Motorcycle crashes took the lives of 396 people in Texas in 2018, according to statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. At national level, the NHTSA calculated that motorcycle accidents are 27 times more likely to result in death than passenger vehicle accidents. Survivors have to spend a long time in hospital recovering from their catastrophic injuries and incurring large medical care bills, as well as lost wages. If you or a loved one was involved in such a crash, you should contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer at McDonald Worley Personal Injury Law Firm as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
In our experience, motorcycle accident injuries take a lot of time to heal, and accident victims may require long term care, assistive devices and home modifications. All these are very expensive and represent a significant financial burden for the average Texas family. With the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer, you may recover a significant part of the economic and non-economic damages, allowing you to focus on getting better without the fear of debt.
What Are Motorcyclists’ Rights and Obligations in Texas?
According to the Motorcycle Operators Manual issued by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations, all motorcycle riders must hold a valid class M driving license. Any person over 18 years old may apply for this license after passing a TDLR approved course for motorcycle operator training. Minors between the ages of 15 and 17 must complete the entire classroom phase of a driver education course and obtain the class C learner license before applying for a motorcycle driving license.
As per the Texas Transportation Code, Sec. 545.416 motorcycle riders must:
- ride seated on the permanent seat attached to the motorcycle
- not carry passengers, unless the motorcycle is designed for two persons and has footholds and handles for passengers
- not carry passengers younger than 5 years old
- ensure that all passengers wear DOT approved helmets.
However, motorcyclists over 21 years old are not obliged by law to wear a helmet, if they meet the following conditions:
- they passed the motorcycle operator training (a basic prerequisite to obtain the drivers license), OR
- they have a health insurance plan that includes coverage for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident..
Therefore, you may be entitled to file an accident injury claim if you were hurt in a head-on collision or another type of motorcycle accident, even if you were not wearing a helmet.
How Motorcycle Accident Victims Benefit from Texas Comparative Negligence Rule
In most of the cases, a motorcycle rider will be approached by an insurance company representative as soon as they are allowed hospital visitors. You will hear that you are mostly at-fault for your accident and you don’t have a footing to file a claim. Or, you will be offered a lowball amount that will not even cover a part of your hospital bills.
Do not fall victim to these tactics and refuse any discussions without your personal injury attorney present. In reality, establishing fault is a complex matter, and it must be conducted thoroughly. Why? Because the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code stipulates that accident victims who are less than 50% responsible for the crash are eligible to receive financial compensation for their severe injuries, medical costs, lost wages and other economic and non-economic damages (the proportionate responsibility rule).
This is why you need a skilled motorcycle accident attorney, who will investigate the circumstances leading to your traffic accident and determine whether you have a chance to file a personal injury claim successfully.
The Most Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle crashes are caused by various situations, from reckless driving to equipment failure, from dangerous situations on the road (debris) to inclement weather. It is important to know every aspect that caused the crash, because this is the only way of accurately establishing fault in clear percentages.
These are some of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes in Texas:
Car Drivers Fail to See Motorcycle Riders
According to the National Highway Traffic Association, this is the number one cause of motorbike accidents. Passenger car drivers do not see a motorcyclist when they make a left turn, change lanes, or brake. A research study indicates that this type of unintentional blindness to motorbike riders are caused by the fact that looking out for motorcycles is a low priority in the driver’s brain when scanning for objects on the road.
While this serves as an explanation for a large number of motorcycle crashes, it is in no way a mitigating circumstance that may reduce a driver’s liability for your accident.
Although it is advocated by many as a safer way of using the road by motorcyclists, lane splitting is a traffic violation in the state of Texas. It represents the act of riding a motorbike between two lanes of traffic, generally in order to avoid waiting in long traffic queues.
The dangers of lane splitting are:
- the motorcyclist is very close to the vehicle
- there is very little space available to maneuver freely
- car drivers cannot anticipate a motorcyclist’s next move, thus they have a very short reaction time available.
Negligent drivers who are speeding, texting and driving, or otherwise distracted or impaired may hit an oncoming motorcycle from the front, causing extremely severe injuries. The motorcycle rider is usually catapulted from their seat and suffers spine injuries or traumatic brain injuries as they hit the road.
Tailgating and speeding are some of the causes of rear-end collisions with a motorbike. The car driver has no time to fully stop their vehicle, and it hits the motorcycle in front of it from behind. Just like in the case of head-on collisions, a rear-end collision can result in catastrophic injuries, that takes a lot of time and specialized medical care to heal.
Left Turn Accidents
These are also frequent types of accidents involving motorcycles, caused by the failure to signal a left turn or give the right of way. While car drivers must pay more attention when sharing the road with motorcyclists, motorcycle riders should also ensure that they do not enter a driver’s blind spot, especially at road intersections.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Crumbling tarmac, potholes and tree branches on the road are obstacles that may cause even an experienced motorcycle rider to lose control of their vehicle. This type of accident may involve another vehicle or not. However, skilled law firms can successfully win motorcycle accident lawsuits against road authorities, if road hazards prove to be the ultimate cause of the crash.
In certain situations, a defective brake or another type of vehicle malfunction may cause a motorcyclist or car driver to lose control of their vehicle. In these situations, detailed technical expertise of the motorcycle wreck and of the other vehicle is needed to determine the cause. Depending on the findings, the manufacturer, distributor, parts supplier, car repair shop or another entity may be found liable for the accident.
Driving Under Influence
Driving any motor vehicle under influence of alcohol or drugs is not only a violation of traffic laws, but it causes the operator to be impaired, reckless, and have poor reactions. DUI drivers or motorcyclists are very likely to get involved in accidents resulting in traffic fatalities and catastrophic injuries.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
The first thing you must do is seek medical assistance, by calling 9-1-1 and asking for an ambulance. As far as your injuries allow it, document the crash scene. The police will usually arrive to investigate the accident, whenever there are victims that suffered bodily injuries and property damage. The accident report they will prepare will represent valuable evidence at a later date.
As we explained above, insurance companies want to dismiss motorcycle accident cases as quickly as possible. The common bias against motorcycle riders causes them to assign responsibility by default to motorcyclists, although they are the more severely hurt party.
Do not let yourself intimidated and do not discuss anything with the insurance adjuster on your own. Instead, hire a personal injury law firm as soon as possible and let them conduct your motorcycle accident settlement negotiation or advise you to take legal action against the negligent driver.
Types of Compensations You Are Entitled to Receive
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will calculate all your economic losses, including:
- cost of the ambulance ride
- cost of hospital stay and specialized medical care
- long term care, if you were left with permanent nerve damage or another type of permanent impairment
- lost wages
- loss of earning capacity, if you are unable to return to your job.
You are also entitled to receive compensation for your non-economic damages that include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium and loss of companionship.
At McDonald Worley Personal Injury Law Firm, we fight for every client and we always seek the maximum compensation allowed by law. Do not worry about advance fees, as we work on a contingency basis – we get paid after we win your case.
Call us now for a free case evaluation and let us help you get justice done: 877-721-3423!