Additional Information About Bicycle Accidents
When Is the Bicyclist At-Fault?
If you've been in a bicycle accident and specifically, if you've been in a bicycle accident with a car or truck, you're likely wondering who broke the law, who's at-fault and most importantly, who's going to pay for all the damages and injuries caused as a result?
At our firm, we see the driver being found at-fault for a car-vs.-bike accident. However, this isn't always the case. Here are a few laws that pertain to cyclists. If you were breaking one of them during your accident, you could be found at-fault.
- Cyclists should only ride on roads, streets and paths without "no biking" signs.
- On shared sidewalks, the bicycle rider is responsible for giving proper warning when approaching others.
- When cycling on a roadway, bicycles must keep as far to the right of the road as possible.
- If a cyclist must turn left on a roadway, they should align themselves appropriately as with any other vehicle.
- Bicycles on roads comply with all traffic signals, warning signs and other laws - just like cars must.
- All bikes must be in good working condition (proper brakes, handlebars, etc.)
- If you ride ,at night you must fit your bike with a white head lamp on the front and a reflector on the rear.
- If there is only one permanent seat/saddle fitted to the bike, then only one person may ride it.
- Pulling or dragging people on roller skates, sled, cart, etc. is not permitted.
- It is illegal to attempt to transport a load which requires you to have less than one hand on the bicycle's handlebars.
Bicyclists must also use correct hand signals to signal their intention to maneuver to other road users:
- Stopping - extend left arm downwards
- Turning left - extend left arm out horizontally
- Turning right - extend right arm out horizontally (or extend left arm upwards)
So, for instance, if you made a sudden left hand turn and didn't signal, and a car hit you as a result, you could be found at-fault for the wreck for failing to signal.
The Legal Rights of Texas Cyclists
Since bikes aren't motorized, many Texas motorists seem to forget that bicyclists have just as much right to be on the road as any other vehicle. Of course, it also means cyclists have to abide by all the same rules as other drivers. This includes staying off sidewalks, stopping at red lights and stop signs and yielding to pedestrians.
If you've been hit by a driver, it's likely the driver will try to pin the blame on you. They might accuse you of riding in the middle of the road or riding with two cyclists abreast, saying it's your fault you were in the way. However, if you understand the law and your rights as a bicyclist, you'll see that neither of these arguments are valid.
It's important to know your rights when making a claim against a negligent driver. They hit you and they need to be held responsible. Here are a few more Texas cyclist rights you should keep in mind:
- Cyclists may ride in the road in the same direction as traffic, though they should stay as far right as possible.
- Cars must yield to a bicycle when they have the right-of-way, just as they would to another car.
- Cyclists should ride near the curb, but Texas law allows cyclists to take up the entire lane when it's safer to do so.
- Cyclists can ride two abreast as long as they don't slow down traffic.
- Cyclists can take up the entire lane when the lane is too narrow for a car to pass the rider at a safe distance (or a road that's less than 14 feet across and doesn't have a bicycle lane).
At this point, many people choose to consult with a board certified personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you determine what laws the car was breaking when they hit you and how much money you deserve in compensation for your damages and injuries. Furthermore, a lawyer who takes on your case will collect evidence to prove the other driver was negligent.
Common Cyclist Injuries
As a cyclist hit by a car or pedestrian who collides with a cyclist, you may now be suffering from:
- Road rash
- Broken bones
- Dislocated joints
- Head and face injuries
- Dental injuries
- Concussions (mild traumatic brain injuries)
- Moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Whiplash or other neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
What Insurance Is Available to Cyclists?
In many accident cases, you can file against multiple insurance policies rather than just one. The most obvious is the at-fault driver's liability insurance, which should cover your bodily injuries and damage to your bike. You can also file against your own underinsured or uninsured motorist policy if you happen to have it.
For example, if you were in a bike wreck and you're left with $50,000 in medical bills, but the negligent driver only carries the state minimum of $30,000, then you are still going to have to pay $20,000 out of pocket. However, if you're carrying underinsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim against that coverage to cover the remaining balance.
What If the Driver Who Hit You Drove Away (Hit and Run)?
Luckily, you aren't out of luck if you've been injured as a pedestrian by someone who drove away or who doesn't have enough insurance to cover your damages. In these situations, you can use your own insurance to cover the cost of your medical expenses and more. The type of insurance you'll need to have is called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is a form of additional add-on insurance you can buy to protect yourself and your family members in the event of an auto accident. Since PIP is considered no-fault insurance, it can be used even if you caused the accident (as a driver, pedestrian or otherwise).
To Find Out If You Have PIP, You'll Need to Do Your Research
You can look at your insurance policy to see if you're covered by PIP. Under Texas insurance law, the "named insured" and their family members are covered under PIP as pedestrians. If the injured pedestrian isn't either the policyholder or a family member, they aren't covered.
As Fort Worth attorneys, we know that insurance policies aren't always easy to understand. It might not be clear what insurance you have and if it's going to cover your damages and injuries, particularly in the case of pedestrian injury.
In these cases, it's best to consult with your personal injury lawyer. They'll be able to tell you exactly what insurance you're carrying and your right to coverage.
Does PIP Cover Anything Else?
Aside from protecting you if you're hit by a car as a pedestrian, PIP covers a whole range of scenarios. Most involve auto accidents in some form or another, though you don't always have to be the driver or a pedestrian to use your PIP. For instance, contact with a car of any kind - like falling from a tree and hitting your car - will afford you PIP (if you've paid the premium and no rejection can be produced).
