If you or someone you love was injured or wrongfully killed in a motorcycle collision, our Houston motorcycle accident lawyers are available to discuss the details of the crash with a free consultation.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
There are many different causes of motorcycle accidents in Houston, including:
- Distracted Driving: Both motorcyclists and drivers are guilty of driving while distracted. Whether they are paying attention to a cell phone or entertainment system or eating breakfast on the way to work, distracted drivers are more likely to cause roadway accidents. Distractions can often cause collisions with fixed objects that motorcyclists would be able to avoid if they were strictly paying attention to the road. Distracted drivers are less likely to see motorcycles on the road and may hit a motorcyclist while changing lanes or turning onto a new road.
- Speeding: Speeding in Houston is not an uncommon sight, as drivers and motorcyclists alike speed on our roads and highways. Speeding reduces the amount of time motorcyclists and drivers have to react to changes in the road ahead. About one-third of fatal motorcycle accidents involve speeding. Even if the biker was not speeding, the drivers around them may be speeding and may cause a collision due to not being able to react in time.
- Lane Splitting: Motorcyclists often practice a method of driving called lane splitting. This is when the motorcyclist drives between two lanes of traffic that are stopped or moving slowly. This practice is illegal in Texas and can be incredibly dangerous due to how close the motorcycle can get to the cars. Drivers do not typically anticipate motorcyclists performing these maneuvers and cannot react appropriately if they do not see the bike coming alongside their car. Many serious motorcycle accidents occur due to lane splitting.
- Riding or Driving While Intoxicated: Driving any type of vehicle while intoxicated in Texas is illegal; however, many drivers choose to do so anyways. This practice is extremely dangerous and puts lives at risk. If a driver chooses to operate their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will not be able to react timely to their environment, they may pass out while driving, and they are much more likely to cause a serious accident.
- Cars Turning Left: When approaching an intersection, all drivers and motorcyclists are expected to check their surroundings before making a turn. However, in a good portion of motorcycle accidents, the crash occurred because a car turning left did not see a motorcyclist trying to pass them or go straight through the intersection.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycle injuries are typically more serious than those suffered in passenger car accidents, as motorcyclists have very little protection from an impact with a vehicle, obstacles, or the ground. Some of the most common motorcycle injuries include:
- Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries: Head injuries are extremely common in motorcycle accidents, which is why wearing a helmet is so important while riding a motorcycle. Head injuries can include concussions, skull fractures, severe disfigurement, and even brain damage. When the brain experiences a severe injury, it is called a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs can lead to permanent disability or even death.
- Broken Bones and Fractures: Bones may be some of the strongest parts of the human body, but when put under a certain amount of extreme pressure – which can be experienced during a motorcycle accident – they can break. From small fractures to full bone breaks, the recovery process for a broken bone is a long road that can sometimes require surgery. These sorts of injuries are extremely painful and can leave victims recovering for weeks to months.
- Spine and Neck Injuries: The impact from a motorcycle accident can cause your head and neck to move in ways that are not natural. The spine and neck have many intricate moving parts and injuring just one can cause severe pain and suffering. The vertebrae in your spinal cord can be fractured, the discs between your vertebrae may slip out of place, or a hernia can develop, along with many other spinal cord injuries that may lead to paralysis and/or permanent disability. There are many small muscles in your neck that can be severely injured in a motorcycle accident as well, especially from a condition called whiplash, in which the neck snaps back and forth too quickly for the body to control.
- Road Rash (Friction Burns): Road rash happens when a motorcyclist slides against the pavement resulting in serious and painful skin damage, as the skin will rip and tear against the concrete and asphalt. These injuries can cause nerve damage, skin infections, and permanent scarring.
Legal Options for Texas Motorcycle Accident Victims
No one can dispute that there are prejudices against motorcycle riders in Texas and other parts of the United States, even if you or your loved ones are involved in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver. Even if you are injured due to a careless driver, their lawyer may believe they can get their client out of liability for the crash by placing the blame on you.
Drivers in Texas owe those they share the road with a duty of care. This means they have an obligation to abide by traffic laws in an effort to keep those around them safe. Drivers or motorcycle riders are negligent and responsible for the injuries they sustain if the following applies:
- They ignore their duty of care and conduct themselves recklessly
- Their willfully risky behavior causes an injury
- You sustain damages like medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, or emotional trauma
To build a successful case, you must prove all three elements. Texas law is complex, and proving these may be challenging. To stand your best chance of proving these factors in a motorcycle accident lawsuit, it is imperative that you employ a personal injury attorney with skill and experience successfully representing motorcycle riders.
