Beyond negotiations, the circumstances of your case may complicate the process. For example, a significant portion of bicycle accident claims involve a driver who fled the scene. How are you supposed to focus on getting better when you aren’t even sure where to file a claim?
Even if the driver stuck around and provided their information, their insurance policy might be too small to cover your needs, or they might not have any insurance at all. While you can look to your own insurance policies to supplement, an attorney will bring additional insight that keeps the process moving.
Bicycle Rules Vary Across Texas Municipalities
Depending on where your bike accident happened, the local laws might not be what you expect.
For example, while Texas does not have a helmet law, certain cities require riders to wear them. Or consider Houston, where cars must stay at least three feet away from cyclists (six feet for commercial vehicles). Another example is biking on the sidewalk—some municipalities allow it, while others do not.
All of these factors are important to your case. Unless you’re an authority on the various bike laws across Texas, it’s well worth your time to entrust these aspects to a personal injury lawyer.
Texas’ Modified Comparative Fault
Like many other states, Texas observes comparative fault when determining liability. Comparative fault means that more than one person or entity may be at fault for the incident, but injured parties may still recover damages even if they bear some of that fault.
Texas’ comparative fault rule is modified. This means that anyone more than 50% at fault for the incident may not receive any compensation. Further, compensation may be reduced according to your share of the legal responsibility.
For example, imagine you were hit by a car when the driver turned left while you rode through the intersection. Clearly, the driver misjudged their timing. However, if your injuries were worsened because you weren’t wearing a helmet in a municipality that requires them, you may be found, say, 15% at fault.
If full compensation was $100,000, it may be reduced by 15%, leaving you with $85,000.
While it is not illegal for cyclists to have alcohol in their system, being under the influence when injured may affect liability in your case.
Unfortunately, many drivers, police officers, and potential jurors hold negative stereotypes about bike riders—for example, that they frequently disregard traffic laws and drive recklessly. Many drivers simply do not like sharing the road with bicycles.
This bias can mean that cyclists are less likely to get the benefit of doubt when the facts are unclear, and may be determined to be partially or even completely at fault in cases where they do not deserve it. Working with an experienced attorney can help gather the evidence you’ll need to counter these stereotypes, particularly in tough situations (like when you disagree with the police report).