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November 2016 Archives

Coexistence of Traditional and Driverless Cars

Autonomous driving technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years, but Mercedes CEO Dietmar Exler says that doesn't mean everyone will be in such vehicles. Traditionalists are estimated to still be driving among the robotic counterparts for at least two decades after they hit the streets, and while the new cars will be programmed to avoid collisions at all costs, humans are still not up to par. Be it phones, emotions, poor vehicle care, or any other distraction, humans simply do not meet the same black and white priorities a computer does. On top of this, the CEO claims that humans will take advantage of the safety-first mandate. With sensors to initiate stops, Mr. Exler claims that humans will actively target autonomous cars to get ahead in traffic.

Two Fatalities in the News

Two fatal motor vehicle collisions are in yesterday's news. And one of them involves another hit-and-run.

Airbag Software Defect Leads to General Motors Recall

General Motors Co. is recalling more than 4 million vehicles to fix an airbag software defect that has already been linked to one death and three injuries. 3.6 million of the 4.28 million vehicles involved are in the U.S. and are all from the 2014-2017 model years.

Deadly Bus Crash

On Monday, November 21, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a school bus carrying dozens of elementary school children crashed into a tree. As a result of the crash, five young children lost their lives. Six children are hospitalized in an intensive care unit, and six more children are hospitalized but in stable conditions. The children ranged from kindergarten to fourth grade.

Bar in Spring, Texas Settles Dram Shop Lawsuit

In July of 2012, Ed Blackwell was driving in Spring, Texas when he entered the southbound lanes of Interstate 45 near Woodlands Parkway. He then suddenly made a sharp U-Turn and began travelling north in the southbound lanes. Shortly thereafter, he crashed into a car occupied by Anis Atkins and Dominique Hobbs. As a result of the crash, Atkins and Hobbs died. Stephen Isbell, a passenger in Blackwell's vehicle, also lost his life as a result of the collision. At the time of the crash, Blackwell's blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit. Prior to getting in the car, Blackwell and Isbell were drinking at Papa's Ice House in Spring.

Problems Continue to Grow for Samsung

After the widely reported recall of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 became known to the public several owners of Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge have complained that the Oculus app on their device is affecting their phone's battery life. Users say the app is causing their device's CPU to run very high, which is also happening when the app is not being used. This problem prevents the phone from shifting to sleep mode and also interrupts other apps.

Two Pedestrians Killed in Motorcycle Accident

A man and woman were pronounced dead Thursday night after being hit by a motorcycle on the Galveston seawall. While Police do not believe alcohol was a factor, the investigation into the accident is ongoing. The pedestrians were crossing the street at an unprotected crossing at the time. Fault has yet to be determined because the motorcycle riders were also taken to the hospital in critical condition

"Advances" from Employers of Injured Jones Act Seamen

When a seaman is hurt at work, many employers seek to avoid responsibility by paying "advances" while the seaman is recovering and undergoing medical treatment. By law, the employer of an injured Jones Act seaman is required to pay that seamen maintenance and cure benefits. At the end of a case, employers are not permitted reimbursement for proper maintenance and cure benefits. However, if an employer characterizes payments as "advances," then the company can try to get repaid that money out of any settlement or amount a jury may award at trial.

Recent Samsung Product Recalls

Samsung alongside the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recalling 2.8 million top loading washing machines after reports of about 730 exploding. Many more reportedly fell apart due to excessive vibration, and there have been 9 serious injuries so far as a result. While none of these injures were fatal, they have varied from broken jaws to shoulders and backs being slammed by machine doors being blown off. One woman was nearly injured with her 4-year-old son in her arms and described the sound akin to a bomb going off beside her. Production for affected machines has been completely halted, while the class action lawsuit filed in August alleges that Samsung knew of the complication for years. The recall affects 34 models sold from March 2011 to November 2016.

