Many motorcycle accidents occur because other drivers act carelessly or recklessly. Driver negligence is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents in Georgia. Making a mistake on the road causes more collisions than road or weather conditions, parts failures, blown tires, and other issues that are not driver related.
To understand more about the cause of your motorcycle crash, consider discussing your case with an attorney from a car accident law firm. They generally provide free consultations and represent clients based on contingency, which means you pay no upfront fees or out-of-pocket costs. Working with an attorney can help you identify the at-fault driver and hold them legally responsible for your expenses and losses.
Negligence Is the Most Common Cause of Georgia Motorcycle Accidents
Careless and reckless drivers who make traffic mistakes—even relatively common and minor ones—can cause serious injury or even death to a motorcyclist. Violating a traffic law can quickly lead to a collision that causes catastrophic or fatal injuries for a motorcyclist.
Some traffic violations that often cause motorcycle accidents include:
Following Too Closely
When one driver follows another too closely, a rear-end collision is possible—and the rear driver is generally at fault. But when the front vehicle is a motorcycle, the chances of the collision being nothing more than a property damage fender-bender greatly decrease.
Drivers must leave the appropriate following distance for road and weather conditions, their speed, and the traffic around them. If they are behind a motorcycle, leaving some additional space could help prevent crashes and keep the motorcyclist safe.
Failure to Yield
Drivers must yield to oncoming traffic before turning across it, which most commonly occurs when turning left at a green light. Unless there is a green arrow, the driver must yield to any traffic passing straight through the intersection. They can only turn left on green when there is no traffic going straight.
Failure to yield is a common cause of traffic accidents involving all types of vehicles. However, they are particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. The car could hit the motorcycle, or the motorcycle could slam into the side of the turning car. Either way, the outcome for the motorcyclist will likely be injuries. Many motorcyclists lay their bikes down trying to avoid these collisions as well.
Ignoring Traffic Signs or Signals
When a driver disobeys a traffic sign or signal, it disrupts traffic flow and could lead to a serious crash. This is most apparent at stop signs and red lights—ignoring either of these signals could cause an intersection collision at full speed.
If a driver running a red light or stop sign hits a motorcyclist, injuries are often catastrophic. This is one of the most dangerous types of collisions for motorcyclists because of the speed involved.
Failure to Clear Adjacent Lanes
When a driver wants to merge or change lanes, they need to ensure the lane next to them is clear. Motorcycles are much smaller than many other vehicles on the road. They can easily fall into blind spots, or the driver could look but not recognize a motorcycle in the lane.
If a driver changes lanes and strikes a motorcyclist, the motorcyclist is not only at risk from the initial impact. They also face additional danger if they are knocked off the bike and possibly into traffic.
Mistakes Made Because They Did Not See the Motorcycle
It’s common for motorists to look for oncoming traffic but fail to see a motorcycle. Subconsciously, many drivers only look for cars. Spotting smaller vehicles requires additional concentration and a full focus on driving.
When a driver fails to see a motorcyclist, they could continue with their next move, whether it’s turning left on green, right on red, or merging into the next lane. When a collision results, neither party sees it coming.
Proving Negligence Caused a Georgia Motorcycle Accident
Because negligence is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents, motorcyclists generally need to prove that negligence occurred to hold the at-fault driver legally responsible for their actions. Working with an attorney can make this process easier, since they can manage the crash investigation and document the elements of negligence.
There are four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
- Injuries and financial harm
Breaking Down Each Element of Negligence
Duty of care generally occurs because of traffic laws. All drivers have a duty of care for others sharing the road in almost every situation. If there is a traffic law dictating what you are doing behind the wheel, you have a duty of care to follow it. For example, you have a duty of care to stop when a traffic light turns red.
Breach of duty occurs when a driver violates the traffic law. In the above example, the breach would occur when the driver ran the red light. All too often, these breaches of duty cause traffic accidents. The vehicles collide as a direct result of one driver breaching their duty.
Lastly, these crashes can cause significant harm. Motorcyclists often suffer painful and debilitating injuries that require long hospital and rehabilitation stays, and sometimes they cannot return to their previous job—or continue working at all.
Contributing Causes of Georgia Motorcycle Accidents
While negligence—usually mistakes behind the wheel of a car—is the primary cause of most motorcycle accidents, there are other contributing causes. Drivers will always make mistakes, and it’s virtually impossible to remove all potential risks on the roadway. However, these contributing causes make accidents more likely, and they are often the focus of safety campaigns because of their role in injury crashes.
Distracted driving is one of the top contributors to all types of traffic accidents. Because texting and talking on the phone are top concerns, Georgia addresses them with a statewide hands-free law. Still, people glance at their cell phones, adjust the radio, or turn to check on children in the backseat. Even a rough day at work or feeling tired can cause enough distraction to contribute to a serious accident.
