Dennis was driving a company vehicle when a tow truck, who was speeding, lost control and caused a catastrophic car crash. Dennis was killed instantly in the wreck, leaving behind a wife of 35 years and three children, one of whom is disabled and requires extensive care. Dennis was the sole provider of this wonderful family. The fatal event left the family devastated and concerned about their financial future.
The tow truck company responsible for the crash had virtually no assets and insufficient insurance coverage. After litigating the case, the company agreed to pay the full amount of the policy to the family, and an additional six-figure sum out of their own pockets. Perhaps most importantly, a deal was negotiated with Dennis’ workers compensation insurance carrier, which was required to pay certain benefits to the family because the crash happened while Dennis was on the job. The negotiated deal dramatically increased the value of those insurance benefits, helping to ensure long-term financial stability for Dennis’ family.
Melissa, a surgeon’s assistant in her late thirties, was driving home when her car was violently struck by a vehicle driven by a very drunk man in his mid-twenties. The man had only moments earlier fled the scene of another crash he caused, making Melissa the second victim. Melissa sustained multiple injuries, including a broken sternum and a complicated wrist fracture. The drunk driver had a small insurance policy and no other assets to cover the harm he caused. FVF recovered all of the insurance money available on both the drunk driver’s insurance as well as Melissa’s own under-insured motorist insurance. FVF then turned its investigation to the root cause of the crash: the bar that served the man.
Although no clues were apparent on the police report, and although the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer had instructed him to plead “the fifth” and answer no questions, FVF contacted the tow-truck driver to see if he had heard anything at the scene. FVF then learned that the tow truck driver overheard the man had been drinking at a well-known national hospitality chain. FVF immediately sent notice to the bar, and a demand for credit card receipts and security footage. In most such cases, so-called “safe harbor” laws immunize bars that serve alcohol so long as they maintain valid and current TABC licenses for their employees. In this case, however, FVF used an important exception to those laws: management encouragement of over-service. The bar agreed to pay a large settlement to avoid litigation. FVF’s lawyers went well beyond filing insurance claims for its client. They compelled a large brand to accept responsibility for an alarming public safety risk, resulting in the education and retraining of its employees and managers in Austin.
On October 3, 2014, oilfield services worker, James, fell asleep while operating an 80,000 pound tractor- trailer. A multiple vehicle wreck occurred, and he was instantly killed. The fatal wreck happened in the West Texas oilfields during the biggest oil-boom of a generation. James had been working for almost 5 straight days with virtually no sleep.
During FVF’s year-long investigation of the employer’s policies, practices, and procedure, many questions arose as to why an exhausted employee was allowed to operate the vehicle on such little sleep. As FVF completed fifteen depositions and obtained over eight-thousand documents in discovery, FVF uncovered the truth. The employer was sitting on shocking evidence of extreme driver fatigue specific to James’s crew on the very day he died. The corporation’s leaders were aware of rampant driver fatigue throughout the organization. They knew about grossly mismanaged driver logs, and fraudulently buried Department of Transportation violations. Supervisors were even training drivers to falsify driving logs, and were punishing workers who complained that they were too tired to drive. The corporation lied to law enforcement about it. They lied to James’s grieving family. And, through perjured testimony and buried documents, they attempted to mislead FVF’s lawyers.
Because James was on the job when the crash occurred, Texas law required FVF to prove the impossible: that corporate leaders were aware of extremely dangerous conduct but chose to turn a blind-eye. FVF’s work on this case will take care of James’s daughters’ college tuition, and his mother can now afford to retire. Moreover, follow-up interviews with the company’s employees confirm the company has drastically changed its training and management practices.
Travis County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Chris was working security during a University of Texas football game. He was managing the crowds of players, staff, and media on the sidelines of the field when the driver of a motorized camera cart transporting a scissor lift lost focus on the pedestrians around the vehicle. The Sergeant protected the people in the path of the camera cart, but in the process of doing so, the heavy vehicle ran over him, severely and permanently injuring his left foot. The Sergeant underwent multiple surgeries, three months of immobilized recovery, and over a year of intense physical therapy.
At the time of the accident, Sergeant Chris had been a law enforcement officer for almost twenty-five years. Despite his tireless efforts in rehabilitation, he was not able to resume his duties as a sergeant. As a result, he was forced to resign from the force. His financial losses included a decrease in his annual earnings and loss of a significant retirement annuity.
FVF deposed eight witness, including eye witnesses and representatives of the production company, and proved that the camera cart driver had been negligent and insufficiently trained to operate a potentially dangerous machine. FVF recovered a seven-figure settlement for Sergeant Chris and his family, helping to ensure them a secure financial future. Because of this security, Chris has been able to dedicate himself to working full-time at his church.