Common Car Accident Questions and Answers

Roads and streets get us where we need to go, but they can also be dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. Here are some common issues that affect people on the roads.

Red Light Runners:

In 2017, over 900 pedestrians were hit and killed by vehicles running red lights. The worst thing about it is that while most drivers say they realize running red lights is very dangerous for themselves and for pedestrians, almost 33% of them still run one or more red lights on a monthly basis. Running lights is, of course, a crime in itself, but injuring someone while running a light also brings up the question of civil liability. Breaking a law designed specifically to protect people from harm has a good chance of establishing the law breaker's civil negligence in addition to the crime they committed.

If you are injured by someone running a red light, be sure to note that when you talk to your insurance and your attorney. Evidence that someone ran a light is a big boost to any case or claim you may need to bring against the offending driver.

Pedestrian Injuries:

It's not just red light runners that are a danger on the road. Pedestrian deaths in general have been on the rise. Last year was the most deadly for pedestrians in almost two decades. One of the biggest reasons is that so many people are driving larger vehicles than they did in years past. Coupes and sedans are steadily being replaced by crossover vehicles, SUVs, and full size trucks. The larger the vehicle, the less survival a collision is for a pedestrian.

Another reason for the increase in pedestrian deaths is the rapid rise in smartphone use. Just like vehicle on vehicle accidents, distracted driving has had a major effect on pedestrian deaths as well. Like with all accidents, a pedestrian needs to establish that the driver that hit them had a duty to the person hit and that they violated that duty which resulted in an actual injury or other harm.

Hit and Runs:

Sometimes, car accidents happen but the other party does not stick around to see about the damage. Fortunately, there are some thing you can do if you are the victim of a hit and run accident. First thing to remember is the driver that runs is almost always assumed to be at fault. If the hit and run driver can be found, they will have a pretty heavy burden of proving why they are not at fault.

If the driver can't be found, you may have a clause in your car insurance that deals with hit and run drivers. This is usually part of your uninsured motorists coverage. Not every policy has this coverage, though, so you'll need to check with your insurance company before filing a claim. If you ever have trouble with your insurance company, it may be time to call an attorney. At the end of the day, sometimes you and your insurance company can have conflicting interests, and it can take the involvement of a good lawyer to set things right.

So, when is the right time to involve an attorney after a car accident? There are a few incidents where it just makes sense to get legal assistance:

If there's a dispute as to who caused the car accident.
If there's a dispute as to how much you are owed after an accident.
If you suffered a serious injury that will require continued medical care.
If the other driver decides to sue or countersue you for the accident.

A lawyer team that knows the local court system can help you through the rules and requirements involved in a car accident dispute. They can help you evaluate settlement offers and make sure that insurance companies and other drivers don't try to slip past the rules or take advantage of you.

If you or a love one has been involved in a car accident or a pedestrian accident, you call the Martin Walker team at 903-526-1600.


Updates on The Opioid Epidemic

One of the biggest national crises of the last twenty years is what some refer to as the Opioid Epidemic. Deaths from overdosing on prescription and non-prescription opioid painkillers began to skyrocket in the late 1990's. This epidemic is now the leading cause of death in Americans under fifty years of age. The worst part about this drug crisis is that it should have been preventable, but dishonest doctors and scheming drug companies worked together to make billions as ordinary patients became addicted to drugs they were told had low or no risk of addiction. On the streets, opioids have become highly trafficked and have lead to further deaths. The harm the opioid epidemic has done has cost more than just human lives. Some estimates put the cost of supporting and caring for those affected by opioid addictions at over $75 billion dollars each year. The crisis has put an unneeded strain on our healthcare system that is not expected to be alleviated for decades.

We've covered a number of stories and incidents over the last year that shows just how out of hand the opioid epidemic has gotten.

 


In January of 2008, New York city brought lawsuits against eight opioid manufacturers. The city sought half a billion dollars in compensation while claiming that drug companies were misleading consumers about the safety of opioids while at the same time they were intentionally oversupplying and underreporting prescriptions of opioids in order to boost their profits.

