The miles of open, flat roads across the sprawling Texas landscape are ideal for motorcyclists – and they take full advantage of riding it. Most of the time, they enjoy their ride, the wind in their face, the freedom of the open road, and the exhilaration of all that horsepower beneath them.
But not all rides end well.
With an average of one motorcyclist losing their life in a crash every day in Texas alone, the chances of having an accident are greater than driving a car. Here’s what you need to know if you are involved in one.
What are the Motorcycle Laws for the State of Texas?
Texas motorcycle laws are different from those for motor vehicles like cars and trucks, and you need to understand them so you can ride safely and understand your legal rights.
License/Registration – Under state law, any person who operates a moped or motorcycle in Texas must have a Class M driver’s license and current registration affixed to their license plate.
Helmet – All riders up to age 21, operators and passengers, are required by Texas law to wear helmets. Any operator or passenger who is older than 21 years old has the option to forego a helmet if they carry medical insurance and have taken a safety course.
Insurance – All motorcycle operators must carry the minimum liability insurance that the state allows. In Texas, the minimum liability insurance is:
- $30,000 per injured person
- $60,000 per accident
- $25,000 for property damage coverage
Passengers – If you have a seat for a passenger, you can carry them on your motorcycle. However, children under the age of five are not allowed to ride at all.
Lane-Splitting – It is illegal under Texas law to drive between lanes, not to mention it’s dangerous.
It is a good idea for motorcyclists to take a safety course every year or two so they can keep up with any new laws and enjoy a refresher of the old ones.
Do Motorcyclists Have the Same Rights as Cars in Texas?
Motorcycles have the same rights on the road as a vehicle under Texas law and are entitled to their own traffic lane. They also have the right to adequate space on the road, meaning that motorists should not follow too closely or veer over into the motorcyclists’ lane when passing other vehicles.
The Top 5 Causes of Motorcycle Accidents In DFW
Motorists need to know the laws and common causes of collisions, and this is even more important for people who operate motorcycles. While obvious causes of collisions like inexperience and alcohol use are fairly well known, others may not be, and yet are the greatest causes of accidents on the road today.
The top five most common causes of motorcycle accidents are:
Low Visibility – It’s not just weather conditions, but more so the fact that a motorcycle operator simply isn’t as highly visible as a person driving a pick-up truck would be. This means that you have to be a little more diligent in watching other forms of traffic on the road because chances are good that they won’t be watching for you.
Distracted Driving – This is one of the top causes of all types of motor vehicle collisions. A person can be distracted while driving in many different ways, from phone use to paying attention to passengers instead of the road.
Unpredictable Drivers – Vehicle drivers can be very unpredictable and do things that could put you in serious danger. Cars making left-hand turns can pull out in front of you without looking, or a motorist can open their door without checking to make sure it isn’t in anyone’s path. You have to be prepared for anything.
Speeding and Driving Recklessly – Unsafe driving is a leading cause of collisions that leave victims seriously injured or dead. Speeding, carelessly passing vehicles, and driving recklessly are very dangerous when you or other motorists do it.
Lane Splitting – It is extremely perilous to ride your bike between cars instead of in a lane. This reckless practice causes a lot of crashes that result in serious injury and property damage.
Are Motorcyclists Usually at Fault in an Accident?
Motorcycles have a bit of a reputation, thanks to movies and TV. Many people believe that motorcyclists are reckless on the road causing most crashes.
The truth is that a majority of wrecks involving a motorcycle occur because of another driver. The driver of a vehicle is much more likely to be found at fault for a collision involving a motorcycle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that most multi-vehicle collisions involving a motorcycle happen because the other driver simply did not see the bike. This is all the more reason for riders to look out for motorists who may not see you.
Where do 70% of Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
A good rule of thumb for motorcyclists is to always assume that you are invisible to other drivers and operate accordingly.
An estimated 70% of crashes happen at intersections because the motorist did not see the bike. There are several factors that impact how motorists perceive bikes on the road. Motorcycles are smaller, so motorists may not see them right away, or misjudge the speed that a bike is traveling, so they turn right into its path.
At an intersection, a driver may tailgate a motorcycle when it approaches a traffic light and not see the bike making a turn or crossing an intersection when they have the green light.
