Bicyclists in Texas are protected by law. You need to be aware of your rights and privileges that you may exercise as a bicyclist, and more importantly if you meet with an accident.
In 2015, Texas witnessed 51 fatalities for bicyclists. Bike accidents are quite common, and even if these don’t involve fatalities, there is a risk of serious and debilitating injuries.
Injuries suffered because of bicycle accidents include fractures, ligament tears, blunt force trauma, spinal injuries, concussions, road rash, and brain injuries.
It is easy to understand how such injuries can occur. A bicycle rider is vulnerably placed as compared to a motorcycle rider or a car driver with whom a collision may occur. Such a collision may result in a fall against a hard surface. Broken ribs, legs, and arms follow. Such fractures, even after healing, result in chronic pain requiring medication. Blunt-force trauma that results from such crashes can damage internal organs, such as liver, spleen, and intestines. This rupture and bruising can lead to permanent consequences that can easily take on life-threatening proportions.
A brain injury is one of the most serious consequences of a bicycle injury. A traumatic brain injury can be mild or severe. Cognitive, behavioral, and emotional damage usually follows. Severe cases involve permanent paralysis, paraplegia, or quadriplegia.
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, the first thing to do is to ensure that you get medical help. When you seek medical help quickly, it will also improve your chances of winning a claim. A doctor is best placed to check if the injuries are worse than what they appear to be. Insurance companies will do all they can to either not pay you, or if they have to, then they will try to get you to settle for the minimum possible amount. If you delay a visit to the doctor, then they may use this incident to claim that the accident and injury are not related.
After a bicycle accident, or any accident for that matter, don’t do anything that can devalue your claim. Don’t miss a doctor’s appointment. If the doctor tells you to quit smoking because it will delay the recovery process and you don’t do so, then you are leaving yourself vulnerable to this information being used against you by the defendants.
After immediate medical treatment has been availed, you need to get down to the business of determining fault so that liabilities can be affixed and apportioned. The guilty party’s insurance company will have to pay damages.
Texas follows a modified comparative fault rule, according to which the fault can be shared by two parties. Therefore, both you the bicyclist and the other party can be at fault. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you won’t win any claim. In order to strengthen your point of view about the extent to which each party is guilty, you need to present a strong case backed by clear documentation. The insurance companies will really need to be persuaded that your fault in the accident was as low as your presenting it to be. They will try to minimize their liabilities by apportioning as little of the fault on their customer as possible. It will save them money.
Common scenarios in which bicyclists can meet with an accident include cars appearing from side streets or parking areas and colliding with bicyclists. Usually in such accidents, it is the car driver who is at fault.
Drivers opening the door of a stationary car and hitting the bicyclist is another common scenario. In this case too, the car driver is considered to be at fault.
If a car hits a bicyclist coming from the opposite direction, then the fault may be shared, if the bicycle rider is on the road and not on the sidewalk.
Cities like El Paso and Austin have laws regarding the minimum gap that must be maintained between cyclists and cars. But Texas does not have any rules implemented statewide. Therefore, it comes down to the judgement of the two parties to assess the safe distance.
When it comes to pedestrian safety, North Texas roads are not very bicyclist friendly. The roads favor motor vehicles. Add to that potholes and congested sidewalks, and you have a very unfriendly setting for bicycle riders. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is among the top-10 dangerous metro areas in America for pedestrians.
Bicycle accidents can be fatal. When such an accident happens, the family and relatives of the deceased need to be aware of their legal rights. While recovering financial damages and pursuing a wrongful death claim may not bring back a loved one, the compensation can ensure that the victim’s survivors continue to live a life of dignity, and that crucial aspects of life such as education, shelter, and medical care are not compromised.
When it comes to bicycles, car drivers may be responsible, or the incident may happen because of a poorly designed road. The bicyclist can also be at fault. If the bicycle’s mechanism is at fault, it may include bicycle parts such as the braking mechanism or will focus on a poorly manufactured helmet.
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident with a four-wheeler then you must be able to determine fault, so that you can push for damages. To ensure that you don’t get blamed for an accident, then you must be aware of laws pertaining to bicyclists.
- Look for “No Biking” signs, and ride on roads only where these signs are not present.
- It is your responsibility to issue proper warnings when approaching pedestrians on shared sidewalks.
- Comply with traffic rules when on the road – for turning, signaling, etc.
- Maintain the bicycle. Proper brakes and working handlebars are a must.
- If you ride the bicycle at night, then it must be fitted with headlamps and reflectors.
- Do not carry passengers without a saddle seat.
- You cannot transport loads if it requires that you keep only one hand on the handlebar.
Apart from the laws that you must abide by, you also need to be aware of your rights. You have rights on the roads, even if the vehicle isn’t motorized. Knowing your rights will allow you to rebut any motivated and false assertions made by a motorist trying to pin the blame on you.
- You can ride on the road and go with the traffic. You should stay on the right side as far as possible.
- Cars are supposed to yield right of way to you just as they would to any other vehicle.
- Keep to the curb, but you can ride on the lane when you think it is safe, or when the lane is 14-feet or narrower.
- Two cyclists can ride width wise, so long as they are not obstructing the flow of traffic.
If you’re involved in a car accident, then you are better off hiring a lawyer who has successful personal injury cases under his belt. A good Texas personal injury lawyer will collect evidence that proves your assertions and will be able to get you compensation that you deserve.
Lawyers are aware of the points to invoke in order to drive home the fact that a motorist is supposed to drive responsibly and cautiously in order to ensure that others on the road remain safe.
If you’re involved in an accident with a motorist…and most accidents end up being proven as caused by the motorist, then you must move quickly and file a claim against the driver and the driver’s insurer. You are eligible for compensation for past and future medical expenses, loss of income that includes salaries, wages, and commissions, and other expenses that can be linked to the accident. Your lawyer will also press for compensation for intangible damages that include pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life.
Know the types of insurance cover that you can avail when involved in an accident. Apart from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance, you can also claim compensation under uninsured or underinsured motorist policy. A personal injury protection (PIP) policy too can help you with the cost of medicines and more. PIP is a no-fault insurance cover. This means that you can benefit from it even if you are responsible for the accident. PIP is a versatile policy to have because it comes into action when you come in contact with a car under any circumstance.
Do you know the riskiest time of the day for riding a bicycle on the road? It is between 5 and 9 in the evening. This is when people are heading back home from work. Visibility can also become an issue as it begins to get dark. If you must ride during this time-frame, then use a headlight ahead and reflectors behind. The lights must be visible from a distance of 500 feet. If, instead of a red light, you wish to use a reflector, then the reflector must be visible from a distance of 50 feet to 300 feet.
The state does not have any laws regarding the use of protective gear, such as helmets. However, there are cities in Texas that enforce local laws regarding the wearing of helmets. These include Arlington, Austin, Bedford Benbrook, Coppell, Fort Worth, Houston, Southlake, and Dallas.
If you or anyone from your family is injured in a bicycle accident in Texas, then you need the services of a good law firm. The Law Offices of Alex R. Hernandez Jr. can help you with personal injury and wrongful death court claims.
Choosing the right lawyer is the difference between protecting your rights and getting justice on one hand and ending up with a compromised proposition that leaves you financially poorer and frustrated.