Fighting for the rights of injured victims
Recently, two motorcycle riders were killed in an accident near Katy while on their way to the funeral of another motorcyclist. The accident occurred on a Saturday morning on Highway 90 near Sam Houston Parkway. The two individuals on the motorcycle were on their way to meet friends at a park before the funeral when a tow truck pulled out of a gas station and attempted to make it across lanes of oncoming traffic. The motorcycle rider tried to stop before hitting the tow truck. He died at the scene. His female passenger was transported to the hospital where she later died of her injuries as well.
Unfortunately, this is a scene that happens all too often in Katy and throughout Texas. Those who plan to enjoy the beautiful weather and the open road with their motorcycles find themselves at risk for serious injury or even death. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your damages. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney at Stewart J.Guss, Attorney at Law, may help. We are open, for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-898-4877, or you may contact us now by CLICKING HERE to submit your case for review.
The Dangers Faced by Motorcycle Riders
Motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident and five times more likely to be injured than the occupants of cars. How come? Here are a few of the reasons:
- Less stability: With just two wheels, motorcycles are less stable for traveling than passenger cars, turning issues such as road damage, loose gravel, or debris into the road into potentially deadly situations. Also risky for motorcycle riders is the presence of rain, which can bring out the oils trapped in the roadway and make the surface of the road extremely slippery to ride on.
- Lack of protective features: Part of what shields the occupants of cars from many of the dangers involved in an accident are protective features such as a steel frame, airbags, and seat belts. Motorcycles lack all of those features, increasing the risk of serious or fatal injuries.
- Lack of training: It is not uncommon for a new motorcyclist to want to ride the fastest bike around, such as the supersport or sport models. However, bigger and faster isn’t always better. Particularly when you don’t have real-world riding experience to match the power of a racing bike that has been fashioned for highway use. Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that nearly a third of all motorcyclists killed across the nation in 2017 weren’t properly licensed. Getting a motorcycle license requires at least enough training to pass the test. While a rider can certainly use the ideas and education of additional courses, at the very minimum, they should have the training required for licensing.
- Less visibility: Motorists often provide adequate surveillance when it comes to seeing oncoming cars. However, they may not be expecting—or looking for—two-wheeled traffic. Motorcyclists who wear bright clothing that is more visible to other motorists are 37 percent less likely to be involved in an accident than those who do not.
- A different skill set: Motorcycle riding requires a completely different skill set than driving a car, meaning that even if you’re an excellent driver, you may not be an excellent motorcyclist. Many accidents occur due to the motorcyclist failing to transition from one skill set to another.
How Bad Drivers Cause Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcycle accidents are caused by the following driving behaviors:
- Alcohol impairment: Alcohol impairment can dramatically increase the risk that a driver will collide with a motorcycle. Alcohol impairment reduces many of the skills needed for safe riding.
- Speeding: A negligent car or truck driver can cause a motorcyclist unbelievable damage when violating the speed limit results in a collision. Speeding not only reduces the time that someone has to see and react to hazards on the roadway but also makes the bike harder to control. With less stability than that of a passenger vehicle, the motorcyclist can suffer terribly.
- Unsafe lane changes: If the driver fails to look in his or her mirror and over the shoulder, there is an increased risk of having an accident with a motorcyclist who may be riding in the car’s blind spot.
- Left turns: Left turns are among the most dangerous tasks for motorcyclists, as they are less visible to other motorists who may be checking for car traffic, but not for motorcycles.
- Tailgating: Drivers who tailgate motorcyclists are putting them in grave danger if the motorcyclist should happen to stop suddenly and cause the car to rear-end it.
- Alcohol impairment: Alcohol impairment is a concern both for the motorcyclist and the motorist. A high blood alcohol content may make the motorist even less likely to see the motorcyclist and can also pose the risk of accidents related to weaving in and out of lanes, speeding, or failing to stop at a red light.
- Dooring: This term refers to a type of accident in which the occupant of a car parked on the roadside opens the car door into the path of a motorcyclist. This causes the motorcyclist to either hit the door and wreck his or her bike or else swerve to avoid the door and risk hitting another vehicle or losing control of the motorcycle.
