We apply a different method to how we handle cases since we know the importance of cycling and how terrible it can be to be hit and eventually lose the capability and desire to ride. Our aim is to be friendly and legal advocates and we try our best to help clients start riding within no time.
At Calvin Smith Law, after getting a case on our desks, our personal injury lawyers work arm in arm with the authorities to establish the facts and liability. From here, we take you through the right medical treatment and billing procedures, talk with your insurance firm and if the situation calls for it, we file a lawsuit and represent you in court. Call an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer today
Table of Contents
What Causes Most Bicycle Accidents in Atlanta?
The law protects bicycle riders in Georgia. Motorists are required to keep a minimum distance of three feet when going past a bicycle. Aside from that, cars should give way to bicycles in their lane. A bicycle accident that happens due to the driver going past the bicycle at a distance that is less than the specified or where they failed to give way will directly make the driver liable. In Atlanta, some of the common causes of bike accidents are;
- Cars being driven in dedicated bike lanes
- Drivers failing to see bikes
- Failing to give in to bike riders
- People opening car doors when a rider is passing
- Driving under the influence
Riders or passengers on bikes who are older than sixteen years are not required to put on helmets in Atlanta. While it might not be a necessity for adults, putting one on when riding on the major roads, sidewalks or places where there are cars can keep you from aggravating serious injuries in the event of a collision or fall. People on bikes are susceptible to serious injuries in accidents since they do not have much protection around them.
What Are Typical Bike Accident Injuries?
When riding a bike alongside motor vehicles, you can easily get seriously injured. While other cars on the road are required to keep distance and drive safely according to the statutes, this will not always happen. Some liable drivers can easily say that that they did not see you before or they could do very little to avoid the collision.
Notwithstanding the reason, a bike accident leads to severe bodily injuries. A few of the common injuries that can happen due to a collision between a biker and motor vehicle include;
- Severe brain damage
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Injuries on soft tissue
- Spinal damage
- Muscle strains
In most cases, injuries suffered by an individual who is riding a bike are often severe or catastrophic. While wearing a helmet can save lives, riders do not have any other form of protection. This way, the impact of the crash can be significant.
Impact of Georgia Law on Dooring Accidents
The law states that drivers need to be careful before opening a vehicle’s door in traffic. Particularly, the Georgia code section 40-6-243 indicates:
No one should open the door of a car on the side used by passing traffic unless it is very safe to do so and can be done without getting in the way of the other traffic, nor should any individual leave a door open on the side of a car that is being used by passing traffic for a time frame longer than what is required to let in or let out passengers.
In a personal injury case presented by a biker who got injured after a dooring accident, the cyclist will be required to ascertain that the motorist behaved unreasonably or was negligent by opening the door into traffic. If the driver was seen by the police for going against the mentioned code, this citation can be presented to the jury as evidence to prove the motorist’s negligence. A citation is not always necessary as a seasoned bicycle accident lawyer can establish other methods to ascertain the defendant’s driver is liable for the injuries to the victim.
Statistics About Bicycle Accidents
In the course of a year, bike wrongful deaths made up for two percent of all traffic accidents and bikers constituted for two percent of all individuals injured in car accidents. Back in 2002, a total of 662 cyclists passed away in bike accidents and 48,000 were injured in these accidents. Over the course of that year, riders made up for twelve percent of all nonmotorist traffic deaths. Over 47,00 cyclists have passed away in car accidents in the United States from 1932. These figures are derived from the National Center of Statistics and Analysis
What Causes Blind Spot Bike Accidents?
The official definition of a blind spot is an area around a car that cannot be seen by the driver in any way. A direct view exists when the driver can see a specific area using one of the car’s windows and an indirect view is when they can see it through mirrors and cameras. For the other areas, where the view might be obstructed by the body of the car, seat rests and passengers in the car, drivers should always turn and check for any obstacles before turning. This way, some of the common causes of blind spot cycling accidents include;
- Drivers not looking at their blind spots before changing lanes or turning
- Drivers not adjusting their mirrors properly
- Driving while engaging in other activities that distract them such as texting, talking on the phone or eating.
- Over speeding and driving aggressively
In a scenario where a driver needs to go to the right and an oncoming biker wants to keep going straight, the biker has the right of way. Sadly, while drivers understand that cyclists have the right of way, they end up seeing them too late or do not see them at all. Accidents where cars try to turn right and bikers keep on going ahead are prevalent and can lead to serious injuries to the bicyclist.
What Steps Should I Take After a Bike Accident?
