Friday, January 8, 2016

Head Injuries- Concussion



A concussion is defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.
This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.
Due to recent media coverage most people think of concussion as an occurence related to sports, especially football: but they are also a very serious and often unrecognized result of car accidents or falls. A new study conducted by the CDC has shown that in recent years motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI among all age groups in the United States, and they were the leading cause for children and young adults aged 5-24 years. Motor vehicle crashes were also the leading cause of hospitalizations for adolescents and persons aged 15-44 years due to TBI. These injuries often occur when a driver or passenger suffers a whiplash-like blow to the skull when their head strikes the steering wheel, dashboard, or the back of the seat.


Most concussions do not cause loss of consciousness. The symptoms of concussion can include headaches, an inability to concentrate, and the impairment of memory, judgment, balance and/or coordination. Most concussions are mild, and the majority of people who suffer concussions will fully recover in a short period of time.
In some cases, however, the resulting damage to brain cells and subsequent changes in brain chemistry can lead to serious nerve damage. Known as Post-concussion syndrome, it is a another complex condition in which the patient’s symptoms can last from weeks to a year or more after the concussion. Approximately 10% of people who get concussions suffer from post-concussion syndrome. Children that are victims of concussion are more prone to develop more serious conditions over time.
The symptoms of post-concussion syndrome are similar to those of concussion, but can also include new complications such as dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, light and noise sensitivity, and behavioral or emotional changes. The symptoms are worse in some people than in others.
These long term effects can influence all aspects of people’s lives, including their relationships with family and friends, their ability to work, and to maintain other normal daily activities.
Post-concussion headaches may be similar to migraine headaches, but are usually compared to tension headaches. The physiological aspects of post-concussion are still not completely understood. Medical experts still do not agree on exactly why some people get post-concussion syndrome, how to establish a firm diagnosis, or how and why post-concussion syndrome occurs physically in the body.


Concussions are diagnosed using neuro-psychological tests on reflexes and the five senses, as well as cognitive tests for memory, concentration, or ability to recall information.
For severe brain injury imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs are normally used to create images of the brain to assess its condition, but these imaging tests can not locate or diagnose milder injuries. Proving that a person has a concussion can be difficult, as it is usually only detected by the neuro-psychological and cognitive tests. A concussion case often requires multiple independent experts; if you are seeking compensation for your injuries, it is a very good idea to get the approval of more than one doctor to completely verify that you indeed do have a concussion.

This aspect of documenting a concussion is a very important step in achieving compensation for a concussion case; it builds the basis of your argument by proving that you have in fact been affected by an accident, and diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. You can only claim damages for a concussion injury as part of a personal injury case if your doctor believes that it is related to the accident that is the basis of your lawsuit, and states that in their medical records.

The biggest problem with claiming damages for post-concussion syndrome is that its symptoms can sometimes be vague and that reasonable physicians can differ as to whether a specific patient indeed has post-concussion syndrome. This is also true for more severe cases of TBI.
If you believe that you suffered a concussion and your doctor does not, or if you believe that your post-concussion syndrome was caused by your accident and your doctor does not, you won't be able to claim damages for the injury. If that situation occurs you would need to find another doctor who agreed with you before you could include those damages in your injury claim.

In addition to the medical experts, the claimant can also use family, colleagues and friends as witnesses to any suffering and difficulties that affect their daily life.
Recent concussion cases in the NFL have proven this as an important step towards maximizing the amount of compensation which you receive. On April 22, 2015, a federal judge gave final approval to a class-action lawsuit settlement between the National Football League (NFL) and thousands of former players to provide up to $5 million per retired player for serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma. In this case there were several categories of compensation, all based on a doctor’s diagnosis, with maximum payments ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million. For instance, an ex-player who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease could receive up to about $4 million. This means that a doctor’s diagnosis could mean the difference of the range of $3.5 million, proving how important it is to get a concussion properly documented as soon as possible.

Insurance agents like claims that are straightforward and obvious; because post-concussion syndrome is not well defined insurers may contest your injuries and you may be forced into going to trial. Because of the intricacies and expense of brain injury cases, it is important that you have an attorney who really understands brain injury. Brain injury can be obvious, but often the signs are subtle and are overlooked even by doctors.