"Grim Milestone": 16 Years Without a Traffic-Fatality-Free Day in Texas

On November 7, the Texas Department of Transportation marked a "grim milestone": "At least one person has died each and every day on Texas roads since November 7, 2000." That is sixteen years, or 5,845 days, without a day where no one has died in a motor vehicle crash in Texas. TxDOT has created an "#EndTheStreakTX" social media campaign to educate drivers "in an effort to end this tragic trend."

Deadly Explosion

On Wednesday, August 10, 2016, seven people were killed following a fatal explosion and fire at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Springs, Maryland. The incident left an additional twenty-five individuals injured and as many as 150 displaced. Even worse, of the seven people who died, two were children.

Teen Killed After Football Head Injury

On October 22, 2015, Andre Smith, then aged 17, suffered a blunt force trauma injury to his head during a football game. He died the next day. His mother has sued the manufacturer of his football helmet and the Chicago Board of Education.

Frontline Strategies to Reduce Misdiagnosis in Hospitalized Patients

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Institute of Medical Education Research Rotterdam, Erasmus MC have proposed a pragmatic framework of strategies to reduce errors of diagnosis in hospitalized patients. While work in the outpatient setting estimates that 1 in 20 U.S. adults are misdiagnosed annually, researchers don't really know how common these errors are in U.S. hospitals. Some data is available from autopsies, but they are often not performed. In order to devise practical strategies to reduce errors in hospital medicine, the study used insights from error analysis to identify improvement opportunities within each of the five dimensions of diagnosis.

Lawsuits Filed in Connection with Silver Springs Apartment Explosion

On August 10, 2016, in Silver Springs, Maryland, an apartment fire and explosion resulted in the deaths of seven people. The fire and explosion also injured more than thirty people and displaced more than eighty families. Officials reported that the natural gas explosion occurred in the meter room of the Flower Branch apartment complex. After the explosion, there was a natural gas-fed fire that consumed the apartments above and adjacent to the source of the fire.

Pedestrian Killed Trying to Cross the Street

A man was killed Saturday night after he was hit by a car while trying to cross South Gessner, authorities said. The collision happened just before midnight, the 66-year-old was walking south across the eastbound lanes in the 8600 block when a 29-year-old in a Chevy Malibu crashed into him, a police spokeswoman said Sunday. The driver said he didn't see the pedestrian come out of the middle median until it was too late to stop, according to initial reports. The driver was not arrested for this incident and the cause of why he did not see the man is not known. One of those reasons could be was that the driver was distracted. Unfortunately, we know people who drive while on the cellphone or are distracted by some new gadget.

The Dangers Motorcyclists Face

Riding a motorcycle puts the rider at more risk than all other vehicles. This doesn't mean that people riding motorcycles are poor drivers or somehow it's their fault they were hurt. People can point back and forth as to the cause of the wreck, but it's not who caused the wreck as much as can the motorcyclist survive it? One of the main reasons motorcyclists are killed in crashes is because the motorcycle itself provides virtually no protection in a crash. For example, approximately 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death; a comparable figure for automobiles is about 20 percent. NHTSA data from 2007 reveals that there are over four million motorcycles registered in the United States. Motorcycle fatalities represent approximately five percent of all highway fatalities each year, yet motorcycles represent just two percent of all registered vehicles in the United States.

Pedestrian Struck and Killed by a Driver in North Houston

On the evening of Saturday, October 29, 2016, a pedestrian crossing the street in North Houston was fatally injured by a driver who failed to stop at a red light on the service road of I-45. The driver also struck another vehicle. Police suspect the driver was undergoing an undisclosed medical condition at the time, and was not intoxicated.

Two German Maritime Shipping Companies Plead Guilty to Environmental Crimes

On October 25, 2016, two German shipping companies pleaded guilty to environmental crimes for using what is commonly referred to as a "magic pipe" to discharge pollutant-laden waste into waters of the United States. The companies, which owned and operated the M/V Nils B, acknowledged that they used a black hose to dump used fuel oil and lubricating oil. Such discharging activities are prohibited by United States and international law due to serious negative environmental impacts. The companies and the United States have agreed to recommend that the court impose a criminal penalty of $750,000.00. The case is pending before the Honorable Jan M. Adler in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

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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    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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