What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
Bike riding is a popular pastime in Houston, whether you’re riding downtown with a Critical Mass cyclist group or taking Terry Hershey Park’s trails. But no matter how careful you are when you ride your bicycle, sharing the road with cars and trucks can be nerve-racking. If you get into a bicycle accident, you face severe injuries. (Yes, even if you’re wearing a helmet and other safety gear.)
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, you may be injured, you may have questions about “what to do next,” and you may not even know where to start. We understand, and we are proud to offer a FREE consultation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so call us right now at 800-898-4877, or click HERE to send us a question, or get more information.
There is NO cost to get a free consultation right now. If you decide to hire us, you pay us nothing up front, and you will pay absolutely nothing at all unless and until we’ve won your case.
Why Choose Our Team?
Houston bicycle accident attorney Stewart J. Guss is an avid cyclist himself, participating in many charitable bicycle rides around Houston. In fact, Stewart Guss sponsors his own law firm’s riding team for the BP MS150 and rides from Houston to Austin every year to help the fight against multiple sclerosis.
After practicing personal injury law and representing many cyclists during his 20-year career, he is in a unique position to empathize with his fellow riders when a bicycle accident injures them.
Stewart Guss has had the sobering task of representing cyclists in Houston, Katy, The Woodlands, Spring, Tomball, Harris County, and throughout Texas when they were injured in bicycle accidents due to other people’s negligence.
If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, rest assured Stewart and his team will work tirelessly to recover as much compensation as possible on your bicycle accident injury claim.
Choose an Attorney with Strength and Experience
If you are ever injured while riding your bike, it is imperative to hire a fierce attorney who not only knows your rights but fights to protect them.
In the unfortunate event of a bicycle accident, Stewart Guss and his team have the experience, skills, and dedication to maximize the compensation from your case. Plus, he takes a personal interest in every case he handles, and will always be there when you need him.
If you were hurt in a bicycle accident, call 800-898-4877 to connect with the attorneys at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law. Do not sign anything until you speak with us, or you’ll risk losing the compensation you deserve.
Remember, your consultation is FREE, and you pay NOTHING unless we win your case!
Texas Trends Over Recent Years
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports the number of pedalcyclist accidents, injuries, and fatalities for each year. The following are the statistics for the most recent year available:
- Reported crashes = 2,426
- Non-injury crashes = 187
- Possible injuries = 886
- Non-incapacitating injuries = 1,043
- Serious injuries = 258
- Fatalities = 72
A Texas bike crash results in serious or non-serious injuries than no injuries at all. The following is a look back at the trends of Texas bicycle accidents in prior years:
A year earlier, the total number of reported crashes was higher, at 2,691, but fatalities were lower, at 57.
Numbers were significantly lower in 2010, the first-year Texas began reporting bicycle crash data. Compare 2010 numbers to 2018:
- Reported crashes = 2,001 (2010) and 2,426 (2017)
- Non-injury crashes = 75 and 187
- Possible injuries = 615 and 886
- Non-incapacitating injuries = 996 and 1,043
- Fatalities = 43 and 52
Why did over 400 more bike crashes happen in 2018 than in 2010? Did more people in Texas start riding their bikes? Were drivers more distracted?
It’s likely a combination of factors—but whatever the reason, bicyclists are at a higher risk of accidents and injuries today than in past years. The trends for the United States as a whole also mirror that of Texas, with bicycle accident fatalities increasing from 621 in 2010 to 840 in 2016. While Texas had the third-highest total for 2010 through 2012 of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Lone Star State ranked 16th based on the average annual deaths per million residents (1.9).
Bicycle Injury Crash Statistics in Texas
How Bicycle Accidents Happen
So, what causes bicycle accidents? Here are just a few factors:
- Inclement weather: Poor visibility and wet roads are frequent ingredients in a recipe for disaster.
- Poor road conditions: Potholes, unexpected detours, construction zones, or a lack of appropriate bike lanes can be dangerous for riders. Animals darting into the road can also cause accidents as cyclists or cars swerve to avoid them.
- Speeding: Drivers and riders should avoid speeding. Speeding can make the force of impact in a bike-and-car collision exponentially worse. Plus, you have less time to stop or react in the event of a hazard.
- Failure to signal: Cars often strike bicyclists when they are making a turn. Always look both ways and use hand signals when turning.