If you have suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s actions or negligence, it is crucial to seek the guidance of an attorney who is familiar with the medical issues involved. Time is of the essence, as the insurance companies involved will immediately begin their investigations in order to limit potential liability. Brent Cordell may be able to help guide you through the process of filing a personal injury claim. If you would like to talk with a representative about your case, please contact us today at 1 844 - 8LEGAL8 (1 844 853-4258) or visit http://www.cordell-law.com for more information.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Truck Accidents- Wide Right Turns: Texas Personal Injury Lawyer


One of the most difficult maneuvers routinely executed by semi truck drivers while on the road is a simple right hand turn. Semis cannot make tight turns so when a tight right hand turn is necessary, a semi truck may begin the turn by first swinging wide to the left and then beginning the right turn. These wide turns are frequently seen in highly populated areas with many side streets, and they pose serious threats to vehicles to the left of the semi before the turn, the right of the semi before the turn, or even those that will be near the semi once the turn is completed.

A major problem that occurs when large trucks attempt these wide right turns is that they may end up impacting a vehicle to their left as they swing out of the right lane, or if they swing through the corner of the left lane on completing the turn. Also, as the truck swings left the actual intention to turn right may not be clear and instead may look like a late attempt to change lanes.  When this occurs, some drivers may be fooled into thinking the right lane is now clear and may proceed forward, placing their car between the semi truck and the right curb and in the path of travel once the semi begins to turn.
Even if a truck swings left in an effort to make a tight right turn, it may not be enough to keep the truck safe and away from other traffic once the turn is finished.  If the truck swings too far or not far enough, opposing traffic may be at risk for a collision with the truck as the truck makes its turn.

When an impact occurs between a car and a semi in this manner this sandwich effect is referred to as a "squeeze", and a truck’s extreme weight can create an extremely dangerous situation for a trapped driver. A large truck can weigh more than fifteen times than that of a passenger vehicle, and this significant difference in size leaves no chance for the smaller vehicle avoiding being crushed. Collisions with semi trucks are very dangerous to all those involved but in the majority of accidents, the damage will disproportionately be done to the passenger car in the crash: cars just are not capable of withstanding the force of an impact caused by a moving semi that weights several tons. Fortunately these types of accidents usually occur at low speeds and seldom result in serious injury, however there may still be significant damage to your automobile.

Truck drivers are required by law to look out for passenger vehicles and others who share the roads with them. They undergo extensive training and re-testing to maintain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). CDL holders should know the distance necessary to make a safe turn. Swinging too far to the left or failing to check a blind spot on the right are both careless errors. These preventable mistakes are known as “negligence” and result in liability for the accident. If the squeeze play causes injury or death, the negligent driver and other responsible parties are liable to victims for personal injury damages and to surviving family members for the wrongful death of a loved one.

Using appropriate signaling and waiting for a clear opportunity are basic rules for truckers when attempting a wide right turn. Being informed on the rules and regulations of truck drivers can help you in your squeeze-play truck accident case.
The training that truck drivers receive provides them with the knowledge of proper distance needed for making a safe wide turn. If a truck driver fails to gauge distances and cause a squeeze-play truck accident, it is clear negligence. If a truck driver has failed to make sure that it is safe for them to make a wide turn, and they collide with another vehicle, they are liable for any injuries made by their decision.

The Federal Motor Carrier Regulations and Texas state laws impose liability for the driver’s negligence on the groups, individuals, and businesses operating the truck. This means that the company using the trucks to transport products must still pay the damage award, even if the entity itself could not drive. This expands the victim’s opportunities to recover damages against not only against negligent drivers, but any relevant employers, corporations, and insurers as well.
In many cases, the driver of the truck, the owner of the truck, or even the company that the trucker works for may be held legally liable for any damages that result from an accident. This can include the injuries suffered by all those affected in the crash as well as other damages, like income lost due to time missed from work for treatment and recovery.

When an accident occurs between a semi truck and a car, it may be the fault of either the truck driver or the driver of the car, depending on the accident.  Any motorists may make an error in driving or make act with reckless disregard towards the safety of others, causing a dangerous situation to arise and a possible collision to occur.  Speaking with a knowledgeable injury lawyer who handles truck accident cases may be the best way to learn about your legal rights and whether a recovery may be possible in your case.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a semi-truck making a right hand turn, Brent M. Cordell can explain what you can expect at every step of your personal injury case. Contact us at www.cordell-law.com or call 1- 844 - 8LEGAL8 for a free consultation.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Truck Accidents- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists: Houston Personal Injury Attorney




Over 14 percent of drivers on the road today do not carry legally required liability insurance. Even drivers who do carry insurance sometimes only carry minimum limits, which may not be enough to cover all of the damages in an accident for which they're responsible. If the at-fault driver can't afford to pay out of pocket for the damages that insurance doesn't cover, you'll be left paying for them — unless you have Underinsured Motorist insurance, which covers situations in which the at-fault driver is underinsured.