 


As more focus has been placed on the causes of the opioid epidemic, some of the companies behind the mass production of opioids have begun distancing themselves from the drugs they themselves sold. For instance, in March of 2016, we saw that Purdue Pharma, one of the biggest names in opioids, had decided it would no longer be marketing its painkilling drugs, like OxyContin, to doctors. Multi-billion dollar companies rarely admit mistakes, but when you see one step away from a drug that made them many millions of dollars, it is practically the same thing.

 


In many ways, though, Purdue Pharma's move away from its core drugs was a too little too late moment. Just a few months earlier, reports about the company's activities painted a company that was actively looking for new and sometimes blatantly unethical ways to increase its profits from its opioid based drugs. At one point the company was looking at setting up opioid addiction treatment programs to help people with the addictive effects of the drugs they were widely marketing. When combined with their other efforts to increase opioid sales and convince doctors to prescribe larger doses, and their overall opioid strategy just starts to feel wrong. According to some reports, they even fired one of their employees who officially raised the alarm about doctors overprescribing OxyContin.


Fortunately, this bad behavior does not seem to have gone unpunished, at least not in the long run. In mid-march, Purdue Pharma publicly announced that they were considering filing for bankruptcy. At the time, Purdue Pharma was coming to terms with a lawsuit in the state of Oklahoma that might have reached the $1 billion mark. After making billions of dollars selling addictive drugs, that the company would then go into bankruptcy seemed a bit farfetched.

 


More recently, in July of this year, new information came to light that showed an outrageous amount of opioids being prescribed in some states in towns. The Washington Post managed to obtain a secret database that the DEA had kept on opioid sales and distribution data from at least 2006 to 2012. After digging into the data, investigators found some truly shocking numbers such as the state of West Virginia having so many opioid pills distributed that each of its residents would have received 60 of them each year. Even more outrageous, one town in Virginia had prescribed enough opioid pills that each of its 4,000 residents could have received 306 pills each year. These kind of numbers help explain why opioids had become so widespread that they have now become known as a crisis or epidemic.

 

Update, soon after we complied this report, a new story about opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma broke. Here are the details: 

A big update in the ongoing opioid crisis was widely reported yesterday. Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have apparently floated the idea of a $10 to $12 billion settlement in response to the nearly 2,000 city, state and county lawsuits pending against them.

In order to pay for this settlement, Purdue Pharma would need to declare bankruptcy, and even then, roughly half of the $7 to $8 billion would be made up in opioid-overdose medication that Purdue Pharma produces. The rest would come from ongoing profits of the company's drug sales. The Sacklers would pay for their part of the settlement in large part by selling off their international drug company Mundipharma.

All this came to light during a meeting with several state attorneys general, but this deal also came with a warning. Lawyers from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family said if this deal was not agreed to, Purdue Pharma would most likely declare bankruptcy all the same which, without the deal in place, would make it a lot tougher to collect fines and payments from the company.

In what feels like an insincere twist, Purdue Pharma put out an official statement that included: "The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome." That seems a bit much for one of the larger companies that helped drive this opioid epidemic in the first place.

 

Taken individually, these stories and cases point to bad decisions and unfortunate actions on behalf of opioid manufactures and the doctors that prescribed the pills to patients. When considered together as part of more than a decade of behavior, the severity of the opioid epidemic starts to become clear. These companies were doing everything they could to influence doctors to overprescribe their drugs. They encouraged larger doses, managed to get significant health organizations to repeat their, at best, unverified claims about the safety of their medications, secretly looked into playing both sides of the game by prescribing the drugs and then set up programs to help those who became addicted, and finally threatened to declare bankruptcy when their actions came to light.

Opioid addictions and drug overprescription are not just national issues. They can affect people in East Texas just as easily as they can in West Virginia. If you or a love one think may have been affected by the opioid crisis you need someone who handles medical malpractice cases on a daily basis. Give the Martin Walker law firm a call at 903-526-1600 for a free case evaluation.


Congressional Report Shows World Health Organization Republished Opioid Industry Talking Points

The case against opioids and opioid manufactures gets more disturbing each time a new investigation comes to a conclusion. This time, a congressional report titled "Exposing Dangerous Opioid Manufacturer Influence At The World Health Organization" brought to light at least two World Health Organization guidance documents that appeared to mirror some of the discredited claims previously made by Purdue Pharma about the risk of opioid addiction.

