Successfully Resolving Bicycle Crashes In Dallas-Fort Worth

Our client was seriously injured riding his bicycle in Fort Worth several weeks ago. The police officer was not able to get his side of the story as he lost consciousness and did not awake until he was in the ER where he spent the next four days so the police report blames him.

To combat this error, I had a staff member immediately take our client to the pound so we could secure his bike. I took it to my bike shop and the head mechanic confirmed that my client had been rear ended, not hit as he cut across a busy road as the other driver told the police. I got a written report that the only part of the bike that was damaged was the rear wheel which I emailed to the insurance adjuster with color photos and what the police report should have stated. Today my client gave the driver’s insurance company a statement with my assistance. I am going to file suit if the company does not accept liability by Monday and pay its driver’s entire insurance policy limit.

On a similar note, we were hired today to represent a man who was crossing the street earlier this week when he was run over.

These two cases are reminders of how dangerous North Texas roads are for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists. Last year, 65 people cyclists, 496 motorcyclists, and 678 pedestrians tragically died in collisions with vehicles, up a huge 21% from the previous year. I know this all too well, having represented thousands of injured people including those riding bikes.

I’ve spent more time on my bicycle this year, riding 75 miles on Sunday, and ran on streets for years when I was training to run many marathons.  I ride and used to run on the Trinity Trail and off road as much as possible and encourage others to do so. Here’s a great link to Dallas-Fort Worth trails and roads that cyclists and pedestrians can more safely ride and walk on.

What are the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists and motorcyclists? 

Most cyclists are injured in collisions with cars and trucks but other riders, defective machines, road debris, cracked pavement, and opening doors can also cause injuries.
Common negligent acts by car and truck drivers include
  • failing to maintain proper look-out (as in the above case)
  • turning improperly
  • failing to yield right-of-way
  • crowding the cyclist
  • distracted driving/texting (possibly in this case)
A list of bicycle-specific statutes in Texas is here. Bicycles are defined as vehicles and cyclists have the same rights and duties as other drivers.
Cyclists are not required to ride in bike lanes and can ride in normal lanes as close as possible to the right curb or side of the road if possible. Exceptions are if the cyclist is passing a vehicle, turning left, blocked or restricted on the right/the outside lane is less than 14 feet in width without a special lane.
There is no law that requires the use of helmets, although Fort Worth and other North Texas cities have local ordinances requiring any one under 18 to do so.

As in any personal injury case, the comparative fault rule applies. The negligence of all involved parties is considered. Under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, §33.001, if the cyclist is more than 50% at fault for causing a collision, he or she collects nothing.  If the rider is 50% or less responsible, his recovery of damages is reduced by that percentage. This is why immediate investigation and analysis is critical.

How to recover your damages

These accidents can be extremely serious and cause fractures of bones, closed head injuries, torn muscles and ligaments, scarring, and even deaths. I attended the Ride of Silence in May and it is a sobering event.

If you are injured, try to get photos of the scene, bike and other vehicle(s) and the names and contacts of witnesses. Call the police and make sure he gets all of the facts. Seek medical attention. Document your damages, including lost wages.

Compensation can be paid by various sources, including the at-fault driver’s liability policy, the rider’s personal injury protection benefits, uninsured and under insured motorists, and health insurance. While the value of each case is different, key factors are liability, quality and quantity of medical treatment, severity of injuries, amount of medical expenses and who pays for them, lost wages, venue, insurance company and adjuster, your attorney, and the size of insurance policies. We try to get the bicycle and property damage claim, like cell phones, paid immediately.

If liability is denied, a lawsuit is filed and discovery of critical evidence proceeds. A trial is set and a judge and jury awards damage.A cyclist can try to resolve his own claim but here’s a cautionary tale on another injury law blog about the perils of trying to do this.

My law firm represents only those who are hurt in car, truck and 18 wheeler collisions. For the past 37 years, I’ve also assisted many people injured while riding bicycles and motorcycles in addition to walking or running. My law firm fights to to get injured victims the maximum compensation possible.

I support various safety groups, including BikeDFW and BikeTexas, and am attending tonight’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Commission meeting in Fort Worth.

Please contact me if you have any questions or if I can help you if you have been injured in a collision.

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