Texas has strict laws when it comes to auto insurance. Texas is a “fault” state, meaning that drivers must carry liability insurance to pay for bodily injury and property damage resulting from accidents they cause. The current statutory minimums for liability are $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. But even though it’s the law, not every driver purchases insurance, and some lose coverage by failing to make premium payments in a timely manner.
Art. 5.06-1 of the Texas Insurance Code mandates that all automobile insurance companies doing business in Texas offer UM/UIM coverage as a part of the standard Texas Personal Automobile Insurance Policy, with the purpose being to protect those so insured against the negligent acts of “financially irresponsible” motorists. Texas does not require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance provides protection in the event of an accident where the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance. Unfortunately, policyholders with uninsured motorist coverage often end up in disputes with their own insurers instead of the other drivers’.

Texas State laws surrounding uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage are somewhat complicated in Texas; if you find yourself unable to recover financial compensation after a Houston, TX car accident an experienced personal injury lawyer can help guide you through the process and get you the best possible outcome. For more information about how to proceed in these cases and to recover money from your Texas uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage contact us at www.cordell-law.com or call 1 844-8LEGAL8 for a free consultation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Truck Accidents- Perception / Reaction Times: Houston Personal Injury Lawyer


A dramatic difference between trucks and cars is that trucks take much longer to stop. Trucks with properly maintained brakes generally take 25 to 65 percent longer to stop than a car, which translates into a 60 to 80 percent braking efficiency depending upon the load.



Passenger vehicles such as cars, light trucks or SUV's use a hydraulic braking system. When the driver pushes on the brake pedal it in turn pushes on a hydraulic cylinder: the cylinder then sends pressurized brake fluid to the hydraulic pistons on the car’s wheels. These pistons engage the brake pads, which then press against metal surfaces and slow the car down.
The hydraulic brake system is not suitable for 18-wheelers because the trailer must be frequently connected and disconnected from the tractor. Additionally, the larger scale that would be needed for the system to work on the much larger trucks would not translate well. Instead of a hydraulic brake system, 18-wheelers use compressed air and an air brake system.

When a truck driver presses on the brake pedal, it causes compressed air to move from a storage tank through various hoses and into the brake chamber. The air then forces out a rod that pushes against the slack adjuster. This causes a camshaft to turn, which twists an S-shaped piece of equipment known as the S-Cam. This makes the brake linings come into contact with the brake drum, thereby creating friction and slowing down the truck.
To function properly, the truck’s air braking system must perform several important tasks. It must keep a steady flow of compressed air, and it must direct that air’s flow. It also must convert the energy in the air pressure into mechanical force to stop the truck.

One big advantage of air brakes is that they are reliable. Most big rig trucks also feature a dual brake system; if one system fails, the other system kicks in. However, air brakes also come with some significant drawbacks.
One primary factor to consider in any truck accident is brake lag time. The two kinds of brake lag are mechanical lag and air-pressure lag. All brake systems have mechanical lag, or a slight delay in the buildup of brake force after the brake pedal is applied. Air brakes, however, have an additional delay related to the build-up of air pressure: the time that it takes for the air to travel from the air tanks to the brake chambers, and to build enough pressure to generate brake force.





The brake lag in big rig trucks is relatively small—approximately a second or less. But, as anyone who has ever been involved in an emergency situation knows, a second can have a significant impact on whether or not the vehicle is able to stop. This problem is compounded by the massive increase in size of 18-wheelers; this creates extra momentum that needs to be overcome before the truck can stop. The result is that large commercial trucks having a stopping distance approximately 40% further than passenger vehicles, and that’s if the driver has quick reflexes. 

These increases in stopping distance may also be partially attributed to the tires used on trucks. Truck tires are made from very hard rubber so they will last much longer than car tires. However, this feature causes them to generate lower friction values than the softer-compound car tires.

