Riding a motorcycle offers a high level of enjoyment and freedom. Unfortunately, it also offers a higher rate of serious injury or death in the event of motor vehicle accidents when compared to other types of vehicles. Dallas County motorcycle riders and passengers should always be aware when on the road and also know how to take action if an accident should occur.
Texas helmet laws
Prior to 1997, Texas required that all people on a motorcycle wear helmets. Today, the law requires only that people under the age of 21 must wear helmets. Additionally, the law stipulates that all riders must carry valid health insurance and/or have completed a motorcycle safety course otherwise a helmet is required.
This law is referred to as a "secondary law" which means that an officer cannot pull a motorcyclist over simply to verify that they have health insurance or have completed a safety course but that they can request such proof if stopped for another reason first.
Let the numbers tell the story
Texas Department of Transportation statistics point to the vulnerability of bikers and the need for them to be able to be properly compensated if injured by another driver's actions. In 2012, almost 14 percent of the state's 3,399 motor vehicle fatalities were motorcyclists.
More detailed 2012 state data indicated the following breakdown:
- There were 10,391 motorcycle accidents
- 59 percent of those accidents resulted in serious injury to one or more persons
- 4.5 percent of those accidents resulted in death of at least one person
- More than 52 percent of those killed were not wearing helmets
With numbers like these, all people riding a motorcycle should be aware of their rights when involved in an accident.
Important steps in the event of an accident
First and foremost, any obvious injuries must be tended to. After that, it is important to gather all necessary data from any other drivers involved. If it is safe to do so, take pictures of the accident scene as these can provide valuable evidence later on.
Even if an accident does not appear to have resulted in serious injury, it is worth reporting as sometimes injuries do not always manifest immediately. With the decreased protection that motorcyclists have, especially if not wearing a helmet, the risk of symptoms showing up later on is real.
Additionally, seeking legal counsel is always advised and may be very helpful. An experienced attorney will understand the nuances that abound in motorcycle accidents and any resulting claims that may be filed.