Legal Recourse for Motorcyclists Injured in Houston
Bikers who are injured because of other motorists’ negligent actions can take legal action to recoup medical costs, lost wages, and for other damages related to the accident. Drivers must carry bodily injury liability insurance in Texas in amounts of at least $30,000 per injured person and $60,000 per accident. They also must carry property damage liability insurance of at least $25,000 per accident. Often prudent Houston, TX drivers carry much more insurance coverage than the legal minimum. Usually, it takes a personal injury lawsuit to learn the policy limits of the other driver.
If you have UM/UIM coverage on your motorcycle insurance policy, you may be able to stack that coverage on-top of the other driver’s policy limits to get fully compensated for the injury.
To establish entitlement to legal damages, claimants must prove:
- A duty of care between the parties (all motorists owe others on the road a duty of care to prevent harm to others);
- The defendant breached that duty of care (i.e., acted negligently);
- The defendant’s negligent actions led to the accident; and
- The motorcyclist suffered substantial injuries and damages.
Legal Damages from Motorcycle Wrecks
Riders may seek compensatory damages in these cases, which include economic damages like lost wages and medical expenses; as well as and non-economic injuries or human damages like pain and suffering, disfigurement or loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are more difficult to seek in Texas. Generally, in Texas, plaintiffs have to prove extraordinary or willful negligence to be awarded punitive damages. If a motorcyclist has uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM), he or she may rely on this coverage if the motorist is uninsured or doesn’t have adequate coverage to cover all damages. Calling a Houston motorcycle accident lawyer is a significant first step to protecting your rights.
How Does Comparative Negligence Affect Motorcycle Accident Cases in Texas?
Texas is a modified comparative fault state. To recover damages, claimants need to show that they were 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. Damages, in any case, are reduced by the claimant’s degree of responsibility. For example, if a party was 20 percent at fault and suffered $100,000 in damages, then his or her award is only $80,000 ($100,000 minus 20 percent fault). The comparative fault might be particularly applicable if the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet. Helmet use likely won’t come into play if the rider suffered a broken leg because it had nothing to do with the injury. However, if the cyclist suffers a severe head or neck injury, defendants or their insurance companies may argue that not wearing a helmet contributed to the severity of the injury; therefore, the injured biker is partially at fault.
While Texas does not require riders older than 21 to wear a helmet if they complete a training course or have adequate medical insurance, it may be a factor in some motorcycle accident cases, and riders should discuss how their helmet use could potentially affect their particular case with a lawyer. Generally, if the injury would not have been prevented or lessened by the helmet, the non-use of a helmet should not be relevant to a motorcycle injury case.
Main Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The main factor in crashes with a rider is the failure of the other driver to see the motorcycle prior to impact. The issue is so prevalent that Texas has a program designed to educate the public about looking for bikes. The initiative is called “share the road- look twice for motorcycles”.
Other main kinds of motorcycle accidents are:
- A car turns left in front of you
- A vehicle changes lane hitting you
- You are hit from the rear
Alcohol is a factor in many single vehicle motorcycle wrecks and is speeding.
What Steps Should I Take After a Serious Motorcycle Crash?
After a motorcycle wreck, your priority should be getting the medical attention you need. When seriously injured, it is difficult to obtain necessary information at the scene. Usually, the police officers investigating the crash will talk to the other driver and get their insurance coverage and visit the motorcycle rider in the hospital, if necessary.
Important details to obtain at the scene:
- Insurance information for the at-fault driver
- Photos of the scene and injuries
- The identity and contact information from witnesses
One of the most important things to do for yourself is to get treatment for your injuries. Don’t try to tough it out only to find out later the true extent of your injuries. Delay in obtaining medical care can hurt your body and your case. Likewise, following up with a doctor, as recommended in the emergency room is a must. If you do not have health insurance, you may still be able to receive medical treatment without paying for the care up-front. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss options.
Contact with the Adjuster
We recommend you do not give a recorded telephone interview with the adverse insurance company after an accident. If you choose to provide a telephone interview, you should always talk to a motorcycle accident attorney first. Many of the best motorcycle accident lawyers offer free consultations- take advantage of it.
Choosing a Houston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Do your homework before you sign any contracts with an attorney. Spend a little time looking at the past motorcycle accident cases, reading about former clients, and look at the rating of the attorney at lawyers.com or martindale.com, which ratings are peer-reviewed and not part of a pay for prestige program. Referrals from friends and family can be a start, but it is crucial that you feel comfortable with the attorney you choose before you hire them. If necessary, interview several attorneys.
Contacting a reputable personal injury lawyer with experience in motorcycle accidents is a good first step. By doing so, the Houston motorcycle accident attorney will be able to conduct an initial investigation and document the accident and your injuries.