Modified Comparative Negligence Law as It Applies to Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits in Texas
One motorist, manufacturer, or defect is seldom solely responsible for a motorcycle accident. Most accidents have a combination of causes. A perfect storm of failures causes the wreck.
Texas law takes this into account and has a modified comparative negligence law in place to ensure all those damaged by an accident receive compensatory damages in direct proportion to their contribution to the accident. Modified comparative negligence is a legal guide that is applied to personal injury cases, such as Texas motorcycle accident lawsuits.
Damages are determined and then awarded on a scale of reduced amounts depending on the degree of fault assumed in the accident. In the state of Texas, this legislation only allows damages to be recovered if the injured person is found to be 50% or less at fault for the crash. Meaning if they are more than halfway responsible, even 51%, they cannot recover any compensation.
Examples of Modified Comparative Negligence Lawsuits in Texas
Listed below are some ways that modified comparative negligence regulations may play out in a Texas motorcycle accident lawsuit.
- Full recovery may take place if the motorcycle rider is following traffic laws implicitly when a car fails to signal and turns in front of them without issuing a turn signal and inducing an accident. The motorcyclist had no responsibility in this accident, so they would be entitled to 100% compensation for the damages they sustained.
- Partial recovery may happen if a motorcycle rider is traveling faster than the speed limit allows when a car fails to signal and switches lanes. The unsafe lane change caused the collision, but because the motorcyclist was speeding, 20% of the blame for the wreck was determined to be their fault. This would reduce the damages the motorcyclist is owed by 20%. So, if they were found to have $100,000 in damages, they would only be paid 80% of that, or $80,000, for the portion of their damages that they were not determined to have caused.
- Barred recovery could happen if a motorcyclist failed to yield the right of way and hit a car while turning at a busy intersection. Even if the car was speeding and was deemed to be 20% at fault, because the motorcycle rider was 80% responsible for the crash, the rider would not be entitled to recover any damages.
Any degree of fault over 50% deems that party ineligible for damage recovery. When approaching a motorcycle accident lawsuit, your personal injury attorney will present the facts in to show that you are less than 50% culpable for the wreck. Determining fault and calculating damages will require the court to evaluate the evidence and decide how the specific laws will apply.
Qualified personal injury attorneys in Texas have the experience and skill to present your case so that the court understands how you were impacted and to what degree so that the payment for your damages is generous and in your favor.
Insurance Companies Want Motorcyclists to Be over 50% at Fault
Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not writing large checks to those who are injured in accidents. They will do their best to prove that you, the injured biker, were at fault for your injuries. Some things they will try to do in order to do this include:
- Speeding: If the insurance company’s legal team can prove that you were driving faster than the speed limit, that can have a bearing on the amount of fault you will be held responsible for.
- Lane-splitting: Lane splitting is another tactic that the insurance company may use to prove that you or your loved one was engaging in that caused the motorcycle accident. If they can prove this, this is another percentage of fault that you may assume.
- Helmet usage: If you or your loved ones’ injuries were made worse due to not wearing a helmet, the insurance company’s lawyer will argue that you are liable for a larger portion of your injury since your injuries would have been less serious if you were wearing the adequate safety gear.
- Passengers: The insurance company may argue that you had a passenger on your motorcycle’s back, making steering and balancing more challenging than necessary. Because of this, you could be accused of contributing to the wreck.
Insurance companies will push the judge or jury to lean into the idea that motorcycle riders cause accidents affecting bikers. Biases are hard to overcome without a strong legal team advocating for the biker. Reports filed by law enforcement can be inaccurate enough to make it sound as if the injured parties were at fault, more so than they are, leaving them unable to recover the damages they are fairly entitled to.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim
If you or a loved one have been in a motorcycle crash and were injured by a negligent driver operating a passenger vehicle or a commercial vehicle driver, understanding your options is crucial. Sometimes, filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit can be complex, especially when other vehicles breaking traffic laws is not immediately evident.
Here are some things that are important to note:
- The statute of limitations: Following a motorcycle accident, you have two years to file an personal injury lawsuit. By waiting longer than the two allotted years, you could become ineligible to collect any damages to which you are entitled. By waiting too long, you will not be able to recover what you should, no matter the negligence or willful misconduct of the otherwise liable party.
