Bicycles and cars sharing the road
According to KETK NBC, on a Monday night at 7:00 p.m. a bicycle ridden by a 53-year-old male collided with a vehicle at an intersection in Longview. Witnesses say the cyclist had pulled out from a side street directly into the path of the oncoming vehicle. The cyclist died from his injuries. Not long before, the Cleburne Times Review reported an incident where a high school junior in Joshua was travelling westbound on Cooper Lane and was struck in the intersection as he attempted to cross South Broadway. Unfortunately, despite airlift efforts, the young man also died. This was the third such accident in Joshua in a matter of months.
According to pedbikeinfo.org, 618 people lost their lives in 2010 due to vehicle/bicycle accidents and 52,000 people were injured. 43 of those deaths were in Texas. The injury figures are likely understated as research of hospital recodes reveals that probably only 10 percent of crashes involving injuries to cyclists are ever reported to the police.
Generally, under Texas law, bicyclists are entitled to the same rights as those that apply to motor vehicles; conversely, cyclist are obligated to follow those same rules. Some rules, however, are specific to cyclists. When a person is operating a bicycle on a road and is moving slower than the traffic flow, the cyclists must ride as near as practicable to the right edge or curb. It is not considered practicable if there is a condition of the road, such as a parked car or a surface hazard (for example, a pot hole) that would prevent the cyclist from riding safely next to the edge of the road. While there are limitations on when a motor vehicle can use the unimproved shoulder on a road, bicycle use is not limited. A cyclist must also use hand signals to signal if they are going to stop, turn left, or turn right and the bicycle itself must have brakes capable of making a wheel skid on level, clean, dry pavement.
When a bicycle and motor vehicle collide, it is almost always the result of someone’s negligence-sometimes the driver, sometimes the cyclist, and sometimes both are negligent, as where a cyclist may not be riding to the far right of a roadway, but the car colliding is being driven recklessly. In instances where both may be negligent, the question arises as to whether the negligence of an injured cyclist prevents him or her from recovering from a negligent driver?
In some states, the law of contributory negligence holds that if an injured party is found to be even remotely responsible, then that party is barred from recovering damages-even from a negligent defendant. Texas, however, the law of modified comparative negligence is applied-otherwise known as the 51 percent rule. If the fault of an injured party is found to be more than 50 percent, then he or she recovers nothing. If the fault is found to be less that 50 percent, the trier of fact must determine what that percentage is and the total judgment a plaintiff is entitled to recover is reduced by that amount.
Whenever anyone is injured in a bicycle/motor vehicle collision, it is important to seek the immediate advice of an experienced Texas personal injury attorney.