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Do Motorcycles Have the Right of Way?

Do Motorcycles Have the Right of Way?

Under Georgia law, motorcyclists, cars, and tractor-trailers must obey the same traffic laws and regulations to prevent accidents and protect everyone who shares the roads. Therefore, motorcycles do not always have the right of way.

More so, motorcyclists should be especially vigilant because of the greater risk of severe injury or death if another driver fails to yield as the law requires. In addition, when another driver fails to yield the right of way and injures a motorcyclist, the injured party can seek compensation for their medical bills and other losses.

Understanding Right of Way

Right of way refers to the driver’s right to go first in any traffic situation. State and local traffic laws explain who goes first in circumstances you may encounter while driving. These laws are the same for all vehicles.

Some common examples include:

Four-Way Stops

When two drivers approach the same intersection with all-way stop signs, the one who arrives first has the right-of-way. However, when two vehicles arrive simultaneously, Georgia law dictates that the driver on the left should yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right.

When Turning Across Lanes?

Failure to yield commonly causes a motorcycle collision when a driver turns left across traffic. For example, this includes making a left-hand turn at an intersection with a green light.

The driver fails to yield to the oncoming motorcycle because they do not look or fail to see the motorcyclist. Under Georgia law, drivers turning left across traffic must yield unless the intersection signals a green arrow or their turn comes to proceed at a stop sign.

When Pulling Onto a Main Road?

Georgia law also requires drivers pulling onto a public road or highway to yield to the traffic on that street. This includes motorists leaving parking lots, driveways, alleys, and other similar areas.

Right-of-Way Accidents Involving Motorcycles in Atlanta

Drivers often fail to see smaller vehicles even if they check for oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, this applies to motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and others. This contributes to many types of motorcycle accidents, including several of the top causes of collisions:

Unsafe Passing or Lane Changes

When a driver does not check for motorcycles in the adjacent lane when changing lanes or merging, this can quickly lead to a collision and deadly injuries for the motorcyclist. To make matters worse, they may look but fail to see a motorcycle in their blind spot. They may also move over without signaling, reducing the chances the motorcyclist can act to avoid a crash.

Georgia law also requires drivers to give the motorcyclist a full lane when passing, regardless of where the motorcycle rides in the lane.

Car Door Collisions

Car door collisions may occur in urban areas or neighborhoods near parallel parking. In these situations, a driver who parallel parked on the street may not see a motorcycle and opens their door into the motorcyclist’s path.

Rear-End Collisions

Many people think of rear-end accidents as benign, but this is not true. While anyone can suffer serious injuries in this crash, a motorcyclist is at an increased risk. For example, making a sudden stop could cause the motorcyclist to lay their bike down, or following them too closely could cause an injury.

Intersection Accidents

Intersections often rank among the most common places to have a crash. Ignoring right of way at a stop sign, misjudging how much time they have to make it through the intersection, and simply failing to see an oncoming motorcycle can all cause serious injuries or even death for a motorcyclist. In addition, left-turn accidents where the driver fails to yield the right-of-way can prove particularly common.

Other Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Occasionally, another entity other than a driver causes a motorcycle crash. Instead, a corporation or agency is the negligent party.

This occurs with:

  • Dangerous Road Conditions: Issues with road maintenance or design can prove more dangerous to motorcyclists than drivers of four-wheeled vehicles. Potholes, road debris, gravel, crumbling asphalt, and other concerns could cause motorcyclists to lose control, slide, or otherwise crash their bikes.
  • Defective Motorcycle Parts: A problem with a tire or another motorcycle part sometimes causes a crash. When a defective part fails, it may cause the motorcyclist to crash. The part manufacturer may bear legal responsibility for any injuries or fatalities when this occurs.

Additional Contributing Factors

According to statistics published by Insurance Information Institute (III), more than seven percent of all fatal crashes in 2019 involved failure to yield the right-of-way. This includes accidents involving both drivers and motorcyclists. In many of these accidents, other factors could contribute.

These factors could include:

  • Drunk or drugged drivers
  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Inexperienced drivers
  • Exceeding the posted speed limit
  • Driving too fast for conditions

Negligence and Liability in Right-of-Way Motorcycle Accidents

When a driver fails to yield the right of way and causes a collision, you may hear your attorney say that the driver bears fault in the crash. They mean that the driver acted negligently and caused the collision. The attorney must prove fault to hold the driver legally accountable and recover compensation for their injured client.

To prove negligence, your lawyer must show these four elements:

  • The driver needed to behave a certain way to keep other road users safe.
  • They breached that duty.
  • This breach caused a collision.
  • The victim suffered harm, usually from physical injuries and financial damages.

In the event of a right-of-way collision, these elements generally require law firms to show:

  • The driver had a duty to yield to the client’s right-of-way.
  • The driver did not yield for instance, by turning left in front of the client.
  • Their failure to yield the right of way caused a collision.
  • Their client suffered injuries and other damages.

Who Is Liable for My Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Injuries?

