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Another tragedy, another call for better streets

June 7, 2016, Alexei Baureis, a 14-year-old was hit and killed on his bicycle at the intersection of Spicewood Springs and Rustic Rock Drive. A large truck hit this child. After noting that the driver was not intoxicated and cooperative KXAN reports that police warn “with summer here, people on bikes should be certain to make sure they have their lights and reflectors in place, there is no mention that lights or reflectors were a factor. There is no warning to motorists to make sure their vehicles are operational, that they are not driving distracted or without lights.

A 14-year-old is dead. Looking at the intersection (see interactive street view below) where he died it is clear, there is no infrastructure for people on bikes. Had the motorist been looking and driving with lights on and seeing what there is to be seen and observing the vulnerable road user ordinance, would this young person still be with us? Had the City provided adequate street lighting and a bicycle lane would this young person still be with us?


Meeting with the Chief of Police

In a time when traffic injuries and deaths are at an all time high and disproportionately affecting vulnerable road users, Monday, Chief Acevedo and Bike Austin are meeting at Mellow Johnny’s (May 23, 2016, 6pm). This meeting is to discuss the donation by Bike Austin to the APD of 2 C3FT devices which are designed to help enforce the 3-ft passing law for vulnerable road users.

I don’t want a meeting with the Chief. I want the Chief to meet with his officers and Licensed Cycling Instructors and educate them on the laws specific to people riding bikes and people who are most vulnerable using our very delicate and dangerous system of transportation. And really, giving them two new pieces of technology is not getting the police to buy into educating themselves about the 3-foot and 6-foot rule. I ask that the Police Department, from the rank-and-file to the Chief, commit 10 minutes or even 5 minutes to a regularly scheduled training to discuss the laws pertaining to vulnerable road users.


Is Death Funny? Can Death Be Funny? – Part Two

Read Part One

What happens if someone dies intestate in Texas?

Intestate simply means, without a will. When a person dies without a will property is distributed according to the Texas Estates Code rules, and those rules are complicated.

Did the person die married? Are there children? Did s/he own community property? Was s/he in the process of separation or divorce? Are the deceased’s parents still alive? Who are all the living heirs who may be entitled to take from the deceased?

Decedent – a dead person
Married – Texas acknowledges common law marriage but you should seek counsel on whether the marriage at issue qualifies.
Children – Adopted and by birth.
Heir – a person who receives an interest in an ancestors assets through intestate (without a will) succession.
Kin – related by blood or (big lawyer word of the day) consanguinity (of the same bloodline.)


Your last will and testament is important, don't leave your family without.

Is Death Funny? Can Death Be Funny? – Part One

Your last will and testament is important, don't leave your family without.Can Death be funny? Is it something that is okay to laugh about? We are all going to die. Nobody questions the fact that we will die, but nobody really wants to talk about it.

I wanted to make it a topic that seemed more approachable so I went to the most creative person I know, my cousin Leana. I asked, “Is there anything funny about death? I want to start a conversation with clients and past clients about death so that they are prepared if something awful does happen.” This was her response, “So that is hard because comedy itself is hard. So funny death stuff, I keep going back to cartoons and how shows like the roadrunner are funny because they have a million lives and never really die.”

As much as I loved her response because it shows how we are grasping I realized, death just isn’t funny. Nothing about loss is funny for any of us. We can speak in retrospect about what a loved one did that was funny, that is funny. We can try to recapture a moment or a time a happenstance when we all laughed a deep belly laugh with our past loved one, that is funny to the one who holds the memory, but death just isn’t funny.

As a trial lawyer mainly focused on vulnerable road users for the past 16 years my outlook sometimes, especially when the time changes, gets a bit darker. Recent catastrophic injury and death cases have been weighing on our practice, and part of that is the suffering a family that is unprepared for death (as though anyone is really prepared) takes on. The additional sufferings, sometimes distractions, for good or ill such as probate and dealing with guardianship and other unintended consequences of the deceased’s unplanned death are hard on anyone grieving.

So, here is what I am on about. For our clients we wanted to add a service, a sliding scale service to clients who have not yet planned for what could happen. If you have children, you need to plan for what happens if you are not here. No one wants to think about that but as parents we have to. Guardianship is perhaps the most important consideration for sudden loss of life. Who would raise that child or children, and in the very unlikely event that the person whom you first select were to be disabled or also die, who is next in line for that honor and that you trust?

And if you don’t have children, do you want your family to be in probate court over your assets? And, you say you have no assets, but even the smallest of accounts and debts have judicial procedures that follow your death unless you have created a will or living trust.

We realize this is a very unpleasant, not funny topic and no one really wants to have it; consider this, if you die intestate (without a will) you forgo the chance you had while you were still alive, this is the chance you have to take care of your kids, or your parents, or spouse, and leave your affairs in order so they are not sitting Shiva in my office and hanging out with Judge Herman in our probate court.

We are now offering sliding scale services for those in need of simple estate planning and guardianship papers. No we are not becoming your grandfather’s law practice or mine. We are simply seeing a need and filling a gap for our clients who are unusually vulnerable for a variety of reasons.

Through this link you can fill out the necessary information that will help us get started on preparing the documents you need. Services and prices will vary but in ALL circumstances we will work within your budget.

Read Part Two

Catastrophic Injuries, Finding the Policy to Cover The Costs of All of the Harms and Losses

When a client of ours suffers a catastrophic injury there is always a search for insurance coverage to manage the extensive harms and losses experienced by the injured and their loved ones. A tree of inquiry is to be followed and it naturally begins with the driver’s insurance policies. Texas has a glut of uninsured drivers—the Department of Transportation shows as of 2014, 1 in 6 drivers is using our roads without maintaining financial responsibility.

Inadequate coverage by the owner or driver leads to an inquiry of the injured party—did they have uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM)? Many people overlook the importance of purchasing this additional bit of insurance. To every driver we recommend purchasing this layer of insurance.

Sometimes there are third-party policies that may provide coverage in a catastrophic injury cases. In Texas, these policies are referred to as Umbrella Policies and usually only exist when the primary policy exceeds $300,000.00. These policies are on top of regular auto policies and must be separately searched for using databases built to find this specific layer of insurance. These excess or umbrella policies are usually meant to cover events that are not typically covered by standard policies and the policies must be read to verify applicability.

The next query is to seek the possibility of other negligent parties such as employer liability for cases involving commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks, semi trucks, 18 wheelers, construction vehicles and vehicles driven for the benefit of an employer, or in the course and scope of employment. Commercial policies, often referred to as CGL (commercial general liability), are specifically for vicarious liability issues. Knowing how to read the policies for exclusions and coverage is key to knowing what money is on the table to cover the catastrophic losses.

Trucking accidents can have layered coverage for the driver, owner, operator, and company. Typically there are layers of insurance that cover separately the owner, operator, and the company, depending on the way the driver is employed. The Motor Carrier Safety Act sets standards for insurance and endorsements on drivers and big rigs.

If you have suffered a catastrophic injury and are trying to dig through the layers of coverage and/or find coverage for your harms and losses, let us help navigate the claim so you and your family can focus on gaining quality of life and living back.

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