- Blind spots: Give cars plenty of space and avoid riding your bike in their blind spots.
You can lower the risk of bicycle accidents and injuries by knowing your area well, wearing proper safety gear, and avoiding riding at night.
Regional data indicates the following ten Texas counties had the highest numbers of reported bicycle crashes:
- Harris County = 1,149
- Travis County = 1,112
- Dallas County = 681
- Bexar County = 595
- Tarrant County = 459
- Collin County = 217
- Denton County = 159
- Nueces County = 154
- El Paso County = 163
- Hidalgo County = 137
As you can see, the top four counties are home to the largest cities in Texas, including Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. Harris County also had the largest number of bicyclist fatalities by far, with 46 occurring within county lines. The second-most fatalities happened in Dallas County, with 16 deaths occurring in a year.
Within each county, let’s take a look at what types of roads have the most bike injuries and fatalities. Bicycle injuries occurred on the following roads over a five-year period:
- City streets = 69%
- U.S. and state highways = 15%
- Farm to market = 8%
- County roads = 5%
- Interstate highways = 3%
The numbers for bicycle fatalities are quite different, as follows:
- U.S. and state highways = 33%
- City streets = 31%
- Farm to market = 19%
- Interstate highways = 9%
- County roads = 8%
While more accidents may happen on city streets, fatalities are more likely on U.S. and state highways. Often, the higher the speed limit on a road, the greater the chance for more severe injuries to bicyclists.
In addition to the type of road involved, Texas bicycle accidents happen in the following locations:
- Driveway access = 40%
- Intersections = 24%
- Non-intersection = 20%
- Intersection-related locale = 16%
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that intersection accidents are common, though you may not expect crashes, injuries, and fatalities to happen in driveways. Many drivers may turn out of driveways without adequately checking to see if a bicyclist is coming or not, resulting in a collision.
Age also plays an important factor in your risk of a bicycle crash, and the following numbers show the ages of Texans involved in bike accidents over five years:
- Age 14 and younger = 25%
- Age 15 to 24 = 24%
- Age 25 to 34 = 14%
- Age 35 to 44 = 11%
- Age 45 to 54 = 13%
- Age 55 to 64 = 7%
- Age 65 and older = 3%
The older you get, the lower your chances of a bike crash. Children and young adults may not be as aware of bicycle safety as they should, and they also tend to ride their bikes more often.
Half of all bicycle fatalities happened in the dark. If you’re riding at night, you should always use lights, reflective clothing, and other tools to make yourself as visible as possible.
Bicycle Safety Tips
While Stewart Guss is dedicated to representing those who were injured in automobile-bicycle collisions, he would of course prefer that these accidents not take place at all! As an active cyclist himself, he is keenly aware of the steps that bicycle riders can take to minimize the risks of automobile-bicycle collisions in the first place:
- Remember that under Texas law, those on bicycles are considered vehicle operators and must obey all traffic laws.
- Bicyclists should increase their visibility by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing whenever possible.
- Bicyclists should use a front light and a rear reflector or flashing red light, especially near dawn or dusk.
- Never use headphones while riding on a bicycle.
- Do not use your cell phone while riding on your bicycle. If you need to make or receive a call, pull over and stop.
- Finally, to decrease the chance of a bicycle accident causing a fatal injury, always wear a properly fitted helmet.
Bicycle Laws of Texas
While there are no state-level Texas bicycle helmet laws for adults, Houston’s bicycle helmet laws are as follows:
- Children under the age of 18 must wear bicycle helmets at all times, whether they are riders or passengers.
- Helmets must fit correctly.
- Helmets must be approved by federal organizations such as Snell or the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
- One exemption: children do not have to wear helmets if they are riding on private property.
It’s also worth noting the growing interest in mini motorcycles, also known as pocket bikes. While it is illegal to operate pocket bikes in Houston on a public roadway or sidewalk, they are still popular recreational vehicles for use on private property.
Below are more of the primary laws regarding the operation of bicycles in Texas. By remembering and following these rules, we can all do our part to keep the streets safe for cyclists. Let’s lower the number of auto-bicycle accidents resulting in injuries in Houston and throughout Texas.
Sec. 551.101. Rights and Duties
(a) A person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle under this subtitle, unless:
(1) a provision of this chapter alters a right or duty; or
(2) a right or duty applicable to a driver operating a vehicle cannot by its nature apply to a person operating a bicycle.
