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Atlanta Bicycle Accident Lawyers

While bicycling can get you around town in a handy, environmentally friendly way, it poses more significant dangers than driving. Whereas motor vehicles fully enclose operators, bike riders have no external protection from impact other than perhaps a helmet and pads—which unfortunately often do less to prevent bone fractures, lacerations, and other severe injuries.

Any bicyclist whom a negligent driver hit should speak with our Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers about their legal options. Working with a seasoned personal injury attorney at the Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group could help you prove legal negligence and increase your chances of a favorable case result.

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Georgia Bicycle Laws

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Georgia classifies bicycles as vehicles, which means that general traffic laws apply to bicyclists and vehicle drivers. While bicyclists may share the road with motor vehicles, drivers do not always respect those privileges. Negligent or reckless driving and other poor decisions can result in accidents.

Some of the most common Georgia laws that bicycle accident lawyers work with during their cases include:

  • Drivers must leave a space of at least 3 feet when passing a bicyclist
  • A bicycle may ride on the paved shoulder of the road
  • Drivers must yield to bicyclists in bike lanes
  • Bicyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as motor vehicles
  • Bike riders must stay on the right side of the roadway
  • Bicyclists may not use sidewalks, which the law reserves for pedestrians
  • Safety equipment is required to ride a bike
  • Bicycles cannot legally carry more people than they are designed for (with some exceptions made for young children)

Bicycle Accident Statistics and Facts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 1,000 bicyclists died in accidents and over 467,000 bicyclists sustained accident-related injuries in 2015 alone. The CDC also reports that bicycle crash-related injuries result in medical and lost productivity costs of over $10 billion each year. In fact, bicycle crashes are the second most common cause of serious injury after sports-related accidents.

Children nine to 15 and males of all ages are more at risk for bicycle injuries. According to American Family Physician, these injuries are usually caused by not wearing a helmet, riding in an unsafe environment, or being involved in a crash with a motor vehicle. Alcohol and substance abuse are also associated with a higher risk for bicycle injuries.

Atlanta Areas With Higher Bicycle Accident Potential

Metropolitan and urban areas have a higher risk of bicycle accidents simply because of the concentration of people on the road. Because Atlanta is a metropolis with more than 500,000 residents within the city limits—over 2,000 of which own bicycles—and more than three million cars, Atlanta has seen increased recent bicycle accidents. In one recent year, pedestrians and bicyclists were involved in 17 percent of all major car accidents in the city, and a 51 percent increase in bicycle and pedestrian collisions took place over 10 years.

Specific Intersections See More Accidents

Atlanta’s Strategic Transportation Plan reports that most of the city’s accidents occur in low-income parts of town, and specifically on these streets:

  • Howell Mill Road
  • Monroe Drive
  • DeKalb Avenue
  • Piedmont Road
  • Peachtree Street

Just 6 percent of the city's roads (including those listed above) contribute to about 71 percent of traffic accident-related fatalities—meaning these are bicycle accident hot spots.

Bicycle Accident Lawsuits

Minor accidents are collisions between two bicyclists or when a bicyclist hits a pedestrian. The type of accident with the most fatalities is when a motor vehicle hits a bicyclist. While some accidents are the fault of unsafe road conditions and the government may be liable, when a vehicle strikes a person, it is usually the driver's fault. In these cases, the driver's insurance company typically pays damages.

Some cases may also end up in court when an injured bicyclist sues the liable party to help pay for their losses. Often, some negligence has occurred, such as reckless driving or unrepaired roads. When a driver does not follow the rules of the road, they can be found negligent in a court of law.

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Proving Negligence in Bike Crash Cases

Just because bicyclists have a greater risk of injury than drivers does not mean that any driver who hits a bicyclist is automatically at fault.

To hold a driver or any other defendant financially liable for a plaintiff’s injuries and losses, an experienced Atlanta bike accident attorney must establish that:

  • The defendant had an implicit or explicit duty of care they owed to the plaintiff
  • The defendant breached their duty of care by doing something reckless, careless, or against the law
  • The defendant directly caused an accident by breaching their duty of care
  • This accident directly resulted in the plaintiff’s compensable damages

Types of Claims for Bicycle Accidents

Because there are many ways a bicycle accident can occur, there are also multiple ways to file a claim. The two most common types of claims are property damage claims and personal injury claims. An Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer can assist you in filing these types of claims.

