Bicyclists are virtually unprotected, making them particularly vulnerable to serious injuries in an accident. If you or someone you love has been harmed in a Houston bicycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, contact Ramsey Law Group. Our Houston bike accident lawyers can discuss your legal options in a free consultation; call (888) 335-7477 or message us online today.
Bike accidents can involve complex legal problems, and injured victims often face an uphill battle when dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies are profit-oriented and aren’t likely to pay you all to which you are entitled unless you have a skilled Houston bike accident attorney in your corner. Your lawyer will look out for your best interests and protect your rights by:
The at-fault driver’s insurer will try to find ways to avoid paying you, and if they can prove you are partially to blame, your compensation can be reduced or eliminated. On the other hand, if the insurer knows their policyholder was at fault, they will try to convince you to settle quickly and for an amount that is much less than you deserve. All of this and more is why it is in your best interests to hire a bike accident attorney.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, bicycle accidents can still happen. Cyclists who are involved in a collision should follow these steps:
In the aftermath of a collision, it’s difficult to think straight, but you should immediately get off the road and move to a safe spot to avoid any oncoming traffic.
If you are injured, in shock, or can’t get the driver’s details, you should contact the police immediately. They’ll be able to assist you and will create an accident report, which will be critical to your claim.
Even if you feel fine, you should still see a doctor. Injuries often take a few days to show up. Give your doctor the full details of your accident.
Gather as much information as possible at the accident scene, especially photos of the scene, the vehicle, your bike, and your injuries.
If you decide to pursue a claim, witnesses will play an essential part in helping you recover compensation. Take note of any witnesses and ask for their contact information.
Never discuss or admit fault at the scene of the accident. Also, don’t accept money from the driver, as this might affect your claim.
The next best thing to do is contact a lawyer who has dealt with cases involving bicyclists before and can advise you on what to do next.
If you were hurt in a bike accident, you can sue any party responsible for causing your injuries. Many drivers do not exercise care when sharing the road with a bicyclist. A distracted driver, for example, may not see a bicyclist until they strike the victim. In these cases, a claim can be brought under a legal theory of liability known as negligence. Proving negligence to hold a party accountable for a bike accident requires you to demonstrate the following:
Bicycle accident victims have two years from the date of the accident to initiate a claim in Houston. If you can prove liability in your case, you can recover compensation from the at-fault parties.
Any party that is negligent or careless and contributes to a bicycle accident can be responsible, and that includes bicyclists. In most cases, the motorist is at fault for a bicycle accident since they are held to a higher duty of care. However, both the driver and the bicyclist can be partially responsible. When accidents involve shared fault, Texas’s rule of modified comparative negligence comes into play. This rule reduces your compensation by your percentage of fault. However, if you are found over 50 percent liable, you cannot collect anything from the other at-fault party.
Here’s an example. A bicyclist is hit while turning left at an intersection because they did not yield to an oncoming vehicle, but the driver was driving while drunk and failed to see the bicyclist. At trial, a jury finds the bicyclist 30 percent at fault for causing the accident while the driver is 70 percent at fault. If the bicyclist’s damages amount to $20,000, they can recover $14,000 or 70 percent of their total damages.
To avoid liability, bicyclists must refrain from violating traffic laws, such as making unsafe lane changes, failing to yield to vehicles or pedestrians, riding on the sidewalk, etc.
After a bicycle accident, your attorney can help you file an injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. As a victim, you can generally be compensated for:
Reimbursement for past and future medical care, including emergency room visits, surgery, hospitalizations, rehabilitation, in-home care, prescription medications, and any other medical-related costs. Your attorney will use your medical records and bills for proof. If necessary, they will hire a medical expert to explain the extent of your injuries, the time you need to recover, and any permanent repercussions.
Any current and future income lost due to your injury. Your attorney will typically gather your pay stubs or tax records to explain the amount of compensation you were expected to make.
Diminished Earning Capacity
Compensation for the difference in the amount of income you can earn now and what you could have earned if you were not injured.
