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Some people ride motorcycles for the freedom and excitement they provide. But that unfortunately comes with an increased risk of death or serious injury since they offer no protection after a collision. Tragically, there were another three fatal motorcycle accidents in the past few days in Tarrant County. That made us want to get the word out about motorcycle safety.

The Texas Longhorns and its huge fan base (including Mr. Berenson who graduated from the University of Texas in 1976) are in mourning after learning that Cedric Benson died in a motorcycle crash in Austin Saturday night. What a terrible way to begin the football season. Cedric was one of the best running backs in the history of Texas high school and the University, then played eight years in the NFL with the Bears, Bengals, and Packers. He was 36 years old. We extend my condolences to his family and the family of his passenger who also died at the scene. We at Berenson Injury Law want our roads to be safer for all motorists, including for those who ride motorcycles. You have to ask
  1. Why does Texas have more fatal crashes than any other state?
  2. Why do about 500 people die each year riding their motorcycles in Texas
  3. What causes us to be #1 in this terrible category?
  4. How can we stop so many motorcycle riders and other motorists from dying and being injured on our roads?

Temps are up, so are bicycle and motorcycle accidents in Fort Worth

Yesterday kicked off the annual Tour de Fort Worth sponsored by Fit Worth and it was an honor to get to ride with our wonderful Mayor Betsy Price. But the warmer weather unfortunately brings an increase in the number of bicycle and motorcycle accidents in Fort Worth. Saturday sadly marked the latest motorcycle death in our area. Texas leads in the country in the number of fatal motorcycle crashes with almost 500 riders losing their lives each year. And though it happened it happened in New Hampshire on Friday, it was horrible to read that seven people riding motorcycles died when a man who was driving in the wrong lane crashed into the group of former Marines. He had to be either texting while driving or driving while intoxicated, or both.

What causes all of the bicycle and motorcycle accidents?

Bicycles and motorcycles are similar. They are small and offer no protection from injuries. Drivers often don't see them or ignore them; some probably consider them an annoyance. They are often ridden by younger people who enjoy going fast and take unsafe risks. So there's a constant friction between the motorists on four wheels and riders on two wheels. On the one hand, motorists must yield the right of way, pay attention to vehicles on the road, slow down, stop looking at cell phones while they drive, and not drink and drive, the usual causes of crashes. But cyclists must also obey the rules of the road, stop at red lights and stop signs, and not engage in risky maneuvers. If there is a crash, the negligence of all drivers and riders will be weighed. There are too many motorists and bicycle/motorcycle riders who don't seem to know basic traffic laws -- or follow them. So here's a refresher.

As I got in some exercise around Dallas early Sunday morning with my son-in-law and a group of other cyclists, I saw people cruising around on those controversial electric scooters. Admittedly, riding a bicycle anywhere, especially in a large city, is dangerous. And a lot of people have been using Uber and Lime Bike for instant transportation without any problem for years. So why not allow someone to click an app and scoot over to the next bar -- what could go wrong with that? Plenty, starting with a serious injury rate. No wonder Fort Worth has banned them. But other Texas cities are considering allowing or increasing their use. That's not a good idea until our state laws are enhanced.

Current regulation of electric scooters in Dallas

You may not know what is legal when you hop on one in Dallas. The Texas Transportation Code, Section 551.351, has limited prohibitions. So Dallas enacted a new ordinance to pick up the slack when it allowed their use in July. Just in Dallas, they cannot be rented by someone 17 or less, at night, on streets if the speed limit is 36 mph or more, on sidewalks downtown or in Deep Ellum, and to the center or left of the traffic lane unless a left-hand turn is being made. But after Dallas's long-time state senator Royce West saw two people riding an electric scooter almost crash in Austin, he decided to sponsor a new law that would increase their safety across Texas. Senator West's bill, which has been endorsed in his committee and which no member of the public testified against, would amend our lax state law and prevent them from being ridden -- By more than one person; -- On any sidewalk;
-- At night; -- Faster than 15 mph; -- On streets with speed limits higher than 35 mph;-- By someone who is 17 or younger; --and parked where they are a safety hazard. I just blogged about motorcycle riders and their often horrendous injury rate so this post is a series in advocating for the safety of riders and not just drivers of cars and trucks.

