Watch Out for Motorcycles on Texas Roads
Because of Texas’ routinely mild weather, there is almost no dip in the number of motorcycles on the road during the winter. However, many drivers operate their vehicles as though they think there should be, which can make the road more dangerous both for cyclists and for auto drivers alike. If you have been in an accident with a motorcyclist, it is important to accurately reflect on whose behavior might be to blame, and to what degree you might be precluded from seeking compensation for your injuries.
Motorcyclists in Greater Danger on The Road
Because of a lack of protection between them and the road, motorcyclists are much more likely to be injured or killed in an accident, especially on a major road or freeway. Statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) estimate around 500 motorcyclists killed in 2017. While the TxDOT statistics explicitly mention that just over half (52 percent) were not wearing a helmet at the time of their accident, this is only one factor in the elevated fatality risk for cyclists.
Statistics and anecdotal data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) preach the need for motorcycle awareness, both in the abstract and quite literally. Motorcycles are significantly smaller than cars and trucks, and very often they are painted dark colors - both of which can make a motorcyclist all but invisible even in good weather. Even when they are visible to the eye, however, many drivers simply do not factor them into their calculations while driving - for example, when to turn, how wide to turn, how close or distant to follow, and so on. This type of neglect can lead to accidents and fatalities for all involved.
Who Is Negligent?
Accidents between motorcyclists and vehicles can be difficult to parse, which can sometimes lead to disputes over fault and negligence. It can be tempting for a vehicle driver to blame the motorcyclist for going too fast or failing to make themselves visible, while it can also be tempting for the motorcyclist to allege that the car driver should have paid more attention to their surroundings. If the incident goes to trial, it will be the court’s job to determine who, if anyone, was negligent in their actions. To establish negligence, one must show that the defendant breached the duty of care they owed to the plaintiff (in Texas, this is implied between all motorists) and that the breach of duty was caused directly by the defendant’s conduct, which caused tangible harm to the plaintiff.
It is important to keep in mind that in Texas, it is possible for some fault to be ascribed to a party without that party being entirely barred from recovery. This is called modified comparative fault, and in Texas, the law holds that if the plaintiff is judged to be 50 percent or less at fault for their own injuries, they may still recover from the defendant. The rationale is that while a plaintiff may make mistakes, they should still be able to recover for the percentage of fault that is the defendant’s because the defendant still acted in a fashion that would otherwise incur liability.
Contact a New Braunfels Attorney for Help
Motorcyclists have just as much right to be on the road as auto drivers do, but if you are involved in an accident with one, it can be difficult to determine who might be liable. Contacting an experienced attorney can help set the issues straight. The skilled New Braunfels motorcycle accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm have helped many motorcyclists and auto drivers seek compensation after being harmed by someone else’s negligence. If you have been hurt, call our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.