Bicycle Injuries And Texas Personal Injury Law
Texas law requires anyone riding a bicycle on a public street to follow the same traffic laws as automobiles. If you have been hit by a car while on your bike, the adjuster will evaluate fault the same way she would if you had been driving a motor vehicle. This doesn’t always make sense, and sometimes, the fact that you violated a traffic law doesn’t make you at fault. This article will help you understand auto/bicycle cases a little better.
FIGHTING BIASES AGAINST BICYCLISTS
Many drivers, and therefore adjusters and jurors, are biased against bicyclists. Drivers can sometimes bully bicyclists by honking at them, jeering, cursing, making obscene gestures, and by encroaching into their space and physically intimidating them. For the plaintiff’s attorney, selecting a jury in a bicycle case means taking extra care to find those bullies and cyclist haters and getting them struck from the jury.
Fortunately, attitudes are slowly changing and more and more people are beginning to appreciate the importance of encouraging more people to ride their bikes. They are realizing it is good for the environment as well as for traffic congestion. Many cities have enacted ordinances to make streets safer for bicyclists and to encourage alternative means of transportation. In the city of Houston, for example, drivers have to give the cyclist three feet of space as they pass by.
WHAT IF YOU VIOLATED A TRAFFIC LAW
I have accepted many bicycle cases even when the adjuster has denied the claim and have won all of them. Many times, the fact that the bicyclist violated a traffic law has nothing to do with negligence. A common traffic violation is the bicyclist going against traffic instead of with traffic. I have successfully argued that going against traffic did not make my client invisible. After all, if my client had been walking instead of riding, he would have been required to walk against traffic and would have been in the same location he was in when he was struck by the vehicle. What if the pedestrian was a young mother pushing her baby in a stroller. Wouldn’t the driver have seen her and avoided hitting her? The fact is, the driver didn’t strike my client because he was going against traffic, but because he just didn’t see him.
THE CAUSE IS USUALLY DRIVER INATTENTION
Most bicycle accidents happen due to driver inattention. The driver is going faster, is buffered from street sounds, and is possibly distracted by his phone or his playlist. The bicyclist, on the other hand, is keenly aware of his surroundings and less likely to be at fault. The bicyclist is going much slower than traffic, he can hear much better than drivers who are in their enclosed vehicles, and is usually much more familiar with the streets because he does not stray far from his neighborhood.
WATCH THAT POLICE REPORT
In every bicycle case I have ever handled, the police report was unfavorable to my client. It doesn’t seem to matter how badly injured the bicyclist was, the investigating officer seems to find a way to place him at fault. I remember a case in which the police officer ignored the eye witness and the physical evidence at the scene to find a seven-year old child at fault. It did not take much persuasion on my part to make the adjuster see it my way.
INJURIES, THE GREAT EQUALIZER
The biggest trump card that the Plaintiff’s attorney has in these cases is that, typically, his client has been seriously injured. Adjusters have a tough time denying liability in light of the severity of the injuries her insured has caused. The defense attorney can argue traffic law to the jury all day long, but if the Plaintiff has suffered serious, life-changing injuries, the jury is likely to overlook any violations and compensate the bicyclist with a big Verdict. Adjusters will eventually realize their company can get hit with a big verdict and come to their senses before trial.
Bicycle cases often involve serious injury. Unfortunately, from the police officer to the adjuster, the inclination is to find the bicyclist at fault. It usually takes an attorney to convince the adjuster to change her mind and do the right thing. If you have been hit by a car while on your bike, please call me and I will be glad to evaluate your case. Good luck.
Law Offices of Robert Rodriguez