The problem with electric scooters

Electric scooters are dangerous. In Dallas, at least one person has already died and 88 had to be admitted to the emergency room, 35 with brain injuries, just at the Baylor Scott and White hospital nearest Deep Ellum and only in the second six months of last year. Eight people were admitted to the intensive care unit.
I blogged about how dangerous these are and worry about any new way people can get injured as they move around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With 7,500 of them available in Dallas, they appear to be accidents waiting to happen.

Motorcycle accident

Motorcycle accident claims can be difficult

For many Texans, there is only one way to enjoy the freedom of our incredible 310,000 miles of highways and roads -- on a motorcycle. But tragically last year in Texas, 501 of them lost their lives, usually at an intersection or when another driver was changing lanes. Contrary to popular belief that bikers always get hurt because they ride too fast, the typical motorcycle accident happens at lower speeds. According to statistics from NHTSA, almost half of all fatal bike crashes happen when the rider is hit by a car or truck driver who suddenly turns in front of him. Yesterday I told an insurance adjuster denying liability that I am filing suit. Her insured, a commercial truck driver, made a reckless right turn across two lanes and caused serious injuries to my client. That call prompted me to share several ideas about these cases. More about how to win any vehicle collision case is here.

We had the pleasure of representing a very nice young man who was riding his Harley Davidson in north Fort Worth last year. At an intersection, our client thought the driver in front of him was going to make a right turn, but instead he made a left turn and the two vehicles collided. Unfortunately, the police officer blamed our client, who had already been rushed by ambulance to the hospital with a broken leg and didn't have the chance to explain his side of the story. His claim was denied and he hired Berenson Injury Law to help him since we have successfully handled a lot of motorcycle crashes. After a lot of pretrial investigation and protracted negotiations with adjusters and attorneys, we were able to make the insurance company pay the entire limit of the policy. The company's lawyer believed he could easily win the case in court. Then we drastically reduced the young man's medical bills, cut attorney's fees, and waived expenses. As a result, our client received $20,000 of the available $30,000, an excellent result. Most drivers in Texas carries this amount of insurance coverage, and there were no other insurance proceeds or assets, so this was the best result our client could possibly hope for. The advantage of the settlement was that he got more money than he expected relatively quickly. This saved him from spending thousands of additional dollars and waiting up to two years to present his case to a jury where he easily could have received nothing. We were going to file suit and fight for him either way since we were not going to let him be denied the compensation he deserved.  Fortunately, his leg has healed. This was a small but satisfying result. Our client picked up his check and graciously wrote this review:
*****  "Outstanding staff that are so helpful with everything!! Always have my good faith and trust!  Mr. Berenson got me an incredible settlement amount when the other guys didn’t want to pay. I’m recommending him to everyone!!!"
Antonio, thank you for allowing us to represent you and for that beautiful note.
Please contact us if you need a personal injury lawyer in Fort Worth to help you with your car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian case. For more on this subject please read: Fort Worth motorcycle case resolved for limits of $200,000 Maximum $100,000 recovered in motorcycle case  

Fort Worth Fatal Motorcycle Crash Controversial

A 30-year-old man was riding his bike when he hit another vehicle at an intersection last week. Tragically, Da'Ron Miller was the victim of another fatal motorcycle crash here. We have far too many of these deadly crashes. Sadly, 501 people drivers and passengers lost their lives last year according to statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation. The police found that Mr. Miller was to blame. But according to this article in the Star Telegram, there is a heated dispute about whether another driver was at fault. According to witnesses, Mr. Miller had just left a charity car wash by himself when a woman cut in front of him. The police officers did not interview these people. Based on the woman's account, the police said that Mr. Miller was speeding in a group of cyclists and that the crash was 100% his fault. The investigating officers obviously did not witness the collision (although they were down the street investigating another motorcycle crash). And people sometimes have preconceived ideas about who is at liable, especially when a young man is riding a motorcycle. The police are now saying that they want to talk to these eyewitnesses. A lawsuit for the wrongful death of Mr. Miller will presumably have to be filed to find out what really happened. There was a similar motorcycle crash yesterday in Arlington. A 23-year-old man riding his motorcycle on New York Avenue died after a woman in a SUV suddenly cut in front of him. And on Thursday there was another death arising out of a car accident in Fort Worth that was either caused by road rage or a suicide. Sometimes it is clear who caused a motorcycle, car, or truck collision, but other times it is not. Crashes happen in the blink of an eye. Legal questions about fault, damages, and payment of damages are common.

