Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

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Choose safer habits this holiday season and start the new year with no regrets.

3 Practical Alternatives to Drunk Driving During the Holidays

Everybody knows that driving drunk is dangerous, illegal, and just plain stupid. Yet, especially in San Antonio, drunk driving is still a major problem affecting even our government officials.

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Austin, TexasUpdated 12.19.20 – A woman now identified as Merry Daye (45) was struck by a hit-and-run driver early Monday morning along the 6100 block of Cameron Road in north Austin.  Ms. Daye was stopped in the adjoining bike lane and was making adjustments to her bike when she was hit. Emergency crews were called to the scene and she was then transferred to the Del Seton Medical Center where she later died.  The vehicle that hit the woman was found a short time later, the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding this case should call APD’s Vehicular Homicide Unit at (512) 974-6935

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Bicycle Safety – In 2018 alone there were 857 bicyclists killed in the U.S. (Data: United States Department of Transportation)  Many of these tragic accidents could have been avoided if motorists follow the rules of the road and keep an eye out for cyclists who share them.  Bicycle deaths occur in all seasons in milder climates, and mostly at night and in Urban areas (75%). When driving during these high incident times and areas be extra aware of others on the road.  Cyclists also need to remember to bike responsively, go with the flow of traffic, obey all street signs and road markings, assume the other persons in the vehicles do not see you, look ahead for hazards such as toys, rocks, potholes, grates, or train tracks that may be in your way, and as anytime on the road no matter what your mode of transportation, no texting as it is distracting and it takes your attention off of the road.

For more information about the specific statistics for your city in Texas, visit the Texas Department of Transportation.    

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In a Texas appellate case, two people sued Austin Energy and the City of Austin under the Texas Tort Claims Act for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident they claimed was due to a special defect. The two plaintiffs were riding bikes in the bike lane in the city during midday. As they came to an intersection, they came to a part of the bike lane that was partially covered by overgrown vegetation coming from a home.

The two stopped in the shade of the overgrown vegetation to drink water. Soon thereafter, a driver in a car drove across the solid white lane into the bike lane and hit the plaintiffs. They were hurt and had to go to the hospital by ambulance. The driver told the police she didn’t see the plaintiffs and didn’t know if the sun was in her face, even though the sunlight wasn’t coming from the direction she was facing.

The plaintiffs claimed that the overgrown vegetation was a special defect, and the city failed to maintain the right of way and keep it free from such obstructions. The city claimed it kept its immunity because the vegetation didn’t count as a special defect, and there was no way to amend the pleadings to establish a defect.

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In Ochoa-Cronfel v. Murray, a Texas appellate court considered a personal injury case in which the plaintiff was hurt after the defendant’s dog ran into his bicycle. The case arose when the plaintiff was biking in his neighborhood. The defendant was walking his dog and put the dog’s leash under his foot while he scooped up the dog’s waste. The dog broke free and ran into the front tire of the plaintiff’s bike. The plaintiff was thrown off the bike and hurt his arm. He sued the defendant for damages.

The trial lasted three days, after which the jury found that both the plaintiff and the defendant were negligent. They allocated 55% responsibility to the defendant and 45% to the plaintiff. The judge entered judgment on the verdict and awarded the plaintiff $10,089.75, which was 55% of the damages assessed by the jury.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding that his negligence was a legal cause of the injury and that the evidence was not sufficient to support the amount awarded for each element of the damages. The judge had ordered the plaintiff to pay $5,000 in sanctions, and the plaintiff argued this was an abuse of discretion.

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In City of Austin v. Frame, a Texas Court of Appeals considered a lawsuit filed against the City by four plaintiffs under the Texas Tort Claims Act and recreational use statute after an accident. The case arose when a man drove his car off the street, jumped a curb, and drove onto a hike-and-bike trail next to the road. The vehicle hit two pedestrians, one of whom died of his injuries. The plaintiffs sued the City for negligence, gross negligence, premises liability, special defect, and breach of duty under the recreational use statute.

The plaintiffs claimed the City failed to safely construct the trail, knew of prior instances of vehicles traveling over the curb onto the trail in the same place, and failed to correct or warn about this dangerous condition. They also claimed the City’s policies required it to take corrective action about known safety hazards and that it should have constructed a guardrail in response.

The City argued it was immune from suit because the Texas Tort Claims Act didn’t waive governmental immunity for discretionary decisions about how a road should be designed and whether specific safety features should be installed. It also claimed that the plaintiff couldn’t amend the complaint to cure the problems with it because the facts pled in the complaint only related to discretionary decisions. The plaintiffs argued that there was no immunity because the City’s failure to address the known safety hazard was a failure to implement its own policy, and it was not a design decision or initial policy for which it could be immune.

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In City of San Antonio v. Peralta, the plaintiff sued the city and the San Antonio River Authority after he suffered injuries in a bicycle accident on a river walk. The plaintiff was riding his bike to work, and at around 6 a.m., the bike crashed into sewer drainage. The metal plate covering the sewer had been removed. He was thrown over the bike and injured. He alleged that the negligence and gross negligence of the city and the River Authority were proximate causes of his injuries.

The plaintiff argued that their immunity was waived under the provisions related to special defects and premises defects in the Texas Tort Claims Act. The defendants argued in separate pleas to the jurisdiction that under the recreational use statute, they owed to the plaintiff only the limited duty owed to a trespasser. Specifically, they claimed there wasn’t any evidence they knew the metal plate was missing prior to the accident. They also argued the plaintiff had failed to show they were grossly negligent. Their pleas were denied, and they appealed.

The appellate court explained that governmental immunity protects governmental entities from lawsuits for monetary damages except in specific circumstances under the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA). Under the TTCA, a governmental entity can be liable for personal injuries based on a premises defect if the governmental unit would be liable to the plaintiff if it were a private person.

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In the recent appellate case of United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Rankin, the plaintiff and his family sued UPS and one of its drivers. The case arose when the driver parked his UPS vehicle in front of a house to make a delivery on his normal route. He intended to park briefly and left the vehicle partly in a lane of traffic with the hazard lights on. The view was unobstructed for 2,000 feet, but the vehicle was brown and stopped under a tree with brown leaves against the backdrop of a brown hill.

The plaintiff was traveling home by bike and rode into the back of the parked UPS vehicle and suffered severe injuries. He didn’t remember what happened, and the driver testified he didn’t see the accident. When the police came, the hazard lights of the UPS vehicle were still flashing. The plaintiff told the police he didn’t see the vehicle when he rode into it.

At trial, a police officer testified that the plaintiff had a duty to look for vehicles, and there was enough space for him to ride around the vehicle. The police officer didn’t charge the driver with illegal parking.

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As summer approaches, you and your children will have more free time, which may mean more time for them, and you, to participate in outdoor activities, including bike riding.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011, 677 pedacyclists were killed and an additional 48,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes. This accounts for 2 percent of the people injured in traffic accidents in the United States each year. In Texas, pedacyclist traffic fatalities accounted for 1.4% of all traffic accident fatalities in 2011.

To ensure safe bicycle riding for you and your children, it is important to familiarize yourself and your children with the state and local laws.

In the State of Texas, all bicyclists, including children, must follow Texas Motor Vehicle laws while using public roads in Texas–this means that a person riding a bicycle has the same rights and duties of any driver.
The City of San Antonio is embracing the popularity of bicycle riding in Texas through its adoption of the Bike Light Ordinance and Safe Passing Ordinance. The Bike Light Ordinance, which is the same as Texas state law, requires that all bicycles have a front white light and a rear red reflector or red rear light. Failure to comply with the ordinance can lead to a fine of up to $200.

In addition, the City of San Antonio also adopted the Safe Passing Ordinance to help increase safety for bicyclists. The ordinance establishes a requirement that all motor vehicle operators maintain a safe passing distance from bicyclists–generally, 3′ for cars and 6′ for commercial or large trucks. Failure to keep a safe distance from bicyclists pursuant to this ordinance can lead to a fine of up to to $200.

Other important state and local bicyclist laws to remember include:

• Like drivers, you must obey all traffic signals and signs.

• In the City of Antonio, unless you are a member of law enforcement or emergency personnel, you may not ride your bicycle on the sidewalk.

• Like drivers of motor vehicles, you must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

• Riding against traffic is illegal.

• Your bicycle should only be used to carry the number of persons it was designed to carry.

• You are required to always keep at least 1 hand on the handle bars.

• Your bike must be equipped with breaks.

• A bicycle in use may not be attached to a vehicle on the roadway.

• You must ride as far over on the right side of the road as practicable.

Failure to comply with any of these laws is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $200.

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