When there are distractions, it’s much more difficult to check for oncoming traffic or vehicles in a blind spot. A driver might choose to merge or turn without seeing the motorcycle in their way.
Drunk driving is a serious problem in Georgia and across the country. Intoxicated drivers do not have the same reaction time, skills, or vision to operate their vehicles safely, leading to an increased risk of accidents.
According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, about 25 percent of all fatal accidents in the state involve a drunk driver. This is slightly below the national average, but still a significant concern.
The same concerns about drunk driving also apply to drugged driving. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the number of drunk drivers is decreasing while the number of drugged drivers is rising.
While almost any drug—including some over-the-counter and many prescription medications—can cause impairment, the primary drug mentioned in recent data is marijuana.
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
A driver who is aggressive or reckless behind the wheel puts others sharing the road in danger. The driver could take unnecessary risks and violate traffic laws, such as passing on the shoulder or turning lane, running a red light, and more. Any of these actions greatly increase the risk of a crash.
Motorcyclists can also suffer injuries when someone they ride with misbehaves. Speeding and aggressive driving on a motorcycle can lead to a crash that involves other riders.
Not Enough Training or Experience
Many motorcyclists lack the training or experience to ride in heavy traffic, navigate unfamiliar streets, or deal with poor weather conditions. All of these can contribute to collisions. For example, a motorcyclist might not have the necessary skill to keep control of their bike while avoiding a car that’s merging into their lane on I-285.
State law requires motorcyclists to pass a class or skills test before they can receive a motorcycle endorsement on their license. This law reduces the risk of accidents caused by a motorcyclist who lacks the necessary training or experience to manage their bike. However, both still play a role in some accidents.
Your Right to Compensation Following a Georgia Motorcycle Crash
When another driver’s negligence causes your motorcycle accident and injuries, you have a right to hold them legally responsible and recover compensation. Your damages could include medical care, lost income, pain and suffering, repair or replacement costs for your motorcycle, and more.
By proving what caused your crash and who is responsible, you can develop a strong case for a payout from that driver’s auto insurance provider.
To do so, you must:
- Gather evidence to prove negligence and liability
- Document and calculate your damages, including estimating future damages and valuing your intangible losses
- Demand a fair payout from the at-fault driver’s insurer
- Negotiate with the insurer to get fair compensation based on your case
None of these steps are easy on your own, especially when you have serious injuries and are still trying to heal and recover from them. Working with a Georgia motorcycle accident attorney allows you to focus on your physical needs while they handle your case.
How an Attorney Can Build Your Georgia Motorcycle Accident Case
When you hire a motorcycle accident attorney to manage your claim, they can handle all the steps outlined in this blog, including investigating what happened and gathering evidence to show that negligence occurred—all of which should point to the at-fault driver.
Evidence often used in motorcycle accident cases includes:
- The accident report filed by police officers at the crash site
- Video of the collision
- Eyewitness statements
- Accident reconstruction
- Relevant medical records
- Medical expert opinions
- Documentation of the victim’s damages
Once all the necessary documentation is available, an attorney can calculate a fair settlement range for your claim. This task may require them to enlist the help of experts and use their knowledge of previous cases to determine your future care needs, the value of your pain and suffering, and more.
After all this is done, they can approach the at-fault driver’s insurance company to demand fair payment. There are generally three ways that an attorney secures a payout in a motorcycle crash case:
Negotiating With the Insurer
This is the most common way that victims of traffic accidents recover compensation. The victim or their attorney negotiates with the at-fault driver’s insurance company until they reach a settlement agreement.
Filing a Lawsuit and Settling Out of Court
Sometimes, circumstances require crash victims to file a lawsuit. However, this doesn’t mean that negotiations will stop—in fact, some insurance companies are more likely to settle after their policyholder faces a lawsuit. Most accident victims settle their claims out of court, even after suing.
Filing a Lawsuit and Going to Trial
Again, most motorcycle accident cases do not go to a civil trial, but some do. When there is no agreement between the insurer and the victim, the lawsuit goes before a judge or jury. They hear the facts and each side’s argument, then issue a verdict and possible payout in the case.
Talk to a Georgia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer About Your Options
When you suffer injuries in a Georgia motorcycle accident, your best resource is an attorney who understands the most common causes of motorcycle accidents, how these cases work, and how to hold negligent drivers legally responsible. You could be eligible to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. A motorcycle accident lawyer can handle this entire process for you.
Contact an attorney to learn more about your legal options after a crash. Most personal injury law firms offer online contact forms or a phone number to call for a free consultation.