Few people love freedom more than a motorcycle driver in the Lone Star State. While Texas tends to frown on imposing too many regulations in any field, most will agree that Texas motorcycle laws enhance safety for drivers, passengers, and others on the road.

Texas boasts more motorcycle owners than any other state in the country. This reflects the Lone Star State’s well-known culture emphasizing freedom and rugged individualism. The state’s unique landscapes, wide-open spaces, and huge highway system also attract millions of motorcycling enthusiasts from around the country. Everyone, from both Texas and other states, however, should learn the specific rules governing the use of motorcycles in the state. Since most people have less familiarity with motorcycle rules and regulations than with laws for automobiles, and since laws governing vehicle use vary from state to state, we have produced a handy guide to get you familiar with the rules of the road. This guide covers the most important aspects of motorcycle ownership and operation, but is not a comprehensive list of all laws, rules, and regulations. If you need additional information, make sure to contact the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Required Equipment

First, Texas state law requires that motorcycles all have the equipment listed below in proper working order. All items on the list are essential for the proper and safe operation of the motorcycle and to ensure the safety of others sharing the road with motorcyclists.

  • License Plate Lamp
  • Rear Red Reflector
  • Head Lamp (1) (modulating permitted)
  • Vehicle Identification Number
  • Wheel Assembly
  • Exhaust System
  • Tail Lamp (1)
  • Stop Lamp (1)
  • Horn
  • Mirror
  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Tires
Make sure that all equipment is in good working order between regular inspections. If some items malfunction, such as tail lamps, you can be liable for a fine.

Earning Your Class M License

In Texas, drivers cannot apply for a Class M motorcycle license until they have completed and passed a motorcycle operator training course approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety. This DPS approved map of trainers can let you know if an approved course is taught near you. The basic course covers a wide range of topics pertaining to motorcycle safety, including
  • Tips on the safe riding of a motorcycle
  • What clothing will protect you while riding
  • Avoiding obstacles and other highway hazards
  • How to get out of difficult or life-threatening traffic situations
Besides the basic course, Texas offers an intermediate level, one-day course for those with some experience, but who want to learn more about safety on the roads. To receive a license, the driver must pass a written test on motorcycle operation. A road test may also be required, but can be waived for adults with experience. Minors between 15 and 17 must pass the road test, no exceptions. The road test assesses the driver's skill in controlling the motorcycle, staying in the proper lane, correct use of turn signals, and ability to observe traffic and predict problems

Does Texas Have a Motorcycle Helmet Law?

While Texas does have a law requiring some to wear a helmet, most can escape that mandate by meeting some very modest requirements. To get an exemption from wearing a helmet in Texas, you must be at least 21 years old and also carry proof that you have at least $10,000 in medical insurance. Finally, you must also have passed an approved motorcycle safety course. While the law permits helmetless riding, experts strongly urge that motorcycle drivers and riders wear helmets. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing death and 67 percent effective in preventing brain injury. Most motorcycle fatalities are due to head injury and helmets represent the best way to protect drivers and riders from serious injury. For those mandated to wear helmets, Texas requires that the headgear meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218. Furthermore, experts say that helmets should fit the head snugly, but comfortably and also be properly secured. Cracks or dents can impair the ability of the helmet to protect the head. Also, those with proper protection can prevent eye damage, some sunburn, and hearing loss. Texas law forbids law enforcement from pulling over motorcycles solely to determine if the driver carries proper insurance or has taken the Department of Public Safety approved motorcycle safety course.

