Cycling is a healthy and environmentally friendly method of traveling. And many Texans are using a bicycle to go to and from work. However, when they are on the open road, without dedicated bike lanes, they risk getting hit by a car. When bicycle accidents happen, the consequences are frequently very serious, ranging from severe injuries to death. Accident victims and their families have the right to be compensated for their pain, suffering and significant expenses. To make sure that you get justice served, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at McDonald Worley Law Firm as soon as possible after a bike crash.
We want to start by saying that many bike accident victims do not seek justice, not even by filing a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company, because they were not wearing a helmet at the moment of the accident. This is not a circumstance that prevents you from seeking financial compensation from the fault party.
Texas Law on Bicycle Traffic
According to the Transportation Code of Texas Title 7 Subtitle C Sec. 551.101, “a person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle”. This means that drivers have the same right of duty concerning bicyclists as they have towards other vehicle drivers on the road. The duties of bicyclists, according to the Transportation Code are:
- to sit astride on a permanent seat at all times while riding
- to carry only the number of persons the bicycle is designed or equipped to carry
- to refrain from carrying any object that prevents them from operating the bicycle with at least one hand on the handlebar
- to ride on the right side of the road, as close to the curb as possible
- to use arm signals when making a left or right turn.
There are no stipulations concerning the use of bicycle helmets. However, various Texas cities, including Houston, have passed laws making helmet use mandatory for bicycle riders under 18.
What Are the Consequences of Bicycle Accidents?
Statistical data published by Share the Road indicate that, between 2010 and 2016, there were 16,807 bicycle crashes in Texas, leading to 362 deaths and 9,769 injuries. In our experience as bicycle accident lawyers, most bike crash victims suffer from:
- road rash (especially if they were not wearing protective gear)
- fractured bones
- soft tissue damage
- neck injuries
- traumatic brain injuries..
Victims with very severe injuries suffer lifelong physical impairment and require special nursing care, assistive devices and home modifications. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help them receive a fair settlement that will ensure their financial security and compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life.
The Most Common Causes of Bicycle Crashes in Houston
The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents involving a bicyclist are caused by the negligence of drivers. However, even if cyclists share a proportion of responsibility, as long as it is less than 50%, they have the right to file a claim for compensation, under the Texas comparative fault law.
These being said, the most common accident causes are:
1. Distracted Driver
Distracted driving is one of the most frequent causes of traffic accidents. If the driver is using their mobile phone, adjusting the entertainment or navigation system or talking to the passengers in the car, they are not fully focused on the road ahead.
When they finally notice an oncoming bicycle, it is too late to avoid a collision with them.
2. Traffic Violations
Some drivers ignore stop signs or run a red light. If a cyclist is riding legally on a perpendicular road, they may get hit by the car. If the driver is speeding, the consequences can be terrible, since bicycles offer no protection to their users.
3. Drunk Driving
Nobody should drive after drinking alcohol. It impairs the senses and makes reactions sluggish. Drunk drivers are also likely to speed, drive aggressively and cause a hit-and-run accident. An experienced accident attorney can offer you the legal options at your disposal in each situation and pursue settlement negotiations on your behalf.
4. Failure to Yield
Many drivers and cyclists do not know the right of way law on traffic lanes. Thus, when a cyclist is trying to make a turn and a driver fails to yield, a collision will take place. In some cases, this type of accident happens because the cyclist is in the driver’s blind spot. To avoid this issue, cyclists should wear reflective gear on the road (especially in bad weather conditions) and make sure that they signal the turn properly with their arm.
5. Dooring Accident
A dooring accident occurs when a driver or passenger in a car parked on the side of the road opens a door and hits an oncoming bike rider. This type of bicycle traffic accident can be easily avoided if car drivers and passengers look in the rear-view mirror before opening a door towards the road.
6. Reckless Driving
Speeding, tailgating and intentional failure to yield are examples of reckless driving. In certain circumstances, your bicycle accident lawyer may demonstrate that the driver acted with gross negligence, making you eligible to receive punitive damages, as well as compensation for economic damages and non-economic damages.
What to Do after a Bicycle Crash
If you were injured in a bike accident, the first thing to do is get out of the way of the flow of traffic and call 9-1-1. You should ask for an ambulance to receive emergency medical care and the police to investigate the crash scene and prepare an accident report. The police report and the medical records prepared by medical professionals who treated you will be valuable evidence for your bicycle accident attorney during negotiations for your personal injury claim.
Here is what every bicycle accident victim should do in order to maximize the chances of getting fair compensation for their medical expenses, other out of pocket expenses, pain and suffering.
1. Collect Evidence at the Accident Scene
Evidence can disappear quickly after the road is cleaned and tidied up and witnesses will forget what they saw and heard in time. This is why you must get as much information as possible immediately after the bike crash, such as:
- photos and videos of your injuries, your damaged bicycle, the other car (including the license plate) and potential skid marks on the road
- the driver’s contact details and insurance policy details
- contact details from eyewitnesses, as well as any photos and videos they may have taken.
2. Go to the Hospital
You must have complete documentation of the extent of your injuries in order to support your bicycle accident claim. Even if you feel fine on the moment, symptoms of internal bleeding and soft tissue damage may occur in a few hours or days. You do not want to leave any potential severe injury untreated.
At the same time, if you do not receive medical care as soon as possible, the responsible driver’s insurance company may argue that you got injured at a later date, in a different accident.
3. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Under no circumstances should you attempt to negotiate your claim on your own. In fact, you shouldn’t even accept to discuss with an insurance adjuster on your own. The only thing you should tell them is that your lawyer will contact them to negotiate your settlement in due time.
Types of Compensation a Lawyer Can Obtain
Your bicycle accident injuries are only the visible part of your suffering. The fault driver also left you with emotional trauma and mental anguish after the accident. You wonder if you will ever dare ride a bike again. Also, you worry whether you will be able to ride a bike at all, or even walk.
Together with physical pain, these take a toll on your ability to enjoy life, return to work and maintain healthy relationships with your spouse, your family and friends. You have a right to be compensated for these losses and damages, not only for the financial damages the accident caused you.
An experienced bike accident attorney will calculate all the damages you suffered, including:
- hospital bills
- long term medical care
- lost wages
- loss of future income, if you are unable to return to work
- rehabilitation costs, including physical therapy and emotional counseling
- property damage (your wrecked bike).
Each item of the claim will be supported by evidence, so that the insurance company understands the reason for the requested amount. The attorney will also add the non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium and loss of companionship.
Trust an Accident Law Firm with Decades of Experience
Our law firm takes its name from its founder, McDonald Worley, a personal injury attorney with nearly four decades of experience. We follow his example and treat each client with all the dedication and attention they need.
We are not afraid to take on big insurance companies and even go to trial if they refuse to accept a fair settlement for you. We believe that everyone should be held accountable for negligence and compensate their victims. This is why we never settle for less than an adequate amount to cover your financial losses and help you receive the level of care you need after the accident.
If you or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident, contacts us by online form or call us for a free case review: 877-721-3423!