What Is a Vulnerable Road User Ordinance in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2019 | Car Wrecks

Pedestrians and cyclists are routinely the victims of traffic accidents in Texas, and while sometimes it is due to their own negligence, very often it is also due to the recklessness or negligence of drivers. Because non-drivers are at such a relative disadvantage on the road, many cities in Texas have enacted what are called vulnerable road user (VRU) ordinances, designed to safeguard those who might otherwise wind up with medical bills they can ill afford to pay.

Power Imbalances on the Road

Most jurisdictions define vulnerable road users as exactly that – people on the road that have less protection (usually physical, but also sometimes legal) such as pedestrians and bicyclists. The term can also be defined by age group or physical characteristics – young children and the elderly are often placed in the VRU category. Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that a VRU be classed as a pedestrian, as opposed to a vehicle – bicycles and motorcycles are considered vehicles under Texas law, and they are covered by many VRU ordinances.

Because drivers of cars and trucks are better protected and will often have more time to react in the event of a crash, VRU ordinances have begun to be passed in many major cities – in Texas, the first to appear were in Houston and Austin, although Midland, San Antonio, and Dallas have all either passed provisional bills or are in the process of doing so. As of this writing, five states have passed VRU ordinances, but Texas is not yet one of them, so the city ordinances provide important, if patchy, protection.

If You Are Injured

If you are a vulnerable road user and you have been injured in an accident with an automobile, the VRU ordinance can help you bring suit, most notably because violating it may constitute what Texas law calls negligence per se. Most personal injury cases are brought under a theory of negligence, meaning that you have to establish negligence on the part of the defendant in order to recover. If you can show that the defendant’s actions violated a law designed to protect a particular class of people, and you happen to belong to that class, it will automatically be assumed that the defendant was negligent as a matter of law.

Be advised that it is an affirmative defense if the defendant can show that you were disobeying the law at the time of the accident. In other words, if the defendant can show you were breaking the law, it will insulate them from liability in most cases, or at least from any liability created by the VRU ordinance. You have the right to be on the road without being harassed or harmed, but at the same time, you have to act in a manner that does not endanger yourself or anyone else.

Call a New Braunfels Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Everyone must obey the rules of the road, and if someone harms you through their own conduct, you deserve to try and seek compensation for what you have been through. The skilled New Braunfels pedestrian accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are happy to try and assist you with your case and to try and help you cover your bills so that you can focus on recovery. Call our office today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.