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Can I Bring A Claim On Behalf Of An Injured Family Member?

  • November 14, 2014 | FAQs


When a significant other whom you’re not married to or are domestic partners with but the law doesn’t acknowledge that for whatever reasons and they’re not next of kin, bringing a claim on their behalf will be up to the next of kin or next relative in the degrees of kinship, which is a legal term that we can help you understand. If you are the person who the family has decided is the best person to act as guardian or administer or executor of the estate—to act on the behalf—in the behalf of the person that’s been harmed, then you can. But it will be up to the next of kin.
This is a problem a lot of people face, and prior to being in this situation it’s always great to get the right documentation in place so that that problem can be pre-addressed. Not everybody has that luxury and we understand that, and we can help you work through that.

Regardless of the nature of your relationship to any individual that’s harmed, you can always contact us by phone and get a free consultation. If you feel more comfortable coming in to the office and speaking with an attorney person-to-person, we’ll make time for you, and we will make sure that your questions are answered.

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Rainy day bicycle safety tips

Austin is a great place to live, and many residents choose to take advantage of the ease of biking to many of the places that they might need to go. However, when it rains (as it has so much recently!), riding a bicycle can become much more hazardous, not to mention more uncomfortable for the rider!

Even so, there are many ways to make to make riding your bicycle in the rain a safer and much more pleasant experience. For instance:

• Light up that bike! If people can’t see you, then you stand a much greater chance of being hit. Rain and the resulting glare will reduce motorists’ vision, so be sure to put LED lights on your seatpost and handlebars. You might also consider an LED light that flashes red or a rechargeable lighting system.

• Remember to take additional safety measures when conditions are wet. Your tires will be more likely to slide out when you turn, and your braking distance will be shorter. Leather brake shoes might help reduce slippage and allow you to stop more quickly in the rain. Also watch out for painted lines on the road, which might be slicker than other parts of the pavement, and other hazards such as leaves, manholes, puddles, or any other danger that might be lurking in the road.

• Reduce your speed! It’s harder to avoid hazards in the rain, and it’s better to get to your destination a little later in one piece than to risk unnecessary injury to yourself or others.

• Use a heavier chain lube to help prevent rusting. There are some that are made especially for wet conditions.

• Be sure you have fenders over your front and rear tires. You can even cut strips from old water bottles and attach them to your fenders to make them longer!

• Consider buying a seat cover. It will help protect your bike, and it may increase your personal comfort as well!

• Buy a rain bike. If you’re going to be riding in the rain often, you may want to invest in a bike that you don’t mind exposing to more hazardous weather conditions. You may even have an older bike lying around that you can dedicate for rainy-day riding, thus saving your favorite bike from exposure to the elements.

• Choose appropriate clothing if you know in advance that you might be riding in the rain. You can wear a cycling cap under your helmet to help protect your head. Also be sure that you have a good cycling jacket. Being waterproof may not be enough-be sure the jacket also has some breathability. Also remember that normal raincoats may be too long to safely wear while riding. You can also cover your shoes to help keep the rain off your feet. They sell waterproof shoe covers, but you might be able to achieve the same result with a plastic bag and a little bit of crafting!

• Be aware that rain may reduce your range of vision, especially if you wear glasses that might get wet or foggy. You can help prevent this by purchasing a specialty helmet, or you could even try your hand at making your own visor out of an old soda bottle!

Following these tips can help you ride more safely and comfortably in inclement weather. However, if you are injured while riding your bicycle, contact Shefman Law.

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The fight for mobility and access in Austin

Lawsuits against auto makers that turned a blind eye to profits over people and regulators for the automotive industry have created safer cars then ever before. Cars today can withstand some impacts at up to 85 mph and some people survive those impacts. Yet, as automobiles become safer, our roads are increasingly dangerous for pedestrians, and cyclists, and our access outside of the automobile is more likely to be limited in favor of increased car lanes.

