Riding a motorcycle can be fun, exhilarating, and for some, practical. A motorcycle is cheaper to buy, maintain, and keep full of gas than a car. Getting around on a bike can be enjoyable and a real money saver. But there is a downside: motorcycles can be dangerous and put your life and health at risk. Even if you take a safe cycling course, observe all traffic rules, and ride with extreme care, you could be involved in a serious accident. Motorcycle accidents, contrary to popular belief, are not the fault of the biker in a majority of cases; a large percentage of accidents are caused by a driver of a car or truck. It is the biker, however, who usually suffers the brunt of the damage from the crash.
A motorcycle rider has absolutely no protection when a crash occurs, and is usually thrown from the bike, which can cause severe injuries or death. Bikers are about five times more likely to be injured, and by various estimates between 26 and 37 times more likely to be killed when an accident occurs. In 2013, 4,668 people died in motorcycle accidents nationwide, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures. Another 88,000 motorcyclists were injured the same year. The good news is that figure is 5.4 percent lower than the previous year. In 2012, the number of injured was 93,000.
In Texas alone, there were 495 people killed on motorcycles and 5,683 serious injuries in 2013. Fifty-three percent of those who were fatally injured were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. If you are over the age of 21, you are not required to wear a helmet in Texas.
Texas Law Regarding Motorcycle Helmets
If you are 21 or older and can show proof that you have successfully completed a motorcycle training and safety course, or if you can prove that you are covered by a medical insurance policy, you are not legally required to wear a helmet. Furthermore, a law enforcement officer may not randomly pull you over for no reason other than to check to see if you have fulfilled these requirements.
Does Riding without a Helmet Affect One’s Ability to Claim Compensation in Texas?
If you have been injured in an accident and were not wearing a helmet, however, the lack of a helmet may be construed as an unnecessary assumption of risk and may affect the amount of compensation you can receive if you suffered a head injury. If your injuries did not affect your head, helmet use, or lack thereof, is irrelevant to your case.
Your Right to Compensation for Damages
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) a majority of all serious motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle; in 42 percent of those crashes, the cause was a car or truck turning left directly into the path of a motorcycle in its proper lane, either traveling in its correct lane from the opposite direction or moving in the same direction and trying to pass the other vehicle. Both of these cases involve a driver of a car or truck who is violating the motorcyclist’s right of way.
In cases where an accident was caused by obstacles or debris left in the roadway by a construction crew, or cargo or tire treads deposited by a truck, the liable party might be a road construction contractor or government department doing roadwork, or the trucking company that created the road hazard.
These are some of the most common types of another party’s negligence that could trigger your right to receive compensation for your injuries:
- Failing to adjust driving to accommodate poor weather conditions;
- Failing to signal a turn or lane change
- Tailgating a motorcycle
- Driving inappropriately for existing traffic conditions
- Disregarding traffic lights or signs
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Distracted driving
- Driving while under the influence of drugs
- Driving while fatigued
- Opening a car door in the path of a motorcycle
- Defect in the vehicle
- Defective highway conditions
- Aggressive or hostile driving
Types of Motorcycle Accident Injuries
As we said here earlier, motorcycle accidents usually result in very serious injuries that will affect your life in an untold number of ways. Some of the injuries bikers commonly incur in a crash include the following:
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Amputation injuries
- Fractured bones
- Neck and back injuries
- Road burn
- Severe lacerations
- Facial injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Chronic pain
Immediately after the Accident
Because motorcycle accident injuries are so serious, it is unlikely that you will be able to do much more than dial 911 and have a police officer and an ambulance dispatched to the scene, but if you have the ability to take photos, do so, or ask someone in the area to do so. If possible, get the plate number driver’s name, contact information, and insurance company information for the car that hit you, if it was another car that caused the crash. Don’t discuss the cause of the accident with the other driver.
