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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
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Was in motorcycle accident couple days ago. Riding with friends

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Was in motorcycle accident couple days ago. Riding with friends on country roads, in a single file line, well spaced apart. I had to hit the brake fast to avoid deer. My friend behind me didn't stop as fast and hit my bike hard. We both fell off bikes. I rolled for a while on street, and am miraculously fine (wearing top notch protective body armor). Got up to check friend, sadly he was unconscious laying in road. Both bikes are a mess. He came alert in a couple minutes and was life flighted to hospital. At hospital he had brain hemorrhage (not wearing great protective gear). He's in ICU, in bad shape but is able to understand questions and give short answers. He could still die.

Am I liable in any way for him rear-ending me? (My brake light works fine)
Hello there:

Thank you for your question. I am terribly sorry for this situation that you are in, but I hope that I can explain the law in a way that is helpful. Liability does not arise in an auto accident (including motorcycle accident) case in Texas unless someone is at fault--that is, unless someone breached a duty, and that breach of duty foreseeably caused the resulting damages. In other words, no one is liable in an accident simply because something bad happened--someone had to have been at fault. Furthermore, in Texas, the law recognizes that more than one person can contribute to an accident, and a party can only be liable if they are at least 51% responsible.

The fact is that sometimes conditions arise on the road that are beyond our control. Perhaps another driver going in the opposite direction swerves into your lane, necessitating immediate reaction. Perhaps it's something like a deer running out into the road without warning. Perhaps it's something else that simply can't be anticipated, even by a prudent driver. Things sometimes happen that require us to slam on our brakes. However, it is for that reason that we have a duty to maintain a safe distance between us and the vehicles in front of us. You know your situation best--you know if you something out of the ordinary that would endanger the drivers behind you, but it's not at all clear to me that you would be more responsible for the accident than your friend who was apparently following you too close to avoid the accident. I hope that it does not come across as insensitive when I say this, so please understand that my intention is not to offend but to inform--but the fact is that your friend may actually be legally liable to you for your damages instead of the other way around. You know how you feel about the whole situation, but if you feel it is appropriate, you may want to consider speaking with a personal injury attorney about getting compensated by your friend and/or his insurance company.


Let me know if further clarification is needed. Thanks.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Good info. Thanks. Further details and questions now -- please also review and reply asap.


 


There were 5 of us total, all in said single file line. 1st guy in line didn't see deer. 2nd guy saw deer, hit brakes, he's fine never fell. 3rd guy is my 21 year old SON who also hit brakes, didn't stop in time, dented (minor) 2nd guy back fender and then my son fell off bike at low speed. He's fine -- sore foot. 4th guy is me and I'm fine (bike is a mess). 5th guy is in ICU as explained first time we wrote.


 


HERES THE QUESTIONS:


1) My son , #3 in line, does not yet have his motorcycle license. How much difficulty will he be in? (Note: he was riding my 2nd bike and the bike is insured).


2) Police asked for everyone's license but mine. Returned all licenses quickly. HE DID NOT GIVE OUT TICKETS nor did he say anything about 'fault'. He was mainly there to help EMS and clear the road. Question on this one is -- how likely is it he will issue citations or similar??


3) My friends this morning were acting oddly (they all came to stay at my country home for weekend). Should I retain a lawyer and if so for what main legal risk?

1) My son , #3 in line, does not yet have his motorcycle license. How much difficulty will he be in? (Note: he was riding my 2nd bike and the bike is insured).

 

A. He is liable for any damages foresee ably caused by his negligence (just like everyone else) and he may yet be ticketed for driving without a license.


2) Police asked for everyone's license but mine. Returned all licenses quickly. HE DID NOT GIVE OUT TICKETS nor did he say anything about 'fault'. He was mainly there to help EMS and clear the road. Question on this one is -- how likely is it he will issue citations or similar??

 

A. You would normally get a ticket the day of the accident if you were going to get one at all. That said, there's no reason that any responsible party still couldn't get ticketed.


3) My friends this morning were acting oddly (they all came to stay at my country home for weekend). Should I retain a lawyer and if so for what main legal risk?

 

A. There is no way that I can assess your need for an attorney based on the odd behavior of your friends--if you think about it, I'm sure that you will agree that is just not a fair question. That said, there's little harm in consulting with an attorney at this time. If you contact your county's bar association, they can make a low-cost referral. For now, just speak with an attorney so if your situation changes, you will have an attorney who is up-to-date on your situation and ready to act.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Good, clear and straight forward. Apology for unfair question -- I would never mark your feedback lower because of my own bad question.


 


LAST QUESTION:


 


Both my bikes are insured, and damaged. I am FINISHED with motorcycles and intend to just sell them damaged. I don't intend to file insurance claim -- going to just sell the 'scrap' to get it over with fast.


 


1) Is it a bad idea and/or legally risky to not file with my insurance company?


2) The ELEPHANT in everyone's mind, I am pretty sure, is this: If my friend Al dies, would his widow have credible grounds to sue any one of us, and if so, what grounds and against which one of us?


 


I realize both these questions are semi unfair as they are pretty open ended. Do your best and I will be satisfied with best efforts. Thanks

No apology needed--people don't always understand why I can't answer their question, so if you understand the situation, that is all I need. I don't expect you to know what I don't know :-)

1. Normally, the only risk of not filing an insurance claim is not getting reimbursed by your insurance.

2. Well, again, there must be at least 51% responsibility in order for someone to be successfully sued. So how would you or anyone else be more than 50% responsible for what happened to Al? Wouldn't Al be the one primarily responsible for his own damages? Out of all of you, wasn't Al the one who was in the best position to prevent his injuries? You haven't given me any particular reason to believe that you or anyone other than Al is legally vulnerable.
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