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Dangers facing Austin pedestrians

On top of heat cramps, heat stroke, heart attack, dehydration, and good old heat exhaustion, summer walkers also have cars to worry about.
In Austin throughout 2012, 28 pedestrians were killed on Austin roadways and three cyclists. There were 12 auto v. pedestrian crashes in 2010 and 22 in 2011. One third of the pedestrian deaths have happened along side I-35 typically in lower income areas.
While Austin does not have any direct studies showing a correlation between poverty and walking deaths other states are investigating this phenomenon.
In fact, Newark, New Jersey Research from “Rutgers University has shown a strong correlation between low income neighborhoods and high pedestrian crash totals. Daniel Kravetz, who conducted the research as a graduate student, says “The higher the income level, the lower the likelihood for crashes to occur in an area.” It may seem logical to conclude that the wealthier residents are equipped with cars and simply don’t walk the streets of Newark as often. But Kate Hinds points out that pedestrian infrastructure is a major factor in the Newark accident rates. Intersections in many low income neighborhoods are lacking crosswalks, pedestrian signals, curb cuts and sidewalks.” The Dangers of Walking While Poor, JERINBRENT .
So that makes things even more tricky, walking while poor a new extreme sport. The research goes on to say that really the danger is in the lack of infrastructure for those needing to walk to get from point A to point B on surfaces that are made to keep pedestrians out of and away from the flow of vehicle traffic. Infrastructure is the key word here. Then there are the dangers of walking alone. Walking while texting we know to be dangerous, after all you have to be able to see where you are going. Then there is the danger of walking on ice, walking home alone, and the often unmentioned danger of walking too little.
I have been doing it all my life and taking for granted just how dangerous walking can be. I say this in all seriousness.
The Washington Post reported “In 2010, there were 32,885 traffic deaths in the United States, according to a new brief (pdf) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Roughly 13 percent of those, or 4,280, were pedestrians. That’s down considerably from a decade ago, but it’s also up slightly since 2009. As NHSTA puts it: “On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes.”
The same Washington Post article cites drunk driving responsible for 14% of pedestrian deaths. The real culprit even in this article is again, “more than 52 percent of the 47,067 pedestrians killed… between 2000 and 2009 died on principal or minor arterials. These wide, straight roads are often extremely hostile to pedestrians. They feature little to no facilities for walking, so drivers aren’t looking for people on foot.” Id. In other words, lack of infrastructure.

So, in a time when our nation is at an all time high for incidence of diabetes: According to the American Diabetes Association data from 2011 says, “ 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.”
When we need to be walking and riding our bikes the most, we keep focusing on motor vehicle sustainability. While our Interstate highway system is part of the reason we are an economic superpower, along with our railroads, shipping capabilities, and air transport, it is also bringing to life a too real version of Disney Pixar’s Wall-E. Interestingly, if you have been to Disney World or Disneyland lately you will also notice, this is the only production that is conspicuously enough not advertised, except by the number of humans being transported by mobility scooters. In Burlington County New Jersey the belief is that stiffer penalties for law violators will be the cure. While other sources say anything from drivers being more responsible road scanners to the opposite extreme where some folks actually say people shouldn’t be walking at all!

In this writer’s humble opinion, there are far too many preventable accidents and crashes out there. Creating infrastructure is key, especially in neighborhoods where you have higher ratios of people moving around on foot. Alcohol consumption and responsible serving of alcohol has got to be a goal insisted upon by the citizenry and the citizenry can get there with citizen alliances insisting upon harsher sentencing, stiffer penalties, and more policing of establishments that serve alcohol as well as policing roadways during the hours when most of the alcohol related incidents occur. Certainly there are more creative solutions out there and we can get there, as soon as we respect original transportation (bi-peds) as viable, necessary, worthy, and worth the tax dollars to protect because after all, who can actually argue that they simply don’t walk.
Then there is the no brainer stuff. People…..Pay Attention When You Are Driving Your Car or Truck. We the people may be walking, jogging, or riding our bikes there…..