Laws Pertaining to Passengers

Motorcyclists cannot carry passengers in Texas unless the vehicle is designed to carry more than one individual. The motorcycle also must have approved footrests and handholds designed to accommodate a passenger. Age limits pertain to passengers on motorcycles as well. Motorcyclists cannot carry passengers under eight years of age and less than four feet nine inches in height. Texas law requires children of this age and size to ride in an approved child safety seat, which motorcycles cannot legally or safely carry. All passengers under the age of 21 must wear a helmet that is legal for the road in Texas, but those over 21 and meeting legal requirements can ride helmet free.

Laws Pertaining to Parking

Because motorcycles in some ways function more like bicycles than automobiles, many people mistakenly believe that their bike’s portability allows them to escape parking laws that govern motor vehicles. Texas has specific laws and regulations pertaining to parking a motorcycle. Failure to adhere to these could result in fines. Most laws pertain to parking a motorcycle in an area marked for disabled drivers or passengers. Texas motorcycle laws prohibit the parking of such vehicles in disabled labeled spaces unless it carries a disabled license plate or a special state-issued removable windshield identification marker. No driver can use the marker unless transporting an officially approved disabled individual. Also, one cannot lend the marker to another even if that person has a disability themselves. Many municipalities have also outlawed standing in a disabled parking area even if the driver does not leave the vehicle. Additionally, drivers may not park their motorcycles in such a way as to block access or curb ramps installed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Motorcycles also should never be parked on sidewalks, even in areas approved for bicycle parking.

Exhaust and Muffler Laws

Most states have laws that govern the function of a motorcycle muffler and also regulate the decibel levels produced. While Texas has no laws governing either mufflers or decibels, drivers should remain aware that when operating their motorcycle in other states, laws and regulations governing noise may apply.

Is Lane Splitting Legal In Texas?

Many states have no laws or regulations prohibiting or governing lane splitting. This describes a situation where two separate motorcycles drive side by side in the same lane. Drivers from both Texas and other states should remain aware that Texas forbids this type of activity. The Texas Transportation Code mandates that those caught lane splitting may find themselves ticketed and liable for a fine. Although a recent study out of California indicated that lane splitting produces some benefits, such as reducing congestion and enhancing safety, Texas still forbids the practice and will ticket and fine those engaging in the practice.

What Equipment Is Checked in a Legal Inspection?

All vehicles registered in the state of Texas, from tractor trailers to motorcycles, must pass an annual safety inspection. This ensures that all vehicles meet minimum safety requirements for operation on the road. Regular inspections help to protect both drivers and other vehicles on the road from accidents caused by malfunctioning equipment. A motorcycle inspection will check the following items to ensure that they meet minimum legal safety requirements under Texas motorcycle laws:
  • Tail Lamp

  • Stop Lamp
  • License Plate Lamp
  • Rear Red Reflector
  • Head Lamp
  • Horn
  • Mirror
  • Steering
  • Brakes (system)
  • Tires
  • Wheel Assembly
  • Exhaust System
  • Motor, Serial, or Vehicle Identification Number.
Once the motorcycle passes state inspection, the owner will receive a certificate to be displayed somewhere near the license plate at the rear of the vehicle. Seventeen counties also require that each vehicle, including motorcycles, pass an emissions test. Motorcycles also must meet other standards under Texas law. Those carrying passengers must be equipped with a saddle that meets state legal requirements. It also must run in such a way so that no more than three wheels are engaged in moving the motorcycle forward. To pass inspection and successfully receive an updated registration, motorcycle owners must carry documentation proving that the vehicle is properly insured. In Texas, liability insurance meets the legal minimum requirement. Owners must carry at least $30,000 to cover the death or bodily injury of one person, $60,000 to cover the death or bodily injury of a second person, and $25,000 to cover any property damage incurred. Owners must also register with their county assessor’s office for personal property tax purposes. The county assessor’s office will provide the owner with the state approved license plate to be displayed on the rear of the vehicle at all times. The license plate must also carry a valid and current registration sticker.

