2020 Saw A Worrying Increase In Pedestrian Accidents

It is, of course, an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many, many aspects of our lives. One of the more unexpected impacts of the pandemic is the effects it has had on driving and driving accidents. There have already been reports and studies showing that the number of vehicle related deaths rose sharply in 2020 even as many of us stayed home and avoided crowded restaurants and entertainment venues.

Unfortunately, the same sharp rise in deaths appears to be true of pedestrians accidents during the pandemic, as well. A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows a worrying trend. In 2020, some 2,957 pedestrians were struck and killed. Similar to general vehicle on vehicle traffic deaths, this number isn't vastly changed from its 2019 version. The problem, once again, is that there were far fewer cars on the road and far fewer miles driven in 2020 vs 2019. Working the math, we see that there was actually a 20% increase in pedestrian deaths in 2020.

The root cause seems to be the same as what spurred a rise in vehicle deaths: With far less drivers on the roads, the mix of good drivers to bad ones swung in the wrong direction. Additionally, reckless drivers may have taken the emptier roads as an open playground for faster, more dangerous driving with the predictable end results far outweighing the fewer miles driven.

How The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Made Driving More Dangerous

For the last three years, traffic fatalities have been trending downward. In fact, 2019 may have been one of the safest years on record with only 36,096 traffic deaths. This works out to about 1.06 deaths per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled. The near record low can be attributed to several factors such as safer vehicles and improved driver aids like automatic emergency breaking being included in more cars.

Unfortunately, that trend towards safer driving looks like it will end with 2020, even though far fewer of us have been on the roads this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. In absolute numbers, we'll probably see fewer total deaths in 2020 vs 2019, but where driving deaths dropped about 2%, we collectively drove a dramatic 16% less in 2020. This means that the roads were actually significantly more dangerous than in previous years.

What's causing this reversal? The pandemic, most likely, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Our preliminary findings suggest that since mid-March, more drivers had alcohol or drugs in their systems. Other data suggests that many people are driving faster, especially at excessive speeds, and that fewer people involved in crashes appear to have been wearing seatbelts. We have never seen trends like this and we feel an urgency to work with our stakeholders to take action and turn this around as quickly as possible. -- James Owens, NHTSA Deputy Administrator

Other reports appear to confirm that when responsible people stay home, it is the reckless that remain on the now far emptier roads. High speeds, impaired driving, and what deceptively seems to be plenty of wide open road to practice both looks like a bad combination.

With the always dangerous New Years Eve / New Years Day weekend coming up quick, it might be worth keeping this worrying trend in mind when considering if you want to be out on the roads as we tick over to 2021.

Martin Walker Law Firm Recognized Among Country’s Best Law Firms

Inclusion in 2021 guide is latest in string of firm and attorney honors

Litigation boutique Martin Walker PC has earned recognition in the 11th edition of Best Law Firms for its work in medical malpractice litigation.

Selection among the 2021 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" rankings is based on evaluations and direct feedback from clients and peers, and only given to those firms with at least one attorney listed among the Best Lawyers in America. Reid WM. Martin and John F. (Jack) Walker, III both were recognized in the guide’s 2021 edition for their successful work on behalf of plaintiffs in medical malpractice matters. The complete list of Best Law Firms can be found at https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/.

“We’re honored to be recognized and to stand alongside so many accomplished law firms,” said Mr. Walker. “I think this serves as further proof of our dedication and commitment to fighting for those we represent and to helping them get the justice they deserve.”

This is just one of several recent honors for the firm. In October, Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker were both recognized by Thomson Reuters as Texas Super Lawyers. Mr. Walker, Mr. Martin and firm attorney Marisa Schouten were also inducted into the Texas Verdicts Hall of Fame for a record $43 million medical malpractice verdict, the state’s largest medical malpractice verdict in all of 2018 and the largest over the past five years.

