When a bicyclist is harmed in a motor vehicle collision, most people automatically assume that a “negligent” motorist will be held responsible for the accident and any costs associated with the victim’s injuries. After all, bicyclists face higher levels of risk on the road, and drivers legally owe them a duty of care.
However, what many people don’t realize is that this onus is reciprocal – drivers and bicyclists have a shared responsibility to protect each other from undue injury and hazards.
So, when can a bicyclist be held liable for a collision?
There are approximately 700 bicyclist fatalities in the United States each year. For this reason, many states, including Texas, have enacted laws to protect bicyclists and are even encouraging public road engineers to utilize design strategies that have been proven to reduce accident and fatality rates. Interestingly, only bicycle accidents involving fatalities are officially reported in Texas, meaning that the number of annual injuries is likely far greater than what safety reports and statistics project.
Per Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §§541.201(23); 551.101, a bicycle is a “vehicle,” which means that a bicyclist is required to follow the same road rules as any motorist. When an accident does occur, the question of fault or liability depends on which party was responsible for causing the accident and to what degree. Texas also follows a 51% modified comparative fault rule, which means that an injured bicyclist or motorist cannot recover compensation if they are found to be over 50% at fault for the collision. However, they can still recover compensation – if at a reduced amount – if they are found to be 50% or less at fault for the accident.
At the same time, drivers must yield the right of way to bicyclists because motor vehicles are capable of inflicting significant and even fatal damage. Because it can be difficult to determine liability after a complex bicycle accident case, it’s critical that both motorists and bicyclists seek legal representation to understand the various laws, regulations, and exceptions that can influence the outcome of a civil lawsuit.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC if you or a loved one has been harmed in a bicycle accident. Our legal team can investigate the incident and help you identify the negligent parties. With our guidance, you can recover damages that facilitate your recovery.
We’re available 24/7! Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 271-5112 to schedule a free case evaluation.