% higher Medicare Part B (physician) spending. They attributed this to physicians practicing riskier medicine in "cap" states. Lastly, the authors note that cap states did not see a rise in physician supply. "We find no evidence that the adoption of damage caps increased physician supply in nine new-cap states, relative to twenty no-cap states." Medical malpractice caps are not good for patients nor do they help attract more doctors.

U.S. Government Estimates that Nearly 8 Million U.S. Vehicles Equipped with Dangerous Airbags

Following recent lawsuits in Florida and Texas, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that at least 7.78 million vehicles are equipped with faulty Takata airbags. The recent airbag crisis has prompted a nationwide response, including calls for increased scrutiny from members of Congress and federal regulators urging U.S. vehicle owners to act immediately to replace defective air bags.

Bike Helmets Recalled

The cycling company, Louis Garneau Sports, has issued a recall for one of their high end helmets. Garneau announced the recall of its P-09 helmet, model number 1405362, earlier this month. The P-09 retails from $280.00 to $350.00. The helmet was originally manufactured in China in January 2014. The P-09 initially passed all safety tests performed internally by Garneau and externally by other independent laboratories. Based on these initial results, the P-90 was CPSC certified and made available for consumer use. However, the P-09 failed subsequent testing, leading Garneau to issue a recall.

Distracted Drivers

Multitasking has become second nature while driving an automobile, especially as technological advances make it much easier for motorists to perform several activities at once. Although it seems to be common knowledge that using your phone while driving is an unsafe practice, the number of accidents related to distracted driving is steadily increasing. According to a 2014 study released by the Texas Department of Transportation, 549 people died in Texas in 2013 due to automobile collisions caused by distracted drivers. This number has increased 4 percent since 2012. The report also noted that drivers who use cellular phones while driving are four times more likely to get into an accident than those who do not.

RRC Report Finds Multiple Safety Violations in Home Propane Explosion

The Texas Railroad Commission issued a report last week after investigating a June explosion at the Elgin, Texas home of Marcus and Victoria Newman, which destroyed the Newmans' home and severely burned their 17-year-old son, Marcus. The RRC, which includes home propane distribution as part of its energy regulation portfolio, found several safety violations, including a failure by the company that serviced the Newmans' propane tank to conduct a required inspection.

Honda Vehicles Recalled Due to Defective Air Bags

On October 20, 2014, Toyota Motor Corporation recalled 247,000 vehicles in the United States due to potentially defective air bags manufactured by Takata Corporation. Since 2008, more than 16 million vehicles have been recalled globally because of defective Takata air bags.

Grease Gun Injuries May Result in Traumatic Limb Loss

Grease guns are a commonly used tool to deliver grease to moving parts in various industries. Unfortunately, the high-powered nature of the guns results in occasional injections into the body. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of grease gun injuries end in amputation of an entire limb if the victim does not seek immediate treatment.

California Enacts New Bike Safety Law

Houston has already enacted a city ordinance ordering vehicles to maintain a certain distance from cyclists when driving behind or passing them on the road. Now California has enacted a similar statewide law. The California "Three Feet for Safety Act" requires drivers of motor vehicles to do exactly what you would expect which is to stay at least 3 feet away from cyclists when driving behind or attempting to pass a bicyclist on a California road. If the road or traffic does not allow for a three-foot safety barrier, the driver must slow to a speed that is reasonable and/or prudent. The old state law had similar language although it did not specify a distance to maintain or use the terms reasonable or prudent to describe the necessary speed reduction.

Sports Causing Traumatic Brain Injuries

As the school year progresses it is important for parents and children to understand the potential dangers surrounding sports and recreational activities. Some common types of sports injuries are broken bones, muscle strains, abrasions, and head traumas or concussions. Traumatic brain injuries ("TBI") may be the most serious of these injuries because they are not as apparent. Some of the most common activities associated with TBI are football, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, and playground activities.

Texas Supreme Court Hears Case Regarding Seatbelts

Last week the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding whether or not evidence of not using a seat belt should be admissible to mitigate damages. The case before the Supreme Court of Nabors Well Services, LTD v. Asuncion Romero, Et. Al. involves a collision between a tractor-trailer rig and a Chevrolet Suburban. The petitioners would like to introduce evidence that will show that some of the respondents were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident. The lower court did not allow such evidence to be introduced.

