On November 17, a 55-year-old Austin man was killed when his motorcycle drifted across the eastbound lanes and wound up striking a utility pole. No other details about the accident were released as of this writing, but it is worth noting that a single-vehicle motorcycle accident is more than a little unusual, which is perhaps counterintuitive when one assesses the risks of motorcycling. That said, a single vehicle accident does not necessarily mean that no one may be held liable for events leading up to the cyclist’s death or injury.
Single-Vehicle Accident Causes
Single vehicle “run off the road” accidents made up approximately 34 percent of all traffic deaths in Texas in 2016. However, there are many different causes of these accidents. Obviously, very few single-vehicle accidents happen due to suicidality or mere chance, but most people are slow to be able to name a cause other than that. Examples include:
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Being distracted or sleep-deprived, either of which might take a driver’s attention from the road;
- Mechanical problems or breakdowns, especially abrupt ones like tire punctures;
- Weather conditions;
- Obstructions in the road, such as rumble strips or fallen items from other cars; and
While it is very unusual that anyone could be liable for such eventualities as a sleep-deprived driver, it is eminently plausible that weather conditions or mechanical issues could be attributable to another person’s negligence. Assuming information on your or your loved one’s particular situation is available, you may yet have a cause of action on your behalf or on behalf of your deceased loved one.
Depending on the type of action you wish to bring, there are several plausible defendants that may be held liable for a single-vehicle accident, regardless of the vehicle you were driving. One of the most common is the relevant municipal entity in charge of maintaining the roads upon which the accident occurred. While some jurisdictions have preserved the doctrine of what is called sovereign immunity (which essentially renders them immune from tort suits), the Texas Tort Claims Act expressly waives that doctrine if the agent would be liable to the plaintiff as a private citizen (that is, without the benefit of being part of the state agency). In other words, if you can prove certain criteria, no sovereign immunity exists.
Other potential defendants could lie in product liability (manufacturers) or in traditional personal injury cases (other drivers). If the cause of the accident was a mechanical or part breakdown, you may have a claim for product liability – either by alleging a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or through a failure to warn of common-sense dangers. If you believe the accident was caused by another driver – for example, by an auto driver not seeing you on your motorcycle and forcing you off the road – you may still have a negligence claim against them, as well, despite their vehicle not being part of the accident itself.
Contact the New Braunfels Auto Accident Lawyer
While this Austin man was killed at the scene of his accident, the outcome may not be the same for your loved one. If you or a family member has been the victim of a single-vehicle crash in recent years, you may be entitled to help with your medical bills. The skilled New Braunfels car and motorcycle accident lawyers at The Bettersworth Law Firm can help set you straight on what your redress options are after such a frightening incident. Contact our office to set up an appointment.