This is the next post in a series of articles discussing bike accident cases in Laredo, Texas. My previous article provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. It also stressed the importance of working with an attorney with significant experience in personal injury cases. Doing so can help ensure that your case is handled properly and that you and your family receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. In this article, I will address the concept of comparative fault and how it’s application may impact the outcome of a bicycle accident case. If you or a loved one needs assistance, contact my office to speak with a lawyer today.
In Texas, a bicycle accident victim may still recover damages from a negligent driver so long as the victim was not more than fifty percent responsible for the crash. I have previously written about this concept, known as comparative fault, in the context of car accident cases. Under this theory, the damages to which the injured cyclist may be entitled are reduced by their relative proportion of responsibility. For instance, if the driver is determined to have been eighty percent at fault and the cyclist bore twenty percent of the responsibility, the cyclist’s overall damage award would be decreased by twenty percent. It is important to note that depending upon where you live, municipal rules may require cyclists to wear a helmet. In some cities, if the bike rider was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, they may be barred from recovering damages altogether. Understanding the bicycle helmet laws in your city and complying with applicable requirements will not only help protect you from injury but may also preserve your legal rights should an accident occur.
Comparative fault is best explained through example. A cyclist suffers a serious head injury after his bike is struck by a delivery van. The van driver is cited for speeding at the time of the crash, which is determined to be the primary contributing factor in the case. Defense counsel for the driver argues that the cyclist swerved in front of the van and was partially responsible for the incident. During the investigation, witness statements and traffic camera footage confirm that the cyclist did in fact swerve slightly just before the accident but if the van driver had been traveling at the posted rate of speed, the crash may have been avoided. Ultimately the driver is found to have been seventy percent responsible while the cyclist was thirty percent at fault. The jury determines that the biker’s damages are $500,000. Applying the comparative fault rules, the victim’s total damages are reduced by thirty percent and he is awarded $350,000.
Given the potentially significant impact on a defendant’s financial liability, it is not uncommon for defense attorneys to attempt to shift blame to the victim. It is imperative, therefore, to retain a lawyer experienced in such issues to challenge these arguments and protect your legal rights. My office represents accident victims and is ready to assist you. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us as soon as possible to speak with an attorney. I serve clients in Laredo and other areas of south Texas.