Archive for December, 2010

Fort Bend County deputy badly injured in car accident

Ford Bend County Sheriff’s deputy John Norsworthy was badly injured in a car accident Monday night while en route to back up another deputy on a traffic stop. The Fort Bend sheriff’s office is organizing a blood drive to help the injured lawman. The blood drive will be held at the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office at 1410 Williams Way Boulevard on Wednesday December 29th from 10:00am to 4:00pm and anyone aged 17-years or older can donate blood. Deputy Norsworthy was airlifted from the scene of the accident to Memorial Hermann Hospital downtown where he is being treated for a head injury and internal bleeding. Deputy Norsworthy is married and a father of two. Unfortunately car accidents are the leading cause of death and serious injury to law enforcement officers in the United States.

Fort Bend County Sheriff's Deputy John Norsworthy

City of Tomball enacts texting while driving ordinance

A law took effect in the City of Tomball, Texas today that prohibits texting while driving.  The law is Ordinance 2010-25. The obvious goal of the ordinance is to avoid car accidents and to promote drive safety. Tomball police are hoping motorists voluntarily comply with the ordinance, and anticipate having to enforce it through fines and other measures in egregious cases. Certainly Smith & Hassler applauds any such efforts to reduce the number of injuries caused by inattentive drivers on Texas roads.

The text of the ordinance can be viewed hereStory here

4-year old Houston boy injured by pit bull in dog bite incident

Houston police are reporting that a teenager took a pit bull dog from a neighbor’s apartment in Houston on Thursday; while the teenager was playing with the dog, a 4-year old boy shot a cap pistol at the dog.  The dog became agitated and bit the 4-year old on his face. The 4-year old was taken to a hospital and is expected to recover from his bite injury. The teenager who took the dog was arrested but police are not saying what charges he faces. Animal control took the dog into custody and will determine whether the dog can be returned to its owner or is too dangerous and needs to be euthanized.

Motorcyclist killed in crash exiting Northwest Freeway

News Channel 2 is reporting that a motorcyclist was killed today at the exit from the Northwest Freeway to Skinner Road in Houston.  Harris County Sheriff’s deputies say the rider lost control of his motorbike as he exited the Northwest Freeway at around 9:30am. The motorcyclist hit a guardrail and was thrown from the motorbike into a ditch. The rider was determined to be dead at the scene, his name has not been released.

Driver of Mustang charged in deadly car accident in Houston

On the night of Saturday December 11th a speeding Ford Mustang crashed into two other vehicles on the Eastex Freeway in Houston, killing one woman and seriously injuring two other motorists.  The 21-year old driver of the Mustang has been charged with intoxication manslaughter. Oscar Javier Sanchez was driving the white-colored Mustang southbound in the 7500 block of the Eastex Freeway when he smashed into a black Dodge Ram pickup truck, and then also crashed into a Dodge Avenger car, according to Houston Police Department spokesperson Keese Smith.  Tragically, a 21-year old female passenger of the Dodge Ram was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police arrested Sanchez at the scene.  The drivers of the Dodge Ram and Dodge Avenger were both taken to hospital with severe injuries.

Smith & Hassler extends its condolences to the family members of the deceased 21-year old passenger, whose family are no doubt devastated by this preventable tragedy.

2 students hurt when car crashes into Houston school bus

Thursday December 9, 2010: at approximately 7:30am an accident occurred on Fondren Road near Beltway 8 in Houston. A school bus was rear-ended by a Dodge Magnum station wagon.  The driver of the station wagon, who was not hurt, was given a citation for failure to control speed. The bus was loaded with kids who were being taken to Fort Bend I.S.D.’s Jones Elementary. Apparently the bus was at a dead stop when it was hit by the car: the driver was not watching where she was going. Two students were taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution.

Trial victory for Smith & Hassler in Houston car accident injury case

Smith & Hassler is pleased to announce a trial victory yesterday in an automobile accident injury case. The case is Cause No. 2009-38849; Pedro Arroyo v Jennifer Fares, In the 165th Judicial District Court, Harris County, Texas (Judge Josefina Rendon presiding). Some details of the case are discussed here: no attorney-client privileges are violated because the trial and the trial transcript are a matter of public record.

Smith & Hassler’s client, Mr. Pedro Arroyo, is a 40-year old self-employed construction worker with 3 children. On December 12, 2007 Mr. Arroyo was driving a Chevrolet van on the beltway 8 feeder road. When he reached the intersection of the beltway 8 feeder and Gulfbank, his van was struck by a 2006 Dodge Magnum station wagon driven by the defendant, Jennifer Fares, who was 19-years old at the time.

The impact was significant: both vehicles were badly damaged and had to be towed. Many of Mr. Arroyo’s construction tools that were in his van were damaged. The police investigated and Ms. Fares was issued a ticket for running the red light. An ambulance checked Mr. Arroyo out at the scene but he did not want to be transported because he was concerned about the safekeeping of his tools. After the collision Pedro had pain to his left knee, left elbow, neck and his low back.

The next day Mr. Arroyo saw a chiropractor at Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Center on FM1960. He was diagnosed with headaches and lumbar and cervical sprains/strains. Pedro left for his annual Christmas vacation to Mexico at that time and resumed treatment with Spine & Rehab on January 4, 2008 when he returned to the United States. Mr. Arroyo’s additional treatment consisted of an MRI of his neck, an MRI of his low back, a consultation with a pain management specialist (M.D.) and two visits to a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. Doctors suggested Mr. Arroyo get an epidural steroid injection (he never have the injection). He had a total of 14 visits to Spine & Rehab for physical therapy and chiropractic care.

Pedro’s medical bills came to $8,046.  Before a lawsuit was ever filed, Smith & Hassler presented Pedro’s claim to Allstate, Ms. Fares’ automobile insurer, hoping to negotiate a fair settlement and avoid a lawsuit.  Allstate initially offered Pedro an amount under $6,000 then finally made their “top offer” of $6,800.  Despite Smith & Hassler’s efforts to negotiate, both before and after the lawsuit was filed, Allstate never offered more than $6,800 (which is less than Pedro’s medical bills). The last settlement offer Smith & Hassler made to Allstate before trial was $15,000.

After hearing the facts and evidence during a one-day trial, during which the only witnesses were the Plaintiff and Defendant, Smith & Hassler attorneys Daragh Carter (lead) and Roger Sullivan asked the jury to award the following:

Past medical expenses: $8,046
Past physical pain: $2,500
Past physical impairment: $2,500
Past mental anguish: $1,500
Total: $14,546

Here is what the jury actually awarded:

Past medical expenses: $8,046
Past physical pain: $3,000
Past physical impairment: $3,000
Past mental anguish: $1,500
Total verdict: $15,546 (not including taxable court costs and pre-judgment interest).

It was very gratifying that the jury saw fit to award MORE than was asked for, and this speaks to the justice of Pedro’s case.  The case was defended at trial by the law firm G. Patrick Collins & Associates, who is Allstate Insurance Company’s in-house law firm.

This was a fair verdict for a deserving client. Smith & Hassler thanks Mr. Arroyo for trusting us with his case. At our firm we believe it is important a personal injury attorney be prepared to take a case to trial when necessary: if you are currently searching for a personal injury attorney to represent you, you might ask attorneys you are considering when they last tried a case to a jury and what the outcome was.