Opioid Maker Admits Defeat

Last Month, the Sackler family, the leaders behind the drug company Purdue Pharma, agreed to an $8.3 billion dollar settlement with the US government. Purdue Pharma, best known for the drug OxyContin, abused its power and lied about the drug's risk of addiction. For years, they even played both sides of the addiction game, telling doctors and patients the drug was safe while working to build out addiction treatment centers to help treat people for the addictions their own drugs caused.

For several years, the law branches of both States and the Federal government have been engaged in lawsuits over the Sacklers role in the Opioid Epidemic. Not only is Purdue Pharma shutting down and paying large fines, the Sackler family itself are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars for their role in directing the dishonest business practices surrounding the sale and marketing of OxyContin.

Although this settlement marks a major milestone in the government's legal response to the Opioid Epidemic, it is not the end. Several states are still unsatisfied with the punishments Purdue Pharma and its controlling family have received. There's also hints that the Sacklers have hidden much of their opioid profits in order to protect their wealth from lawsuits. They have even gone so far as to ask judges to exclude them from the thousands of smaller lawsuits that have built up during the decades their companies mismanaged the opioid epidemic.

The Justice Department, for its part, has pointed out that this settlement still leaves open the possibility for more litigation and more punishments in the future.

Thomson Reuters Recognizes Martin Walker Co-Founders Among Texas Super Lawyers

Martin Walker PC is proud to announce that trial lawyers and firm co-founders Reid Martin and John F. (Jack) Walker III have earned recognition among this year’s Texas Super Lawyers. Both have been selected for their work on behalf of plaintiffs in the area of medical malpractice.

“Jack understands how stressful and often how scary a client’s situation can be,” said Mr. Martin. “He wants our clients to know that they’ve got someone in their corner, and that’s evident in the way he fights for them in the courtroom. You couldn’t ask for a better advocate.”

While the number of Texas attorneys who continue to accept medical malpractice cases is shrinking by the year, Martin Walker PC stands ready to fight for those it represents. Each attorney is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

“For the sorts of cases we take on, I couldn’t ask for a better partner than Reid,” said Mr. Walker. “To be able to sit with him, talk through a case, and find solutions that often aren’t obvious right at the start, is something I’m very thankful for. Not a day goes by that I’m not impressed by his work ethic and commitment.”

Each year, Thomson Reuters recognizes less than five percent of attorneys in the state for its list of Texas Super Lawyers. Those selected are nominated by peers and colleagues and then vetted through independent research by the Thomson Reuters’ editorial staff before a final review by a blue-ribbon panel. A final list of honorees is published in the November issue of Texas Monthly and the Texas edition of Texas Super Lawyers magazines. The full list is available online at http://www.superlawyers.com.

This is far from the first time Martin Walker PC has been recognized for its skill and leadership. In 2020, the firm was inducted into the Texas Verdicts Hall of Fame for a $43.32 million medical malpractice verdict, which was the largest in Texas in 2018 and the largest overall in the past five years. Earlier this year, Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker were each recognized in the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers in America.

Martin Walker Law Firm Inducted into National Law Journal Verdicts Hall of Fame

Martin Walker has earned recognition in The National Law Journal’s Verdicts Hall of Fame for a record $43 million medical malpractice verdict won in 2018 against East Texas Medical Center.

Firm co-founders Jack Walker and Reid Martin, together with trial attorney Marisa Schouten, represented a man who had to be placed in a medically induced coma for more than a month after a botched procedure by a doctor who was already on probation with the Texas Medical Board. The plaintiff had sought help at the Tyler hospital for bile duct stones but was misdiagnosed by a gastroenterologist who should not have been allowed access to the hospital at the time of the procedure. Weeks after he was placed in a coma, a second doctor rejected the original diagnosis and successfully completed the operation.

“Thank you to The National Law Journal for recognizing all the hard work that went into this case,” said firm co-founder Reid Martin. “Those affected by medical malpractice stand to lose so much, and everyone at Martin Walker is absolutely committed to fighting for them and making sure they get the justice they deserve.”

As compensation for past and future pain and suffering, as well as medical care and lost income, the plaintiff was awarded approximately $18.5 million, as well as an additional $25 million in punitive damages meant to cover the hospital’s gross negligence. This amount represented the largest medical malpractice verdict in Texas for all of 2018.