- Multiple sources of compensation: Accidents involving motorcycles can involve multiple parties who share responsibility for the crash. In these cases, there are multiple options when recovering damages. Some possibilities are the other drivers’ insurance companies, a car manufacturer or bike manufacturer who provided defective parts, bars or restaurants that allowed patrons to drink past a safe amount, and more.
How to Strengthen Your Claim After a Texas Motorcycle Accident
To protect your right to compensation, there are some simple steps you should consider, including:
- Documenting your injuries
- Seeking immediate medical attention
- Photographing the scene of the accident
- Taking photos and videos to show damaged vehicles and equipment
- Contacting a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible
- Strengthening the evidence of your claim by contacting area businesses who might have had security cameras that caught the crash
- Requesting information from the “black box” or internal systems or telephone apps that show when acceleration and deceleration took place. Quickly protect any data you can get, as companies will clear out the footage, destroying evidence if it will not benefit them. Your attorney will take measures to avoid having this happen.
Tips for Filing Your Claim
Following a motorcycle crash, retaining a motorcycle accident attorney is the first and best step you can take. An experienced lawyer will know how to navigate the legal system and can dive into the intricacies of your case in the following ways:
- By moving to secure evidence immediately
- Using an evidence-based approach to determining who is liable for the crash
- Ensuring no source of liability goes untapped
- Calculating the full value of your claim
- Making sure the correct parties are held liable
- Presenting you with the options available to you
- Providing protection of your legal rights so that your future is secure
The experienced and award-winning motorcycle accident lawyers of Dax F. Garza, P.C. are ready to confidently and aggressively pursue the compensation you are owed. Our law firm is made up of skilled negotiators and experienced trial lawyers, if it comes to that.
Getting Compensation for Your Damages
If you or a loved one has been injured or has experienced damages due to a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Your Texas motorcycle accident lawyer will do everything within their power to ensure you receive maximum compensation by holding the at-fault party or parties accountable. Our goal, at Dax F. Garza, P.C., is to secure a fair settlement offer that allows for your recovery – if that is not possible, we are always ready to go to trial.
Damages Sustained in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accident victims often sustain substantial damages. These may come in the form of economic or non-economic damages. If the accident resulted from intentional, willful, or deliberate misconduct, punitive damages may be awarded as well.
Economic damages are easily calculable damages that have a direct correlation to the money spent or lost due to the motorcycle wreck. These may include injuries, treatments, property damage, and similar related costs. Listed below are some examples of economic damages:
- Medical costs: Often, medical bills can quickly become overwhelming. They include emergency room visits, hospital stays, intensive care unit stays, diagnostic tests, procedures, surgeries, doctor’s visits, visits with specialists, medications and treatments.
- Mobility apparatus or devices: After a motorcycle accident, the victim’s mobility may be compromised, causing them to require assistance getting around. Walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, crutches, lifts, boots, and more may be necessary. The expenses associated with these are a form of economic damage.
- Prosthetics: If a limb is lost due to an accident, a prosthetic may be required to restore the victim’s independence. These can be costly and should be considered when determining economic damages.
- Therapy: Physical therapy may be needed to regain physical skills and stamina after a motorcycle accident. Psychological therapy may be necessary to overcome the emotional anguish motorcycle accident victims encounter. Occupational therapy might be needed to regain or retain everyday life skills. Therapy can be costly and is absolutely considered an economic damage.
- Loss of income: Following a motorcycle accident, missed work to heal or to attend doctor’s appointments can be a fact of life. Even more severely, some victims of motorcycle accidents are unable to return to work because they can no longer perform the necessary requirements of the job. Lost income can be damaging to the victim and their loved ones’ quality of life, amounting to steep economic losses.
- Loss of future income: Depending on the injuries incurred in a motorcycle crash, what an accident victim is capable of earning in the future may be compromised. If this happens, it is important that your motorcycle accident lawyer seeks fair compensation on your behalf so that life is not a constant financial struggle.
- Loss of educational opportunities: The loss of educational opportunities may occur if the accident causes the victim to lose the ability to complete their educational courses, or if they are forced to change their educational path because of their injuries.
- Property damage: Victims of motorcycle accidents may incur repairs or replacement costs of their motorcycles. Other property may be damaged as well. This may be something like their mobile phones, or items they are carrying with them while traveling by motorcycle.