For instance, one of the discredited claims that the WHO repeated was the false idea that less than 1% of opioid users ever became addicted to the powerful drugs. The congressional report notes that the 1% figure was already in question at the time that the WHO included it in its guidance documents, and that the 1% figure has since been shown to be closer to 8 to 12% of opioid users who become addicted after taking drugs like OxyContin.

WHO documents also used industry terms like "opiophobia" and made suggestions that there was no limit on the dosage of opioids that should be given to children, another drug industry supplied fact that has since been shown to be false. The same documents even did away with the middle range of pain management treatments for children and instead suggested that doctors go from prescribing normal pain killers on the low end then move straight to opioids without first trying mid-level treatments.

This congressional report just goes to show how big a push opioid producers made to get their own claims into places that they generally did not deserve go. Unwinding the opioid epidemic is going to take more investigations like this one revealing the truth.


Co-Founders of Texas Firm Martin Walker Named to Best Lawyers for 2020

Lawyers with focus on medical malpractice cases honored

 TYLER, Texas – Trial lawyers Reid Martin and John F. (Jack) Walker III, co-founders of the Tyler-based trial law firm Martin Walker PC, have earned recognition in the 2020 issue of The Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and one of the most respected legal guides in the nation.

Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker are among the few lawyers in Texas who still take on medical malpractice cases, a rarity. Mr. Martin is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and he has more than 25 years of courtroom experience. Mr. Walker has been Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1999.

“We have had a very exciting year,” said Mr. Martin. “It’s rewarding to be able to help our clients achieve justice, and Jack and I are honored to see our hard work recognized by our peers.”

Best Lawyers in America honorees are chosen through voting by lawyers in the same practice and geographic areas. The publication’s research team then evaluates those nominees and makes the final selections. For the full list visit https://www.bestlawyers.com/.

“This is truly special because of the fact you have others in our own profession who are looking at our names and saying, ‘Yes, those two are among the best,’” said Mr. Walker.

This is just the latest honor for both Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker. Earlier this year, they were recognized in Texas Lawyermagazine for having won the largest medical malpractice verdict in Texas in 2018. In that case, jurors awarded $43.32 million to Martin Walker client Billy Pierce in a case he brought against East Texas Medical Center and one of its doctors.

Martin Walker PC is a Tyler-based law firm with significant trial expertise representing individuals and businesses in high-stakes litigation, including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries involving 18-wheeler accidents, oilfield injuries, wrongful death, and product liability. For more information visit: http://www.martinwalkerlaw.com/

Media Contact:

Mark Annick

800-559-4534

mark@androvett.com


Newly Federal Database Shows The Extent Of The Opioid Epidemic

Stunning new data was released this week as part of an ongoing series of lawsuits that have been brought against opioid makers. As reported in the Washington Post, detailed information from a previously unreleased Drug Enforcement Administration database shows the scale of this addictive drug crisis in ways we have not previously seen.

The database was compiled from sales and distribution data provided to the DEA by the opioid makers themselves. It contains detailed info on where opioid pills were shipped and purchased down to a town by town level. Opioid manufacturers fought for over a year to keep this database secret, but a ruling by an Ohio federal court saw the information released to the public this week.

This newly released data shines a spotlight on just how enormous the opioid epidemic has become. Some key facts and figures that researchers have uncovered so far show:

  • Yearly opioid shipments increased around 50% from 2006 to 2012.
  • The total number of pills shipped, over 76 billion, would have been enough to supply every person living in the United States with 36 pills each year.
  • In some states, such as West Virginia, the number of pills distributed each year per person was even higher. Each year, every West Virginian could have been supplied with over 60 opioid pills because of the high number of opioids sold in the state.
  • Focusing down to the city level, the numbers look even more outrageous in some rural locations. In Norton, Virginia, a town with a population of roughly 4,000 people, enough opioids were sold to supply each person with 306 pills each year!