In most cases, identifying the liable party is relatively straightforward. The driver whose negligence caused the accident could bear legal responsibility or liability for your injuries. In more complex cases, others may prove responsible.

The liable party could also be:

  • The company or agency tasked with maintaining the road
  • The manufacturer of a defective motorcycle or car part
  • The at-fault driver’s employer, if they drive a commercial motor vehicle

The accident report filed by police may indicate who bears liability for your injuries based on the information in it. For example, if the driver received a citation for a failure to yield, they likely bear legal responsibility for the accident.

Working with an attorney who can investigate what happened can ensure you identify all the potentially liable parties in your crash before filing an insurance claim or lawsuit.

How Can I Recover Compensation for My Injuries?

When another party bears liability for your accident injuries, the law gives you the right to pursue compensation for your related expenses and losses.

This generally occurs in one of two ways, depending on the unique circumstances of the accident:

  • Auto Insurance: This involves filing an insurance claim, demanding a fair payout, and negotiating a settlement with the at-fault driver’s auto liability provider.
  • Civil Lawsuit: This entails suing the at-fault driver in civil court in the county where the accident occurred, navigating the legal process, presenting the case to a jury, and asking for a monetary award in addition to a favorable verdict.

In short, you could have multiple options for seeking money to pay your medical bills, recover lost income, and get compensation for other financial and emotional tolls.

Atlanta Motorcycle Accidents Often Leave Riders With Serious Injuries

While you could suffer relatively minor injuries in a motorcycle crash, many motorcyclists suffer catastrophic injuries. You may want to work with an attorney who understands the significant impacts this type of long-term injury and recovery has on every aspect of your life.

Some common motorcycle accident injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), concussions, and other head injuries
  • Neck and back injuries, including spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
  • Road rash and other significant burns and soft tissue injuries
  • Amputation and loss of use injuries
  • Compound fractures and crush injuries
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Serious internal injuries and bleeding

You could recover the expenses and losses due to these injuries through an insurance claim or lawsuit.

This could include:

  • Medical Expenses: This includes current and estimated future medical bills for treatment of injuries, care-related expenses, ambulance transportation, emergency department triage fees, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, and therapy.
  • Lost Income: You could recover any income you missed because of your injuries or treatment. This includes commissions, tips, hourly pay, salary, and independent contract work. In addition, you can seek damages for all jobs you missed during this time.
  • Diminished Earning Capacity: If your injuries prevent you from returning to your previous work for the same pay, you can demand compensation. This is true whether you cannot complete specific work-related tasks or cannot work at all.
  • Property Damages: You could recover the costs of repairing or replacing your motorcycle and protective equipment.
  • Additional Related Expenses: Some crash victims have other expenses unique to their case. You could recover these expenses with receipts and documentation. For example, some people must pay to park at the doctor’s office during visits. Others need to rent a car or renovate their home because of new mobility challenges. Your lawyer can help you identify and document your miscellaneous expenses.
  • Pain and Suffering: Georgia law allows you to recover money damages for the intangible losses you suffered. This includes your physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, diminished quality of life, and more.

Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident can lead to a loss of mobility or independence. In addition, ongoing care costs may cause financial strain for some families. These constitute recoverable damages but may exceed the coverage provided by an individual’s auto liability insurance policy. Therefore, you could file a lawsuit in these cases.

If your loved one passed away from motorcycle accident injuries, you might want to work with a law firm that handles wrongful death lawsuits. These claims and civil actions help surviving family members recover damages such as loss of income and services, funeral and burial expenses, and more.

How a Lawyer Can Help With Your Georgia Motorcycle Accident Case?

Most personal injury law firms provide free initial consultations. During this discussion, you can learn more about how the lawyer might approach your case. You can ask questions and decide what you want to do next. These attorneys also usually represent clients with no upfront fees. Instead, they receive a portion of your payout if they win your case.

Once you decide to work with an attorney, they can launch an investigation into what happened and who is legally responsible.

This could include:

  • Obtaining the accident report, your medical records, and other documents
  • Working with accident reconstruction experts
  • Interviewing witnesses to the crash
  • Looking for any available photo or video of the collision
  • Surveying the crash scene
  • Documenting your expenses and losses
  • Contacting experts to learn about your future care needs, prognosis, and more

Your attorney can handle the rest of this process with solid support for your insurance claim or lawsuit. They can seek fair compensation on your behalf based on your motorcycle accident case facts. Then, you can focus on healing. They should take care of the rest.

Start Your Motorcycle Accident Case Today

Another driver may bear legal responsibility if you were in a metro Atlanta motorcycle accident. An attorney can assess your case and help you pursue compensation for your costs and losses.

The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner they can begin building your compensation case.

Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert - Owner & Attorney

Attorney Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert was seriously injured in a collision and experienced firsthand dealing with uncooperative insurance companies. She knows what it is like to feel overwhelmed and under-educated about your rights after a collision. That is why she has dedicated this firm to fighting for accident victims and their loved ones. The goal of The Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore LLC is to provide you with excellent legal advice, based on our experience in representing injured automobile drivers and passengers from all across the State of Georgia.

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