- Transportation expenses: Travel costs can become a significant expense. They may include ambulance trips, airlifts, and trips to and from various specialists and doctors’ appointments. Texas is a big state, and because of this, sometimes visiting doctors and specialists requires long trips and even overnight stays.
- Home modifications: When serious injuries occur, motorcycle accident victims may need home alterations to make their homes livable and accessible to them. Some alterations that may be necessary include ramps, handrails, grab bars, stair lifts, wider doorways, and modified bathrooms and kitchens.
Non-economic damages are somewhat harder to put a monetary value on, but are no less important when determining the value of a motorcycle accident claim. The liable party or parties who are at fault should provide a settlement offer that furnishes maximum compensation to the injured victim or be held accountable for that amount at trial.
Non-economic damages that a motorcycle accident victim may be entitled to include:
- Pain and suffering: Physical pain and emotional anguish often come hand in hand with a motorcycle accident. Pain and suffering can severely compromise the quality of the victim’s life. While money cannot take away this suffering, it is the only way to compensate the victim for what they have been through and should be offered as a reimbursement.
- Emotional distress: A motorcycle accident can cause anxiety disorders, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These are serious conditions that would have been avoided if the accident had not occurred.
- Loss of consortium: If the accident victim has a spouse or partner and they have lost partnership, companionship, protection, security, or intimacy due to the motorcycle wreck, they may be owed financial compensation for their losses.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: When motorcycle accident injuries cause the victim to no longer be able to experience the things that once brought joy to their life, such as participating in a hobby or doing activities with their family, compensation should be due.
- Scarring and disfigurement: If the accident caused scars or disfigurement, this can cause the victim to be self-conscious, to experience embarrassment or shame, or to just be less comfortable in their own skin. This is considered a non-economic damage.
- Loss of reputation: When a motorcycle accident victim experiences a loss in their personal or professional reputation due to their injuries, this should be a source of fair compensation.
In Texas, there are punitive damages awarded to victims who are injured because of the intentional, harmful conduct of the liable party. These damages are not compensatory, they are strictly in place to punish the wrongdoer and to deter them or others from participating in similar behavior in the future.
There is a cap on punitive damages in the state of Texas. If economic damages are not awarded, the punitive damages cap is $200,000. If economic damages are awarded, the cap is set at double the economic damage amount plus the same amount as is awarded for non-economic damages with a ceiling of $750,000.
Medical Bills and Insurance Companies
Sorting out the medical expenses and how the insurance companies should be covering the motorcycle accident victim’s bills can be a complex process, particularly if there are multiple liable parties. Your personal injury lawyer will obtain the documents necessary to prove up your medical expenses and medical treatment costs so that all of your damages are paid for.
If a wrongful death occurred, this can further complicate matters. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer for yourself or on behalf of a loved one can give you a clear idea of how to proceed and what your options are when dealing with the insurance companies.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
As soon as the accident occurs, even if you do not believe you have sustained an injury, it is crucial that you seek medical attention. Some injuries do not immediately present themselves in a way that an untrained eye can know they exist. There is a chance that you could be experiencing shock or the spike in adrenaline is masking symptoms of injuries.
Another reason to immediately seek medical attention is so that the insurance companies understand that the accident was one that you took seriously. You must follow all doctors’ orders to prove this when filing an insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit. By being attentive to your needs and taking the medical care you receive seriously, if complications occur later, the additional damages can be more easily tied back to the motorcycle accident as compensable.
Medical Expenses Mount Quickly
Medical expenses can become insurmountable quickly without proper insurance coverage. You may need medical treatment and follow up medical care long after the motorcycle accident. Documenting all of the care you received is critical to filing an effective insurance claim so that you can receive the maximum possible insurance benefits.
An insurance adjuster will examine your case and determine what sort of offer the insurance company will make. It is critical to remember that the insurance adjuster is not on your side; their job is to save the insurance company money.
It is important that all of your appointments are attended and all medical protocols are followed to prove that the condition was taken seriously and was not worsened by anything the victim did or failed to do. Following up with medical practitioners after a motorcycle accident not only benefits your health, but also ensures the validity of your claim if a motorcycle accident lawsuit makes it to court.
Dealing with insurance companies is complicated when multiple parties are potentially liable. Leave nothing left to chance by working side by side with Dax F. Garza, P.C. Our compassionate, experienced, and skilled legal team is ready to fight for your rights and to get you the maximum possible benefits.
Award Winning Houston Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Houston motorcyclists should not fear driving on our roads every day. If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you recover what you need and deserve as a result of your damages.