The measures you take after being involved in a bike accident can be critical to your case. If you are involved in a crash, remember these tips;
- Do not go away from the scene until you talk to the authorities even if you are not sure whether you are injured. In most cases, victims start feeling the pain after a few hours or days of the accident happening.
- Avoid negotiations with the car driver Some of them can admit liability only to retract later on when they talk to their insurance firm. It is advisable to keep hold until the police record the incident.
- Get all the contact information you need from any witnesses.
- Capture pictures of the scene, your bicycle, the car and any injuries you suffered.
Can Bikes Ride on the Sidewalks in Georgia?
Bikes should not be ridden on sidewalks as the law states that they need to ride in the street. This statute applies if there is a dedicated bike lane or not. Some authorities have exceptions for young bikers. For example, in Atlanta, kids who are below 12 years are allowed to ride on the sidewalk.
Can Bicycles Ride on the Shoulder?
Bikers are permitted to ride on a paved shoulder, but this is not absolute and can safely ride in a traffic lane even if there is a paved shoulder.
Which Direction Should Bikers Ride?
Bikes should go in the direction traffic is going. In a nutshell, they should keep to the right just like the cars do.
Can Bikes Cover a Full Traffic Lane?
Not always. The law in Georgia states that bikers should ride as close to the right as they can, which allows a vehicle to take up that lane when overtaking the bike. However, some other circumstances can force a rider to ride in the middle of the lane and take up the entire space albeit temporarily. Some of these scenarios include;
- The biker wants to turn left
- For them to keep away from obstacles such as debris on the road, drain gates and stopped cars.
- When the lane is too small to accommodate the bike and a car
- When the biker is moving at the same velocity as the other cars
- When overtaking a car with proper care
- If the biker is going straight through an intersection and there is only one lane that can allow motorists to turn right.
In what instances should drivers yield to bikes and vice versa?
If there is a lane dedicated to bicycles on the road, a vehicle driver must give in to a cyclist in their lane. If there is no such lane, the driver is tasked with leaving a safe distance between the vehicle and bike when going past them. The distance that is referred to as ‘safe distance’ varies significantly based on the circumstances but the motorist should maintain a minimum of three feet from cyclists always. This is one of the most prevalent issues that our Atlanta bike accident attorneys handle and it calls for a deep assessment of happenings and testimonies from witnesses.
What Damages Can I be Compensated for After a Bicycle Accident in Atlanta?
Frequently, personal injury cases coming from traffic accidents can be agreed on without facing a jury. In some other instances, the settlement does not come out as a favorable option and the people involved are required to face trial. Regardless of how it pans out, a settlement or court given damages can lead to the recovery of a huge chunk of the damages suffered in a bike accident. If you agree on a settlement or the court rules that the driver is liable, you will get compensation for the mentioned damages:
Financial damages cover money used to treat you including the cost of ambulance rides, visits to the emergency area, hospitalization, surgery, x-ray, post-treatment care, and prescription drugs, as well as the following:
- The cost of any anticipated treatment tat follows up the initial one or the cost of treating an injury that calls for lengthy treatment.
- The cost of rehabilitation services such as visits to therapists and other specialists.
- The cost of buying devices required to assist you to walk such as wheelchairs and artificial limbs.
- The money lost for skipping work due to injuries, recovery, and treatment.
- The income you will lose in the future when a permanent disability keeps you from getting back to your regular job.
Non-financial damages cover your mental and physical suffering:
- Loss of consortium with a partner
- Scars and disfigurement
- Some other costs that are not financial and might apply to unique cases include
- Punitive damages if the negligence is blatant
What Happens if a Driver Hits Me and Leaves the Accident Scene?
Always keep calm in a hit and run accident. While this might not be the simplest thing to do as your adrenaline will be pumping, you could be injured and angry that anyone would dare leave the accident scene like that. Collect as much information as you can, for instance, the type, model and color of the car. Might anyone have had a glimpse of the license plate? Did anyone witness the crash? All these facts might come in handy later. Hit and runs for any type of crash are criminal in Georgia. Contact the Atlanta police. And contact Calvin Smith Law and we will help you get through the tough path that lies ahead.
What Should I do if a Road Hazard Causes my Bike Accident?
If your crash happened due to negligence or violation of the rules by the local authorities you could qualify for compensation. If you got injured on private premises, then the faulty party would be the person holding the premises’ title.
Some of these flaws are;
- Nonfunctional lights
- Plants covering traffic signs
- Drains that are left exposed
Note that you need to take as much information as you can for these cases. Capture images of what you hit. If the light is not working well, record a video of the sequence of the lights. Talk to the people around there. If the crash took place in front of a company, the person running it might have more details of how long the matter has been going on. If other individuals got injured because of the same issue, your claim becomes more valid.
