Free Case Evaluation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Our Verdicts

$1,750,000

18-Wheeler Collision

Settlement

$1,467,000

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Jury Verdict

$1,070,000

AUTO ACCIDENT 

Jury Verdict

Plaintiff claimed back injuries from broadside collision

Montgomery County

MOTOR VEHICLE

Intersection — Broadside — Truck — Cell Phone — Red Light

Plaintiff claimed back injuries from broadside collision

Verdict

$517,285

Case

Richard Frazier v Bethany Salas, No. 15-01-00325

Court

Montgomery County District Court, 284th, TX

Judge

Cara Wood

Date

6/20/2017

Plaintiff Attorney(s)
Eric D. Nielsen (lead), The Nielsen Law Firm P.C., Houston, TX
Daniel Cienfuegos, Jr., The Nielsen Law Firm P.C., Houston, TX
Defense Attorney(s)
Erich L. Schenk, David Knight & Associates, Houston, TX
Facts & Allegations

On Oct. 20, 2013, plaintiff Richard Frazier, 46, a telecommunications consultant, was driving a 2006 BMW 650i sedan in The Woodlands. He stopped at a red light, and when it turned green, he proceeded. Bethany Salas was driving a 2013 Hyundai Tucson sport utility vehicle on the cross street and was texting. She ran a red light and struck Frazier’s right rear wheel. Frazier claimed back injuries.

Frazier sued Salas for gross negligence in texting while driving, failing to keep a proper lookout, running a red light and failing to yield the right of way.

It came into evidence that Salas had caused a rearend collision on a prior occasion while typing into her GPS while driving. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the prior accident gave Salas actual awareness of the extreme degree of risk of her actions, and that Salas was consciously indifferent to this risk at the time of the Frazier accident.

Salas was not present at trial.

The defense did not dispute negligence, but did dispute gross negligence. The defense argued that Frazier had no evidence that Salas was subjectively, consciously indifferent to the consequences of her actions because Salas was not present at trial and plaintiff’s counsel had not asked her about conscious indifference during her deposition.

The defense was able to keep out the fact that Salas was drinking at a sports bar before the accident.

Injuries/Damages

aggravation of pre-existing condition; herniated disc at L5-S1; lower back; physical therapy

Frazier went to the emergency room by ambulance from the scene. He claimed that the accident aggravated a congenital pars defect at L4-5 and either caused or aggravated a herniated disc at L5-S1. The impact spun his vehicle clockwise 180 degrees.

He consulted with his primary care doctor and an orthopedic surgeon. He underwent physical therapy from Nov. 26, 2013, to Feb. 10, 2014. His orthopedic surgeon testified that Frazier would need a lumbar laminectomy and fusion at L4-5.

Frazier sought $21,085 for past medical bills; $163,200 for future medical bills; and unspecified damages for past and future physical pain and mental anguish and physical impairment. He also sought $250,000 in punitive damages.

The defense noted that the medical records reflected multiple inconsistent statements by Frazier about the facts and circumstances of the accident. In his deposition, he denied making the statements, and at trial, the defense argued that he “changed his story” yet again, by saying that the information in question had been given to him by the investigating officer. (The officer did not testify at trial and was not deposed.)

Also, the rehabilitation facility’s records said that, according to Frazier, he aggravated his back on a vacation in Mexico while hiking over rough terrain and swimming in the ocean. (Frazier denied making such a statement.)

The defense also emphasized that Frazier sought no treatment from May 2015 until trial.

Result

The jury found Salas negligent and grossly negligent and awarded Frazier $517,285.

Richard Frazier

$21,085 past medical cost
$163,200 future medical cost
$10,000 past physical impairment
$25,000 future physical impairment
$250,000 punitive damages
$13,000 past physical pain and mental anguish
$35,000 future physical pain and mental anguish
$517,285

Demand

$300,000 (policy limit)

Offer

$100,000

Insurer(s)

Government Employees Insurance Co.

Trial Details
Trial Length: 2 days
Trial Deliberations: 2.5 hours
Jury Vote: 12-0
Jury Composition: 6 male, 6 female
Plaintiff Expert(s)

Nilesh Kotecha, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Houston, TX

Defense Expert(s)

None reported

Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.