If you have been involved in an accident that was someone else's fault, contact Brent Cordell today for a free initial consultation.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Truck Accidents Loss of Load- Texas Personal Injury Lawyer


The proper loading of any commercial vehicle is essential to its safe operation. Improperly loading a truck beyond its recommended weight or failing to properly secure the load can create an extremely dangerous situation for drivers and everyone else sharing the road with them. When a truck is driving with an improperly secured load, it poses an extreme danger to the safety of those driving cars, motorcycles, and users of the road in general. There is no doubt that large objects such as machinery, concrete blocks, and pipes could have disastrous results, but even small objects could cause a collision if they should crack the windshield of another vehicle or cause a driver to perform a sudden evasive maneuver. In many cases, loading a truck beyond its recommended weight or failing to properly secure the load can make the truck unstable; difficulty stopping, an increased potential for jackknifing and rollovers are just a few of the problems that can arise when a truck is not properly loaded.
Overloaded semi-trucks on the nation’s roadways are an extremely serious hazard that can lead to significant damages and harm to other vehicles. Semi-truck drivers hold a responsibility to ensure that their trucks are loaded both securely and safely. Thus, they are liable for any circumstances in which their trucks are either loaded improperly or overloaded.

Fortunately, there are many federal and state guidelines that control the operation and maintenance of these over-sized vehicles in an effort to ensure these transporters of heavy goods are as safe as humanly and mechanically possible.

The federal government has regulations in place to ensure the safe operation of all commercial vehicles that engage in interstate commerce. Within the scope of these regulations are rules for properly securing a load; all loads must be properly tied down in order to prevent the contents from moving, shifting, or falling out. Drivers must follow this rule whether the materials are within a tractor trailer or on a flatbed truck.

Responsibility for ensuring a truck complies with Department of Transportation load securing regulations is on the shoulders of the truck driver. This means the driver must make sure he has enough tie-downs and those tie-downs are constructed of the proper materials.
 Improperly securing a load is a misdemeanor offense in Texas. Besides jail time, the more serious risk is that these negligent drivers are creating dangerous situations for all nearby vehicles. Although most domestic truck drivers take all the necessary precautions when it comes to properly securing their trucks’ trailers, the problem is that even a single driver not showing this caution can cause a deadly trucking accident.

There is a weight limit of 40 tons for commercial trucks in Texas, and they are not allowed to exceed fourteen feet high and 8-1/2 feet in width. Trucking companies are able to purchase special permits that allow them to travel with oversize and overweight loads on Texas roads, but even with these permits, both truck drivers and commercial trucking companies can be held responsible for any accidents that occur. 

An important thing to keep in mind is that insurance companies will make it very difficult for an injured driver to collect damages as the result of an unsecured load. Brent Cordell can overcome these arguments by proving the accident was unavoidable. For a free consultation, please call 1 844 8LEGAL8 or visit www.cordell-law.com today.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Inadequate Commercial Driver Training: Texas Personal Injury Attorney


Operating an 18-wheeler or semi-truck is far more involved than driving a normal passenger vehicle. Eighteen-wheelers are much larger and heavier than normal vehicles, making them difficult to handle; drivers require a significant amount of training to learn about no-zones, braking distance and how to maneuver a vehicle with a large trailer. Despite training and licensing requirements, inadequately trained truck drivers still manage to get behind the wheel and onto our roads and highways. A truck’s weight, length, and the size of its cargo can make it particularly difficult to maneuver: trucks are also especially dangerous if they are transporting hazardous materials.

Unfortunately, some truck driving companies fail to properly train new drivers. Inexperienced and under-trained drivers are a major threat to motorist safety and can make costly mistakes, putting themselves and other individuals at risk of a significant injury.
The average tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. To ensure the safety of everyone on the road, truck drivers are required by both state and federal laws to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). They must also be familiar with several regulations that specifically apply to truck drivers, including hours-of-services (HOS) and other regulations intended to combat fatigue. Drivers who wish to transport hazardous materials must apply for an endorsement before transporting these materials.
 Further, many trucking companies require new drivers to ride along with an experienced driver called a “finisher” for a few weeks in order to learn the finer points of driving a commercial truck safely.
But not all trucking companies or independent drivers go to these lengths to ensure safe driving, and inexperienced truckers can cause serious accidents. The laws give victims of truck crashes the right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries, and most lawsuits related to semi-truck accidents allege negligence on the part of more than one defendants
In order to win a negligent training lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove that
  • The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff; 
  • The defendant breached the duty; 
  • The plaintiff sustained injuries caused by the defendant's behavior.
When drivers cannot safely operate a truck because they have not been properly trained, they should not be permitted onto the roadway behind the wheel of a commercial truck. Trucking companies should be held accountable for the failure to adequately train their drivers, and we can help you to see that this is done.

