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Houston Bicycle Accident Injury Lawyers

If a Car Hits a Cyclist, Who Is at Fault?

cyclist injured on the street bike after collision accident car and bike.

In Texas, drivers share many miles of roadway with bicycles, and accidents are relatively rare. However, as more cyclists take to the streets and rural highways, statistics show that cyclist fatalities and injuries are on the rise.1 Bike accidents involving motor vehicles might pose more risks to the cyclist, but drivers might also be injured while trying to avoid a bicycle or in sudden stops.

Accidents involving cars and bicycles can cause serious injuries, and an experienced bicycle accident attorney might be needed to sort out who was at fault in an accident. Texas law uses a system of modified comparative negligence or “proportionate responsibility” in determining who is responsible.

Rules of the Road for Bicycles

Texas bicycle laws give cyclists the same legal duties and rights on the road as other vehicles, with some exceptions and additional requirements.2

  • Bicycles must ride as far to the right as is feasible and follow all traffic laws.
  • Riders must keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
  • Bicyclists must signal turns using hand and arm signals.
  • Only one rider is allowed per seat on the bicycle.
  • Two bicycles may ride next to each other if it does not impede traffic.
  • When riding at night, bicycles must have a red light or reflector on the rear and a white light on the front.
  • Cyclists must maintain brakes capable of creating a tire skid.
  • Bikers may “take the lane”:
    • To perform a left turn
    • To avoid an obstacle
    • When the roadway is too narrow to allow a car and bicycle to share the lane

A Driver’s Duty to Share the Road

A cyclist passing cars on the road in the traffic.

The law recognizes that bicycles are considered vehicles on the roadway, and they are entitled to the same rights as other vehicles. If a car accident involves a bicycle and someone is injured, insurance companies and law firms are likely to be involved. The driver might be found responsible if they did not follow basic safety rules like these:

  • Watching for bicycles before turning left or right at intersections
  • Checking for bikes before merging into or across bicycle lanes or trails
  • Yielding to bicycles as if to another car or truck
  • Giving bicycles at least three feet of clearance when passing or sharing a lane

How to Handle a Car/Bicycle Accident

Bicycle accidents with cars can cause serious injuries, not only to the rider but to the driver as well. If the worst happens, you may need legal advice from a qualified personal injury attorney in your area. Take immediate steps to:

  • Seek emergency medical attention for anyone who has been injured.
  • Report the accident to the police.
  • Avoid taking blame on yourself for the accident.
  • Provide factual information to law enforcement.
  • Obtain a copy of the accident report and contact information for witnesses.
  • Do not state that you are fine, as symptoms of injuries may take hours or days to develop.
  • See a doctor to determine if you have been injured in the accident.
  • It is highly recommended that you speak to a lawyer before you meet with insurance companies.

Protecting Your Rights After an Accident

It may be that both the driver and the cyclist share some margin of responsibility for the accident. Because it will be very important who is found negligent and to what degree, you will probably want to consult with personal injury attorneys that you trust with your interests.

If both sides agree on who was responsible and by what percentage, a car accident attorney can help you with reaching a fair settlement to cover the injuries and losses that occurred. When the case is more complex, one or both parties might file a lawsuit seeking compensation. In all of these situations, legal advice you can trust is essential to recovery.

In Houston, TX, the law firm of Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. has more than 45 years of experience helping individuals with personal injury cases. We have a successful track record in winning lawsuits and reaching equitable settlements with all the major insurance companies. If you’ve been involved in a car accident with a bicycle, contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Sources:

  1. https://ftp.txdot.gov/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2018/01.pdf
  2. https://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/ptn/bikestripe/safe-bicycling.pdf
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Jonathan S. Harris and Matthew D. Shaffer are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Other attorneys are not board certified.  Principal office is located in Houston, Texas.