Austin Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Experienced Bike-Riding Personal Injury Lawyer for Austin
Austin can be a great place for cycling. But when something goes wrong, you need to speak with someone who understands the complexities involved in bike accident cases. Bicycle accident attorney Bill Shirer has 28 years of trial experience, but he also rides 5,000 miles a year and has been racing since 1987. He understands how to navigate the unique challenges that come about with a typical bike accident case. If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident in Austin, there’s no one better to turn to than the Cyclist at Law: Bill Shirer. Contact him today to learn how he can help you protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
Determining Liability for a Bicycle Accident
Many students learn during driver’s education classes that drivers are responsible for watching out for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. Motor vehicles can cause massive damage to vulnerable individuals who don’t have the added protection of a steel enclosure. Even a minor accident can cause permanent injury or death. However, that doesn’t mean cyclists are never at fault in an accident. Depending on the situation, you can become injured in an accident with an automobile and still end up responsible for damage to the vehicle.
In order to determine liability, the courts will take into account all the factors involved. Every accident is different, and you may need to be able to prove details, such as who had the right of way, how fast you were going, and even what you were wearing. That is why it is so important to preserve evidence as much as possible.
If you were the victim of a vehicle-bicycle accident, Bill Shirer can help you gather evidence and help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other damages.
Cyclist Laws in Austin, TX
Bike laws in Austin come from the Texas state transportation code and the City of Austin code. Cyclists are required to follow the same rules as motorists, unless otherwise directed or in an area designed for bicycles and micromobility. Children under 17 have to wear helmets, and cyclists are allowed to ride on sidewalks when it is safe and prudent to do so. It is prohibited to use a portable electronic device such as a cell phone while operating a bike.
Cyclists must ride with traffic, in the same direction, and use hand signals when changing lanes or turning so motorists know their intentions. Cyclists can ride two abreast but are not allowed to pass other vehicles in the same lane. Affix reflectors in the front and back if you ride at night so you can be sure to be seen by motorists, and for extra safety, get a bike light. If you cause injury to people or property, you are required as a cyclist to follow the same reporting laws as motorists and provide reasonable assistance.
Car Driver’s Rights and Responsibilities to Cyclists
To have the privilege of using public roads, all car drivers have a responsibility for doing everything they can to avoid a collision. That means that they not only have to obey the laws, but must use defensive driving to avoid accidents when necessary. If you can prove that a crash could have been avoided by a driver who failed to take action, you may be able to prove liability in your case.
Motor vehicle drivers are required by law to carry insurance so they can pay for any injuries or damage they cause while operating their vehicles. If drivers only carry the minimum amount required by law, there may not be enough money to pay for all of your damages and injuries. The person whose negligence caused the accident is still responsible for all those other injuries, even if the insurance limits were met.
Cyclists’ Rights and Responsibilities
Of course, cyclists have to follow the rules of the road and stay aware of their surroundings. You should also follow some other simple rules so you can prove that you did everything you could to be safe on the road. Wear reflective clothing and use reflectors and lights on your bike so you are immediately visible and obvious to everyone who encounters you.
Even though it is not required, a cycling helmet can protect you from some very serious head injuries. Don’t use headphones or talk on the phone while riding because listening is crucial to staying safe on the road. Make sure you signal everything you are about to do so that you don’t surprise the other cyclists and motorists. Don’t go excessively fast in areas where traffic is slower because you could cause an accident.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
If you are in an accident while riding your bicycle, call the police and make sure you get a report. Exchange information with the other party, including insurance information if you have it. Get the names of any witnesses, and take pictures if possible.
If you were in an accident with a vehicle, move somewhere safe and call the Austin police department immediately. The officer will make a report and gather much of the evidence you need. If you hit another cyclist, you should exchange information, but if no one is injured, you may not need a report.
Elements of a Bicycle Accident Claim
The legal process can take a long time, especially with civil cases. If you are injured in a bike accident, you may need to file a claim so you can be compensated.