Bicycle Accident Injuries Hold Different Settlement Amounts
If you riding your bicycle and were hit by a vehicle, it’s possible that you may be in pain and need medical treatment. Bicyclists whose injuries were caused by an at-fault driver may be entitled to receive compensation for their injuries in the form of settlement. The settlement can differ from a low to a high amount depending on the severity of the accident and injuries.
For example, a bicyclist who was pushed off their bikes and onto a car’s windshield may require physical rehabilitation if there weren’t serious injuries involved. This bicyclist’s settlement may be lower than a bicyclist who was airlifted to a hospital, received multiple surgeries, and required months to recover.
While both accidents involved injuries, each settlement would hold different amounts because they hold different levels of severity. Injured bicyclists who have medicals bills should contact the Anderson Injury Lawyers if they want an experienced team of attorneys to handle their case in a professional manner, especially if they want a settlement that covers for their accident-related medical expenses, which no injured victim should have to cover.
Texas Law Doesn't Always Protect Cyclists
Unfortunately, when a cyclist is hit by a car and it's the driver's fault, there aren't any statewide laws in Texas to protect the cyclist. They're considered a vehicle and are given no special treatment. However, it's clear that bicycles and cars aren't the same. Shouldn't drivers take extra care around exposed cyclists? And shouldn't they face harsh penalties for carelessness, especially if their actions cause harm to the cyclist?
If you've been hit on your bike by a car, you deserve compensation. Consider hiring an attorney (who won't charge anything unless they win your case) to take on your claim and help you recover the money you need to pay for your damaged bike and medical bills.
What Can Cyclists Do to Protect Themselves?
Wear a helmet! Cyclists have very little protection in the event of a collision, so protecting your head with a good helmet is an absolute must. The head holds the brain - one of the most important organs of the body - which is why safeguarding it with a sturdy helmet should be a primary task. It’s also important that you follow all the rules of the road, just as though you were driving a motor vehicle. Additionally, take care whenever you’re passing a row of parked cars – you don’t want to accidentally crash into a car door which suddenly opens.
Additional Safety Measures
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), being seen by motorists is very important for a bicyclist’s safety. This can be accomplished by making sure that drivers see you by making eye contact with them. Also, crossing the road should be done stepping off the bicycle and stopping before crossing. By doing so, drivers have time to notice a bicyclist, and bicyclists can be sure that a driver has made visual contact with them. By both the bicyclist and driver noticing each other, an accident can be avoided.
The Most Dangerous Time of Day
There is more traffic on the roads between the hours of 5:00 and 9:00 pm, as people head home from work and go out and about in the evening, which means there is greater potential for an accident to occur. It also starts to get dark during these hours, which means visibility becomes even worse.
Bicyclists who choose to drive within these late hours should be sure to have reflective gear on their bicycle, which can let motorists know that they are on the road. Also, attaching a light to the front of their bicycle can be a benefit when riding during the evening. Due to new technology innovations, bicyclists are able to purchase LED lights that shine brighter than conventional lights and last longer.
Is It Illegal to Bike Without a Helmet in Texas?
There are no statewide laws requiring helmets while riding a bicycle in Texas. However, there are a number of cities in Texas that have enacted their own local laws regarding helmet use.
As Fort Worth personal injury lawyers, we encourage all bicyclists to wear a helmet while riding. It's better to minimize the risk of injury - even traumatic brain injury - than to go without.
Cities that Require Helmets
In 1996, the city of Dallas became the first Texas municipality to require cyclists of all ages to wear a helmet while riding. The following cities have also introduced local regulations regarding the mandatory use of helmets by cyclists:
Other Safety Equipment Required by Law
- Arlington (under 18)
- Austin (under 18)
- Bedford (under 16)
- Benbrook (under 17)
- Coppell (under 15)
- Fort Worth (under 18)
- Houston (under 18)
- Southlake (under 15)
Although blanket helmet use is not mandated by Texas law, Sec. 551.104 of the Texas Transportation Code does require that all pushbikes are equipped with functional brakes capable of stopping on dry, level, clean pavement.
If a bicycle is indented to be operated at night, it must also be equipped with a white light on the front of the bike that is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet, and a red light on the rear of the bike that is visible from a distance of 500 feet. (A red reflector may be substituted on the rear of the bike in place of a red light. The reflector must be visible from all distances from 50 to 300 feet.)
Fatal Bike Crashes
If you received the devastating phone call that your parent, spouse, or child was killed in a bicycle accident, call our bike accident attorneys at Anderson Injury Lawyers right away. In addition to handling personal injury claims in Fort Worth, we also represent families and personal representatives in Texas wrongful death lawsuits. If there is evidence that another person’s carelessness, recklessness, or misconduct caused your loved one’s death, then we will explain your families right to pursue compensation.
Contact a Forth Worth Bicycle Accident Law Firm Today
If you were hurt in a bike crash, your best chance of obtaining what you need to cover your medical bills and other financial losses is to pursue an insurance claim, or in some cases, filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, dealing with an insurance company can be difficult, particularly when you are still recovering from your injuries. Filing a lawsuit on your own can be an intimidating prospect. For help with these steps, you can reach out to a bicycle accident lawyer at Anderson Injury Lawyers. We want to help you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries.
We can answer your questions during a free, no-risk consultation. Call 817-294-1900 now or fill out our online form.