Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Houston
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 5,634 motorcyclists suffered serious injuries throughout the state in 2012. Because motorcycles are associated with dangerous behavior, insurance companies often look to blame riders in accidents. But in many cases, it’s another motorist who is to blame for an accident involving a motorcycle.
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. Motorists 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. 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.
Riders may seek compensatory damages in these cases, which include economic damages like lost wages and medical expenses; as well as and non-economic damages 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 good first step to protecting your rights.
How does comparative negligence affect motorcycle accident cases in Texas?
Texas is a modified comparative fault state. In order 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 fault. 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). This may 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. But if the rider suffers a serious 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.
What steps should I take to protect my rights and options after a serious motorcycle crash?
Contacting a 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 early investigation and document the accident and your injuries.