Pain and Suffering
The physical pain and suffering you have had to endure due to your injuries may entitle you to compensation, but this amount can be difficult to measure. An experienced attorney will consider the severity of your injury, the type of accident, your age, physical limitations, and more to help in coming up with a monetary value.
Often combined with pain and suffering damages, but differs in that this compensation is related to the mental anguish resulting from the accident instead of the physical. Common symptoms include terror, anxiety, shock, sorrow, confusion, and lack of sleep. Proof of intensive counseling and lifestyle changes are often required.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
If you are physically limited due to your injury, making you unable to engage in hobbies, recreational activities, exercise, and any other activities you were previously able to enjoy.
Loss of Consortium
Compensation for the impact your injury has had on your relationship with your spouse, such as a loss of companionship and/or inability to engage in sexual intimacy.
They are only awarded in cases where there is evidence of malice, oppression, or fraud.
Houston is a bicycle-friendly city, but accidents are still prevalent. Harris County, where Houston is located, had the highest total number of bicycle crashes in Texas between 2010 to 2016, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT).
Overall, the state of Texas is the third most dangerous state for bicyclists.
The most frequently cited causes of bicycle accidents in Houston include:
Distracted driving is an extremely dangerous type of driver error that includes activities like using a navigational system, talking to other passengers, or using a cell phone. Texting and driving is hazardous because it takes the driver’s eyes off the road, hands from the wheel, and their focus off of driving.
Failure to Yield
Many accidents occur due to drivers and bicyclists not being fully aware of when they are responsible for yielding the right of way on the road.
When drivers travel at high speeds, they reduce their ability to react quickly and avoid bicyclists on the road. Speeding also increases the likelihood of severe injuries in an accident.
Alcohol consumption before getting behind the wheel leads to diminished cognitive abilities that increase the chances of a motorist not seeing a bicyclist.
Motorists sometimes refuse to give cyclists the right-of-way or are not willing to share the road. Some types of aggressive behaviors can be:
Dangerous Road Conditions
Although cities are obligated to maintain roadways, including bicycle lanes, many bike injury accidents are due to hazardous road conditions.
Riding at Night
The most bicyclist deaths occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Cyclists may not be visible to drivers, especially if they don’t use reflective gear while riding.
Bicyclists can easily cause an accident by veering into oncoming traffic or failing to stay in the designated bicycle lane if distracted. There is little to no protection when riding a bicycle, which is why riders must exercise extreme caution when sharing the road with vehicles.
Bicyclists are more likely to suffer catastrophic or even life-threatening injuries in an accident. Injury claims are commonly filed for:
These injuries can lead to overwhelming medical expenses and extended time away from work. A Houston bike accident lawyer will fight to secure the fair amount of compensation you need to cover your current and future care.
Traffic laws in Texas apply to bicycles just as they do to any motor vehicle on the road. However, there are also specific regulations for bicyclists that include:
Failing to follow these and other traffic laws can contribute to an accident, which can lead to a bicyclist being held partially liable.
Most bike accident lawyers in Houston take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means they do not charge an upfront fee or make you pay out-of-pocket for any case-related expenses. Your attorney will advance the costs involved in handling your case, such as filing fees, copies, transcripts, fees for medical records and bills, and others.
Your attorney’s legal fees will be dependent on the amount you are awarded in your settlement or verdict. Most Houston firms will deduct between 33 to 40 percent of your recovered compensation, plus court costs. Some bike accident lawyers may reduce or increase their fee based on how your case is resolved. For example, 33 and a third percent if your case quickly settles, or 40 percent if your case goes to trial.
Other bike accident attorneys may work on a sliding scale fee. A sliding scale fee, for instance, could be 30 percent of any recovery up to $25,000 and 20 percent of any recovery up to $50,000, etc. However, it will depend on the type of case you have, the work involved, and your attorney. Make sure to discuss the agreement with your bike accident lawyer, so you understand the terms.
At Ramsey Law Group, our team will work tirelessly on your behalf to recover the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Call our office at (888) 335-7477 or contact us online for a free evaluation of your case.