Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in El Paso, TX
El Paso and West Texas provide no shortage of beautiful backdrops for motorcyclists to enjoy, from Big Bend National Park Loop to Mount Livermore Loop to Carlsbad Caverns National Park to White Sands National Park to Guadalupe Peak to Scenic Drive running along the Franklin Mountains. Despite the scenic surroundings, people of all ages can suffer injuries in motorcycle accidents all over West Texas, and it becomes urgent for victims to seek the help of an El Paso motorcycle accident lawyer.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports that 521 motorcyclists (including both motorcycle operators and their passengers) were killed last year, with 45 percent of the motorcyclists not wearing helmets at the times of their crashes. According to TxDOT, motorcycle accidents also included 2,275 suspected serious injury crashes, 2,821 suspected minor injury crashes, 1,435 possible injury crashes, 128 unknown injury crashes, and 8,322 total crashes.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists often feel that other drivers or parties are liable for causing their accidents, but insurance companies frequently try to find reasons to blame motorcyclists for causing their own injuries. The uphill fight you will have with an insurer represents one of the major reasons you should invest in retaining legal counsel.
The truth is that any one of several possible explanations can exist for why a motorcycle accident occurred.
Some of the most common reasons include:
- Driver Fatigue — When another driver is operating on a lack of sleep or simply feeling exhausted, there is an increased risk of that motorist dozing off or even falling asleep behind the wheel. Drivers in such cases can easily drift into other lanes and collide with motorcycles.
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) — Any motorist in Texas who operates a motor vehicle while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol can face criminal charges for causing a collision with a motorcycle. When a person commits a DWI and causes a traffic accident resulting in serious bodily injury, they can face third-degree felony intoxication assault charges. When a DWI offense causes the death of a motorcyclist, then the negligent driver can be charged with second-degree felony intoxication manslaughter charges.
- Distracted Driving — Distractions come in many forms, with cell phones often being the most common kind of distraction for most drivers because many people simply cannot resist checking their phones while they are behind the wheel. When another driver was texting, talking, or using social media while behind the wheel, an attorney will know how to seize the phone records that can prove a driver was distracted.
- Reckless or Aggressive Driving — Texas Transportation Code § 545.401 defines reckless driving as driving a vehicle in wilful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. The Texas Department of Insurance states that aggressive driving is any unsafe behavior a person performs purposely with ill intent or disregard for the safety of others that puts other drivers or property at risk. TxDOT notes that aggressive driving violations can result in fines of up to $200 for each offense.
- Speeding — Any other driver who is operating in excess of posted speed limits is placing all other people on the road at risk because a speeding driver cannot come to a complete stop as quickly as somebody operating at a lawful speed. Many motorcycle accidents involve other drivers who were speeding at the time of collisions.
- Running Stop Signs or Stop Lights — All drivers are expected to stop for stop signs or red lights, but inattentive or possibly speeding drivers may go through these intersections without stopping. The obvious risk of doing this is colliding with passing motorcyclists at such intersections, and such collisions can often cause catastrophic injuries.
El Paso Motorcycle Accidents Other Common Reasons
- Improper Lane Changes or Turns — Motorcycles are much smaller than most passenger vehicles, so it is easy for drivers of passenger vehicles to not see motorcyclists while attempting lane changes or performing certain turns. Motorcyclists can be powerless to avoid collisions in such instances.
- Failure to Yield Right of Way — Another type of intersection accident involves other drivers not yielding the right of way to motorcyclists, and this is a particularly common kind of crash because other drivers seem to have a poor understanding of motorcyclist intentions.
- Motorcycle Defects — There may be cases in which motorcycle accidents stem from something being wrong with a motorcycle itself. While another driver is not liable for damages in such cases, a parts manufacturer, mechanic, or another party could be responsible for your injuries.
- Tailgating — Drivers who follow motorcycles too closely are at a far greater risk of causing rear-end accidents. These types of collisions are especially risky for motorcyclists because rear-end collisions often have the potential to throw motorcyclists several feet from their bikes and also risk them striking other objects.
- Inclement Weather Conditions — Not all motorists take proper precautions when the weather is bad, and drivers who operate unsafely in rain or other kinds of poor weather can be at risk of causing collisions.
- Potholes or Other Dangerous Road Conditions — Another kind of accident that may not involve the negligence of another motorist relates to certain kinds of dangerous roads. Local or state government agencies responsible for caring for these roads could be accountable if they did not perform necessary repairs or at least warn road users about hazardous conditions.
Types of Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcyclists are often far more exposed to severe injuries than occupants of passenger vehicles because they do not enjoy many of the same forms of protection inherent to passenger vehicles. For example, there are no airbags on a motorcycle.
Motorcyclists can often be thrown from their bikes in collisions, and such incidents significantly worsen the extent of injuries because motorcyclists could strike or land on other objects, which makes injuries even worse. All motorcyclists have to be sure to quickly obtain medical attention after any accident so they can be sure to get a proper medical record connecting any injuries to the time of an accident.
Some of the injuries motorcyclists might suffer:
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Closed head injuries
- Skull fractures
- Fractures or broken bones
- Sprains and strains
- Herniated discs
- Joint damage
- Permanent nerve injuries
- Back injuries
- Knee injuries
- Leg injuries
- Neck injuries
- Arm injuries
- Internal injuries
- Burn injuries
Unfortunately, motorcyclists are also much more susceptible to sustaining injuries that end up being fatal. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.004, wrongful death claims are exclusively for the benefit of surviving spouses, children, and parents of a deceased person, although an executor or administrator of an estate may bring an action if none of the aforementioned people begin an action within three months of death and have no objections to the other parties bringing a claim.
Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases
Motorcycle accidents usually have the potential to result in victims being able to obtain damages, and damages are usually either economic or non-economic in nature. Economic damages are real financial losses that people can prove, while non-economic damages refer to non-pecuniary losses that are types of physical or mental harm.
Economic damages often include:
- Lost Wages
- Property Damage
- Medical Bills
- Rehabilitation Expenses
- Physical Therapy Costs
- Costs of Long-Term Care
Non-economic damages could include:
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Emotional Distress
- Mental Anguish
- Pain and Suffering
- Physical Limitations
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code
Another less common kind of damage is punitive damages. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code refers to punitive damages as exemplary damages and states that awards for such damages are only for penalties or punishments and are not for compensatory purposes.
Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.003, exemplary damage awards are only possible when clear and convincing evidence proves that harm was the result of fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.008 also provides that exemplary damages cannot be more than the greater of two times the economic damages plus an amount equal to any non-economic damages up to $750,000 or $200,000.
While punitive damages are not particularly common in motorcycle accident cases, most damages are not that common either because most insurance companies are going to try to settle cases rather than going to trial because trials can be prohibitively expensive. While insurers try to settle cases for much less than what victims are entitled to early on, they can become more willing to pay an appropriate amount when an attorney is handling the negotiations.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with an El Paso Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Did you or your loved one sustain severe injuries in a motorcycle accident in the greater El Paso area? Do not wait another moment to contact Cesar Ornelas Injury Law so you can have us take the important first steps in ensuring that you are able to recover every single dollar that is available to you.
Our firm not only has a location in El Paso but also serves Midland, Dallas, and Laredo in Texas, as well as Carlsbad and Hobbs in New Mexico. You may call us at (888) 237-2794 or (210) 405-6503 or contact us online to receive a free consultation so we can sit down with you and really go over all of the details of your case and gain a full understanding about exactly what you are now dealing with.