Personal Injury

Avoiding distraction as a pedestrian can help you stay safe

When people walk close to moving motor vehicles, there is always some degree of risk. Vehicles can cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries if they come into contact with nearby pedestrians. There are certain things you do as a pedestrian that can increase or decrease your risk of an accident.

People who frequently walk places would benefit from learning about how to safely share roads and intersections with vehicles of all sizes and shapes. One of the most important rules for walking safely is to avoid distraction.

Specifically, the main distraction you want to avoid is the habit of staring down at your cellphone instead of looking around you. Just like distraction while driving can lead to a crash, distraction while walking may increase your risk of being struck as a pedestrian.

You need to be watching for cars because they may not watch for you

One of the most frequent statements made by people in vehicles who strikes pedestrians is that they failed to see the people or person on foot. A common safety tactic employed by pedestrians, cyclists and even motorcycle owners is the practice of increasing visibility. Wearing bright colors or reflective materials can help those in traffic notice you when you are not inside a vehicle.

However, you shouldn’t simply rely on them to notice you. You are the one at greater risk of injury in the event of a crash. Knowing that people in vehicles may not be paying attention as closely they should be, you should do everything in your power to remain carefully attentive to your surroundings.

Keep your ears and eyes alert for movement and traffic sounds. Paying attention to the vehicles nearby could help you avoid stepping in front of an oncoming vehicle or otherwise endangering yourself. If you are looking at your phone instead of traffic conditions, you can make a mistake that could result in severe injury.

If you do need to text, do it while on the sidewalk

If you walk places, especially if you commute to lunch from work and back again on foot, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to respond to your boss or someone else quickly while still walking. If you have to handle your phone, do so carefully.

Send a text or an email on the sidewalk, ideally after stepping out of the flow of traffic and stopping for a second. You should never look down at your phone when you start to cross into the street. Your response should attend to critical issues only and advise the recipient that you will respond in full when you reach your destination safely.

Bike safety tips for all cyclists

Cycling in and around Austin is one of the greatest joys that comes with living in the city. Cruising by the Texas State Capitol or taking in the views while riding around Lake Travis is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially during the cooler autumn months. And, while Austin does have a strong cycling community, people driving cars do not necessarily take the care they should when they share the road with cyclists.

Whether you are a beginner cyclist or have years of experience, it is vital to not only know the techniques to stay comfortable on your bike but ways you can increase your safety while on the road. Here are a few tips to help you have a safe cycling experience the next time you go for a ride.

Wear your helmet

When you watched the Tour de France last season, did you see any other cyclists riding without a helmet? Probably not. Professional cyclists do not only wear helmets because it is a requirement for many races, they also wear them while training or just taking a joy ride. Not matter how long or short your ride is, you should always wear a helmet to protect your head in case of an accident. What may seem like a minor head injury can result in death if not properly tended.

Don’t use headphones

While it may seem like a perfectly reasonable thing to do, riding with headphones can be extremely dangerous. While out for a ride, you need to be able to hear vehicles approaching from behind or from the side. Headphones can keep you from hearing an emergency vehicle approaching or other situations that are inherently dangerous. If you need to ride with music, try using a clip-on speaker that you can attach to your bike or jersey.

Follow the rules

As a person operating a vehicle on the road, it is your duty to know and follow traffic laws. You should always be riding with the traffic and not against it. While you have as much right to be on the road as the cars and trucks do, you also need to pay close attention to what these vehicles are doing so that you can make the necessary evasive maneuvers to avoid an accident when one of these drivers doesn’t see you.

Look up

Always keep your head up so that you can watch for any obstacles that are in front of you. For instance, something as innocent as a storm drain or a pot hole can wreak havoc if you hit it the wrong way and blow a tire. You also need to keep a watch for what the cars ahead are doing as well as other cyclists or pedestrians.

The above tips can go a long way to keep you safe while you are out for a ride. Unfortunately, no matter how safe you are on the road, you cannot control what other people do and it may not always be possible to avoid a bike accident with an automobile. If this happens, you might be able to file a claim for your injuries and the damage to your bike.

Steps to help protect yourself and your kids from dog bites

People tend to think of dogs as sources of companionship, entertainment and protection. However, dogs can also be the source of serious injury and trauma for people. Certain dogs don’t know how to behave properly around small children or unfamiliar adults. Other dogs receive training from a young age that increases the risk that they pose to the public.

When a dog attacks a person, it can cause severe damage to the body. Major scarring is also a concern, as is psychological trauma resulting from the attack. The best option is usually to do anything in your power to avoid a dog bite attack. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of a dog bite for you and the children in your family.

Be cautious around strange dogs

While most dogs are friendly, it can be difficult to know what the personality of a strange dog really is. For that reason, you should teach your children to never approach an unfamiliar dog. This is particularly true if the dog in question is not on a leash or directly attended by its owner.

A strange dog may suddenly snap and the end results could be catastrophic for you and your family. The best option is to avoid contact with dogs unless you know they are safe.

Watch for warning signs of an aggressive dog

Educating yourself and your children about the body language that dogs use can help you determine if a dog poses a potential threat. A dog with a tense body, stiff tail, furrowed brow or retracted ears is probably an angry dog. A dog staring intensely, attempting to back away from you or rolling its eyes in a manner that lets you see the whites could also be about to attack.

