A young man was killed on July 3 when he took a curve too fast on his motorcycle and hit a light pole on Dessau Road, just inside the Pflugerville city limits. The motorcyclist was unable to stop in time and was thrown when his bike hit a curb. This is sadly common in Texas, where motorcycle accidents occur with regularity for a multitude of reasons. However, depending on the situation, it may be possible to hold someone liable in a motorcycle accident, even if it only officially involves a single vehicle.
“Single Vehicle” Accidents Are Often Not
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that riding a motorcycle is an inherently dangerous activity – per mile driven, motorcyclists have a death rate 26 times higher than that of automobiles. In 2016, the most recent available data year, the NHTSA showed 4,853 motorcyclists killed, 2,190 in single-vehicle accidents (approximately 45 percent). However, in this metric, single-vehicle accidents are defined as crashes in which only one vehicle sustains damage. This does not cover the accidents in which another vehicle may have played a role, but managed to get away – for example, a car swerving in front of a motorcyclist or not seeing a motorcyclist in their lane until too late might conceivably have caused the accident, but it would still be classified as a single-vehicle accident for tabulation purposes.
The important fact in such situations, as one might imagine, is that someone whose vehicle did not take damage might still conceivably be able to be held liable, especially in a motorcycle accident where routinely, motorcyclists are seen as afterthoughts on the road. Common law dictates that motorists on the road have a duty to observe due care with regard to each other, and a breach of that duty is one of the fundamental tenets of a negligence claim. Motorcyclists are often not seen, or simply ignored by auto drivers, which may open them up to negligence claims.
Proving Negligence Can Be Difficult
Despite the prevalence of single-vehicle accidents which are ‘single-vehicle’ in name only, it can be difficult to prevail in a negligence case based on one, especially when the victim is a motorcyclist. Juries are fairly prone to blame the victim in both of these instances, especially older people who still subscribe to the idea that motorcyclists are reckless or somehow bring injury on themselves. Without evidence to support this, such findings are decidedly unjust.
In some accident cases, it may be possible to bring suit against the city or town where the accident occurred, if you can prove that poor road maintenance or design might have played a role. However, you must be aware that some governmental entities have what is called sovereign immunity, and may be immune from certain types of suits. The Texas Tort Claims Act specifies the criteria under which plaintiffs can sue the state, and many smaller entities like counties have similar resolutions.
Call an Experienced Attorney
A single-vehicle accident, especially on a motorcycle, does not mean that you alone are responsible for your injuries. If you have questions or concerns about a motorcycle accident, calling an experienced attorney can be a help. The skilled New Braunfels motorcycle accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are happy to try and assist. Contact us today to set up an appointment.