Over the last two decades, the questionable sales and prescriptions of opioids like oxycodone have generated massive profits for the companies producing them. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives after becoming addicted to those same drugs. This latest release of disturbing information just further illustrates how large a crisis the opioid epidemic has become.


Martin Walker Earns Texas’ Largest Medical Malpractice Verdict in 2018

Martin Walker Earns Texas’ Largest Medical Malpractice Verdict in 2018

 

$43M gross negligence verdict named to Texas Lawyer list of top verdicts

TYLER, Texas – Trial law firm Martin Walker has earned honors for winning the largest medical malpractice verdict in Texas in 2018 for the $43.32 million jury award against Tyler-based East Texas Medical Center and one of its doctors. The editors of Texas Lawyerincluded the verdict in the magazine’s listing of Top Verdicts and Settlements, 10thEdition, based on research gathered by VerdictSearch.

 

A jury found ETMC grossly negligent for allowing Dr. Gary Boyd to treat 61-year-old Billy Pierce, despite having been placed on probation by the Texas Medical Board. Mr. Pierce was admitted in April 2014 with stomach pain and vomiting.

 

During the trial, Martin Walker attorneys argued the hospital bylaws should have prevented Dr. Boyd from practicing at the facility. Testimony showed that Dr. Boyd diagnosed Mr. Pierce with an abnormality he said would make surgery to remove bile duct stones impossible. For more than a month, Mr. Pierce was in a medically induced coma during which time Dr. Boyd and the hospital abandoned him, according to testimony. Once the hospital sought a second opinion, a new doctor rejected Dr. Boyd’s diagnosis and operated without complication.

 

Jurors agreed that Dr. Boyd’s improper care led to the loss of Mr. Pierce’s quality of life and his ability to provide for his family. The $43 million verdict included $18.57 million for past and future pain, anguish, loss of earning capacity, and medical care and expenses. The jury also awarded $25 million in punitive damages, after concluding the hospital’s conduct involved an extreme risk of potential harm to others.

 

Mr. Pierce was represented by Martin Walker name partners Reid Martin and Jack Walker and attorney Marisa Schouten. The case is Billy Pierce v. East Texas Medical Center and Dr. Gary Boyd and the ETMC Digestive Disease Center, Cause No. 16-0853-C in the 241stDistrict Court in Smith County.

 

Each year, VerdictSearch conducts a comprehensive review to produce the list of top verdicts in Texas. The full list is published in the July 2019 issue of Texas Lawyer.

 

Martin Walker PC is a Tyler-based law firm with significant trial expertise representing individuals and businesses in high-stakes litigation, including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries involving 18-wheeler accidents, oilfield injuries, wrongful death, and product liability. For more information visit: https://www.martinwalkerlaw.com/

 

Media Contact:

Mark Annick

800-559-4534

mark@androvett.com


Study Shows That A Few Doctors Try To Hide From Their pasts

A recent article in the New York Times made the case that our current medical malpractice law are not doing enough to protect patients from doctors who have multiple recorded instances of poor performance. 

A group of researchers from Stanford University decided to study what happens to doctors after claims of medical malpractice were leveled against them. They used multiple databases that track medical malpractice claims and payouts to see what happened afterwards. While their study found some morsels of good news, it also revealed a common disturbing trend among doctors subject to multiple medical malpractice claims. 

On the good side, the researchers found that only about 6% of doctors over a 10-year timeframe had any medical malpractice claims against them. Further, the researchers confirmed that doctors who are the subject of multiple medical malpractice claims do have a higher tendency to end their practices and that it is rare for such doctors to try and move to another state with the hopes of leaving their bad reputations behind them. 

Unfortunately, while doctors involved in multiple medical malpractice cases did exit the medical field at a higher rate than those without any claims against them, researchers found that the number of doctors that do quit may not be high enough. Data showed that 90% of doctors with five or more claims continued working in the healthcare. What’s more, not only did 90% of physicians with five or more malpractice claims continue to work in the healthcare field, they were twice as likely as doctors who had fewer claims against them to start their own medical practices. 

