Cycling is an easy and environmentally safe way to get around the city. In this day and age with gas prices fluctuating and traffic gridlocks becoming a daily occurrence, biking to work or while running errands provides the user a convenient and healthy way to go about completing business.
However, bicyclists are often subjected to hit-and-runs, illegal driving practices, serious injuries, and property damage. In 2018, 857 bicyclists died in traffic crashes in the United States. Cyclists don’t have the advantage of being encased in tons of protective technology like drivers and are more likely to be injured. Yet insurance companies regularly try to pay victims of bicycle accident injuries an unfair amount.
Texas Bicycle Accident Statistics
The statistics are downright sobering when it comes to the figures that our bike accident law firm fights so hard to combat. Every six hours, a bicyclist is struck and fatally injured by a motor vehicle driver. Since 2016 Houston, has averaged 150 fatalities and 350 serious injuries annually from bicyclists. Share the Road Texas highlights some statistics:
- 27% of cyclists involved in an accident are 15-year-old or younger.
- 25% of cyclists involved in an accident are 15-24 years old.
- 81% of men are bicycle accident victims
- In 2017, Texas was ranked 3rd among states for bicycle fatalities.
When Do Most Bicycle Accidents Occur?
According to NHTSA, most bicycle accidents or fatalities occur in the evening between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. The vast majority of accidents happen on city streets, but the majority of fatalities happen on the highway.
What Are the Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
Some common causes of bicycle accidents include defective bicycle parts, potholes or poor weather conditions. Most bicycle accidents are caused by negligence either by the bicyclist or another driver. Most accidents occur by the cyclists usually encounters a fall or a collision with a motor vehicle. The most common examples include:
- Distracted driving.
- Pulling out of an intersection in front of a motorist or bicyclist.
- A driver making a right or a left turn.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign.
- Failing to yield right of way at an intersection.
- Riding in a vehicle’s blind spot or a driver not checking his or her blind spot.
- Not riding in the designated bicycle lane.
What Are the Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries?
Bicycle accidents can be more severe than car accidents due to the lack of protection surrounding the individual. The most common injuries sustained are:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head or neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most difficult types of injuries to recover from. Head or brain injuries account for 75% of the damages from a cyclist getting hit by a negligent driver.
How Do Bicycle Helmets Protect the Head in an Accident?
Every bike rider should wear a helmet. This safety gear can prevent or minimize injury to the head and brain. Helmets have a layer of foam with a hard shell to lessen impact in the event of a collision.
Wearing a bicycle helmet while riding a bike can reduce head injuries by 85 percent. Approximately 60 percent of all bicycle rider fatalities are the result of head injuries. Bicycle helmets have to meet the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials
Who Is At Fault In A Bicycle Accident?
Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadway that drivers do and are required to obey traffic laws. Common types of accidents between motorists and bicyclists are pulling out in front or making a right or left turn. However, with any of these types’ accidents it is possible for either party to be at-fault.
It is very important to follow the rules of the road to avoid crashes and not to be the cause of the accident. In the event you are in an accident, the police will obtain statements from both parties to determine which party is in the wrong. If the driver is found to be negligent then the driver may be able to recover his or her damages from the at-fault driver. However, if the cyclist is found to be negligent, he or she will be left to pay for any resulting medical bills or other damages.
What Should I Do After a Bicycle Accident?
Similar to a car accident, if you find yourself involved in an accident with a motor vehicle here are the steps you should take.
- Move to a safe place to prevent more harm and to allow for the flow of traffic.
- Call the police to file a police report.
- Exchange information with the driver by obtaining their driver’s license, proof of insurance, and license plate.
- Take pictures of the accident scene including your bicycle, the vehicle, and additional property damage.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you were injured and feel pain because of the collision.
- File a claim with the at-fault insurance company and notify your insurance company. It is important to contact your insurance company to understand your available coverage and all of your options available.
What are the Texas Bike Laws?
Similar to motorist, bicyclists must abide by the same state laws such as stopping at a stop sign, traffic lights, and yielding to the right of way when required. In addition, Texas has some specific laws for bicyclists outlined in Chapter 551 of the Texas Transportation Code and include:
- Bicyclists are prohibited from riding on the sidewalk
- Bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road as close to the curb as possible
- Bicyclists must use arm signals when turning
- Bicyclists must have a white light on the front and a red reflector or light on the rear of the bicycle when riding at night.
- Bicyclists cannot carry additional passengers or carry any object that prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.
Texas does not have a statewide law requiring bicyclists to wear a helmet. However, Austin, Houston, and Fort Worth have passed mandatory helmet laws for children under the age of 18.
Do I Need an Attorney After a Bicycle Accident?
If you were involved in a minor bike accident with no injuries, you may not need to hire an attorney. However, if you were seriously injured, it is best to hire a personal injury attorney.
An experienced bicycle accident attorney will help protect you against the insurance company during the settlement negotiation process.
How to Prevent a Bicycle Accident or Injury?
It is important to ride responsibly. A few tips to keep in mind are:
- Ride a bike that fits you and you feel comfortable. A bike that is too big is difficult to control.
- Ride a bike that works properly with no defective parts.
- Wear a helmet, protective gear, and a white front light and red rear light.
- Ride one person per seat, both hands on handlebars, and use correct arm signals to turn.
- Plan your route and keep with the flow of traffic.
Speak With Our Houston Bicycle Accident Injury Lawyers
Sutliff & Stout is committed to bicycle safety and we are experienced bicycle accident attorneys. If you were seriously injured in a bicycle accident and live in Houston or the surrounding areas, call Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm today for a free and confidential case review.