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?
Texas’ Modified Comparative Fault Laws
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.
A bicyclist in Texas can be held accountable for the following actions:
- Failing to follow traffic laws
- Cycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to ride with oncoming traffic
- Incorrectly signaling or failing to signal at all
- Failing to use a bike lane when traveling slowly
- Passing in-between cars
- Using limited state access highways without a bike path
- Failing to use lights (such as a front light) at night
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.
Pursue Justice & Restitution Today
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