With the always warm weather and sheer number of registered motorcycles in the Lone Star State, it is safe to say that many Texans love their motorcycles. However, staying safe on the road may prove difficult for Texas motorcycle riders. Dangerous situations can arise suddenly and without notice. Even if a rider is alert and aware of their surroundings, accidents can occur.
A Texas motorcycle accident could leave a person with serious injuries and expensive hospital bills. It can be an arduous time for the injured and their family. It is not always clear where to turn, but having an experienced Texas motorcycle accident attorney by your side could be the first step in seeking relief for yourself and your family.
At the Law Offices of George Salinas, we have helped protect the rights of many injured Texas motorcycle riders. Our clients have enjoyed the amount of personal communication and service they receive. We understand that this may be a difficult time for you and your loved ones, which is why we take it upon ourselves to explore the available options with our clients. We feel that the needs of the client should take priority.
Our Texas motorcycle accident attorneys can carefully analyze the facts of your case and present attainable solutions. After you make a decision, if we feel you have a viable case, our Texas motorcycle accident attorneys could provide representation to attempt to achieve your stated objective, all while continuing to respect your autonomy.
Motorcycle Accidents: Their Causes and Aftermath
Motorcycle accidents have a variety of potential causes. One of the most common accident types is known amongst motorcyclists as a “SMIDSY” (An acronym for “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”). This occurs when an automobile driver pulls out in front of a motorcycle without proper warning. But, not all accidents are caused by automobiles. Motorcycle crashes are frequently caused by hazards in the road, like potholes. This is because their two-wheel stature makes them less stable than a car or truck.
With over 300,000 registered bikes throughout the state, it’s no surprise that about 500 people lose their lives every year in Texas motorcycle accidents, and another 2,000 or so sustain serious injuries. A motorcyclist’s exposure to components outside of the vehicle also makes serious injuries more likely. In severe cases, irreparable harm to a rider’s person can occur. In fact, motorcycle accidents account for a disproportionate percentage of traffic deaths, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The period following a motorcycle accident can be a trying time. The physical and mental toll can be considerable. It may take months or even years to recover, while some may never fully return to normal. The combination of medical bills and time away from work may cause a financial strain, resulting in anxiety for the injured and their family. Many are left looking for answers. Thankfully, there may be recourse for those wrongfully injured.
Motorcycle Accidents and the Law
Texas law creates certain rights for injured motorcycle riders. Through the court system, an injured rider may be granted monetary damages for their loss. Navigating through the process can be challenging. The complicated nature of accidents combined with ambiguities in the law can make assessing a case’s value difficult for the untrained eye. Hiring an experienced Texas motorcycle accident attorney familiar with motorcycle cases may be the best way to start.
A Texas motorcycle accident lawyer could perform an analysis of the facts in light of the law and advise the client on available options. From the client’s perspective, this could be critical. Not all cases are the same and clients have different needs. Learning about the various options that may be available can grant the client invaluable freedom of choice during their time of hardship.
Most motorcycle accident lawsuits are brought under a theory of negligence. In other words, the plaintiff claims that his or her injuries were the result of the defendant’s failure to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonable manner. Negligence could take many forms, such as a failure to abide by state laws and regulations, driving under the influence, or distracted driving.
If negligence was involved, there could be one negligent party or multiple negligent parties. It is possible that a party is not a sole individual but a large entity, like the city government. For example, many motorcycle accidents are caused by a hazard in the road. If the debris was a result of the city government’s failure to properly maintain the roads, for example, they might be a party to the case. In some instances, the bike itself could be responsible for the crash. If the bike malfunctioned or failed to operate properly, the manufacturer of the bike may also be liable.
Relief for the Injured and Their Family
A successful motorcycle lawsuit can result in an award of monetary damages for the injured party. In these cases, damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the pain, suffering, and monetary loss that resulted from the injury. Damages might be awarded for pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. In rare cases, the court might award punitive damages. Punitive damages extend beyond making the plaintiff whole. They are used as an attempt to punish the defendant, and send a message to society that certain conduct will not be tolerated.