To Ride With or Without a Helmet, That is The Question

Helmets are hot. We mean sexy. Sexy to us because it means you have a brain you want to protect. Brains are sexy. Helmets are also hot as in they can make us feel heat on our heads on an already blisteringly hot day. Therein lies the question, take it off, or keep it on?

We are all about personal freedoms and we believe this choice is certainly up to you. We want you to keep your brains and that sexy head of yours and many argue that helmets are more dangerous because we are not seen by other vehicles as “as vulnerable” when riding and cars and trucks are less cautious. Some argue that helmets make no guarantees of safe landings in crashes. There may be truth to all these arguments and we are not trying to change or shape anyone’s opinion and we respect everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Truth is, if you are hit hard enough, no helmet will protect you. True. Fair enough. But, ….take a look at this information from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). They have no horse in any race to increase insurance costs for riders that ride without helmets. They have no horse in the race of whether you purchase a DOT certified helmet or not. The AANS is not the government. The AANS is made up of surgeons who will treat you after your head has suffered a blow.

Shefman Law represents cyclists and bikers in Austin, Texas following traumatic brain injuries (TBI). We see the afterglow of that glorious ride without a helmet. Thankfully they don’t all end in trauma. Thankfully most rides are just that, a glorious ride. If your ride goes bad we will be there for you, with or without a helmet, no matter your choice. We just want to share some of this information.

In 2009, The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) utilizing U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data tracking specific instances through tracking data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) cycling related head injuries contributing to the highest number of estimated head injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2009.
Cycling accounted for 85,389 head injuries in adults and in head-injury categories among children ages 14 and younger cycling accounted for 40,272 head injuries.

“A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on the extent of damage to the brain. Mild cases may result in a brief change in mental state or consciousness, while severe cases may result in extended periods of unconsciousness, coma or even death.” (AANS)

According to the AANS every year, more than 500,000 people visit emergency rooms in the United States with bicycle-related injuries. Of those, nearly 85,000 were head injuries in 2009. There are about 600 deaths a year, with two-thirds being attributed to TBI. It is estimated that up to 85 percent of head injuries can be prevented through proper usage of properly fitting helmets.

Universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent 45,000 head injuries.

So, these are real numbers. Real heads hurt. Some of them were tiny heads. That makes our head hurt. We want you to be safe, stay sexy, and if you can tolerate it, to wear a helmet. The law in Texas does not require you to but it does require we protect our little ones heads. So, let’s make sure those helmets fit properly and give them the chance to grow up and choose the answer to the question, “To Ride With or Without a Helmet?” on their own.

How to Choose An Attorney After You Have Been Injured

There are thousands to choose from and the choice can be daunting. You want to make the right decision. The relationship you forge with your attorney should be one of trust and confidence. Where to begin?

Here are the Questions we think you should ask when interviewing potential lawyers to represent you or your loved ones:

1. How many cases similar to mine have you had prior to mine?
2. How many cases similar to mine have you tried before a jury to verdict?
3. How many cases have you tried to verdict and won?
4. How many cases have you settled at the first offer without putting up much of a fight?
5. Who will be handling my case?
6. Can I reach you when I have a question?
7. How long will it take you to respond to my phone calls?
8. Will I be able to contact you by phone, email, and text?
9. Can I speak with other clients you have represented in the past on similar cases as mine?
10. Will you fight for me?

These are the top ten questions we would ask if we were hiring an attorney. These are the questions we like to be asked.

We have a focus for the same reason your doctor does. You don’t want to go to an orthopedic doctor who specializes in knee surgery for your kidney replacement surgery. Same thing goes for your attorney. Don’t survive the crash just to get killed in your settlement, at mediation or before a jury of your peers. You deserve an attorney who focuses their work on you and your type of injury and claim.

Often attorneys advertise for personal injury cases because they think they are easy and they can make a lot of money. Look at the advertisements out there. Family law lawyers are also advertising for personal injury. These are not the same areas of law and a person who spends the majority of their time representing clients in family court are not in our opinion as prepared to take your case into a civil court room where stricter laws of evidence apply.