The Injuries That Reckless Drivers Cause in Motorcycle Accidents
Injuries from motorcycle accidents are frequently serious and may result in permanent disability or even death. Some of the more common injuries a motorcyclist can sustain in a crash include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Brain injuries are the most common cause of death for motorcyclists involved in accidents. This type of injury may or may not involve a fracture to the skull and is often caused by the brain being violently jolted or a sudden blow to the head. The consequences of a brain injury may be mild, such as a concussion, or they may produce profound deficits in the victim’s ability to function. While the risk of head injuries from an accident is high, many deaths and severe injuries can be avoided through the use of a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved motorcycle helmet.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries can result in loss of sensation and function of the limbs, also called paralysis. How much loss depends on the severity of the injury as well as how far up on the spine the injury occurred. Function is generally lost below the site of the injury, meaning that a severe spinal cord injury involving the neck can result in quadriplegia, which is the loss of sensation and function of the chest, torso, pelvic region, shoulders, arms, and legs.
- Burn injuries: It is not uncommon for a motorcycle to catch on fire after a collision, putting the rider in danger of burn injuries. Burns may also be caused by gasoline and other chemicals spilled on the roadway during the accident.
- Broken bones: Broken bones are a frequent consequence of motorcycle accidents due to the likelihood that the rider will be ejected from the bike during the crash and risks striking a car, other objects, or even the roadway at high speed. The most common site for this type of injury is the lower extremities, and the most common bones to break in a motorcycle accident are the long, thin bones of the lower leg.
- Road rash: One of the most common injuries for a motorcyclist to receive in an accident, road rash is a term that refers to the scraping away of the outer layers of skin as the body skids across the road. While it is often regarded as a “minor injury,” complications from road rash can be quite serious and include extensive scarring or a potentially deadly infection. Road rash can often be prevented through the use of protective gear such as motorcycle pants made of leather or Kevlar, motorcycle jackets, riding boots, and heavy gloves.
- Biker’s arm: Biker’s arm is a term used to describe severe nerve damage caused when a heavy object—often the motorcycle itself—lands on top of the arm. The damage is often permanent and may include paralysis of the arm or hand.
- Limb amputation: The amputation may take place during the accident or it may be a medical procedure involved in attempting to repair the damage after the accident.
- Internal injuries: Internal injuries can be caused by the body striking an object or by the motorcyclist getting ran over by a car involved in the accident or traveling the roadway after the initial accident occurs. This type of injury may include a collapsed lung or injury to other internal organs due to broken ribs, torn blood vessels, or damage to organs such as the spleen, kidney, liver, or heart.
A study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University revealed that injuries to motorcyclists who struck an object during the crash—such as a guardrail, tree, or concrete barrier—are typically more severe than those who hit the ground. For example, motorcyclists who hit a guardrail instead of the ground were 7 times more likely to die due to accident-related injuries. Those who struck a tree had nearly 15 times more likelihood of dying from the injuries they suffered than those who struck the ground.
Does Texas Have a Motorcycle Helmet Law?
It is estimated that the use of helmets saved 1,859 lives in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 802 more lives could have been saved if helmets were used by all riders. Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent and the risk of serious head injuries by 69 percent. While helmets may make the ride less risky, are they required in Texas?
Texas, like many other states, requires some riders to wear helmets, but not others. All riders under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle. Helmets are not required for those 21 and older, provided they have either completed a safety course or have provided proof of a health insurance plan that provides health care or surgical services in the event of an accident. State law prohibits law enforcement officers from stopping un-helmeted motorcyclists for the sole purpose of determining whether they are over 21, have completed a safety course, or are covered by health insurance.
How Bad Is the Problem?
Really bad. According to the state Department of Transportation, in one recent year, 500 motorcyclists lost their lives on Texas roadways, and 53 percent of those motorcyclists were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.
Nationally, during that same year, 5,286 people died in motorcycle accidents, a 5.1 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities from the year before. While motorcycles only make up about 3 percent of the country’s motor vehicle fleet, they are involved in 14 percent of all traffic crashes.