Download Important Instructions and Tips

The Texas Department of Public Safety has produced a lengthy manual of rules, tips, and other important information in their Motorcycle Operators’ Manual. This booklet advises on proper safety equipment, recommended riding apparel, and other tips designed to inform the novice rider on how to stay safe on the road. You can download it here.

When Driving or Riding in Other States

Just as in automobile use, laws governing the operation or parking of a motorcycle might change from state to state. For example, 19 states require all drivers and passengers to wear a helmet at all times. Also, many states allow for lane splitting but some, like Texas, do not. When driving your motorcycle across state lines, it is incumbent upon drivers and passengers to know both the laws of each state and also their rights under the laws. Motorcyclists traveling across state lines should protect themselves and research the law before embarking on the trip. The best resource for motorcyclists who need to learn the vehicle laws governing each state is the American Motorcyclists’ Association.They have a database of all relevant state laws while advocating for motorcycle owners on the state and federal level.

Other Important Legal Information

Motorcyclists should remember that most laws that govern the operation of an automobile also regulate those of a motorcycle. In part to address the soaring number of pedestrian deaths in the state of Texas, cell phones and other handheld devices cannot be used while operating a motorcycle or other vehicle. Despite the passage of an anti-device law last year, distracted driving deaths increased by 20 percent.  As people grow more aware of the law and adjust their behavior to comply with the spirit and the letter of the regulation, hopefully those numbers will drop again. Motorcyclists must also obey laws governing safe movement in traffic. Law enforcement officers will pull over and ticket those who pass vehicles unsafely, violate speed limits, or disobey other rules governing vehicle operation.

Contact Us Today

Laws and regulations governing motorcycle use for drivers and passengers try to strike the balance between ensuring the safety of drivers, passengers, and others on the road while recognizing the unique culture of freedom that the motorcycle has long represented. The state legislature and Department of Public Safety put motorcycle laws and regulations into practice for everyone’s safety, but this does not guarantee that law enforcement officers always enforce the law properly. If you feel that you have been mistreated under the law or have been in an accident where another is at fault and you are owed damages, you should reach out to an experienced lawyer today. Bill Berenson has successfully represented clients in the Fort Worth area for almost four decades, specializing in serving injured victims of truck, 18 wheeler, motorcycle, and pedestrian crashes. Contact the law offices of Bill Berenson today for a free consultation. Call us at 1-888-801-8585.

For more on this topic:

5 Ways to Reduce Motorcycle Accidents  Maximum $100,000 recovered for motorcycle rider

We are pleased to announce that we successfully resolved the claim of an injured young man for the total amount of insurance available of $100,000. Motorcycle cases can be more difficult than those where people are driving cars and trucks. Liability disputes are common. Jurors can hold biases against riders that can make large verdicts unusual, even though injuries can be severe. Both drivers claimed they had the right of way when a light was changing from yellow to red. Worse, three eyewitnesses sided with the car driver and our client was seen riding at a high rate of speed just before the crash on his bright bike. But Brandon was extremely injured and was in a great deal of pain. He had no idea how he could get his medical bills and lost wages paid.

It's April -- time for motorcyclists (and cyclists) to start riding more. But unfortunately serious injuries and deaths in Texas from cycle-vehicle collisions have risen dramatically here. 500 people tragically die on motorcycles every year in Texas. Just last night in Arlington, a motorcyclist was crashed into by an SUV changing lanes on State Highway 287 and tragically lost his life. As a motorcycle accident attorney and advocate for the safety for all all people driving a vehicle, this upsets me. And I went to another funeral of a client hit riding his motorcycle several months ago so thought to write this post to try to prevent another injury or death. Most motorcycle and bicycle crashes are caused by two things:
  • People do not see the cyclist at all -- or until it is too late; and
  • People see the cyclist but fail to yield the right of way, especially in intersections.
To prevent these collisions, here are some suggestions:
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