Legal liability has its own definition and requirements. In order for someone to be liable in a civil action, there are four requirements:
- There must be a legal duty to perform in a certain way or use reasonable care. In bike accident cases, that means you have to do more than just be generally careful. As a cyclist, you are responsible for knowing the bike laws and following them. As a bike accident attorney, Bill Shirer can help you find out what laws the other party may have broken that caused the accident.
- The party at fault must have somehow failed in that duty. That can mean failing to follow a public safety law or even just not paying attention. Be careful that you stay aware of everything around you, especially when you are riding in the same place as motor vehicles.
- The person seeking compensation must have suffered some kind of injury or loss. You will need to be able to document the extent of your injuries, so you should seek medical care as soon as possible after the accident.
- The negligent act must be the cause of the injury or loss. That is another reason to seek treatment immediately. You don’t want the other party to be able to claim that your injuries could have been caused by something that happened at a completely different time.
Navigating the civil court system can be tricky if you’re not an experienced attorney. To ensure that you get the compensation you deserve, you need the help of an expert bicycle attorney. Reach out to the Cyclist at Law, Bill Shirer today.
Bicycle Accident Statistics in Austin
There were over 16,000 crashes involving bicycles in Texas between 2010 and 2016. In that number, there were almost 10,000 injuries and 362 fatalities. A quarter of the bicycle accidents involved children under 15, and not wearing a helmet was one of the factors that affected the fatality rate.
High-speed roads are also associated with fatalities, although about two out of three injuries occur on city streets. That is probably more related to the fact that cyclists spend more time on city streets than anywhere else. Intersections are one of the worst areas for accidents, as that is when drivers and cyclists are changing course.
Best Bike Trails in Austin
Austin has plenty of great bike trails, both in the city center and within reach of the suburbs. Some of the best trails include:
- The Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Ride Trail offers an easy to moderate ride in downtown Austin, with 10 miles of beautiful scenery going around Lady Bird Lake.
- The Veloway is a paved track that only allows bicyclists and rollerbladers. Pedestrians are not allowed, and this 3-mile track is located in the southern part of Austin.
- The Barton Creek Greenbelt goes for 7 miles, but there are multiple places to enter and exit the route. This track on the west side is part of the Violet Crown Trail and offers both easy and harder levels.
- Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park is in the north and offers long, winding paths for bikers and joggers but also has picnic tables, barbeque pits, and other sports amenities.
Worst Areas for Bike Riding in Austin
Like most other big cities, Austin can be dangerous for cyclists who share the road with motor vehicles. There are some roads that are definitely more dangerous than others, though. A study found that there were some streets that were far more dangerous than others.
The most dangerous stretch found by the researchers was on Guadalupe Street between West Caesar Chavez Street and North Lamar Boulevard. The study also found that some of the most significant factors that made roads more dangerous for cyclists included narrow shoulders and roads without bike lanes.
How to Avoid a Bike Accident
If you have a choice, it is better to go home safe and uninjured than be correct about the law and report on your injuries in court. Even if you see that another party’s actions are dangerous and may cause an accident, you are still better off doing everything you can to avoid an accident in the first place. Following the laws doesn’t just keep you from getting a ticket, but it can keep you from getting hurt.
Just as motorists practice defensive driving, cyclists can do the same. Ride smart and keep an eye on everyone else. If you see someone stopping at a stop sign, don’t just assume they will follow through. Be patient and wait until you are sure they are stopping and that they have seen you. Any time you are making any sort of transition, such as a turn or lane change, be extra careful. Look all the way around yourself so that you can take note of any motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Stay visible and pay attention to the road. Learning your route before you go somewhere can help make sure your attention is where it needs to be.
Contact the Austin Cyclist at Law
If you or a loved one has been injured in a cycling accident in Austin, you probably have a lot of questions. Cyclist and attorney Bill Shirer understands how difficult it can be to recover from an accident while considering whether you need to file a claim. There are time limits on when you can file a claim, so it is important not to wait. Call Cyclist at Law Bill Shirer today for a free consultation.