Motorcycle Accidents in Texas
This problem is not one that can be swept under the rug.
According to the state Department of Transportation, in just one recent year, 500 motorcyclists lost their lives on Texas roadways.
53% of those motorcyclists were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.
During that same year, 5,286 people died in motorcycle accidents across the nation, a 5% increase in motorcycle fatalities from the year before.
While motorcycles only make up about 3% of the country’s motor vehicle fleet, they are involved in 14% of all traffic crashes.
Katy Motorcycle Accident FAQ
According to statistics provided by the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas motorcyclists suffered 1,810 suspected serious injuries and 2,726 non-incapacitating injuries in the span of only one recent year. Tragically, 410 people died as a result of motorcycle accidents in the state.
If you or a loved one has experienced a motorcycle accident in Katy or the surrounding area, this guide provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) we hear from our clients.
What are common injuries in a Katy motorcycle accident?
As we discussed above, motorcyclists can suffer injury in many different ways. Common motorcycle accident injuries include but are not limited to:
- Road rash
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Broken bones (arm, leg, ribs, pelvis, skull, vertebrae, and more)
- Soft tissue injuries
- Amputation of limb
- Eye injuries
I suffered one of these injuries and now I’m facing mounting medical bills. Who is responsible for paying them?
Texas is a fault state for vehicle accidents. Simply put, that means that whoever caused the accident is responsible for certain bills and other losses that a victim suffers.
The driver who caused the accident likely breached the duty of care expected of Texas drivers—to drive safely, follow the law, and avoid preventable accidents. Such a breach constitutes negligence, and negligent parties bear financial responsibility under Texas law for the damage that their actions directly cause.
These are fancy legal terms, but we can make it easy to understand with this example: Say you pulled up to a four-way stop, intending to make a left turn. You stopped, and your signals were on. Another car approached, but you clearly had the right-of-way. You turned left, but the approaching car didn’t stop. Instead, the car hit you broadside.
The other driver is clearly in the wrong, for several reasons. First, a stop sign means stop! Second, the individual at the stop sign first has the right-of-way, and the other driver violated this right-of-way law.
While breaking the law can determine negligence, any careless action resulting in an accident can make someone liable. Additionally, if bad mechanical work or a manufacturer’s faulty auto parts contributed to an accident, those parties can also be held liable for your injuries under Texas law.
How do I get paid for my Katy motorcycle accident injuries?
When an accident injures you in Texas, you may be able to get money from the liable party. You may have the right to seek damage compensation in the following categories:
- Medical bills – including the cost of doctor’s office visits, emergency transport, emergency room treatment, surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitative therapy, prescriptions, retrofitting your home to accommodate your injury, assistive devices, and more.
- Income lost from work – if the accident or treatment caused you to need time off from work, you can be compensated for your lost wages.
- Pain and suffering – your stress, trauma, and emotional pain and suffering are just as valid as your physical injuries.
You can pursue this compensation two ways: You can approach the at-fault party’s insurance company, or you can bring a Katy motorcycle accident lawsuit in civil court.
What if the insurance company refuses to pay for my Katy motorcycle accident injuries?
If you already approached the at-fault party’s insurance company but they rejected your claim or are taking too long to provide payment to you, it’s wise to contact an attorney for help.
Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always play fair. They want to avoid approving claims so they can avoid paying victims. Make no mistake: these companies are in the business of making money. They may deny your claim by arguing that you’re responsible for the accident, even if you aren’t.
Insurance companies often make these claims a long, tedious, drawn-out process on purpose to discourage you from pursuing the money you deserve. Your calls may go unanswered, or the company may ask for more information after it’s had the claim for months already. Why? Because these companies use “deferring” as a strategy to make you go away and give up.
Insurance companies also use a strategy called “lowballing,” which involves settling fairly promptly – but for a monetary amount far less than the true value of your claim. Saddest of all, insurance companies often do this because they know you’re injured badly. They know bills pile up. If you can’t work because of your injury, the financial stress goes hand-in-hand with severe emotional distress. The insurance company knows will make you more likely to accept a quick and easy settlement. Don’t fall prey to this.