Although predicting damages is an imprecise science, a Texas motorcycle accident lawyer familiar with motorcycle cases may help give the client a better understanding of the potential value of their case, based on the facts and evidence at hand. This can give the client a better idea of the compensation they can pursue, and it can help them make an informed decision on how they want to proceed.
Defendants rarely want to pick up the tab for injuries after an accident. They may contest the amount of compensation being sought, or deny liability all together. They could employ a variety of strategies to avoid paying out money, such as trying to blame the victim. The resulting legal battle can be a very trying time for the injured party and their family. It may be especially trying if the injured party was severely disabled or killed. Insurance companies and corporations are often supported by resources beyond the means of most people. The family is often still grieving while fighting tooth and nail to access their rights.
Texas motorcycle accident attorneys stand up for injured parties and can fight on their behalf. Generally, this starts with identifying negligent parties and conducting a thorough investigation, if necessary. Investigations often require a degree of resources and acumen to perform. Once the negligent parties are identified and evidence is collected, your Texas motorcycle accident lawyer could begin crafting a legal strategy and fight for their client’s rights.
Being injured in a motorcycle accident is a harrowing and potentially tragic experience. If the accident itself was not enough, the residual consequences can have a lasting impact on the injured party’s well-being.
Court-awarded damages can help lend some stability to an otherwise uncertain and difficult situation. Additionally, many accident victims feel a sense of peace knowing that a wrong was righted and the at-fault party was held accountable.
Texas Motorcycle Accident FAQs
Riding a motorcycle may give you a sense of exhilaration you cannot get from sitting behind the wheel of a car. However, there can be a trade-off for the freedom you experience on your motorcycle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motorcyclists are roughly 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than automobile occupants.
Whether your bike serves as your primary mode of transportation or inspires weekend adventure, you may have questions about common causes of motorcycle crashes, precautions that can guard against accidents and injuries, and steps to take after an accident.
What are common causes of Texas motorcycle crashes?
NHTSA recently reported data revealing common causes of motorcycle accidents:
- Speeding: Speeding contributed to 32 percent of motorcyclist fatalities, compared to only 18 percent for passenger car drivers.
- Head-on accidents: Front-end collisions accounted for over 75 percent of motorcycle crashes involving two vehicles.
- Crashes with fixed objects: Incidents where motorcycle riders crashed into non-moving objects accounted for 23 percent of deadly collisions.
- Left-turn crashes: In 42 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, the second vehicle turned left in front of the motorcycle.
- Driving under the influence: 28 percent of motorcyclists who died in accidents were alcohol-impaired. In single-vehicle crashes involving motorcyclists, alcohol contributed to 43 percent of deaths.
How can you help protect against serious injury in a Texas motorcycle accident?
Motorcycle riders often suffer more serious injuries than people in passenger vehicles. Specifically, head and traumatic brain injuries can pose significant risks. NHTSA has offered information that supports the fact that helmets offer protection against brain injuries, and has estimated that helmets could be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries.
Texas exempts people who are 21 years or older from wearing a helmet, if they satisfy state training requirements or have proof of medical insurance. However, in a recent year, 51 percent of motorcycle fatalities in the state involved motorcyclists without helmets. So, exempt riders should still choose to wear protective headgear. Look for a helmet that satisfies U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards, evidenced by a DOT label on the outside back of the helmet.
Motorcycle riders may also suffer injuries that range from road rash to broken bones. NHTSA recommends that motorcycle riders and passengers wear leather or heavy denim clothing to cover their arms and legs, as well as boots or shoes that cover their ankles. Gloves can provide better grip and hand protection.
How could you help minimize your risk of a Texas motorcycle accident?
To offset the inherent risks of operating a motorcycle, motorcyclists must often use defensive driving strategies.
