Q: What kind of compensation should I expect for my injuries after a car crashed into my bike? Do traffic laws favor bicyclists or drivers?
Every year hundreds of bicyclists across the nation are killed in traffic accidents while thousands more are injured. Texas alone suffers approximately 50 bike fatalities annually—the second highest number of all 50 states (only Florida has more fatal bike crashes).
But why? Bike riding is supposed to be a leisurely activity that provides exercise and fresh air, not a risk for injury and death. So what is it about riding a bike on Texas streets (or any street, for that matter) that has turned a serene hobby into an alarming traffic statistic?
After the 2013 DWI hit-and-run death of 24-year old bicyclist Chelsea Norman, Houston residents have begun asking themselves the same thing. Serious concern began to rise to the surface when Norman’s assailant, who was found to have been drinking and driving at the time of the accident, was charged with a single felony charge of failing to administer help to Norman after she hit her; no other charges were filed. This created an uproar with Houston residents, as it not only shined a light on the laws that are supposed to protect bicyclists but also highlighted the risks bicyclists can expect even when following traffic rules.
Some questions and concerns voiced over the matter of bike safety are as follows:
- Shouldn’t drivers who hit, injure, or kill a bicyclist be charged with more than just negligence? If so, why aren’t they?
- Shouldn’t drivers be subject to penalties for failing to comply with the city’s safe passing ordinance?
- Shouldn’t these accidents warrant a push for greater bike safety and awareness among drivers and cyclists?
- Shouldn’t attention be called to the obvious deficiencies of the city's bike lanes, including faded painted lines and poorly designed lanes that are much too narrow for safety’s sake?
And perhaps the most important question…
- Why aren’t bicyclists treated the same as motorists?
Too often, drivers receive the minimum penalty for injuring bicyclists while bicyclists are continually asked to behave more like motorists.
The Silver Lining in a Biased Cloud
Accidents involving cars or bicycles can sometimes seem like apples and oranges. In addition to drivers having more physical protection during an accident, most drivers will have insurance coverage for injuries and damages they cause and receive. Bicyclists, on the other hand, are more likely to obtain severe (if not fatal) injuries during an accident and typically will not carry bike insurance. As a result, they’re forced to rely on their own health insurance should they be injured while riding.
The good news for cyclists, however, is that they are often on the receiving end of much higher compensation packages due to the severity of the injuries often incurred at the hands of drivers. As a cyclist injured by a negligent driver, you are eligible to receive compensation for all of the following:
- Medical bills and expenses. Surgeries, physical therapy, and medicine that you require as a result of your accident are all recoverable if you were injured by a careless driver.
- Wages lost due to injuries. Serious injuries do not simply heal over the weekend. You may have to take a significant amount of time off of work while you recover, and the wages you lose during this recovery process may be recoverable.
- Pain and suffering. Not everything you suffer as the result of a collision can be measured with an invoice. The pain and everyday struggles you face can take an emotional and mental toll, and as such, you may be able to receive compensation.
- Property damage. While property damage usually takes a backseat to your physical recovery, you can also get compensation for any property damage your bike received as a result of the accident.
To ensure all of your rights and recovery options are skillfully addressed, it’s highly advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced car accident attorney such as Steve Lee. With over 35 years’ worth of experience, we can help you work toward a settlement that your recovery is depending on. For help in reviewing your case, contact us today at 713-921-4171 or 1-800-232-3711.