If you have a lawyer on your side, the story changes. Lawyers can skillfully negotiate. They can counter all the misinformation, delay tactics, and tricks that insurance companies use. An experienced attorney can get insurance companies to release the check or offer additional compensation.
Additionally, lawyers can assess whether the offer amount is fair given the extent and nature of your injuries. Obviously, injuries that damage a motorcyclist’s ability to work or interfere with activities that they formerly enjoyed should receive higher compensation. Insurance companies will try to dodge this fact and dismiss your pain, no matter how friendly and sympathetic they may seem over the phone.
Finally, if the insurance company continues being unreasonable, you and your attorney can file a lawsuit. Insurance companies don’t like to get involved in prolonged litigation because they have to pay their attorneys to handle the case, which will be heard in court, before a judge and jury. These decision-makers may show more sympathy to you, as they aren’t part of the insurance company. If the insurance company thinks you stand a good chance in court, it might settle before the trial even starts.
How much will a Katy motorcycle accident lawyer cost me?
Many people suffer from the common misconception that lawyers charge high fees and are too expensive to retain. However, most Katy motorcycle accident claims lawyers don’t cost you anything out-of-pocket!
First off, the initial meeting to discuss your accident is always free with us. A lawyer needs to know what occurred and what injuries you sustained before they can tell you if you have a case.
Second, our motorcycle accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. Their payment doesn’t come from your checkbook or wallet, but from a percentage of the settlement you receive instead.
Never let financial anxiety prevent you from teaming up with an attorney and pursuing justice. We believe everyone deserves access to the legal help they need, and we’ve made it our mission to provide it.
I don’t know who caused my Katy motorcycle accident injuries because I woke up in an emergency room. What can I do?
If you’re thrown from your motorcycle or otherwise severely injured, you may have no memory of the accident—just of waking up in an emergency room or hospital. If obtaining compensation for damages requires knowing who was at fault, what can you do?
It’s useful to consult a lawyer here, too. First, Texas law requires reporting of accidents resulting in injury, death, or property damage sufficient that the vehicle isn’t safe to drive. This means that either the police or sheriff’s department should have a crash report about your accident. A crash report provides law enforcement’s assessment of what occurred, the circumstances, and who seems liable for the accident.
Second, the crash report should contain information about the other driver and any eyewitnesses.
Third, the emergency department or hospital you arrived at should have some information about what occurred. In fact, your wounds or other damage can serve forensically to identify what happened.
If all this fails or is insufficient (or if you have additional questions), lawyers often work with professional investigative teams. Investigative teams can examine the scene (skid marks, impact traces, etc.), search for surveillance footage, and outsource experts to help them determine the causes of an accident.
My loved one died in a for my Katy motorcycle accident. What recourse do I have?
If your loved one died in a Katy motorcycle accident, your grief and loss may seem overwhelming. You shouldn’t have to struggle financially while in mourning. Fortunately, Texas law recognizes that there are financial, as well as emotional, ramifications of losing a loved one.
The law allows certain family members to bring a wrongful death lawsuit if a motorcycle accident occurs for which the decedent could have filed a Katy motorcycle accident claim had they lived.
Eligible family members are:
- Surviving spouses
- Children (including adopted children and adult children)
- Parents (including adoptive parents)
If none of these folks take steps to file a wrongful death lawsuit, then the executor or personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file the claim.
Wrongful death suit filings often seek damages in the following categories:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Emotional and mental pain, suffering, and anguish
- Lost love and companionship
- Lost services, care, maintenance, support, and counsel formerly supplied by the decedent
- Lost income and financial support formerly supplied by the decedent
- Lost inheritance value, if a longer life would have resulted in a larger estate
What should I do after I’m injured in a Katy motorcycle accident?
You may feel pain, trauma, and even amnesia in the aftermath of an accident. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know the protocol for what to do if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident in Katy.
Following an accident, you should focus on two major objectives:
- Make sure you are safe and receive proper medical treatment.
- Make sure you obtain evidence about the causes of the crash.
First, move to a safe area, if you are able. Don’t run the risk of another vehicle hitting you if you’re in traffic.
Second, call 911. If emergency responders recommend that you take an ambulance to a hospital, go with them without question.