Defining Comparative Negligence
In some cases, a bike crash can happen as a result of the negligent conduct of several motorists or even several bikers. As per section 51-12-33 of the Georgia law, its modified comparative negligence statute comes in handy for such instances.
In such a case, the deciding judge will give a specific ratio of fault for the accident to each of the involved parties. If the biker is responsible for over 50 percent of the fault, they cannot be compensated for any damages by the other entities involved.
In What Instances Are Bike Accidents Caused By Negligence?
In plain terms, someone who hurts a cyclist because they were engaged in negligent behavior can be liable for the damages caused by the bike crash. Negligence is a word that implies that the behavior of the motorist was below the threshold of how a reasonable and responsible person would be expected to conduct themselves in the said situation. In most cases, cyclists suffer from damages from vehicle, truck or bus drivers. Such accidents are often caused by a few possible and common scenarios. An experienced cycling accident lawyer can go through the facts of any individual’s case and clearly establish whether the crash was caused by an instance of negligence by the driver.
Poor Vision and Driving Under the Influence
Note that some of the drugs we take to treat medical conditions can impair a driver’s judgment and make them negligent. As per Section 40-6-391 of the law in Georgia, a motorist is impaired of a substance they took makes them less safe to operate the car. This does not directly imply that their blood alcohol percentage was above the recommended minimum which is .08 for motorists aged over 21. If the driver did not operate the car safely due to drug influence, they could be driving under the influence.
Ignoring Traffic Laws
As per section 40-6-291 of the Georgia law, cyclists are for the majority part, taken as cars in regard to the laws that apply in Atlanta. This implies that a driver should maintain a safe distance between them and the bikers and cannot overtake them in the same lane. When a driver of a vehicle, bus or truck does not follow these laws and causes an accident, they will be regarded to be negligent and will be responsible for the damages caused as a result of their behavior
Driving when Distracted
In Georgia, a motorist is regarded to be distracted when they are not entirely focused on the way. A few distractions are cases where the driver is conversing on a cell phone while driving, texting, keying in an address into a navigation system or even switching the radio station if it calls for them to get their eyes off the road for some time.
Note that even if the cause of the distraction is regarded legal as per the laws in Atlanta, it can still be categorized below the threshold set for a responsible driver and they could be required to carry the blame for the damages caused in an accident.
Will a Car Policy Cover me if I was Injured in a Bike Crash?
In another car caused you harm, you are legally required to follow up with the insurance cover of the faulty driver for compensation. If a hit and run driver hurt you on your bicycle, your uninsured car policy might help out. A bike accident is similar to a vehicle crash in several ways. Keep in mind that insurance firms are always yearning to settle and come with the best deal for them and not you. Do not be in a hurry to engage with any entity who represents the drivers or your insurance company without the help of an attorney. Do not consent to have a recorded conversation without having legal representation.
If the Motorist at Fault is Not Insured Will My Insurance Cover My Accident?
You can file an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance firm if you have uninsured or underinsured car cover. Your car policy cover should come in handy since you were in a car during the crash.
Uninsured or underinsured car cover or UM Cover as it is often referred is not mandatory as specified by Georgia insurance statutes. You are only needed to buy liability cover which implies that if you are liable, the other entity is covered. We vehemently advise that you should get UM coverage so that you are covered by these motorists.
Can I File a Property Damage Claim Against the Faulty Party if my Bike was Damaged During the Crash?
It is well within your rights to file for a property damage claim if the bicycle was damaged by a negligent motorist, firm or private owner. This is called a property damage claim. The idea is particularly to get compensated for the property and in this instance, the bicycle should get repaired. If the bicycle is damaged beyond repair, the statutes indicate that you qualify for getting the compensation that equals the market value of the bike.
Calvin Smith Law will not ask you to pay for property damage claims. Our main aim is to get you back on your bike as it was before the crash.
Can I Press Charges if a Loved One Dies in a Bicycle Accident?
You are allowed to sue on behalf of a loved one if there is an instance of wrongful death. There is nothing that can bring back the life of a loved one but the law can help you get compensated financially. If another entity was to blame for the death of a loved one, you are within your rights to get back, as per the laws in Georgia something dubbed as the full value of the life of the deceased and this implies to their age, education and professional standing. Our target is to get back any accumulated medical costs, future finances that the deceased might have earned and compensation for the pain and suffering due to death.
Contact an Atlanta Bicycle Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident contact the Atlanta injury firm of Calvin Smith Law. Schedule a free consultation with our car accident lawyers today, call (404) 383-7552