Have you, or a biker you know, been a motorcycle accident victim?
If you've been involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered losses, you can seek fair compensation from the at-fault party. Our Houston motorcycle accident lawyers have helped clients like you file for damages and get a fair settlement at the earliest. Call us now to discuss your claim in a free one-on-one session with our lawyers. Here, at Calhoun, Meredith, and Sims, PLLC, our ultimate aim is to make sure the liable party pays up for your crash-related losses.
Most motorcycle accidents result in catastrophic injuries. This is simply because of the sheer disparity between the size of motorcycles and other vehicles on the road such as passenger SUVs and pickup trucks. A motorcycle rider is also not as protected as other motorists on the road. So the slightest imbalance or collision can result in serious consequences for the motorcyclist.
Gathering evidence and seeking legal consultation after such accidents should be of foremost priority.
When filing a motorcycle crash claim in Houston, Texas, it is important to understand the various aspects of such a claim and to have a capable motorcycle accident attorney by your side.
Let's explore this area further.
As with all other types of accidents, those involving motorcycles result in various types of injuries (even life-threatening ones). A traumatic brain injury is almost always part of this list. Usually, these damages manifest themselves as medical care costs, financial losses, and quality of life losses.
Any experienced motorcycle accident legal and personal injury lawyer team in Houston, Texas would be able to help victims of such incidents, and even help with claiming punitive damages in severe cases.
Here's a generalized overview of some common motorcycle accident injuries:
Most motorcycle accidents cause the rider to be thrown off from the ride. In such a scenario, the rider’s head is the most vulnerable part. Head injuries are fairly common in incidents where the motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. A severe injury in the head can cause serious brain trauma, or disabilities (temporary or permanent); head injuries are the leading cause of motorcycle accident fatalities. If a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet when the accident happened, the insurance company may use this as an excuse to reject the claim. However, a good motorcycle injury attorney may still be able to help you see your claim through.
A serious motorcycle wreck can also result in spinal cord injuries. These injuries occur when the impact of the accident is borne on the back of the rider. Damage to the spinal cord can cause serious medical issues, including partial or complete paralysis.
Even in less severe crashes involving motorcycles, you may suffer broken bones in the leg, shoulder, rib, or other areas of the body. The severity of the injury may depend on its position in the body and other factors such as whether you use protective gear or not. Broken bones can take some time to heal and cause debilitating pain. When seeking financial damages for such an injury, you may also be able to secure compensation for pain and suffering.
This is the least severe type of injury that you may sustain in a motorcycle accident. Muscle damage may be in any area of the body, although whiplash in the neck is the most common in crashes that involve sudden-impact collisions. Injuries like whiplash can cause severe pain in the muscle mass. Pain and suffering damages are also recoverable in the case of such injuries.
Accidents involving motorcycles and other motor vehicles can be caused by the negligence of the vehicle driver, the motorcyclist, or both.
Here are the most common causes that typically contribute to a crash like this:
A speeding motorist (common in Houston) may fail to spot a motorcycle in time to avoid a collision. This is particularly so when the driver is speeding through an intersection or along a turn. A speeding motorcyclist can also cause the crash. The slightest error of judgment can cause the two-wheel-drive to lose its balance, throw off the rider, and cause serious injuries.
When a motorcyclist is in the driver’s blind spot, the negligent driver fails to see him. This can often cause drivers to take left turns without noticing a rider coming right behind them. When this is the case, the motorcycle ends up colliding with the vehicle, typically on the side. If the collision occurs at a high speed which is often the case, it can be fatal for the rider. Even when it is not fatal, the motorcyclist is almost certain to sustain serious injuries.
Lane changes can result in wrecks involving motorcycles. Lane change accidents also occur when the motorcyclist is in the blind spot of the driver. The driver fails to see the rider and switches lanes which can bring the car into a collision with the biker.
If a vehicle traveling in front of a bike applies the brakes all of a sudden, the person riding the bike may not be able to slow down in time. This causes the motorcycle to slam into the rear of the vehicle. Sudden brakes are a common cause of serious motorcycle wrecks.
In more dense areas of urban centers like Houston, Texas, open doors are another cause. When a driver suddenly opens a vehicle door on the street, a motorcyclist riding right behind may be taken off-guard. The collision can cause serious injuries, especially for motorcycles rider.
As noted above, crashes involving bikes can be caused by the negligence of either or both parties. You may be able to recover fair compensation even when you are partly at fault, thanks to the personal injury laws of Texas.
While the money won't make the pain go away, or compensate for the loss of enjoyment from life, or loss of consortium, it will be helpful in stabilizing your financial situation.
This is why you must consult a good Houston motorcycle accident lawyer after a crash to see if you have a valid claim, and for proceeding with a motorcycle accident lawsuit if needed.
Any motor vehicle accident may have one or more liable parties. When more than one party is found liable, the percentage of negligence is distributed among all the parties. This is known as comparative negligence and it compares the share of fault of one responsible party with the other.