One of the authors of the recent studies explained this by suggesting that these problem doctors are possibly being turned down or forced out by larger healthcare organizations because they are too risky. They also noted that larger healthcare organizations tend to have the time and resources to check into the past of each potential physician they hire, but individual patients may not have the time or knowhow to properly check into the doctors that run a private practice. In this way, doctors who have had troubled past can sometimes continue to operate in the healthcare industry. 

In the end, these studies show that doing a little bit of research before seeing a new doctor can help make sure that your next physician doesn’t have any issues hiding in their past. 


Avoid Costly Liabilities With These Summer Boating Tips


With Summer in full gear, it’s a good time to review some boating safety tips. Boating can be a fun time for you and your friends, but if you ignore the basics you can be held liable for a variety of costly infractions. Here are some of the best tips to keep yourself and others safe while on area lakes:

  • Do not drink and operate a boat. Not only is it illegal, operating a boat while intoxicated significantly ups your chances of causing a fatal accident. What can seem like a big, open lake can quickly turn into a hazard of swimmers and boaters that require your full attention to navigate around.
  • Slow down. While there are not posted speed limit signs out on the water, you can receive a fine for excessive speed or reckless actions while operating your boat. It’s ok to have fun, just make sure you and others are safe while you have it.
  • Be sure you know the rules about life jackets. For instance, in Texas you must have one life jacket per person and children under 13 years of age are required to wear a life jacket at all times.
  • Be mindful of the weather. Storms and rough water can be disastrous even if you are just out on a local lake. It’s best not to put yourself or others in danger by risking the weather.

These same tips are some of the first things you should look at if you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident. Was the operator of the boat drinking? Were the operating their boat too fast? Did they have the proper number of life jackets on board?
If you need help, give us a call at 903-526-1600 today.


Is Distracted Driving More Common Than We Thought?

How bad has the threat of distracted driving become? Bad enough that Texas passed its first law against cellphone use while driving, ending a back and forth debate that had been ongoing since 2011. And now, a company called Zendrive says it might be 100x worse than previous government statistics predicted.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration previously estimated that some 600,000 drivers made use of their phones each day. But according to Zendrive, which collected data from across 100-billion driver hours, says that they had reason to estimate that 69-million drivers use their phones while driving each day.
Zendrive also found that the there were more distracted drivers on the road between 11am and 5pm than any other time, and that since drivers spent an average of almost 2 minutes looking at their phone for every hour that they drove, it was almost as if they were closing their eyes and driving the over a mile totally blind each hour.
These new number have large implications. For instance, Texas’s new distracted driving law, while a good first step, requires that a police officer see and offender texting while driving instead of banning it in all cases. If there really are 100 times more distracted drivers on the road, it might be time for lawmakers to take a second look at the wording or penalties attached to distracted driving laws.
What else does Zendrive suggest? Most phones these days have access to modes or apps meant to help curb distracted driving. Up-to-date iPhones can now lock out text messages and phone calls while you are driving if you let them, and Android-based phones can accomplish much the same thing by using one of multiple well established distracted driving apps. Here’s eight other steps that Zendrive suggested:

  1. Hands free – Put your phone in a mount or cup holder while driving. Keep it out of your hands, and stay focused on the road.
  2. Set up your music and maps – The majority of phone use happens in the first 10% of a trip. Take an extra moment to get your technology in order before putting the car in drive.
  3. Finish up before heading out – Send one last text to let your friend know you’re getting behind the wheel and need to put the phone down.
  4. Airplane mode for phones – Use Do Not Disturb mode to block incoming messages, let people know you’re driving and that you’ll be in touch later. iOS 11 devices come with this functionality, while Android users can use an app.
  5. A little help from my friends – Designated drivers help us all get home safely after drinking. If you have passengers, ask them to help you navigate, change the music or respond to texts.
  6. Lock it up – Put your phone somewhere you can’t peek at it, like the trunk, backseat or glove compartment.
  7. Drive time, Zen time – Is a text worth your life, or that of someone else on the road? I didn’t think so. Be patient, and wait until you arrive to read your texts.
  8. Be the example – Speak up if you see someone driving while distracted. Tell them you’re uncomfortable with that behavior. Teach your children to speak up when they see you or a friend distracted behind the wheel.