Property damage claims can help you recover the costs of repairing or replacing your bike if the accident damaged it. However, these claims specifically cover damaged property and may not much else.

Personal injury claims apply when you sustain a bodily injury during an accident. These claims are more likely to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more. If a vehicle hit you, your attorney can file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.

What Happens if a Driver Flees a Bicycle Accident Scene?

Unfortunately, drivers do not always heed the law, especially if they are uninsured or scared to get into trouble. If a driver flees the scene of your accident, try to get their license plate number. The police can use this information to locate the driver and they may face criminal penalties.

If the driver fled the accident scene due to a lack of insurance, uninsured motorist coverage may apply. Many automobile policies include uninsured motorist provisions, and some also apply to bicyclists. Your attorney can help you pursue the best claim for your case.

Recoverable Damages After a Bike Crash

Recoverable damages typically fall into two categories: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages after a bike wreck typically center around medical expenses, but may also include:

  • Missed work wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Costs associated with repairing or replacing damaged personal property (e.g., your bicycle)

Non-economic damages in bike accident cases may include loss of enjoyment of life, permanent disability or disfigurement, loss of consortium, and other subjective damages associated with your pain and suffering.

To recover compensation for damages, you must file your claim within the deadline set by the statute of limitations. Georgia places a two-year limit after an injury to file a claim.

Damages Available to Families After a Fatal Bike Accident

If a bicycle accident kills your loved one, you may file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Only the victim’s spouse or child can file, or the parents of those who are unmarried and childless.

Wrongful death lawsuits help recover the value of a victim’s life. Although a wrongful death suit cannot replace your loved one, a settlement can help ease the pain of their passing. Wrongful death lawsuits consider the person’s lifetime lost earnings and other financial benefits like pensions. They may also include final medical bills, funeral and burial costs, and more.

What to Do After a Bicycle Accident

If you are in a bicycle accident, ensure that everyone is safe and tend to all injured people first. You should collect all evidence at the accident scene, whether you are the driver or the cyclist. Call 911 and file an accident report with the police.

Never leave the scene of an accident, as this can constitute fleeing a crime scene or a hit-and-run. Under Georgia law, if you are in a collision, you must stop and stay or return to the accident scene. Drivers also must share their contact information, offer reasonable assistance, and avoid obstructing traffic as much as possible.

After a bicycle accident, a lawyer can help fight for the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. In extreme cases where the accident is fatal, you should contact a lawyer immediately. You need an attorney who can gather the information you need to win your wrongful death case.

When a Vehicle Hits You While Riding Your Bike

If you are able, the first thing you should do is immediately call 911 and seek medical treatment. Just because you cannot see or feel an injury does not mean the accident did not injure you. A medical professional should evaluate you and assess your health. Your medical record may also help you later if you seek compensation.

Again, if you can, you will need to give the police an accurate report of your accident. Provide as many unbiased details as possible.

You should also:

  • Take photos of your surroundings, including weather conditions, traffic signs, and any damage on your bicycle or the car
  • Take photos of your injuries, such as bruising, cuts, etc.
  • See if any nearby businesses or homes have cameras that might have caught the accident on film or video surveillance

Your next step is to contact an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Do not talk to your insurance company directly and avoid giving them an official statement without an attorney present. Insurance companies usually want to settle quickly and offer far less than you deserve. An attorney can handle all communications with the insurance companies and negotiate on your behalf.

Talk to an Atlanta Bicycle Accident Attorney Today

Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert, Personal Injury Accident Attorney
Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert, Atlanta Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Car-on-bicycle accidents often result in physically and financially devastating injuries. Fortunately, just as medical professionals can help with your physical recovery, legal professionals can help you hold the negligent party financially accountable for the harm you suffered.

At the Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group, we work tirelessly to fight for our clients. During an initial consultation, an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer can answer any questions about your case and set you on the right path toward a favorable outcome in or out of court. Contact us today at (404) 609-1724 to learn more.