Cycling in Texas can be a difficult and dangerous proposition due to the sheer number of cars on the roads making it difficult to provide enough space for drivers. Even so, when you consider the environmental friendliness of cycling and the positive impact it can have on your overall health and well-being, the upside outweighs the downside.
Unfortunately, even a socially responsible act like cycling can have disastrous consequences depending on who you share the road with. In fact, a previous study by The Cycling Almanac showed that the driver, not the cyclist, was at fault for as many as 92 percent of all accidents involving cars and bicycles.
Given these shocking statistics, it’s important that you know your options if you’re involved in an accident while cycling due to the negligence of others. This will enable you to deal with impending legal situations in the most productive and timely manner, giving you a greater chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve for the pain and suffering you have suffered.
Elements of a bicycle lawsuit
There are many reasons why a lawsuit could be the next logical step after a bicycle accident, for example, if the party at fault hit you and didn’t stop, if they dispute the fact of their negligence, if the insurance company refuses to pay for all your injuries and medical expenses, etc. If any of these circumstances arise, you may be eligible for financial compensation (also known as damages). However, keep in mind that even though you may be eligible for damages, it remains on you and your attorney to prove that the offending party was at fault.
There are many different situations and scenarios in which you can be injured while cycling due to the negligence of others causing an accident. Some of the most common in Texas include:
• yield failure
• Aggressive passing
• Failing to stop (red light or stop sign)
• traffic congestion
• reckless driving
• Speeding/failure to control speed
• Driver distracted
• Did not see the bike
• Drive after drunk
• Become a cyclist
Texas follows what’s called “comparative negligence.” Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §33.001 states that a claimant (injured party) may not be able to recover damages if the claimant’s (injured party) percentage of liability exceeds 50%. Section 33.013 goes on to say that the aggrieved party has standing to bring an action if the defendant’s percentage of liability for the cause of action exceeds 50%. This is good for plaintiffs because if Texas followed what is known as “contributory negligence,” the injured party couldn’t sue even if it was 1 percent responsible for the accident.
Comparing fault is an interesting concept because the amount of damages awarded is reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault in the bicycle accident. This means you could be partially at fault and still sue, although your potential damages will be lower than if the defendant was fully responsible for the accident.
In Texas, plaintiffs and their personal injury attorneys must prove by a preponderance of evidence (51%) the following:
• A negligent driver owes an injured cyclist a duty to exercise reasonable care while driving his/her vehicle, which is a general duty of all drivers in Texas.
• A negligent driver breaches this duty by failing to exercise reasonable care while driving a vehicle, such as by using a mobile phone while driving, driving distractedly, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
• Inattentive driver behavior is the actual and immediate cause of cyclist injuries.
• A cyclist who suffers some form of injury due to a driver’s negligent behavior can be compensated in the form of monetary compensation.
Understanding these elements of evidence in Texas bicycle accident litigation will allow you to handle this stressful and complex situation in the most effective manner.
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