In early June 2017, , a man was killed when his motorcycle was hit by a truck on FM 973 in Austin. His passenger was injured, but her unborn child did not survive. The driver of the truck that hit him was later charged with intoxication manslaughter, which may rise to two counts after the fetus was declared no longer viable. This is a sad yet common story in Texas, but it nevertheless reflects just how dangerous motorcycling can be even when one does everything right.
Statistics Show Significantly Higher Risks
The most recent available data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows a slight uptick in motorcyclist deaths from the previous year at 4,693. That constitutes approximately 13 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015, which is more than double the amount seen a decade before. One notable trend is that almost two-thirds of the fatalities were sustained in multiple-vehicle crashes, which is slightly higher than previous years, but roughly in keeping with trends.
There are multiple reasons why motorcycle deaths and injuries are so frequent, including motorcycles’ low visibility, high performance, and lack of protection granted by a car (metal enclosure, air bags, crumple zones), but given the percentage of motorcyclists vis-a-vis auto drivers on the roads, it can be seen that the death and injury rate for motorcyclists is still remarkably high, at least proportionally. This remains the case despite Texas helmet and safety laws – though certain motorcyclists may be exempt from wearing a helmet if they meet the requirements of having completed an approved training course and/or carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance.
Potential Pitfalls to Compensation
While it is possible to establish liability in a motorcycle accident case, it is not easy, for a variety of reasons. Very often such cases come down to a ‘he said/she said’ scenario, or if there is a fatality or head injury, there may be no available eyewitness testimony to draw upon. There is also a demonstrable prejudice against riders in many communities – even Austin, home of Ride Texas and many other cycling related events. Motorcycle riders are still too often seen as reckless and rebellious, especially by the older generation, and because of this bias, some juries vote against injured plaintiffs because they somehow irrationally figure their injuries were deserved.
Even if your case is sufficiently compelling to avoid many people’s bias, the statute of limitations may pose a pitfall. Because injuries in motorcycle accidents can be so severe, many do not immediately bring suit against an allegedly negligent driver. This can work out, even though memories may fade – but if one waits too long, the statute of limitations may expire. Negligence cases in Texas are required to be filed within two years of the accident, but most attorneys will suggest filing as soon as humanly possible. As John Still once said, the memories of men are too fragile to hang history from – in other words, people will begin to forget critical details if too much time passes between accident and trial.
Call Our Austin Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
The New Braunfels motorcycle accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm have experience in these types of cas and are happy to try and assist you with yours. Contact us today to set up an initial appointment.