Thanks to enduring biases against motorcyclists, you can do everything right, and still be blamed for the accident that caused you harm. This is because reckless drivers know that they can get out of being held accountable if they can blame part of the reason for the crash on the motorcyclist.
In Texas law, drivers owe other people on the road a “duty of care,” meaning they must follow the rules of the road and keep others around them safe. A driver (or motorcyclist) is negligent and liable for your injuries if:
- They violate this duty by driving recklessly
- Their conduct injures you or someone you love
- You have damages (such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or more)
For your case to be successful, you must be able to prove all three of these elements.
While that might seem relatively simple, this is where Texas law gets complicated.
Texas’ Modified Comparative Negligence Law
Accidents are often nuanced, and rarely caused by one person, company, or defective part. More commonly, it’s multiple failures happening in concert that cause a crash. Texas’ modified comparative negligence law ensures injured people are compensated in proportion to their “level” of fault in the crash.
Let’s say you’re on your bike, going about five miles per hour over the speed limit, when you’re hit by a motorist driving drunk and going the wrong way down the highway. Your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering amount to $250,000 in damages. However, because you were speeding at the time of the crash, you could be considered 5% responsible. Therefore, you would only be able to collect 95% of the damages available to you—$237,500.
In Texas, you can be up to 50% responsible for a crash and receive compensation. However, if you are 51% or more at fault, the insurance company doesn’t have to pay your damages.
When insurance companies and other parties want to reduce the amount of compensation they’ll be held responsible for, they’ll often blame the injured biker. Sometimes, they base their claims on things like speeding, and other times, it’s due to lane-splitting, helmet use, or passengers riding with you.
Even worse, the insurance companies often try to take advantage of motorcycle bias and blame even the most responsible bikers. Inaccuracies in the police report sometimes make it seem like the injured person was more responsible for the accident than they were—causing them to be denied the compensation they need and deserve.
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