A grand jury in an Austin bicycle accident case recently declined to pursue charges against the driver of the car that struck and killed a 16-year-old cyclist this past June. The teen was the 43rd traffic fatality this year – almost twice as many as occurred in Austin from January to June of 2014.
Al Bastidas of Please Be Kind to Cyclists, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping injured cyclists and their families, said it should have been a “no-brainer” to file a criminal charge against the driver, who the family says tried unsuccessfully to pass the teen on a two-lane road with no shoulders, sidewalks or bike lanes.
While the grand jury considered manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, they decided not to indict the driver on either charge. Bastidas said he thinks there’s prejudice against cyclists. Many drivers mistakenly believe that people on bicycles generally don’t follow proper road rules, which can affect a jury’s decision in criminal cases.
Bastidas said he finds there’s a lot of people who have almost hit someone on a bike and experienced the shock of realizing they could have killed someone. This gives them their own preconceived notions going into the grand jury, Bastidas said. That’s the wrong attitude, he says, especially for a city like Austin that promotes a cycling culture.
Texas Among The Leaders in Cyclist Fatalities
Texas ranked in the top three nationwide in cyclist fatalities as recently as 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Austin Police Department has said that of the 69 fatal crashes this year, the teen’s case is the only one that involved a cyclist. While initiatives are in place to combat fatalities, there’s no one program targeting cyclists.
While it may be not be common to see criminal charges in a bicycle accident case, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a civil case. Our experienced Austin personal injury attorney helps victims of bicycle accidents recover fair compensation for their injuries. Our firm only takes cases that we strongly believe have a chance of recovering financial compensation, and we offer free consultations so you can find out if you have a potential case. If you have been injured in a bike accident anywhere in Austin, contact us online.
The Law Offices of Aaron Allison – Austin Bicycle Accident Attorney