It is a literal battle, requiring proof of danger to get cities to increase access for mobility options such as sidewalks and bike lanes. Threat of lawsuits is in fact not threatening in Texas primarily because of the very strong governmental immunities that prevent lawsuits against cities, the State, and counties. Yet, vehicle violence is a constant threat. From 2004-2013 634 of our neighbors here in Austin, Texas have been killed in traffic. Traffic fatalities involving pedestrians are going up and Austin now ranks seventh in the number of pedestrians killed in the US cities with populations over 500,000. (NHTSA).

These statistics are not just about that guy, over there, in the distance. These are statistics involving all of us. Kids walking to and from school are susceptible so that includes every parent, every child, and that alone is each of us. Each time you park your car and cross the street, you are that pedestrian. We are all pedestrians at some point and it could be any of us or our family, our kids, that could be the next victim of vehicle violence.

The Pedestrian Advisory Council in Austin meets regularly to affect change and is working with multiple organizations here in town to create Vision Zero, a campaign with action and strategies to address traffic safety for all road users and aims to achieve zero fatalities. Think about attending a meeting, or showing up in your neighborhood meetings to address the concerns of limited or no sidewalks, limited or no bike lanes, attend city council meetings when these items are on the agenda.

As Austin grows we have a great chance to be a very accessible and mobile community where mobility should not be considered a threat but instead one of the aspects of our city that makes Austin all the more vibrant. After all, we all have to get around.

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Endorsements of Austin Candidates for November 2014 Election

  • October 24, 2014 | News

Election Day is November 4th, but many Texas voters choose to vote early. This can be done either in person or by mail. Early voting runs from October 20th through October 31st. For more information and to find out if you are eligible for early voting, click here.

Even if you’re voting early, however, you still have to decide how you will cast your ballot. Since it’s important to understand where candidates stand on the issues, BikeTexas has endorsed candidates that it believes are the most committed to ensuring that those who walk and bike on the streets of Austin are kept safe and that their voices are heard.

BikeTexas Endorsements for the Austin area:

Mayor – Sheryl Cole and Mike Martinez
District 1 – Andrew Bucknall and DeWayne Lofton
District 2 – Delia Garza
District 3 – Sabino “Pio” Renteria
District 4 – Gregorio Casar
District 5 – Ann Kitchen
District 6 – James T. Flannigan
District 7 – Jefferson E. Boyt and Leslie Pool
District 8 – Darrell Pierce and Edward S. Scruggs
District 9 – Chris Riley District 10 – Amanda “Mandy” Dealey Rail
Proposition 1 – Yes

Here at Shefman Law, we know how important it is to understand the candidates and issues involved before casting your vote in the election. As a Bike Texas board member, Lenore Shefman can personally attest to the criteria used when selecting this list of endorsed candidates. First and foremost, these candidates have all been vetted and judged to be bike friendly. Additionally, each of these candidates is an active voting participant who appears to be concerned with their community, not just personal gain. Based on their histories and policy stances, these are the candidates that BikeTexas believes will create forward movement for Austin’s residents and promote safety and accessibility for those who bike on the city’s streets.

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Join Shefman Law at BikeFest as Austin inaugurates the Southern Walnut Creek Trail

  • October 21, 2014 | News

On Oct. 25th, 2014, Austin BikeFest will celebrate the trail’s grand opening in Govalle Park at 8:30 am. However, parking is limited, so everyone is encouraged to ride their bikes to attend. BikeFest is free, but you can register in advance here.

Many local leaders will be on hand for the 8:30 am ribbon cutting, including U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (Honorary BikeFest Grand Marshal), Mayor Lee Leffingwell and our own Lenore Shefman (BikeTexas board member and cyclist lawyer) There is a full day of activities planned for all ages, including live music from Blue Mist, The Staylyns, Continental Drift, Riders Against the Storm, and DJ Chorizo Funk, a Halloween costume contest, and raffle drawings. Also, there will be a Kids Adventure Zone and the Bike Texas Kids Kup Race, as well as other bicycle activities and contests, shopping, and of course, plenty of food and drink.
So grab your bike and we’ll see you there!