(b) A parent of a child or a guardian of a ward may not knowingly permit the child or ward to violate this subtitle.
Sec. 551.102. General Operation
(a) A person operating a bicycle shall ride only on or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle.
(b) A person may not use a bicycle to carry more persons than the bicycle is designed or equipped to carry.
(c) A person operating a bicycle may not use the bicycle to carry an object that prevents the person from operating the bicycle with at least one hand on the handlebars of the bicycle.
(d) A person operating a bicycle, coaster, sled, or toy vehicle or using roller skates may not attach either the person or the bicycle, coaster, sled, toy vehicle, or roller skates to a streetcar or vehicle on a roadway.
551.103. Operation on Roadway
(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:
(1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;
(2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;
(3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway; or
(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:
(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or
(B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.
(b) A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.
(c) Persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.
Sec. 551.104. Safety Equipment
(a) A person may not operate a bicycle unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
(b) A person may not operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with:
(1) a lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle; and
(2) on the rear of the bicycle:
(A) a red reflector that is:
(i) of a type approved by the department; and
(ii) visible when directly in front of lawful upper beams of motor vehicle headlamps from all distances from 50 to 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle; or
(B) a lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle.
Sec. 551.105. Competitive Racing
(a) In this section, “bicycle” means a nonmotorized vehicle propelled by human power.
(b) A sponsoring organization may hold a competitive bicycle race on a public road only with the approval of the appropriate local law enforcement agencies.
(c) The local law enforcement agencies and the sponsoring organization may agree on safety regulations governing the movement of bicycles during a competitive race or during training for a competitive race, including the permission for bicycle operators to ride abreast.
What Should You Do if You Were Hurt in a Bicycle Accident?
While following the bicycle accident tips above can significantly reduce your risk of injury in an accident, you can never fully prepare for the negligence of others. In the unfortunate event that you are hurt in a wreck caused by a driver, maximize your chances of recovering compensation by:
- Collecting information. If you are not too injured to do so, gather contact information and insurance information of the people involved. Get the name of the driver as well as the car’s license plate number. If possible, take pictures of the aftermath of your accident and get contact information from any witnesses.
- Seeing your doctor. Always see a doctor after an accident. This is true even if you believe that your injuries would heal on their own. Getting examined is important because it generates evidence you can use to establish your damages with the insurance company or the court. Bicycle accident injuries are often severe enough to warrant an ambulance ride.
- Retaining an attorney. Strong legal representation is the best way to protect your rights after an accident. A bike crash lawyer will handle all communications and negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf while they build your case. Finally, if the insurance company does not make you a reasonable settlement offer, your bicycle injury attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions and concerns about your bicycle accident claim and its outcome? Here we’ll cover some common bicycle accident questions. Keep in mind, however, every case has unique circumstances. Your best bet is a custom-tailored approach and evaluation by an experienced bicycle accident attorney.
If you have questions about your accident that are not adequately addressed on this page, contact an attorney as soon as possible to get the assistance you deserve and build your case today.
Question 1: If I wasn’t wearing a helmet during my accident, am I still entitled to compensation?
Wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce your risk of severe head injury by as much as 60% in a serious bicycle accident, but that doesn’t mean you MUST be wearing a helmet at the time of the incident in order to gain compensation for your injuries. When someone else’s negligence and misconduct has harmed you, you deserve financial compensation regardless of whether or not you chose to wear safety gear. Don’t be tempted to take the blame. Fight back and get the money you deserve.
Question 2: How much compensation should I expect after a bicycle accident in Houston?
When you’ve been involved in a severe bicycle accident in Houston due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve all the help you can get for a smooth recovery. The exact amount of compensation you can receive, however, depends on several important factors.
First and foremost, the limits of the insurance policy carried by the person or entity that caused your accident may limit the compensation you can receive. Acceptable policy limits vary by state. (On Texas roads, drivers must carry a minimum of only $30,000 of liability protection!) If the cost of your injuries exceeds that amount, you may not receive compensation above the amount of the policy.
Second, the compensation you receive will depend on the extent of your injuries. Without the assessment of medical professionals, this can be hard to determine. Serious aches and pains might not show up for days or weeks. This is why it’s so important to get examined promptly.