Your most important task at this point is getting appropriate medical attention. If an ambulance has been called, it will take you to the nearest hospital emergency room, where your medical treatment will begin. Make sure to keep all follow-up appointments. Follow your doctor’s instructions meticulously, right from the start, and continuing until your recovery is complete.
Contact an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney. Find a lawyer who is Board Certified as a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and who has been practicing personal injury law for many years.
Don’t Get Involved with an Insurance Adjuster
When an insurance adjuster from the company covering the person or company that caused the accident calls and wants to take a statement from you, politely decline. Never allow an insurance adjuster to take a recorded statement, and never sign anything unless specifically instructed to do so by your lawyer. Explain to the adjuster that you have retained an attorney and say nothing further. If you have not yet found a lawyer, tell the insurance company that your lawyer will be in touch, and get the adjuster’s name and phone number. Then waste no time in finding legal representation. Call the law office of attorney Aaron Herbert in Dallas to arrange a consultation.
Why You Must Have a Lawyer to Help You Pursue a Motorcycle Accident Claim
You may know someone who negotiated a settlement without an attorney, or the insurance adjuster may have told you that you don’t need one. While technically this is true, practically it is not. Motorcycle accident victims rarely win fair compensation without a legal battle. In the insurance industry there exists an unfortunate bias against bikers, based on an erroneous assumption that anyone who rides a motorcycle is reckless and a risk-taker. Insurance companies routinely deny motorcycle accident claims, and it will take a well-seasoned and highly skilled attorney to push back against their preconceptions and obtain a fair settlement for you.
A personal injury specialist will understand the full value of your damages and have the resources, skills, and reputation to aggressively pursue a monetary settlement that is adequate to provide you with the medical treatment and rehabilitation services you will need and to compensate you for other damages to your finances and quality of life.
A Texas Personal Injury Trial Lawyer will be able to take your case to court if the insurance company denies or lowballs your claim. Studies have shown that accident victims with skilled legal representation walk away with significantly more money than those who attempt to negotiate a settlement on their own. You future quality of life may largely depend on your receiving adequate compensation for your injuries.
Types of Damages
There are three types of damages that you may possibly recover: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages are those that can be proven with bills, receipts, and employment records. They may include:
- Medical expenses
- Cost of rehabilitation
- Cost of transportation to medical appointments
- Cost of prescription medications
- Lost earnings and benefits and diminished future earning potential
- Cost of assistive devices
- Cost of altering your home and vehicle to accommodate your disability
- Cost of personal in-home care and household services you can no longer perform
- Any other out-of-pocket costs related to your injury
Non-economic or “general” damages are those that pertain to your quality of life, and are harder to quantify in dollars; but for many accident victims, these damages are worse than the financial ones:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of ability to enjoy life
- Inability to engage in sexual relations
Finally, in a few cases, it may be possible to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are an additional award specifically designed to punish the at-fault party for extreme wrongdoing and highly egregious behavior and to provide a deterrent for that type of behavior in the future. An example might be if you were struck by a driver with a very high blood alcohol count who was driving at double the legal speed limit.
Getting the Legal Help You Need in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, or if a close family member has been killed in one, and you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area or elsewhere in Texas, you can get the legal advice you need by arranging a free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Aaron Herbert. If we determine that you have a valid case, we will help you by:
- Investigating the circumstances of your accident
- Calling in traffic safety experts and engineers to support your case, prove liability, and provide testimony
- Making filings in a timely manner and meeting statutory deadlines
- Documenting your injuries, expenses, and other damages
- Negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance company in your behalf that adequately covers all of your economic and non-economic damages.
- Trying the case before a jury if the insurance company fails to make a fair settlement offer.
- Negotiating with your doctors who have liens to reduce your medical bills, enabling you to keep more of the settlement money
Aaron Herbert is a top rated Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer with the highest possible AVVO rating (10/10), membership in the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and a fourteen year history of successfully resolving more than a thousand cases for clients, including 50 jury verdicts. When results matter, Herbert Law can help. Important deadlines apply, so it’s important to act now. Call for your complimentary case evaluation today.