The Texas Department of Public Safety publishes a Motorcycle Operator’s Manual with strategies that can help motorcyclists combat the unique hazards they face on the road:
- Avoid sharing lanes with cars, or riding between rows of moving or stopped cars. Pass other vehicles with care and stay within posted speed limits.
- Strategically select your lane position to maximize the chance that other vehicles on the road can see you. Pick a position that places you outside of other drivers’ blind spots, maximizes your line of vision, avoids roadway hazards, and provides an escape route with room for any necessary last-minute maneuvers.
- Leave at least a two-second following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Leaving space can give you more response time if you have to react quickly to avoid hazards.
- Be careful at curves and turns. If you try to navigate a curve or turn too quickly, you may cross into traffic, leave the road, or lose control of your motorcycle.
- Motorcycles may be especially vulnerable to hazardous road conditions, so travel carefully when you ride across uneven or slippery surfaces, pass over potholes, or travel across railroad tracks.
You could also improve the likelihood of visibility while on the road by riding with your headlights on, wearing bright colors, or adding reflective materials to your clothing or helmet.
Proper training and licensing could also help to prevent accidents. Texas requires motorcycle operators to take a safety training course and to obtain a Class M driver license. However, the state Department of Transportation and Texas A&M Transportation Institute report that 46 percent of motorcycle operator fatalities, in a recent year, involved unlicensed riders.
What actions should you take after a Texas motorcycle accident?
While the immediate aftermath of an accident may be chaotic, take the time to move to a safe place and assess yourself for injury. Seek or accept medical attention for injuries you have suffered. After attending to your safety, you can start directing your attention to other matters.
Unfortunately, other involved parties and law enforcement may jump to the conclusion that careless motorcycle riding triggered the accident. Therefore, it could be beneficial to create and preserve a record. Taking photos can help establish evidence of the accident scene, and may be useful in a lawsuit or insurance negotiations. While your memory is fresh, you may also want to jot down some notes in your phone. When you get the police report, check it against your notes and photos to help ensure that it accurately reflects the facts.
Limit your communications with other parties. Only exchange essentials like license, registration, and insurance information. Before you have consulted an attorney, it is best to avoid discussing the details of the accident with anyone, except to the extent that you must cooperate with law enforcement at the accident site.
How long do you have to file a claim after a Texas motorcycle accident?
Texas has a two-year statute of limitations for claims relating to personal injury. In other words, if you have a case, you must file a claim for the damages that you suffered from an accident within a period of two years from the date the accident took place.
What types of damages could you claim in a Texas motorcycle accident?
Texas law outlines the damages you might recover in a motorcycle accident lawsuit.
You may claim compensatory damages in the form of both economic and noneconomic damages:
- Economic damages could help reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses and losses. Perhaps you have incurred medical costs or have forfeited a paycheck during recovery. Economic damages might help you recover these costs and lost wages.
- Noneconomic damages could help compensate you for injuries that are not quantifiable off the bat. For example, you may suffer physical or emotional pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, or disfigurement. Non-economic damages could help assign some sort of value to these.
In some circumstances, you may also have a claim for exemplary damages. These damages are meant to penalize or punish the person who caused harm. This is, provided that you can show clear and convincing evidence that your injuries resulted from gross negligence, malice, or fraud. State law caps exemplary damages at the greater of (1)(a) double the economic damages awarded plus (b) noneconomic damages awarded, not to exceed $750,000, or (2) $200,000.
It may feel overwhelming to recover from motorcycle accident injuries while also trying to manage the accident investigation, handle insurance, assess potential damages claims, and take all steps necessary to pursue your rights before the statute of limitations expires. An experienced Texas motorcycle accident lawyer at The Law Offices of George Salinas could partner with you to help preserve and act on your rights.
Contact a Texas Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Our Texas motorcycle accident attorneys have provided legal representation for injured motorcycle riders throughout the state. We are here to help. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact us today or call (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation.
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