Bicyclists are hardly protected from the dangers of the road. Learn more about bicycling accidents and how cyclists may receive compensation for their injuries.
Written by: Enjuris Editors
Texas is full of bicyclists, especially in larger cities like Houston, Dallas, and Austin where many rely on bicycles as their primary form of transportation.
Bicycles do not provide their riders with nearly as much protection as a motor vehicle, and being in an accident can mean serious injuries for cyclists.
Bicycle accidents can include collisions with cars, other bicyclists, or road conditions/hazards like potholes or uneven pavement.
If you’ve been in a bicycle accident, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for your injuries.
How you react after a bicycle accident is very important
First thing’s first, knowing how to respond in the event of an accident can be crucial to receiving proper care and building a strong personal injury case.
If you find yourself in a bicycle accident, you should:
Call the police. Calling the police should be the first step, and it’s important not to admit fault to others while waiting for police to arrive. Once the police report is completed, be sure to ask for a copy for your records.
Gather your own evidence. This is easier than it sounds. Take pictures of the scene from as many angles and distances as you can. You should also write down the names and contact information of anyone involved and all witnesses that saw the accident.
Visit a physician. Even if you don’t believe your injuries are severe, sometimes bicycle accident injuries can show up days or even weeks later. Physicians can also provide documentation of your injuries to help solidify your case later on, and it’s important to check in with them.
Collect and keep documentation. Keep your copy of the police report, any medical documentation or bills, any pictures, and witness statements in a safe place. They’ll come in handy for your case.
Contact an attorney. Attorneys that are experienced with bicycle accidents can help with determining who was at fault in the accident and how much compensation you may be due for your damages.
Bicycle accidents can cause serious injuries
Bicycles offer their riders little to no protection from road hazards or motor vehicles. Because of this, bicycle accident injuries can be particularly severe and damaging.
Catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and internal organ damage are some of the most common injuries that bicyclists can receive from an accident, and they can result in months or years of recovery. This means that damages will likely be high when your attorney is adding up your compensation.
High damages means that a case can become complex more easily. Insurance companies will not want to fork up thousands of dollars for your recovery, and it may take more time and negotiation to settle on the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Who can I sue for my bicycle accident?
Those who have been involved in a bicycle accident can sue the cyclist, the motorist, or even the city depending on how the accident occurred and who is determined to have been at fault.
It all comes down to what or who was responsible for the injury in the first place. However, if you do decide to sue, know that you must be able to prove that whoever you are suing showed negligence and that negligence is what directly caused your accident and damages.
It’s possible to sue a city for dangerous roadways, a lack of warning signs around construction, a failure to repair damaged roads, etc. as long as there was negligence involved.
It is possible to sue a city for dangerous road conditions that caused a bicycle accident.
What if I’m partially responsible?
One party, whether motorist or cyclist, is not always solely responsible for bicycle accidents.
It’s very possible that two or more parties may be partially responsible for an accident. If this is the case, damages may still be collected, but it may not be as much as you think.
Texas is a comparative fault state. What this means is that, if there is more than one party responsible for an accident, their respective damages are adjusted based on how responsible they are.
For example, if a bicyclist is riding on the wrong side of the road and is determined to have been 35% responsible for the accident, he or she will be responsible for paying 35% of the total damages.
However, if you are proven to be more than 50% responsible for an accident, you forfeit the right to receive compensation.
Enjuris Tip: Texas’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is typically 2 years. Read more about the ins and outs of the statute of limitations.
Which damages can I recover?
Bicyclists have the same rights as motorists when it comes to collecting damages for injuries. This means that injured bicyclists can receive compensation for:
Current and future medical expenses
Pain and suffering due to injuries
Lost wages or time at work
There are laws specific to bicyclists
In the majority of circumstances, bicycles are considered vehicles and are subject to many of the same traffic laws. This means stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, yielding when required, and having an overall awareness of one’s surroundings.
However, Texas has its own set of laws for bicyclists that, when broken, can be grounds for negligence in an accident.
These laws include:
Riding on the right side of the roadway as close to the curb as possible, except when safely passing a vehicle or turning left.
Not riding on the sidewalk.
Using arm signals when turning
Additionally, there are certain laws that Texas has put into place to protect bicyclists from dangerous situations and hazards. This includes:
Laws against opening vehicle doors on the side facing moving traffic
Vulnerable road user laws that protect vulnerable bicyclists. Although the entire state of Texas does not have universal laws here, the cities of Houston and Austin have passed ordinances in an attempt to protect vulnerable road users.
Will hiring an attorney actually help my case?
If you’ve suffered serious injuries, are having problems with insurance companies, or if you’re not sure who exactly was responsible for the accident, an attorney can certainly help.
More serious injuries can call for more compensation, and other parties involved will likely not want to comply. Your attorney will better be able to negotiate with insurance companies, add together your due damages, and fight legal systems for your rights to compensation.
Enjuris Tip: Inaccurate paperwork and non-economic damages are other signs that you may need to hire an attorney. Check out our article for the whole list.
If you want to know more about staying safe, the Texas Department of Transportation provides excellent safety tips for staying safe while riding a bicycle and driving close to a cyclist.
Have questions about your accident and the law? Get answers!