Negligence in McKinney Bicycle Accident Cases
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you deserve to focus on recovery instead of worrying about bills and insurance companies. Cycling accident cases can be complex and difficult to navigate, but an experienced attorney could help fight for you. A lawyer who understands the role of negligence in McKinney bicycle accident cases could help manage your case and fight for a favorable outcome.
Contributory negligence in McKinney
In McKinney and throughout the entire state of Texas, there is a modified comparative negligence standard. A strict comparative negligence standard would hold that if a person is partially responsible for their own injury, the amount they can recover is reduced by the amount of their responsibility. For instance, if a jury finds that a person is 20 percent responsible for their own injury, the most they can recover from the person who otherwise was responsible for the accident is 80 percent of the cost of the injuries.
The Texas comparative negligence standard is modified, however, so that if a person is more than 50 percent responsible for their own injury they can recover nothing. That is called the 51 Percent Bar Rule and is found in Chapter 33 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
It is a rule that has to be considered particularly in bicycle accident cases and other wrecks in which people very often assign some responsibility to the plaintiff, the injured party. One must determine whether an offer of compensation is good and what the chances are for recovery based on the potential that the injured person could be assigned percentage of blame by the jury.
How Negligence is Calculated
In a comparative negligence case, negligence is calculated simply by multiplying the percent of responsibility of each party with the total damages the jury comes up with. For example, if the jury finds that a person has $100,000 worth of damages and that the injured party is 20 percent responsible, that reduces the recovery by 20 percent, leaving the maximum amount to be recovered from all defendants at $80,000.
Under the Texas modified rule, the determination would be based on the 51 percent Bar Rule, which holds that if an injured party is more than half at fault, they get nothing. Another factor that sometimes comes into play is a multiple-defendant case. Texas law has joint and several liability if a defendant is more than 50 percent at fault. That means that one defendant can be held responsible for all of the damages even if another defendant is partially responsible for the injury. That occurs when one defendant is more than 50 percent at fault. For example, a bicyclist is injured by two people deemed to be negligent. One driver may have cut off another and the other driver overreacted and struck the bicycle, causing injuries.
When more than one defendant is at fault, the jury assigns fault to each. Say the jury assigns 60 percent fault to one defendant and 40 percent to the other, and there are $100,000 in damages. The defendant who is 40 percent would normally pay $40,000 of the damages and the other defendant $60,000. However, if the defendant who is 40 percent at fault cannot pay, then the defendant that is 60 percent at fault would have to pay the entire judgment and then sue the 40 percent responsible defendant for his percentage of responsibility. Joint and several liability allows an injured person to be made whole from the person or company primarily at fault for the injury if that person or company is more than 50% responsible for the injury regardless of the ability of other responsible persons or entities to pay a judgment. A lawyer who understands the role of negligence in McKinney bicycle accident cases can explain these laws during a consultation.
Helmets in Contributory Negligence Cases
The lack of wearing a helmet or taking safety precautions can play into a comparative negligence case in states that require them. Often, juries in those states will assign responsibility to the plaintiff. In Texas, however, helmets and other gear are not required, so it is a matter of which judge handles the case; some will allow it, others will not.
A judge may decide that whether the injured bicyclist was wearing a helmet has nothing to do with the cause of a wreck between the bicycle and a car. Another judge will assign causation to the lack of a helmet because it contributed to the amount of injury the bicyclist suffered. That is still an unsettled issue in Texas law.
When there is negligence in McKinney bicycle accident cases, the complexities of Texas law may become difficult to understand. An experienced bicycle accident attorney could help give you peace of mind.