About the Southern Walnut Creek Trail
A great area of Austin to explore is the Walnut Creek Greenbelt. Made up of a maze of trails that cross themselves as well as a few creeks, bikers, walkers, runners, and those who simply love the outdoors can quickly lose themselves and enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a little while.

And now this area also boasts Austin’s newest multi-use path, the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. The Southern Walnut Creek Trail is 11 miles long and includes 5 bridges, 3 culverts, and benches. There are also parking lots at trailheads.

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Austin City Limits on Two Wheels – Quick Tips

It’s that time again in Austin! The Austin City Limits Music Festival is a time of great music, fun, and merriment for the city. ACL also brings street closures and traffic congestion. This means that often your best option for getting there is cycling. Follow these tips when riding to help make getting to ACL a breeze.

1) The ACL bicycle parking lot is next to the box office on the south side of Barton Springs Road-about as close as you can get! There are also bike racks at each of the festival entrances. Be sure to bring your lock, and don’t park in an unauthorized area.

2) If you’re on a motorcycle, you can park in the ball field parking lot off of Robert E. Lee. Also, motorcycle parking is always free downtown, so if you’d prefer you can park and take the free CapMetro shuttle located in Republic Square on 4th and Guadalupe to the festival.

3) Check your bike over thoroughly before you leave. Make sure that there is air in your tires and that all of the mechanical parts are in good working order. However, if you get there and have a problem, there will be mechanics on site to help with emergency bicycle repairs.

4) Be sure your bike is equipped with lights. It will probably be dark when you leave. Don’t forget your helmet!

5) If you don’t have a bike, or don’t want to bring your best one, you can always rent one from one of the bike shops in town or grab a B-cycle.

6) Be alert and aware. There will be many cars and pedestrians, and they may not always be paying attention to their surroundings as closely as they should. Be sure that you signal and follow all traffic laws as well.

7) Pack wisely. Remember that you may have a lot to carry. You may need to use a rack if you have one or leave some nonessentials at home. Plan ahead so that you are prepared when it’s time to head out!

8) Don’t ride your bike if you’ve been drinking. It’s dangerous, and it IS possible to get an impairment ticket on a bicycle. If you need an alternate lift, there are pedicabs available, or you can use Uber. First time Uber users can use the code ACLFEST for a free first ride up to $30.

A little advance planning can help keep you safe and save you a lot of time and hassle.

Have fun, ride safe and remember, Shefman Law and CyclistLaw – we’ve got your back.

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Shefman Law and Frankie Frankovis Featured on KXAN


After hearing about the case of the missing report in Frankie Frankovis’ bicycle injury, KXAN reported on the story, interviewing Frankie and Lenore about the situation.

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Frankie Frankovis and the Case of the Missing Police Report (Update)

As of noon Monday, the report was still unavailable, this is the response from the Chief.

Read the initial story here: What does it take to get a police report around here?

View a screen shot of the Facebook message exchange between Art Acevedo and Lenore Shefman, Shefman Law

Facebook Message from Art Acevedo: Hi, a report was generated. We may want to consider legislation as the Transportation Dept. definition of a crash doesnt include these circumstances. We are looking at adjusting our internal polcies to require a report in instances such as these. More to follow. Write me at art.acevedo@austintexas.gov so we can keep you in the loop on how our policy revision progresses.

Facebook Message from Cyclistlaw Attorneys: We went to pick up the report yesterday and Ruth provides the receipt indicating no report. Let’s discuss this because it doesn’t make sense that a jaywalker running into a person causing serious bodily injury wouldn’t warrant a report?

FB message from Art Acevedo: I agree completely with your position. We do have a report. Write me at art.acevedo@austintexas.gov so we can work on getting the report. I was advised by Lieutenant McGowan that a report is ready to go.