Criminal law attorneys often advertise for personal injury law too. Ask, how many times have you filed a civil law suit? How many civil cases have you tried? Why? If an attorney is specialized in criminal law it does not mean they have a clue about civil law. This is significant this difference between an attorney who primarily represents clients in criminal court and those of us who do civil personal injury law. The bodies of law are substantially different. The strategies vary considerably. Knowing how to strategize a case on behalf of your client so that you can get the best settlement or verdict before a jury of their peers is like apples and oranges when considering how to get the best deal for your criminal client or try that case before a jury of the criminally accused peers.

Why do attorneys focus their practice or specialize?

The law is multifaceted. There are hundreds of thousands of statutes and case law to know and understand. Knowing how to navigate the complexity of a civil case is hugely different from a criminal case. The same laws do not apply. The way society views certain civil claims is different. The way society views various crimes is different.

You’ve Got a Bike? We’ve Got Your Back.

We meet attorneys often who say they do what we do. Then we start discussing cases and we learn quickly, they have no clue what we do.

Shefman Law tries cases when the defendant does not come up with the right number for settlement because we refuse to settle our clients cases for less than the full amount. Very few cases actually go to trial but you have to know you have a skilled trial attorney for when the defendant is trying to cut you short of what you deserve.

We can’t give you back your body pre-injury or your mind without the scars from the impact. The only thing we can do is seek to compensate you financially to pay off the overwhelming past and future medical costs of being injured, your wage loss, and provide you compensation for your past and future pain and suffering. We also believe justice serves the person who injured you and let’s them feel the relief of their “debt” being paid to the one they harmed.

Austin Ride of Silence 2013 Pfluger Bike and Ped Bridge at 6:30 PM

Tonight, Wednesday, May 15, 2013, gather at the Pfluger Bike and Ped Bridge for a one hour, eight mile (no drop) ride that will begin at 7 PM sharp. This is a global event to honor, grieve, remember, give thanks for those who have been killed or injured while riding.

During the ride please respect all the safety rules of the road. Helmets and lights shall be used. The ride is silent, hand gestures for signaling. Call out only in emergency to alert other riders of potential dangers.

There will be a dedication period. AT that time you can speak of someone you would like to recognize or remember. Please arrive at 6:30 PM and meet up with a ride organizer to make sure you are listed to speak at the dedication period of the Ride of Silence.

You will see other riders with black arm bands-this signifies memory of a loved one who was killed. Red arm bands indicate someone injured while riding their bike. Please wear bands or pin photos to your jersey or shirt or attach a sign to your bike. Thank you for riding and remembering. Shefman Law remembers Cody Johnson killed on November 3, 2012; Brian Lindquist who was hit and mentally incapacitated on October 12, 2012; and Robert “Chops” Ramirez killed September 23, 2012.

You Have Been In a Bike Crash in Austin. Now What?

Whether you have been in a bike crash in Austin or a motorcycle crash in Austin these are key things to know to preserve your rights.

1. Get the help you need. At the crash site, make sure 911 is called and the police respond. Austin is lucky to have a positive police chief who agrees cyclists and bikers have a right to share the road. Make sure police respond. Show the police the respect they deserve and help them help you.
2. Get the medical attention you need. Take that ambulance to the hospital and get evaluated. When hit by a ton or more of car or truck you often have so much adrenaline running through your system you have no idea the extent of your injuries.
3. Get witness and as much information at the crash site as possible. Use our phone app (cyclistlaw crash app) or just turn on your phone video camera if you have one and start recording everything from the vehicles involved, the witnesses, their information, the insurance information of the person who hit you, record the license plate, make, model of the vehicle, the street signs, any road conditions that may be relevant, everything…point and shoot!
4. Do not speak to any insurance company representatives until you have spoken to a bike crash attorney from cyclistlaw and/or motorcycle crash attorney.
5. Keep the clothing you were wearing at the time of the crash including your helmet or the jacket they cut off of you in the ER. This is evidence.
6. Keep a journal of the things you are having difficulty with. If you were head injured but are functioning write down the troubles you are experiencing.
7. Call Cyclistlaw.com and speak to an attorney who can help you.

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