Bicycle Accident Liability in Austin: How To Determine Who is at Fault?Last updated on: September 20, 2022
Accidents involving cyclists often result in severe injuries. As the cost of treatment and lost wages start to pile up you may feel overwhelmed. Many victims in this position hire a car accident attorney to help determine who is at fault and seek compensation on their behalf.
Even though cyclists may suffer more severe injuries in motor vehicle accidents, that does not always mean that the driver is to blame. Many factors must be analyzed to determine what or who caused the accident. Factors such as the condition of the road, relevant traffic laws, and what the parties were doing at the time play a part in determining fault in car accidents involving cyclists.
The relevant standards for establishing legal responsibility for accidents involving bicycles depend on the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred. This article will discuss how liability is established after a bicycle accident in Austin, Texas.
What Is Negligence?
Fault, sometimes referred to as liability, is determined by analyzing the facts of the case and applying them to the relevant legal standard. Of course, the facts of each individual case will vary, but the most often applied legal standard is negligence.
Negligence refers to one’s duty to keep others reasonably safe. A person acts negligently when they cause harm by failing to do what a person of ordinary prudence would have done in the same situation. In operating a vehicle or bicycle, an ordinary person would abide by traffic laws and refrain from using their phone, for example.
Negligent Driver Behaviors
Determining who is responsible when a car hits a cyclist of course requires an investigation of the accident. Investigating the accident typically involves the police and an insurance company making separate assessments of the accident. In car accidents, a motorist may have been negligent in causing the accident if they were:
Using their phone while driving
Cell phone use is a dangerous practice that puts everyone on the road at risk. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 3,142 lives were lost due to distracted driving in 2020. In 2022, cell phones remain among the most common driving distractions.
Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Drugs and alcohol impair drivers’ motor skills and reflexes. As a person consumes more alcohol, the negative effects on their system take hold and the alcohol begins to affect their driving ability.
There are plenty of reasons why people speed, but the data shows that the time saved is not worth it compared to the increased risk of getting into an accident. The NHTSA reports that speeding contributed to nearly 30% of all traffic fatalities in 2020.
In Texas, the number one cause of bicycle accidents is driver error. Behind the wheel, drivers can engage in a variety of acts and behaviors that endanger the lives of other people on the road, particularly cyclists and pedestrians. However, bicyclists are also required to abide by traffic laws as well and ride their bikes safely.
Negligent Bicyclist Behaviors
Even when their injuries are severe, cyclists who are hurt in a motor vehicle accident are not always entitled to financial compensation. In some cases, a biker may be to blame for the accident. The cyclist may be held accountable if they were careless or were breaking the law when the collision occurred.
For example, a cyclist could have negligently or carelessly caused the accident by:
Cycling while intoxicated
Under Texas law, you can get stopped for riding a bicycle if you are suspected of riding while under the influence. Cyclists under the influence suffer from the effects of alcohol just the same as automobile drivers.
Cycling while preoccupied or playing music
Whether it’s playing on your phone or trying to grab something out of your bike carriage, taking your eyes off the road could be considered negligent. Just as with automobile drivers taking your eyes off the road puts everyone on the road in danger.
Riding against the flow of traffic
If a cyclist is hit by a car while riding against the flow of traffic, the insurance company will try to point to that fact to reduce the amount they have to pay you. Insurance adjusters will argue that by riding against traffic the cyclist caused the accident, therefore, their client bears no fault or only some fault by comparison.
Investigators can identify the cause of the collision with the aid of an appraisal of the bicycle and car’s damage, witness declarations that are in writing, photos taken at the scene of the collision, CCTV security footage, police reports, and other circumstantial evidence.
What Is Comparative Fault?
It’s possible for the cyclist and the driver of the car to both be at fault. In other words, both parties could have done something to cause the accident. For example, the cyclist could have been trying to tuck their shoestring in when they swerved into traffic, and the driver could have been sending a text and not paying attention to the road when they hit the cyclist.
In these types of cases, fault is assessed to both parties on the theory of comparative fault. In Texas, the wounded individual must’ve contributed less to the crash happening than the other party to bring a claim for financial compensation. This is often a contentious point involving in-depth, case-by-case analysis.
Need Help? Get in Touch With Zinda Law Group Today
If you were injured in an accident involving a bicycle and a motor vehicle and you suspect that the other driver was at fault, we advise you to contact the Austin bicycle accident lawyers from Zinda Law Group. Our lawyers have been there for many personal injury victims, and we can help you too after learning more about your case.
Car accidents involving cyclists can be confusing and burdensome. The Austin car accident attorneys offer a 100% free case evaluation and a “No Win, No Fee Guarantee” which means that you won’t pay unless we get a judgment in your favor.
To speak with a car accident attorney from Zinda Law Group for free call (800) 863-5312 today.