Saturday 12:51pm
FB message from Cyclistlaw Attorneys: I am glad you agree that is always great! What makes no sense is this, you are the chief of police and if it is your instruction that this is APD policy I do not see how State Legislation will fix what is so easily taught in officer training, and already supported by APD policy. When a person is injured due to another’s traffic or safety violation a police officer called to the scene of the incident shall write a report.

Chief Acevedo Because a crash between a cyclists and a pedestrian doesn’t meet the definition of a collision, and it should. Anytime a cyclist crashes and gets hurt a police report should be taken. What if a cyclists crashes after hitting a huge pot hole on a trail or something. From a civil liability perspective we should require police reports statewide.

Cyclistlaw Attorneys: I am not concerned with statewide in this instance I find that to be a red herring. Let’s focus on our City and Frankie. A report should have been written, a vehicle was collided with by a jaywalker causing serious bodily injury. There is no reason she or anyone in this situation should be told this is not the sort of incident that requires a report, that is just absurd.

Chief Acevedo: I agree and we are fixing this at our PD, but my family and I ride our bikes all over the state and I think it’s absurd a bicycle crash isn’t treated like any other collision. I don’t want to leave it to individual departments discretion, i want a report no matter where I crash. I’m going to be reaching out to TX DOT on this issue. We are behind the times.

Cyclistlaw Attorneys: Yes, as a Bike Texas Board Member that is the larger picture and I am glad we agree on the larger issue but Chief of Police in Austin, Texas, why is this happening in Austin, Texas?

Chief Acevedo: This is the first time a crash v. Pedestrian crash has occurred and no report was taken, without Frankie bringing it to my attention we may have not had the opportunity to update policy. Community is eyes and ears for us.

Click the image below to see the screenshot of this exchange.

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What does it take to get a police report around here?

Most of us know Frankie (Heather) Frankovis as a leader and a contributing part of the cycling community.  On July 31, 2014, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Frankie was riding on her way to the Thursday Night Social Ride when a person darted out from behind a parked car and ran directly into her on her bicycle, causing her serious and violent injuries. As a result, Frankie had to have immediate surgery to repair her badly-damaged collar bone. She has screws and plates as part of the open reduction internal fixation procedure she underwent to repair the damage caused by the jaywalker.

There were approximately 20 witnesses to this event. Fire Department and EMS arrived on scene and the police were called. The police provided Frankie with a police report number; only, there was no police report written at the time. This means useful information and investigative facts have been squandered.

Frankie patiently reached out to the police department expecting they would provide a report and provided great leave for them to prepare it. When it never did get prepared, she reached out to Police Chief Art Acevedo. In his usual course he directed it to a Lieutenant, someone under him, to deal with.

The lieutenant responded to Frankie that this is not the sort of incident generally requiring a report be written because there was no criminal activity. WHAT? Seriously?!

The police provided Frankie with a report number, made her think and feel they were doing their job, taking witness information, and investigating the crash. But, they were not. According to the Austin Police Department Policy Manual Effective 5-25-2014 and consistent with §342.1 et seq. this is a situation that would require a police report.

Just last semester a jogger was arrested for jaywalking and stuffed into a police car. Why? She refused to give her identification after committing the heinous infraction of jaywalking. Click this link for a refresher in the “other cities citizens are sexually assaulted” comment.

So, we got involved and asked Chief Acevedo to explain exactly what APD considers an event that would in fact require a report. He has refused to respond.

See the exchanges between Frankie and the Chief, the Lieutenant and Frankie, and our office to the Chief below.  Austin city cyclists, we must demand better, we deserve better. Frankie deserves to know who her assailant was and that the police care about allowing her the same criminal and civil protections as anyone else. So, Chief Acevedo, what does it take to get a police report around here?

