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What are the Key Steps to Take Immediately After a Bicycle Accident?

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What Laws Protect Bicyclists?

For the most part, bicycles in the State of Texas are considered vehicles and are subject to most of the same traffic laws. Important information regarding the rules for bicyclists can be found in the Texas Transportation Code, and includes:

  • Bicyclists are required to ride on the right side of the road as close to the curb as possible, except when they are passing a vehicle or turning left
  • Bicyclists can not ride on the sidewalk
  • Bicyclists are required to use arm signals when turning
  • Bicyclists are required to have a white light on the front of their bicycle and a red reflector or light on the rear of their bicycle when riding at night
  • Passengers are limited to the amount that the bicycle was designed to carry
  • Cargo is limited to objects that allow the operator to keep one hand on the handlebars at all times

What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident?

Following a bicycle accident, the most important step is also the hardest: remaining calm. The following information will help ensure safety and are important steps necessary for a successful bicycle accident claim:

  • Call 911: Call the police and request medical attention as needed. 
  • Remain at the scene of the accident: Wait for the police to arrive so that they can include all necessary information in a police report that will help any resulting claim.
  • Take pictures: Take pictures of the scene, including the position and condition of the bicycle, the other vehicle, any road signs, etc.
  • Document contact information: Get the contact information of the driver involved in the accident, including name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance information. Get the contact information of any eyewitnesses including name, address, and phone number.
  • Seek medical attention: Medical clearance is needed following a bicycle accident to ensure that a serious injury is not present that is not immediately apparent, such as internal bleeding or a concussion.

How is Liability Determined After a Bicycle Accident?

Liability is determined based on the legal theory of negligence. To establish negligence, the injured party is responsible for proving the following elements:

  • Duty of care: The injured party was owed a reasonable expectation of safety from the other driver. This is easily proven, as all drivers possess the inherent responsibility to maintain safety.
  • Breach of duty: The negligent driver failed to uphold their duty of care by acting recklessly. An example is the failure to use a turn signal.
  • Causation: The sustained injuries were a direct result of the negligent driver’s breach of duty, and without that action, the accident would not have occurred.

Comparative Negligence

Texas recognizes the rule of comparative negligence, which states that if an injured person is partially responsible for the accident, then the collected damages are reduced by the percentage of fault of the injured party. For example, if a person is found to be 30% at fault for a bicycle accident and is awarded $100,000, then the recovered damages will be reduced by 30%, and they will receive $70,000.

If a bicyclist is found to be 50% or more at fault for an accident, then they are barred from recovering any damages.

What are Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?

There are many potential causes of bicycle accidents, including potholes, defective bicycle parts, and poor weather. However, most bicycle accidents are the result of negligence from the bicyclist or another driver. Here are the most common examples of negligence resulting in a bicycle accident:

  • Pulling out in front of a vehicle or bicycle
  • Driving distracted
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Failing to yield at an intersection
  • Passing on the right
  • Riding in a vehicle’s blind spot or failing to check blind spots when changing lanes
  • Failing to drive in a designated bike lane

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the following road hazards are the four most commonly affecting bicyclists:

  • Sewer or cattle grates: Be aware of the road surface
  • Parked cars: When possible, keep a door’s width away from parked cars to avoid unexpected openings
  • Surface conditions: Be mindful of ice, water, loose gravel, uneven pavement, rumble strips, and other possibly dangerous road surfaces
  • Railroad tracks: Cross railroad tracks perpendicular or head-on with the rails

What Damages Can Be Recovered From a Bicycle Accident Claim?

Recoverable compensation varies widely depending on the specific circumstances surrounding each case. The severity and permanence of injury will greatly affect compensation amounts. Possible recoverable expenses include:

  • Medical expenses to date
  • Ongoing and future medical expenses, including surgery, rehabilitation, and prescription drugs
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death

What is the Statute of Limitations to File a Bicycle Accident Claim?

A statute of limitations is the legal timeframe given for filing a case. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the accident, with few exceptions.

One exception to the timeframe is if the victim is a minor or mentally incapacitated. When this occurs, the statute of limitations is paused until the victim reaches legal age or becomes mentally competent. Another exception is in the event of tolling. Tolling extends the statute of limitations for individuals who were initially unaware of their injuries or the fault of the other driver when the accident first occurred.

Do I Need an Attorney?

An attorney is an invaluable asset in bicycle accident cases. They are able to talk and negotiate with insurance companies, compile evidence, and use the law to benefit you. Call Kahn Law, P.C. today at 713-999-6549 or fill out a contact form for a free consultation.

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