If the weather is cloudy or rainy with low visibility, the risk is even higher. Some motorists find it hard to see a motorcyclist during broad daylight, so when the visibility is low, it’s even riskier.
How do you Determine Who was at Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?
After an accident, the police, your attorney, and the insurance companies will try to determine who was at fault. At its core, this means identifying the negligent party or parties.
Due to misconceptions about bikers, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. They will protect you from bias and work to determine who was the negligent party. They are usually in one of four categories:
Motorcyclist – The rider could have been weaving in and out of traffic, intoxicated, speeding, running a stop sign or red light, riding with no lights, or lane splitting.
Driver of the Other Vehicle – The driver could have been texting, changing lanes without looking, talking on their cell phone, following too closely, nodding off, or changing the station on the radio.
Manufacturer – The manufacturer can be found negligent if there is a defect in one of the components on the motorcycle that caused the crash. The manufacturer can have sold the component or made it. But if it was faulty, then that company is liable for any damages that are a result.
Government – The government may be negligent in some cases, such as roads that were not maintained and caused a crash. Also, if government workers left an obstruction in the roadway, such as a sign or open sewer grate, and it caused a collision, then the government entity could be found partially liable and required to pay for damages.
Sometimes, there is more than one party at fault. At that point, the case follows the modified comparative fault theory. This means that the amount of damages that the plaintiff is able to recover will be reduced by the percentage that is reflective of their degree of fault. If the fault is found to exceed 50%, then they cannot recover any damages.
Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents
In an instant, a motorcycle wreck can change your life. You can sustain severe injuries that may impact you for weeks, months, years, or forever. Some of the more common ones include:
Broken bones – Often, a victim of a wreck will have fractures. Any bone in the body can be broken, but the most common tend to be in the lower body, like the tibia or femur.
Traumatic brain injury – Brain trauma can affect every part of your life, and symptoms can include fatigue, chronic headaches, dizziness, loss of memory, problems with concentration, hearing, executive functioning, and even personality changes. The effects of trauma on the brain can range from mild to debilitating.
Spinal cord injuries – Trauma to the spine is often serious, if not catastrophic. It can include chronic pain, loss of mobility, and even paralysis if there is a loss of nerve function. Paralysis can include the pelvic organs, legs, trunk, and arms.
Road rash – Road burn, or road rash, happens when the rider is ejected from the bike and lands on or slides across the asphalt. It is extremely painful and can get easily infected.
What Damages can you Recover if You Are in a Motorcycle Accident?
Your attorney can help you recover certain damages available after a collision. Common damages in a motorcycle accident include medical expenses, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering.
Do not talk to any insurance representative or anyone else unless you talk to a lawyer first. Often the insurance company will throw out a lowball offer, hoping you will take it and go away. Don’t fall for it. Let your attorney take care of it so that you can get the compensation that you deserve.
What to do if You are in a Motorcycle Accident in Texas
If you are involved in a collision, follow these steps:
Stay at the scene – Don’t leave unless emergency workers remove you due to the seriousness of your injuries. If you are able, call the police and request a police report from the responding officer.
Get all the Information You Can – If you can, get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, and insurance information. Also, try to get their driver’s license and license plate numbers. If there are any witnesses, get their names and contact information.
Don’t Talk – When you are on the scene, don’t say anything more than what you need to in order to get the information you need. Do not discuss the collision with anyone, especially the other driver, and definitely don’t apologize.
Seek Medical Attention – Even if you don’t think you have any injuries, get checked out. Medical issues from collisions are often not apparent until hours or weeks later. The sooner you do this after the wreck, the better it is for your case. Keep all of your receipts and bills to give to your attorney. It is also helpful to keep a diary of how you feel each day, along with how you get relief from pain and other issues stemming from the wreck.
Have You Been Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident? You May be Owed Compensation for Your Injuries
If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to recover damages. AMS Legal Group can help. We have the experience, knowledge, and skills to get you the settlement you deserve. Don’t wait to see what happens. Call us today, and let us handle your case.
Contact AMS Legal Group for an Initial Consultation with our Fort Worth Personal Injury Attorney
Call today for your free consultation. We’ll evaluate your case and advise you on next steps. When you choose AMS, we will be there right beside you every step of the way. Don’t accept anything less than the best. Call today.