From: Frankie Frankovis
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2014 2:50 PM
To: Acevedo, Art
Subject: Heather Frankovis – Bike incident with injury

Hello Art,

My name is Frankie and I am one of the organizers of the Thursday Night Social Ride and Social Cycling Austin. I was on my way to the Thursday Night Social Ride and had a bad bike wreck on July 31st when a pedestrian darted into the street from behind a parked van in front of 320 Comal. He gave me no time to react and we collided hard. I sustained a snapped clavicle that needed expensive reconstructive surgery (titanium plate, etc.). I have contacted Sgt Harper’s phone several times because he is the responding officers Sgt. and only got voicemail, where I have left two voicemails. Officer Griffin was the responding officer amongst a firetruck and 20 people watching the scene. I am writing you because officer Griffin has still not written a report after I have called the Sgt and the Traffic reporting office several times one month after the event happened.

The traffic incident number is 14-2121710.

My name is Heather Frankovis Address of event 300-320 block of Comal South bound. Although I landed in the middle of the street. Happened on Thursday, July 31st around 8pm

Somebody caused me injury that is affecting my life very adversely and I don’t even know his name because there is no report.

I am a very influential person in the community because I have been volunteering and leading bike related events since 2009. I am not allowed to ride my bike for two more months or lead any community rides. I have been patient enough but since nobody is doing their job on this matter I thought I would reach out to you directly. I am a fan of yours and follow you on Twitter, so I thought that you could help me find out why a report hasn’t been written. What this shows the cycling community is that if you get hurt by somebody else while on your bike the APD doesn’t care enough to even write up the damn report. I believe that the jerk who did this was in the commission of a crime (trying to buy drugs) but I can’t prove it.

Anyway, Please make Officer Griffin write up a report that includes the person’s name who did this to me.

Thank you, Frankie

From: Acevedo, Art
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2014 5:17 PM
To: ‘Frankie Frankovis’
Cc: McGowan, Tyson; APD Chiefs
Subject: RE: Heather Frankovis – Bike incident with injury

Thanks for reaching out. Lieutenant Tyson McGowan who is my Administrative Lieutenant and an avid cyclist will be looking into this matter and getting back to you and briefing me.  I hope you are well on your way to mending.  McGowan is copied here and will be in touch.

Please feel free to call me if you require further.

Regards,

AA

On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 2:02 PM, McGowan, Tyson wrote:

Ms. Frankovis,

Thank you very much for your patience!  This issue has been addressed and the incident report is now in our system and available.  I’ve included below information on how to obtain a police report as well as the website address where this information is available.

The report number is 14-2121710.

Thank you!

In most cases the public portion of police reports can be obtained from the APD Incident Report Database. Please read the instructions on how to obtain the report. Make sure to enter the case number exactly how it is shown in the instructions.

For information about purchasing a copy of the public portion of a police report contact the Austin Police Department Report Sales Unit at 512-974-5407 or 512-974-5408. Reports can be purchased at the Main Police Headquarters, located at 715 E 8th Street. Reports are 10 cents a copy and only the public portion is available for purchase from the report sales office. This is the same report that can be obtained from visiting the APD Incident Report Database. Report Sales hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Lt. Tyson L. McGowan
Austin Police Department
Staff Lieutenant
P.O. Box 689001
Austin, TX 78768-9001
Office: 512-974-5302
Fax:  512-974-6611
Pager:  512-802-4807
E-mail: tyson.mcgowan@austintexas.gov

From: Frankie Frankovis
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2014 3:26 PM
To: McGowan, Tyson
Cc: Acevedo, Art; Singletary, Antonia
Subject: Re: Heather Frankovis – Bike incident with injury

Hello Lt. McGowan,

I have tried to pull up the report using the case number with no dash as indicated, but I am getting zero responses. I have also tried doing an advanced search and also pulled up zero results.

Is there anyway you could send me a link to the report?