Houston Appellate Court Holds that Policy Misrepresentation Claims Need Not Be Severed from Underinsured Motorist Claims

In an opinion issued today, the Texas First Court of Appeals in Houston held that the trial judge in an underinsured motorist insurance case did not abuse his discretion by declining to sever and abate the plaintiff's claims under the Texas Insurance Code for misrepresentation of policy terms. This case is a significant development in an area where such "extra-contractual" claims have routinely be held to be severable.

Wind Blows Bounce House Away, Injuring 2 Toddlers

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, an inflatable bounce house in New Hampshire was lifted from the ground and flew some 40 feet across a farm before crashing down and injuring two toddlers who were inside. The two boys inside had climbed into the bounce house at Sullivan Farm in Nashua, NH.

Five Year Old Injured by an Allegedly Defective T-Ball Bat

Daniel, five years old, and his older brother were swinging a telescopic plastic T-ball bat inside their home when the toy came apart and a jagged piece of plastic gashed his face. Daniel required more than 300 stitches to repair the U-shaped gash between his eyebrow and down his nose.

8 States Hold That Caps On Non-Economic Damages Are Unconstitutional

Florida is the eighth state to find caps on non-economic damages are unconstitutional in medical malpractice cases. Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington have all struck down medical malpractice damage caps. Texas has very strict caps on medical malpractice suits that were enacted into law as part of the Tort Reform legislation. In its ruling the Florida Supreme Court held that the cap "offends the fundamental notion of equal justice under the law."

Dangers of Maritime Collisions

Maritime collisions can produce substantial property damage as well as injuries, and even death. Often, we think of such crashes in the context of commercial shipping. But, yesterday, a grand jury did not issue any indictments in a boating collision that involved pleasure craft.

Rise in Texas Traffic Deaths tied to Increase in Oil and Gas Boom

Since 2008, Texas experienced an oil and gas boom with an increase in highway deaths related to drilling activities.

Houston Cyclist Dies in a Hit and Run

Jose Mendez-Manzano, a 63-year-old cyclist and fresh produce vendor, was killed in a hit and run accident on Saturday. Eduardo Torres, age 30, was charged with failure to stop and render aid. Houston police say Torres turned himself in days after the accident. However, this was not until after bicyclists involved with Bike Houston and Ghost Bike, a group known for its memorials throughout Houston marking the locations of fatal bike accidents, put up posters describing the hit and run. Members of Ghost Bike acquired photos of Eduardo Torres' pickup. The photos showed Torres' pickup truck fleeing the scene of the accident. The witnesses who took the photos were initially reluctant to come forward and speak with police.

What to do if you smell natural gas?

It seems like every day there's another story on the news about a gas leak and an explosion. Whether the leak is in a home, a business, or in a pipe in the backyard, it's extremely important to know what to do if you smell gas.

Parents Sue Houston Second Baptist Church Over Youth Pastor Rape Conviction

According to the Houston Chronicle, the parents of a teenage girl have filed suit against two well-known Houston churches, Second Baptist Church and Community of Faith Church. Both parents are claiming that the religious organizations were negligent by employing and failing to properly supervise a youth pastor, Chad Foster, who was previously convicted of sexually soliciting their underage daughter while working there. In 2013, Foster pleaded guilty and was also convicted of sexual assault of a completely different minor, receiving five years in prison.

Offshore Accidents

As the exploration for oil and gas continues to widen, accidents, injuries, and deaths related to this industry are likely to rise. Serious injuries at offshore sites can be attributed to transportation, falling objects, equipment malfunction, explosions, electrical fires, among other things.

Injured by the Government? Things to Remember

The aftermath of an auto accident is always a stressful time, particularly if you've been injured. At the same time that you are worrying about your injuries, seeing doctors, trying to get your car fixed (or worse, having to get a new car), and arranging alternative transportation, you have to deal with an insurance company to figure out who will be paying for it all. While this can be tricky when you are in an accident with a private citizen or business, there are even more pitfalls if you are in an accident with a government vehicle like a police car, ambulance, or city bus.

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

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  • $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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