In a bicycle accident claim, you can claim general damages – including pain and suffering – that may not have a specific monetary value. You can also claim special damages, which have a clear monetary value and economic loss to you (such as property like your bicycle, shifts you missed at work, or your itemized hospital bills.) The combined total of these damages can provide you with an estimate of what to expect from your claim.
Question 3: What damages can I claim after a bicycle accident?
As mentioned above, you can claim three key types of damages after a bicycle accident: medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning potential, and pain and suffering.
- Medical expenses: An accident can leave you buried under an avalanche of medical bills. Emergency medical treatment, long-term hospitalization, physical therapy, or all three might be necessary for your full recovery. If you’re confused about what counts as a medical expense, or how to account for future medical issues you may encounter as a result of your accident, an attorney can help you navigate this difficult process.
- Lost wages: Sadly, injuries after an accident can put you out of work at a time when you need money most. Even if you’re not bedridden, there’s still all that time off for doctor appointments, therapy, and more. Your time is a precious resource – don’t sit idly by when an accident has robbed you of it. An attorney can help compensate you for your lost wages and lost earning potential.
- Pain and suffering: How can you possibly assign a dollar amount to the emotional turmoil you’ve gone through? While insurance companies will try to dismiss and invalidate your hardships, bicycle injury attorneys can help you calculate this amount and get you what you deserve.
Keeping track of the necessary paperwork and figuring out these expenses on your own can be a confusing mess, but help is available. An experienced attorney can cohesively quantify all relevant damages and help you present your personal injury claim. Reach out now. Don’t be left defeated, empty-handed, or with more questions than answers.
Question 4: How much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney to represent me after a bicycle accident?
Hiring a personal injury attorney probably sounds expensive to you. Many people shy away from the idea or dismiss it entirely, thinking they’re saving their much-needed cash at a time when other expenses are piling up.
In reality, the question they should be asking is: “Can I afford not to hire an attorney?”
Having an attorney on your side can increase your compensation exponentially. Even better, many attorneys offer free consultations and take personal injury cases on a contingency basis. This means there is no cost to retain an attorney. Instead, their fees are deducted as a portion of your successful settlement or award.
Question 5: Is the driver of the vehicle always liable for bicycle accident injuries?
Many factors can contribute to a bicycle accident. Most often, the driver of the other vehicle bears liability for your accident and the injuries associated with it. However, other factors can also come into play—and by working with an experienced personal injury attorney, you can identify EVERY PARTY who shares liability for the accident.
For example, was the driver working at the time of the accident? A driver’s employer may be partially liable for your injuries if:
- The company failed to properly maintain a vehicle owned by that company
- The company required the driver to exceed legal limitations for time behind the wheel: truck drivers, for example, can only drive for 11 hours out of a 14-hour shift
- The company required the driver to drive in unsafe conditions, including a driver who reports illness, fatigue, or inebriation as a reason they cannot drive
Alternatively, did a mechanical failure in the vehicle cause the accident? A tire blowout or brake malfunction in someone’s personal vehicle, for example, can cause them to lose control. In some cases, the automobile manufacturer may be to blame for accidents caused due to faulty parts. If a mechanic recently worked on the vehicle and failed to complete repairs properly, the mechanic may also bear liability for the accident.
Don’t overlook these possibilities. You don’t want to miss out on the compensation you deserve for your accident. Make sure you discuss liability with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible!
Question 6: Do I have to have an attorney to file a personal injury claim after a bicycle accident?
Legally, you can file a personal injury claim by yourself—but that doesn’t mean you should! A personal injury attorney can streamline the claims and negotiation process for you and pick up on small details. This often means getting more money in your pockets, faster. The aftermath of an accident is already an incredibly difficult time – don’t add unnecessary stress by tackling it all alone.
Question 7: Should I accept the offer the insurance company sends me after the accident?
Often, immediately after your bicycle accident, the insurance company will send you a settlement offer. While the number they offer might excite you now, be careful of settling. If you haven’t received professional legal counsel, you have no idea how much you could actually get. In most cases, your claim is worth way more than what an insurer initially offers. Have you considered your pain and suffering? What about future medical expenses or chronic pain? What about your family’s distress?
Consult an attorney before accepting any offer. Know your worth. We do.
Question 8: How long will it take to file a bicycle accident claim and receive compensation for my injuries?