Thank you,

Frankie

From:  McGowan, Tyson 
Date: Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 4:17 PM
Subject: RE: Heather Frankovis – Bike incident with injury
To: Frankie Frankovis
Cc: “Acevedo, Art” <Art.Acevedo@austintexas.gov>, “Singletary, Antonia” <Antonia.Singletary@austintexas.gov>

Mrs. Frankovis,

My apologies for any confusion!  The report was entered into our system today; however, I spoke with our Central Records Department and they advised that it will take 48 hrs. before the report will be available in the public APD Incident Reports Database.  The reason for this 48 hr. delay is to allow them time to redact any sensitive information that we are prohibited by law from releasing to the public; which includes, but is not limited to, name, identifying information and address of witnesses, victims and suspects.  If you need information that is not available in the report that is publically available, you will need to file an Open Records Request.  This can be done by sending your request to management.records@austintexas.gov.

In response to your inquiry about the report itself, Ofc. Griffin did not initially complete a report since the incident was not one that would normally require that an incident report be written.  The officer responded to a call to assisted EMS; however, no criminal offense had been committed.  I did however, request that a report be written in this instance.

Lt. Tyson L. McGowan
Austin Police Department
Staff Lieutenant
P.O. Box 689001
Austin, TX 78768-9001
Office: 512-974-5302
Fax:  512-974-6611
Pager:  512-802-4807
E-mail: tyson.mcgowan@austintexas.gov

Subject: Police Report, Policy Clarification, Please address
From: lenore@cyclistlaw.com
Date: Thu, Sep 11, 2014 6:37 am
To: art.acevedo@austintexas.gov
Cc: “Frankie Frankovis”

Chief Acevedo,

Realizing you are indeed busy and this matter was assigned to the below responding Lt. we are seeking further clarification. As you are aware, Ms. Frankie Frankovis was careened into by a jaywalker that ran into the path of moving traffic. As a result of the jaywalkers actions, Ms. Frankovis was seriously injured requiring open reduction internal fixation surgery to repair her collar bone.

The stupefying response from Lt. McGowan indicates that this is not the sort of incident that would generally require a report? What on earth does that mean? Chief, when a cyclist is hit and injured by another violating traffic and safety laws it is our understanding that is exactly what is required to warrant an officer taking the time to investigate and write a report. If we are mistaken then please outline with specificity what exactly is different in this situation that would not have required a thorough investigation and a proper report. Thank you.  On behalf of Ms. Frankovis, we and the cycling community are anxiously awaiting your response.

Best regards,

Lenore Shefman

*Edited to clarify that Frankie was on her way to (not riding with) the TNSR when she was hit.

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How Shefman Law and Health Alliance for Austin Musicians helped Joe Egnot of Wino Vino

Hi. My name’s Joe Egnot. I’m a musician in Austin. I play accordion with the band Wino Vino, and I have done so for the past seven years.

I learned how HAAM could benefit me last year when I was in a serious motorcycle accident*. I wound up in a hospital bed, unable to walk.

At the time, I was working a retail job. I hadn’t had insurance for years—never anticipated needing it—and suddenly I was in a situation where I had no idea of what was racking up against me.

A friend of mine knew an attorney, Lenore Shefman, who focuses on cyclist injuries, and before that the legal world was very nebulous to me. I didn’t know where to start looking, and she came into my hospital room, met with me, told me who she was, laid everything out for me, and I was very relieved, happy, and confident, and we just went from there.

Every step of the way I felt supported, both by Lenore who dealt with bill collectors right away from the hospital, and at the same time HAAM had gotten me Seton Care Plus, which helped me with my doctor visits, prescriptions, everything through the Seton system that I needed.

I would never in my wildest dreams have anticipated that HAAM would step up and help somebody that was in such a serious situation as myself.

In thanks for what HAAM has done for me and other people like me, Shefman Law is going to be donating a portion of their fees to HAAM to give back. And I greatly, greatly appreciate all the help I got from Shefman Law. Both of them saw me through to a solid recovery, and it’s why I can sit here and tell my story today.

*Joe Engot suffered a fractured femur, humerus, ribs, pelvic fracture, urethral rupture and transverse process fracture.

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