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What if I have a previous conviction — will that hurt my case?

Some clients are concerned about prior records of past indiscretions or things that may be on their permanent record, and they want to know whether or not that would harm their claim. And the truth to that answer is it depends.

If you were very young and you have a criminal record that may be protected and sealed and that may not be subject to the rules of evidence and may not come in to a civil case. If there is something glaring on your record, our courthouse doors are open to everybody, even if you have prior convictions.

What happens in our jurisprudence is a person with a past conviction for felonies may have their veracity put to question by opposing counsel. Having an attorney who knows how to deal with that information is key because our courthouse doors are open to everybody.

Just because you have past indiscretions or have had a problem with the law, it doesn’t mean that you deserved what happened to you, and we will help you through those questions, those answers, and you will be a prepared—you will be prepared for those types of questions from opposing counsel.

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

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.

Bike Safety Tips for Riding in the Rain

Rainy day bicycle safety tips

Bike Safety Tips for Riding in the RainAustin 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.

Get involved in the conversation about mobility and access in Austin.

The fight for mobility and access in Austin

Get involved in the conversation about 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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