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Motorcycle Helmet Use in Texas and Comparative Negligence

Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 at 12:12 pm    

Texas, like some other states, now has a more permissive law on motorcycle helmet use than it once had. Texas repealed compulsory helmet use back in 1977 which was only 2 years after a federal law imposed the restriction on states in order to incentivize the funding of highway construction.

The present law in Texas still makes helmet use by motorcyclists theoretically compulsory, but there are exemptions for anyone 21 and over who has health insurance or has completed mandatory motorcycle training. As this training is essential to get a motorcycle license in Texas it means that anyone over 21 who has a motorcycle license can choose to not wear a helmet.

The fact that wearing a helmet saves lives and in particular it helps to reduce the severity of traumatic brain injury doesn’t necessarily stop riders from not wearing a helmet. So, what happens if a motorcyclist is hit by another motor vehicle and is thrown from the machine and injured?

Wearing a helmet is unlikely to prevent accidents from happening. Not all accidents end up with the motorcycle rider hitting the ground on their head. Some motorcyclists are injured through their own negligence. However, it would be hard to argue that motorcycle riding is inherently safe. It is not. In fact, riding a motorcycle, however exhilarating it might be, is reportedly 27 times as dangerous as driving or being driven in a car or other 4 wheel vehicle. Not wearing a helmet does definitely put the rider at risk of serious brain injury if he or she is thrown to the ground head first.

Riding a motorcycle, with or without a helmet, is inherently dangerous

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records, there were 443 fatal accidents involving motorcycles in 2015 in Texas, and 231 of these fatalities were riders who were not wearing helmets. Motorcycle riders, when hit by another road user, tend to be thrown over the handlebars and land on their head, even if the blow is a glancing one. The impact can mean serious head injuries and TBI. This could lead to long term disability and the need for substantial financial support. Theoretically, the rider may have the right to sue the driver of the vehicle that hit him or her if the fault lay with the other vehicle. However, despite the fact that wearing a helmet is not compulsory for those who are 21 and over in Texas, the fact that the injured rider was not wearing a helmet at the time of a crash could significantly affect the chance of obtaining compensation.

Motorcycle helmet use and comparative negligence

Texas has a modified comparative negligence rule which could prevent or limit the right to obtain compensation through a personal injury claim after an accident between a motorcycle rider and another road user. The rule allows an injured accident victim claim compensation if the degree of fault is less than 50%. The amount of compensation after that is decided on a proportional basis. For example, if a motorcycle rider is 60% at fault, he or she will not receive any compensation at all under Texas comparative negligence rules. However, if the rider was judged to be only 20% at fault, then he or she may receive 80% of the amount claimed.

If you have any questions about your motorcycle accident, especially if you think you may be unfairly be dealt with by an insurer, talk to a motorcycle accident attorney at our San Antonio Lawyer’s office here in San Antonio. The contact number is 833-210-4878.


How Aware are Car Drivers of Motorcyclists?

Posted on Thursday, July 6th, 2017 at 5:35 pm    

May, if you didn’t notice it, was motorcycle awareness month. It is one month set aside every year when drivers of bigger vehicles are reminded of just how vulnerable the riders on two wheeled vehicles are. It’s not just for motorists but it’s a reminder to motorcycle riders about how to keep themselves safe.

The reason May is chosen as Awareness Month is because it is the start of warmer weather everywhere and the time of year when many people start wheeling their machines out of the garage and hitting the highway. It can be a problematic period when enthusiastic riders may not realize just how dangerous it can be on our highways and drivers are forced to remember that they must share the road with their more unstable fellow road users.

On the face of it, it’s an easy thing to do. All drivers have to do is to think ahead if they see a motorcyclist in front of them. If they decide to pass the rider, they must give him or her plenty of space. It’s as simple as that. The temptation amongst some drivers is to squeeze past a motorcyclist so as not to have to cross a double yellow line. That’s when the slightest change in direction by a rider can send them into the side of the larger more stable vehicle with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Texas is the Nation’s Truck Capital: It’s an extra danger for motorcycles

Big trucks on Texas roads are a potential danger for any road user, but the chance of being hit is higher for those on two wheels. Truck drivers are more likely to hit a rider because:

  • they don’t see the motorcyclist because the rider is in their blind spot;
  • the truck driver was distracted by something as they approached the rider;
  • the truck driver was alcohol-impaired or too tired to concentrate.
  • the truck driver did not notice the motorcyclist on their near side as they made a turn at an intersection.

Motorcycle accident statistics

According to the National Safety Council there were 88,000 non fatal motorcycle injuries in 2013. In the same year, there were 4,668 fatalities involving riders and their passengers. A quarter of these fatalities were alcohol related. Not all motorcycle accidents are due to motorists’ negligence. Some are due to a lack of care on the part of the motorcyclist. Motorcyclists are urged to wear protective helmets and high visibility clothing to protect their heads if they fall off and make them more visible to other road users.

In Texas, adult motorcyclists are not legally required to wear helmets as they are in some U.S. states and in many other countries. Not wearing a helmet is sometimes part of the culture of the rider. Texas laws make wearing a helmet mandatory only for under 21s.

It has been estimated from crash statistics that not wearing a helmet accounts for half of all motorcycle fatalities. 35% of motorcycle accidents cause head injuries so it is an easy step to consider protection for your head can save your life.

Texas statistics reveal just how motorcycle riding is a higher risk activity than driving a car. 13% of fatal accidents on Texas roads involved a motorcyclist, but only 6% of registered vehicles are motorcycles.

Value of a San Antonio personal injury lawyer

Despite the value of safety gear and reminders to motorists about looking out for motorcyclists, the fact is that the majority of serious motorcycle injuries are caused by negligence on the part of another road user. If you, or a member of your family, have been badly injured while riding on a motorcycle, you should see a San Antonio personal injury lawyer to discuss the possibility of filing a personal injury claim against the driver whose actions caused your injuries. Call 877-333-3333 today.