Bicyclist hit by distracted driver awarded $865k by jury

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bicyclist hit by a distracted driver in May 2013 was awarded $865,000 in compensatory damages by a Travis County jury Friday.

The jury did not find the driver to have committed “gross negligence,” but the attorney for bicyclist Bobby Crouch hopes the publicity surrounding the case could help prevent future distracted driving cases.

“I’m sure every attorney in the country wishes they were a little fly in a jury room, but it could be a number of reasons,” said Jason Billick, one of Crouch’s attorneys. “But they still came back with a verdict that I think is fair, under the circumstances.”

A lawsuit filed by the Crouch family said his back was broken when the driver, Patrick Linton, struck Crouch on his bike on May 1, 2013 on Barton Creek Boulevard. The civil trial against Linton began Monday.

Crouch and his wife Margo have spent nearly three years fighting to recover. “He doesn’t have just one job that he used to have,” said Margo. “He has three full-time jobs: his career, the time he spends working on his pain management, and the time he spends working just on his mobility.”

Now they hope their case will inspire change in the state. Texas does not have a statewide law prohibiting hand-held cell phone use while driving. “What I hope is that from this horrible situation, and this traumatic situation for my husband, can be a teachable moment, and that I can help in the cause to bring awareness,” said Margo.

The couple says they’re ready to move forward now that the trial has finished.

“We’re both just really happy it’s behind us, and I can focus on my mission of awareness for distracted driving and Bobby can focus on having his best life in the face of this very tragic situation.”

Gonzalo Ponce, the executive director of “Please BE KIND to Cyclists” said Friday, “Although today’s verdict was no consolation to the victim or the bicycling community, bicycle safety organizations will continue to perform admirably to raise awareness through education on the dangers of distracted driving with it comes to vulnerable road users such as bicyclists.”

KXAN reached out to Linton’s attorney, but he declined to comment on Friday’s verdict. He also said his client is asking for privacy.

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