For instance, if you were speeding on a motorcycle, and a car driver ran a red signal, a collision that results is the fault of both parties. However, the degree of fault of both negligent parties differs. As the biker, your degree of fault is less whereas the negligence of the motorist is more severe. A court may then distribute the fault between you and the motorist in a 10%/90% ratio. The actual distribution depends on several factors.
In its pure form, comparative negligence allows you to recover compensation even when you are 99% at fault. Some states use modified forms of the rule.
Texas also has a modified comparative negligence rule which applies in personal injury cases, including motorcycle accident claims. This rule states that you can recover damages in a personal injury case as long as your percentage of fault is not above 50%. If your degree of fault is 51% or more, the law bars you from seeking any compensation whatsoever.
Once your degree of fault in motorcycle crashes has been determined and it is below 51%, the court will then trim down your damages in proportion to your fault.
So if you are found to be 10% at fault and your damages were calculated at $10,000, you will receive $9,000. Similarly, if your damages were calculated at $20,000 and your degree of fault determined at 40%, you will receive only $12,000 as the settlement.
When a motorcycle crash claim is filed, the insurance companies try their best to exaggerate your degree of fault. This is done to reject your claim altogether or to pay the minimum amount of compensation. The actual estimates of the degree of fault directly factor into your settlement negotiations with the insurer.
It helps to have the help of personal injury attorneys at this stage to talk money with the insurer on terms acceptable to you.
To prove negligence in any accidents involving motorcycles, four legal elements must be satisfied. If all the four elements are proven, negligence is legally established. These include duty of care, breach of the duty of care, causation, and losses.
The first of these steps is the 'duty of care' which is the legal responsibility that other motorists owe you and you owe them. For instance, a driver has a legal responsibility of following traffic laws and driving carefully.
When the driver fails to observe this duty, this constitutes a breach of duty. Examples of such breaches include running a red light, driving under the influence, speeding, driving recklessly, road rash, and virtually any other on-road behavior that endangers other motorists.
Once you prove that the other driver was guilty of a breach of duty of care, it is time to show that this breach directly caused the accident. The existence of a breach alone is not enough for a personal injury claim. For instance, in Houston, if a driver ran a red light, this alone is not enough to implicate the driver in the personal injury case. You must further show that running the red light was what directly caused the accident.
In this way, causation is established, and this part is important for building a solid narrative for the insurance company.
A final element of negligence in accidents is proving that you have suffered losses as a consequence of the accident. If a crash takes place but you suffer none or very little losses, then you don’t have a valid personal injury claim. You must be able to demonstrate that you suffered substantial losses, in the form of medical bills related to the injury, lost wages, property damage, and other types of loss.
It is only when you can satisfy all the four elements of negligence that the legal fault of the other driver is established.
Texas is an 'at-fault' state when it comes to traffic accidents including those involving motorcycles. This means that the at-fault party (their insurance company) must pay for the damages caused in a crash. So if you have suffered losses in a motorcycle accident, the party responsible for causing the accident is liable to pay compensation.
In most of the cases, you will have to file the claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. It is then up to the insurer to review the claim and then proceed accordingly.
Most insurance companies are not readily willing to honor personal injury claims (even wrongful death claims) following traffic accidents. This is particularly so if the company can find a reason to raise objections. For instance, if you were not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred, the company may cite this as an objection. Similarly, the adjuster may argue that you were speeding at the time, or distracted.
An insurance adjuster may come up with a variety of other objections. These tactics are typically used to make people feel as if their claims are worthless, and then to make you a counter-offer is a lot lower than what you demanded.
When you are filing the claim and interfacing with the insurance company on your own, you may never know how much your claim was really worth. It is only when you hire a lawyer that you have a chance of winning a fair amount of settlement money.
Being in a motorcycle accident in Houston Texas can be a harrowing experience for even the toughest people. In addition to the pain and suffering from the injuries, clients also have to deal with hefty medical costs. The injuries may leave you bed-ridden for days, weeks, or even months. This means that you also have to suffer lost wages which can further strain your financial situation.
In the middle of all of this, the steps for seeking compensatory damages from the insurance adjuster can be hard. The process of filing an insurance claim, getting the evidence to back it, getting in touch with the insurer, and negotiating with the company can be quite daunting. It is time-consuming, and without legal experience, you may not be able to pull it off successfully.
This is where accident law firms like Calhoun, Meredith, and Sims, PLLC come in. With many decades of experience between our attorneys, we can help motorcycle crash victims in getting a fair deal. We know how to streamline the process of filing a claim and dealing with insurance companies.
Our motorcycle accident attorneys also understand the common tactics used by the insurers. This allows us to counter the company and negotiate without any surprises so that we can strike a fair bargain for you. If you have a valid claim but the company refuses to honor it, we can help you win a rightful financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit in a court of law.
Call us today to discuss your claim with our lawyers in a free consultation session!