If emergency responders feel that your injuries don’t require emergency department treatment, stay on the scene until law enforcement arrives.
When law enforcement talks to you about the accident, if you notice anything relevant about the accident (such as evidence that the other driver was drinking or texting while driving), definitely tell the officer. Stick to the facts, however, and don’t provide opinions, apologize, or inadvertently admit responsibility for the crash. As the old saying goes, anything you say can and will be used against you.
Third, get a copy of the crash report if available, or find out how to obtain one later. You can usually get one by mail, online, or in person at the police station.
Fourth, exchange information with all drivers (like e-mail, phone numbers, and insurance information).
Fifth, take pictures of the scene and all vehicles. If you have a smartphone, use it.
Sixth, get the contact information of any eyewitnesses.
Seventh, go to a doctor as soon as you can (if you don’t receive emergency treatment immediately after the accident). Never neglect this step. Only a doctor can thoroughly examine and diagnose injuries following a motorcycle accident. Deadly serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and cracked ribs, may not show immediate signs. Cracked ribs can puncture your lungs and kill you. Thus, it’s important to have a doctor’s evaluation, regardless of whether or not you feel “fine.”
Eighth, follow any treatment recommendations and keep all records of your treatment.
How dangerous are Katy motorcycle accidents?
Katy motorcycle accidents are far more dangerous than accidents in other vehicles (car, truck, van, etc.). It’s well-known that motorcycle accidents pose more risk to both riders and other passengers than other vehicles. Motorcyclists constitute 14% of all traffic fatalities but just 3% of all registered vehicles.
Just think about what a motorcyclist encounters in an accident. Even with a helmet, protective goggles, and protective clothing (like gloves and leather jackets), motorcyclists are vulnerable and exposed to other vehicles, the road, obstacles (such as barriers and trees), and a variety of pavement/road surfaces.
Even a small sportscar’s occupants enjoy the protection of several tons of metal, the cushioning of seats and airbags, and the protection of the car’s bumper and hood. Motorcyclists, however, enjoy none of these protections.
The problem is often compounded by the other driver. Motorcyclists can do their best to ride safely, responsibly, and defensively, but they still may suffer from the carelessness other drivers. Motorists don’t keep an eye out for the presence of motorcycles in the same way that they register other cars and trucks. Drivers may pull out in front of motorcyclists who legitimately and legally have the right of way, because the drivers fail to notice the motorcycle’s presence.
Motorcyclists suffer specific types of accidents because of this issue, more or less unique to motorcyclists. “Dooring,” for example, refers to the type of accident where a vehicle parks at the side of the road, the driver fails to check to see if anything is coming, and then opens the car door squarely in front of a motorcyclist. The motorcycle rider does not have time or space to stop and collides with the car door, suffering serious injury.
Dooring and other accidents can throw motorcyclists completely off their cycles, often into the air. Accidents of this type can kill or disable cyclists. If they’re lucky, they may still suffer from a spinal cord injury (SCI) or traumatic brain injury (TBI), which are some of the most serious injuries that the human body can sustain.
If motorcyclists aren’t thrown into traffic, they can still suffer from the impact of vehicles, objects, and the road. Even road rash, a type of injury in which pebbles, sand, or gravel abrade a motorcyclist’s skin, is a potentially dangerous injury if the abrasion is deep or doesn’t receive proper cleaning and medical treatment right away.
If you need more information, contact the experienced Katy motorcycle accident attorneys at Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, today.
If You Were Injured in a Motorcycle Accident, Call Our Katy Motorcycle Crash Attorneys
You may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries either through the insurance coverage of an at-fault driver, or through a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party and/or his or her insurance company. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can answer your legal questions pertaining to liability and the value of your case based on the expenses you’ve faced and other factors such as lost wages due to missed work because of your injuries, potentially permanent disabilities, and the overall impact that your injuries have had on your life. Your motorcycle accident attorney can also assist you by negotiating with insurance companies for a fair settlement in your case, or representing you at trial if necessary.
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Katy, call our office right now to schedule a free consultation! Because we take all of our motorcycle injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE.
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