Automobile and bicycle accidents take place relatively often in Texas, especially in bustling downtown areas such as Dallas and Houston. In Texas, the fault-based insurance law requires injured accident victims to determine fault before filing insurance claims. This is because claims are filed with the insurance companies of the at-fault parties. Find out how fault is determined in a bicycle vs. car accident so that you know how to pursue financial compensation as a victim.
Bicycle and car accident investigations in Texas use the same processes in many ways. Both investigations begin at the scene of the crash and extend into interviews with eyewitnesses and other evidence analyses. The goal of an investigation is to determine how and why the crash took place, such as whether one party violated a traffic law or broke a roadway rule. An investigation of either type of accident will rely on evidence that may be available, such as:
- Police crash report
- Admissions of guilt by either party
- Evidence from the accident scene (skid marks, road hazards, etc.)
- Photographs and videos
- Traffic camera footage
- Eyewitness statements
- Accident reconstruction
- Opinions from experts
- Medical records
This list of potential evidence can apply to a bicycle accident as well as an automobile accident. Investigators used by the police, an insurance company and/or a personal injury law firm will search for signs and evidence of fault to piece together how the crash took place. In many cases, fault will go to the person or party who broke a rule, such as running a red light or failing to yield the right-of-way.
There are certain variances, however, in how a bicycle accident is investigated compared to a car accident. For example, investigators may not be able to rely as much on property damage to determine fault for a bicycle accident. In a standard car accident case, the damage inflicted on both vehicles can establish the directions in which both vehicles were traveling, as well as their point of impact. This can allow accident reconstruction experts to determine how the crash took place, including which driver was in the wrong.
In a bicycle accident case, on the other hand, the damage to the bicycle is often so severe as to be inconsequential for investigative purposes. Bicycle damage may not clearly show where or how the bicycle was struck by the motor vehicle. Damage to the car, however, may be inspected for signs of which part of the car collided with the cyclist. If the front of the vehicle shows damage, for instance, this could be proof that the driver was in the wrong and struck the cyclist. Damage to the side of the vehicle, on the other hand, could show that the bicyclist ran into the motor vehicle.
Shared Fault in Both Types of Accidents
Both types of accidents come with the possibility of shared fault. In Texas, the statute that deals with shared fault in an auto accident case is the modified comparative negligence law. This law states that if an injured victim (plaintiff) contributed to the bicycle or car accident, he or she can still recover financial compensation – as long as the victim is less than 51 percent at fault for the collision.
If the plaintiff does share fault with the defendant in an accident case, his or her financial recovery will be reduced by the amount of fault. For example, if a cyclist is 15 percent at fault for an accident for failing to pay attention, but a driver is 85 percent at fault for running a stop sign, the driver would only be responsible for 85 percent of the cyclist’s damages. The settlement or judgment award granted to the bicyclist would be reduced by 15 percent.
If you get injured in a bicycle or car accident in Dallas, consult with an attorney for assistance determining fault, proving your claim and fighting for fair compensation.