Those inducted in the Verdicts Hall of Fame were selected from five different practice area categories. This year’s honorees represent the firms with the highest verdicts from 2015-2019 and are recognized in the October 2020 issue of The National Law Journal.

The complete listing of the National Law Journal Verdicts Hall of Fame can be found here.

Martin Walker Law Firm Earns Entry to Texas Verdicts Hall of Fame

Martin Walker has been inducted into Texas Lawyer newspaper’s Texas Verdicts Hall of Fame. The news comes after the firm secured a record $43 million medical malpractice against East Texas Medical Center.

Pierce v. East Texas Medical Center saw Martin Walker co-founders Jack Walker and Reid Martin and trial attorney Marisa Schouten represent a man who suffered serious medical complications after being misdiagnosed by a gastroenterologist who was on probation with the Texas Medical Board. According to the lawsuit, the doctor, who should not have been allowed to work at the hospital at the time of the procedure, wrongly concluded that surgery was not an option to remove bile duct stones. The man was placed in a medically induced coma for a more than a month until a second doctor rejected the original diagnosis and operated without complication.

“This verdict was commensurate with the damage that was done to my client,” Mr. Walker said. “Regular people trust their doctors to handle some of the most important decisions in their lives. To allow such a serious medical error to occur was unconscionable. We’re grateful to Texas Lawyer and our colleagues in the legal community for recognizing the work we did to ensure justice won the day.”

The plaintiff was awarded approximately $18.5 million for past and future pain and suffering, lost income and medical care. Another $25 million in punitive damages was awarded for the hospital’s gross negligence. The total sum has been recognized as the largest medical malpractice verdict in Texas in 2018.

Inductees into the Texas Verdicts Hall of Fame were chosen across five categories, each representing a different area of practice. This year’s honorees represent the firms with the highest verdicts from 2015-2019 and will be recognized in the September 2020 issue of Texas Lawyer.

Martin Walker Handles Case Of 13-year old's Preventable Death

In August 2018, Kyrell McBride-Johnson collapsed on the football field during tryouts and later died while being taken to the hospital. It was determined that Kyrell had died of a pre-existing heart condition even though he had been screened and cleared by CareNow clinic in Fort Worth. Critically, Kyrell had checked yes to three important questions:

"Have you ever had chest pain during or after exercise?
"Have you ever become ill from exercising in the heat?"
"Do you have asthma?"

"These questionnaires are designed to be a screening tool, and it needed to be taken seriously,” Reid Martin said about the case. “They just didn’t do their job in this case. He should be with us today because this was a preventable death.”

An autopsy showed that Kyrell died of a heart anomaly called an anomalous coronary artery, which is the second most common cause of death among young athletes.

"I want the medical community to know what happened and to take these screenings more seriously,” Kyrell's mother, Monica McBride-Debbs said. “That would prevent any other parent, any other mom, to have to go through what I went through with my 13-year-old son, who had a very promising life ahead of him."

This case has gotten coverage on The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, NBC 5 News in Dallas, and others.

Reid Martin and Jack Walker Recognized Among Top Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers

Lawdragon has released its list of the country’s 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers for 2020. Martin Walker co-founders Jack Walker and Reid Martin have both been recognized for their work on behalf of people who have been catastrophically injured or involved in serious business disputes.

“Serving our clients and fighting on their behalf is something we feel very passionate about,” said Mr. Martin. “For us, it goes beyond the job. It’s personal.”

Lawdragon describes the attorneys it recognizes by saying, “The Plaintiff Consumer 500 range from coast to coast, counseling grieving family members and finding pathways to justice for those who have been harmed or killed.”

“This is work that we’ve dedicated our lives to,” said Mr. Walker. “To be recognized for that is very gratifying.”

In its fifteenth year of publication, Lawdragon is releasing 15 lists recognizing attorneys in a variety of practice areas. In addition to its 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers, Reid Martin was also recognized among Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Lawyers in America. The complete list of Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers can be found here.