Texas is considered an “at fault” state when it comes to car and motorcycle accidents. What this means, when filing a personal injury lawsuit, is that you could be considered partially at fault for the accident. Texas uses what is known as the rule of comparative negligence.
This is sometimes also called modified comparative negligence. This rule means if the court finds you were partially to blame for the accident, they will assign a percentage of that blame (e.g., at fault). The percentage assigned affects the amount of settlement you are awarded. If you are more than 50% at fault, then you will not receive any type of settlement.
To illustrate, let’s assume the court found you 25% at fault for the motorcycle accident. The total settlement amount you are entitled to receive is $100,000. However, because you are 25% at fault, your settlement is reduced by $25,000. So, the net settlement amount received would be $75,000.
Duty of Care and Motorcycle Accidents
Duty of care is an important concept used to determine how much each party is at fault for the accident. Car drivers have a duty of care to pay even more attention and watch for motorcyclists, just like they would pedestrians. This includes checking their blind spots for motorcycles, paying extra attention at intersections when turning left or right, and merging into traffic.
Motorcyclists also have a duty of care when riding their motorcycles. They need to follow all traffic laws as if they were in a car. In Texas, lane splitting—driving in between cars when traffic is stopped or moving slowly—is illegal. Driving on shoulders is also illegal in Texas, with a few exceptions like using the shoulder to pass a broken down vehicle.
Insurance companies, courts, and your car accident lawyer will determine if duty of care was present or lacking by both the plaintiff and defendant. If duty of care was lacking, the amount it was lacking and the extent it contributed to the accident are used to determine the at fault percentage for modified comparative negligence.
How Is Fault Determined in Motorcycle Accidents?
Determining fault involves reviewing the circumstances of the accident. Did one person act carelessly and fail to provide a duty of care that contributed to the accident? The insurance company, their lawyers, and your lawyer will rely on the police report, witness statements, photographs, and both party’s statements to determine who was at fault and to what extent. Some of the common reasons one could be considered fully at fault could include:
- Texting While Driving
- Failure to Yield the Right of Way
- Running a Red Light/Stop Sign
- Reckless Driving
- Impaired Driving/Driving Under the Influence
- Distracted Driving
- Drowsy Driving
What Damages Are Awarded in Motorcycle Injury Lawsuits?
The types of damages one can seek could include:
- Lost Present and Future Earnings
- Lost/Reduced Earning Capacity
- Living Expenses
- Current Medical Care and Treatment Expenses
- Future Medical Bills
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Companionship/Consortium
- Mental Suffering
- Loss of Life
- Funeral Expenses
The damages you could seek will vary depending on the exact circumstance of your accident, the extent of injuries, and other such factors. In addition, the amount awarded will depend on whether you accept a settlement offer or take the case to trial and win in court.
To find out more about filing a personal injury lawsuit for a car or motorcycle accident and the potential compensation you could be entitled to receive, please feel free to contact Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers at 713-364-0723 for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys today!