Cases involving accidents attributed to inadequately trained commercial vehicle drivers can be complicated to litigate, particularly when multiple parties may share liability. Victims of truck accidents should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to ensure their rights are protected.  If you have been injured in a truck accident and believe that the driver was not adequately trained, contact Brent Cordell today to learn about your legal options.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Truck Accidents- Sleep Deprivation: Texas Personal Injury Attorney



Sleep deprivation is to blame for almost 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1,550 fatalities per year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Twenty percent of truck drivers had excessive daytime sleepiness, and 29 percent were at risk for suffering from sleep apnea. Thirty six percent admitted to having near miss accidents of which nearly half were sleep-related.

Most sleep-related crashes are serious because a person asleep at the wheel is unable to prevent the crash from occurring. Unfortunately, sleep-related crashes frequently occur on highways, and thus at high speeds. Fatigue caused by sleep deprivation may also be responsible for up to 56 percent of crashes involving commercial truck drivers.
Sleep deprivation is a common consequence of certain lifestyles choices, including how one makes a living. Unfortunately, the nature of long-haul truck driving can contribute to sleep deprivation and fatigue. Driving late at night, driving a large number of miles, and driving for three or more hours at once are all factors that contribute to sleep deprivation. According to one study, long-haul truck drivers average little more than five hours of sleep per night.

Commercial truck drivers are at a particular risk for sleep deprivation-related accidents. Truck drivers often work long hours and drive late into the night or early in the morning. Strict deadlines often compel drivers to ignore drowsiness or to use legal and illegal stimulants that may impair their ability to safely operate a vehicle. Any of these factors can cause the driver to lose control of the huge vehicle and cause a devastating accident.
The use of antidepressants is directly related to vehicle accidents. Sleep-related disorders also have a strong effect on the incidence of driving accidents: many physicians feel that commercial drivers should be assessed for sleep-related fatigue disorders before providing them with their trucker’s license.

The high incidence of sleep deprived truck driver crashes led the federal agency in charge of commercial drivers (The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), to enact new rules in July of 2013.  In short (and depending upon the nature of the trucking operation) these regulations require the following:
  •  Once a trucker reports on duty, they can work / drive for a maximum of a 14 hour shift before being required to go off duty or into  the sleeper “berth” (sleeping portion of their truck cab) for 10 hours
  • During this 14 hour shift, the trucker is not allowed to operate their big rig for more than 11 hours.
  • Truckers cannot drive more than 60 hours in any 7 day period or 70 hours in any 8 day work period
While these new regulations do seem to be having an effect on reducing trucking accidents on U.S. highways, trucking is still and will remain a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week business. While restrictions can be made on total number of hours driven vs. rest time, there will still be hundreds of truckers operating semis on the freeways and highways of Texas during late night and early morning hours. Therefore, commercial truck accidents caused partially or wholly by trucker fatigue will never be completely eliminated.

It is never easy to prove that a traffic collision between a tractor trailer and another car, truck or passenger vehicle was caused by a sleepy truck driver.  Drivers rarely admit that they were fatigued prior to the crash.  Likewise, due to the adrenaline rush following such a calamity, it isn’t easy for investigating officers from the State Highway Patrol or other agencies to detect that a driver was sleepy prior to the crash.  The role of a personal injury lawyer is to get to the truth by analyzing the physical evidence at the scene; the trucking logs, company policies and procedures on driving,  fleet training and various other information. An accident attorney can employ experts to determine if there is evidence of such as a lack of evidence of any braking just prior to impact, a violation of regulations regarding sleep, a failure to attempt to avoid the crash and many other indications of a sleepy truck driver.  This makes it crucial to consult and retain an attorney familiar with trucking accidents to have your best chance of finding maximum liability on the trucking company or independent truck driver.

If you have been injured due to driver negligence, contact the office of  Brent M. Cordell at 1- 844 - 8LEGAL8 or visit www.cordell-law.com to schedule a free consultation.