Obviously, growling and baring teeth are also significant warning signs. If a dog seems tense or stressed, you should not approach it or try to interact with it. The same is true of any dog currently eating. Instead, you should leave the situation or get your children away from that dog as soon as possible.

Know your rights when a dog does bite

All the information in the world about dog behavior and safety rules can’t prevent your family from experiencing a dog bite. Maybe a typically friendly dog in your neighborhood suddenly becomes aggressive. Perhaps a dog at a house you were visiting turns on you or one of your children.

You never know when a dog could become violent toward humans. Thankfully, Texas does offer protections to those who suffer attacks by vicious dogs. In many cases, the owner may be liable for the injuries that the dog causes when it attacks. If you are struggling to pay medical bills related to a dog bite attack, it might be time to explore your legal rights and options in Texas related to vicious dogs.

What are your rights as a pedestrian in Texas?

There are many legalities that prove to be complex and confusing, especially when they are state-specific. If you are traveling on the streets of Texas, there are pedestrian laws you’ll want to know. Pedestrians laws are intended to help enforce safety on Texas roadways. We can all help avoid pedestrian accidents by obeying these laws.

Texas has specific laws that not only apply to drivers, but also pedestrians regarding marked and unmarked crosswalks.

The Texas Transportation Code (Title 7 Chapter 552):

Traffic control signals

  1. “Pedestrians facing a green signal may cross a roadway within marked or unmarked crosswalks, unless the only green signal is a turn arrow.
  2. Pedestrians facing a red signal or yellow signal may not cross a roadway.”

You should obey the above laws unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement of other officials.

Pedestrian right-of-way

Pedestrians should be aware of the “Walk,” “Don’t Walk,” or “Wait” control signals. A pedestrian can cross when the “Walk” control is on display. Drivers should yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian. You should not cross the street if the controls instruct you not to. As the pedestrian, you may continue if you are half-way across while the signals change to “Don’t Walk” or “Wait.” 

What if there is no traffic signals?

You may come across crosswalks that do not display control signals. When this happens, the driver should yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian. The driver should also yield to the pedestrians if they are on the same side of the road as them, or the pedestrian is approaching the same side at an unsafe speed.

If a sidewalk is available, the pedestrian must use it unless the sidewalk is blocked off. When the sidewalk is unavailable for use, pedestrians should walk on the left side of the road or on the shoulder.

The people of Texas have a responsibility to obey these pedestrian laws to ensure the safety of pedestrians and drivers.

Prescription Opioid Malpractice Cases

In a 2017 study by Coverys, a national medical malpractice insurance carrier, the company reached some interesting conclusions about the connection between increased opioid use and medical malpractice claims.

The company studied as many as 10,000 closed medical malpractice claims between 2012 and 2016 and found that opioids accounted for the highest percentage of medication-related claims. Only about 5% of all medications prescribed are opioids, but opioids accounted for 24 percent of all malpractice claims involving medication errors or overdoses. Therefore, it seems opioids create a disproportionate chance of malpractice claims, according to the research. Nearly half of the malpractice claims linked to opioids involved primary care doctors and family medicine physicians.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that as many as 64,000 Americans died in 2016 due to drug overdoses.

What is a Prescription Opioid?

Texas medical malpractice lawyers often review cases of medication errors and hear horror stories about doctors prescribing too much of a medicine or the wrong medicine. Doctors may prescribe opioids to treat acute or chronic pain. But opioids can have dangerous side effects. As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains, opioids are a pharmaceutical compound made from opium.

There are a number of prescription medications that fall into the opioid class, including:

  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®)
  • Hydromorphone
  • Codeine

Why Do People Take Opioids?

Synthetic opioids – drugs manufactured from opium – are prescribed to manage and relieve pain. These opioid painkillers are often extremely effective at reducing pain, even in severe cases. Common uses are:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Post-childbirth
  • Chronic pain

However, opioids are highly addictive. In some cases, synthetic opioid drugs can be 2 to 3 times more addictive than heroin. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claims that 80 percent of all heroin users report abusing prescription opioids before trying heroin. The reason for this is that people use the drugs for pain relief, but in time, they require more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects. Eventually, an addicted individual turns to other methods of increasing the effects, such as mixing drugs or alternating methods of absorption.

How to Tell if You Have a Claim for Injuries

Typically, a person is responsible for his or her own actions. However, patients also reasonably rely on their physicians to make educated and informed choices about what medications are medically necessary and helpful. A doctor must make proper documentation of the need for opioids for pain management. If a doctor prescribes a medication without properly reviewing the medicines you are already taking, it could result in an adverse side effect or death. A third of medication errors are related to inadequate monitoring of a patient’s medication regimen, according to the Coverys’ study. Overdoses are common as well.

If you believe you or someone you love has been injured due to a medication error or a doctor’s failure to monitor a medication, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Thousands of Americans die from opioid abuse each year. If a doctor is responsible for the injuries, your family should not suffer and be stuck with the medical expenses, lost income, or other losses associated with the injury.

Call an Austin Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

The attorneys of Byrd, Davis, Alden & Henrichson, LLP have decades of experience helping injured victims of malpractice. As the oldest personal injury firm in Austin, we are devoted to fighting for the rights of those who are injured. But don’t wait too long. There are strict limits on the time you have to seek compensation for injuries. If you wait too long, you will forever lose your right to bring a drug injury case. Contact our firm today to learn more about your options and how we can help.