Any legal process is bound to bring along its fair share of anxiety. We know no one likes to play the waiting game. A dedicated attorney will help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible, but how long it takes to recover compensation for a bicycle accident will depend on several factors including:
- Which insurance company that handles your claim. Some insurance companies will negotiate harder and longer than others.
- The amount of money you’re asking for. It can take longer to handle an accident claim when you have severe injuries and must ask for higher compensation amounts.
- Your willingness to negotiate. At any point in the negotiation process, you can accept a settlement offer issued by the insurance company or liable entity. If you accept that offer, be aware that it will completely end negotiations and allow you to receive the compensation offered for your injuries. On the other hand, if you want to continue negotiating to maximize your compensation, it can take longer to handle your bicycle accident claim.
Working with our bicycle injury attorneys can, in many cases, help you formulate a strategy that makes the whole process quicker and easier to deal with.
Question 9: How long do I have to file a personal injury claim after a bicycle accident in Texas?
The Texas statute of limitations poses a limit that can prevent you from filing a personal injury claim if too much time has passed after your accident. While an attorney can find multiple exceptions to that rule that can help you file your claim later, you should always pursue your claim as soon as possible!
After your bicycle accident, contact an attorney right away to expedite this process. When you contact an attorney early in the process, they can help with two important things:
- Collect evidence. Evidence like witness statements, photos, and video footage of the accident scene remain most accurate when they are fresh. The sooner you get a legal team on your side, the easier it is to find and collect evidence to support your case. Hesitating could lead to valuable evidence being lost forever.
- Provide you with valuable advice that can prevent you from inadvertently limiting your claim. In many personal injury claims, the little things matter: what you post on social media, how you interact with the insurance company, even seemingly harmless statements you make about your recovery or the activities you participate in. Insurance companies will find every possible opportunity to poke holes in your story and invalidate your feelings. When you start working with a personal injury attorney early in the process, you will receive vital advice and support that can prevent you from accidentally sabotaging your own claim.
Question 10: What should I do to protect myself after a bicycle accident?
When you suffer injuries in a bicycle accident, your medical care should be your top priority. Even if you think your injuries are minor or limited to road rash, scrapes, and bruises, always have your injuries examined in the emergency room or at an urgent care facility. Doctors can detect serious issues like soft tissue damage you might not even feel yet. They can also provide you with valuable evidence about your injuries, such as exactly when and how they happened.
In addition, make sure you:
- Consider your words carefully. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed at the scene of an accident, but it is imperative that you avoid making hasty statements like, “I feel fine,” or, “I’m not hurt.” Receive proper legal counsel before making any statements to insurance adjusters.
- Collect evidence at the scene, if you can. If you’re able, take photos of the accident scene and the vehicle that caused your accident. Take a photo of the responsible driver’s license and insurance information so you can easily access that information later. You may also want to collect contact information for witnesses.
- Get a copy of the police report. The sooner you get a copy of the police report, the sooner you can contest any inaccurate statements in that report, including statements that may indicate that you caused or contributed to your bicycle accident.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible. A bicycle injury attorney can provide you with vital advice about how to proceed with your claim, including the compensation you deserve, how to seek it, and how to file your claim. Their team can handle all of the hectic details of your claim, like filing paperwork and coordinating with offices to get you high-quality medical treatment. You’ve got enough to worry about already – let justice be their responsibility.
- Keep track of all medical records and bills. To file a personal injury claim following your bicycle accident, you will need to have a good grasp on what the accident cost you, including your medical expenses. Keep track of all those medical bills, including any expenses to modify the accessibility of your home or vehicle, the cost of therapy, and the cost of mobility equipment like crutches, ramps, or wheelchairs.
Still, have questions about your bicycle accident? Contact our experienced bicycle accident attorneys as soon as possible to protect your rights through every stage of the claims process.
Contact a Texas Bike Accident Attorney to Discuss Your Options
Houston bike crashes are unfortunately common, but help is within reach. If you’ve been involved in a bike accident in Houston, call us now and get informed about your rights and your options. With over 20 years of experience in personal injury settlements, our bicycle accident lawyers can help.
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, has been nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years.
If you were injured on a bicycle or in any other kind of traffic accident, call our office right now to schedule a free consultation. We take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, so you will not owe us a dime unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us to learn more about your rights today at 800-898-4877, or contact us now by CLICKING HERE.
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