Texas Motorcycle Accident Law – An Overview
Motorcycle accident are handled differently than car accidents. The same laws apply to both kinds of accidents, but everything else is different. Many lawyers mistakenly believe that motorcycles accidents should be approached the same way they would handle a car accident, and they’re wrong.
In this article, we’re going to explain the details of motorcycle accident cases from start to finish, and we’re going to explain the way that experienced attorneys handle these cases.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- How are motorcycle accidents different than car accidents?
- Why do many people dislike motorcyclists?
- Do insurance carriers take advantage of motorcycle claims?
Compensation you can recover in a motorcycle accident:
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you probably want to know how to recover your losses. You have medical bills, lost wages, damage to your vehicle, etc. There are several different kinds of compensation you can recover through your accident claim.
When you win your motorcycle accident case, you can recover:
- Money to cover property damage – repair or replace your motorcycle
- Money to cover medical bills, past and future
- Money for lost wages, past and future
- Money for pain and suffering
- Other compensation unique to your circumstances
Learn more about compensation available by reading the following:
- Compensation available in a Texas motorcycle accident case
- Overview of insurance available for motorcycle claims
- Filing an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim
There are 4 Ways that Motorcycle Cases Differ From Car Accident Cases
Motorcycle accident cases are distinct from car accident cases in several important ways:
1. Jury Bias
People’s perception of motorcyclists is the main thing that separates motorcycle accident cases from car accident cases. When it comes down to it, you file the same type of insurance claim, you file more or less the same type of lawsuit, and the laws which govern the case are one and the same. But because juries ultimately decide what your case is worth, and since juries are drawn from the same pool of people that harbor stereotypes about motorcyclists, that bias is the whole ballgame.
Think of it this way. What comes to mind when you hear the word “lawyer?” Chances are that it’s nothing pleasant. Is that because all lawyers are really bad people? Of course not. It’s because the stereotype is so prevalent. The same thing is true of motorcyclists. The bad apples are the first thing that come to mind when people think of motorcyclists.
In order to win a case in a court where jury bias is omnipresent, you’ll need a good strategy. If your lawyer goes up there and just talks about the facts of the case, you’ll never overcome the bias. The approach that your lawyer should take is:
- Make sure the jury gets to know you
- Make sure the jury gets to know your family
- Make sure that the non motorcycle related elements of your life are highlighted
- And, most importantly, your experience and safe track record need to be front and center throughout the trial
Rest assured, in the minds of the the jury, you are on an equal footing with the person you’re suing. Your lawyer needs to get you there, and then try the rest of the case.
2. Evidence Bias
Jury bias is tricky to deal with as is, but perhaps a bigger problem is that many of the police officers who investigate motorcycle accidents will conduct their investigation under some of the same preconceptions. This is fairly straightforward; there’s nothing you can do to stop this. It is what it is.
However, your lawyer can and should do an investigation of his own, completely separate from the investigation done by the police, to see to it that you get accurate evidence that you can use. Further, we’re not suggesting that all cops do this. But we definitely have run into evidence bias before in motorcycle cases. For instance, we represented a motorcyclist who was sideswiped by a cab that cut across three lanes of traffic, resulting in major injuries, and in that case, our client was rushed to the hospital, leaving him no time to explain his side of the story to the investigating officers.
So rather than go to the hospital and get his statement at a later time, the investigating officer just took the cab driver’s statement and built an inaccurate police report entirely around that statement. We eventually were able to win our client’s case, but only after we tracked down several non-biased eye witnesses who could tell what truly happened. Evidence matters, so make sure that you have an attorney who knows how to find fair evidence and get it into the courtroom for the jury to see.
3. Damages and Losses are Considerably Different
Car accidents can be catastrophic; motorcycle cases are almost always very bad. For all the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this article, motorcyclists have virtually no protection from impact forces, meaning that these cases often involve major injuries.
Obviously, major injuries mean major medical bills and significant lost wages, which results in high-dollar legal disputes… and therein lies the problem. Injury cases that are pursued to obtain relatively low value compensation are met with little opposition. If your case is worth $5,000 dollars and an insurance policy is worth $30k, the insurance adjuster isn’t going to fight you too hard. But when you consider that most motorcycle accident victims have tens of thousands of dollar of medical bills alone, you can see why the insurance adjuster is willing to put up a fight.
There are many wrong ways to address the insurance claims process, but the best way to do it is for your attorney to file a Stowers Demand against the carrier, which means that he must have all of the details sorted before ever submitting a demand at all. When done correctly (and when appropriate), a Stowers Demand can be a powerful tool for your lawyer to use on your behalf.
4. Defense Strategy is Different
As we mentioned, your lawyer needs to take a different approach to winning your motorcycle accident case. Likewise, the defense lawyer (the attorney who represents the person you’re suing) will also take a different approach. Naturally, the defense lawyer will attempt to play to the jury’s bias, as your would expect, but there are a couple of novel approaches that we’ve seen them use in these cases before:
- They Can argue “assumption of risk”
- In a nutshell, they will try to convince the jury that you willfully engaged in a known dangerous activity and should therefore be judged by a different standard than a normal motorist. That’s when we come in and remind the jury that the only thing really inherently dangerous about riding a motorcycle is negligent motorists, like the defendant you’re suing.
- They can argue that your special license imposes a special duty
- Everyone is held to some type of legal responsibility or another. Even if you were to do nothing but sit at home all day, you still bear responsibility for making sure that your house is in good enough shape that it won’t hurt your visitors or that branches from your trees won’t fall onto passersby. But when we go out into the world, our legal responsibilities increase. By driving a car, performing professional services, or walking our dogs, we incur additional responsibilities. But there are certain individuals who have an abnormal degree of responsibility: those who have special licenses. For instance, if you carry a gun and have a CHL, Texas law imposes special responsibilities onto you. The same thing applies to professional licenses, such as law licenses, liquor licenses, and daycare licenses. But does the same thing hold true for those with motorcycle licenses? Many defense lawyers think the answer is yes. We have heard these attorneys argue that since you, as a motorcyclist, have a special license, you should be held to a higher standard, a standard that includes you always being responsible for avoiding “normal” vehicles. We think this is an absurd notion, and we welcome the opportunity to argue against it every time that it comes up.
Call Grossman Law Offices
As you can see, motorcycle accident victims have their work cut out for them, but we’re always up for the challenge. We believe that motorcyclists deserve to be treated under the law the same as anyone else, and our 25 years of representing motorcycle accident clients stands as the ultimate testament to that conviction. If you have any questions about your rights, or if you’re ready to talk to an experienced lawyer to develop a strategy to help with your particular case, call us any time, day or night (855) 326-0000.
Read our other articles concerning motorcycle accidents: