If you’ve been injured in a bike accident in Atlanta, you should not hesitate to contact Hasner Law, PC for immediate legal assistance. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers will work hard to secure maximum compensation on your behalf.
Our law firm offers a free consultation, so please call us today to schedule a time to discuss your case with our skilled legal team.
Why Should I Call a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Bicycle Accident?
Riding a bike can be an enjoyable way to stay in shape or simply get around. But, traveling on roadways can be dangerous. In fact, even a minor collision with a vehicle can mean serious injury for a cyclist, including spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and death. Drivers are not always on the lookout for bicycles, and distracted driving may increase the risk of an accident.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries sustained in a bike collision. In these situations, you typically must prove that the driver’s negligence was the cause of your injury. Note that while bicycle accident claims involve a similar process as car accident claims, there are certain legal issues that are unique to bikes.
Bike accident claims can be complicated. The best thing you can do to increase the likelihood of getting the money you deserve is to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney for help. At Hasner Law, we’ve been fighting for injured accident victims in Fulton County for decades. We can help you demand the money you deserve. Just give us a call today to learn more.
Understanding Georgia’s Bicycle Laws
Under Georgia law, bicycles are treated as vehicles. This means that, just like cars, cyclists must adhere to the same rules of the road, including following posted speed limit signs, stopping at stop signs, and using signals.
However, there are additional rules that apply only to bikes, including:
- No riding on the sidewalk
- Must ride in the same direction as traffic
- Must ride as close to the right side as possible, with few exceptions (turning left, avoiding a hazard, etc.)
- Must signal turns using arm signals
- Not riding more than two abreast, unless on a bike path/lane/sharrow
- Not allowing someone else to ride on the handlebars
- Not having more people on a bike than what it was equipped for (usually only 1 person unless it’s a tandem bike)
- Not transporting any child under 1 year of age as a passenger, unless the child is properly secured in a bicycle trailer
- Must wear a helmet if rider is under 16 years of age
- Must have required safety equipment, including working brakes and front and rear lights (when riding at night)
Note that violation of these rules can be used as evidence that the cyclist was negligent in his or her riding. It’s also helpful to remember that there are a few rules regarding bicycles that motor vehicles need to follow.
- Cars must yield to bicycles if there is a bike lane.
- If passing a bicycle going in the same direction, a driver may only do so if there is a safe distance between the vehicle and the bike (at least 3 feet).
Similar to the rules for cyclists, failure to follow these rules can help establish a driver’s negligence if the violation led to an accident.
Steps to Take After an Accident
Get Checked Out By a Doctor
Keep in mind that bicycle accidents can be serious. For that reason, if you are involved in a collision, be sure to get proper medical attention right away. In addition, follow-up on all courses of treatment recommended by your doctor. This might include medication, additional tests, and rehabilitation.
Call the Police
You should also call the police soon after the incident. Georgia law requires you to call 911 after an accident if there are serious injuries or death, or property damage in excess of $500. Now, while it’s important to be honest with medical providers and the police when speaking about the accident, be aware that your statements will be recorded and can be used in court. In other words, don’t feel pressured to admit fault for the accident.
Record Important Details
If possible, write down the contact information for the negligent driver. If the accident was a hit and run, try to take note of the license plate number or other identifying characteristics of the vehicle. It’s also always good practice to document the accident. This might include taking pictures of your injuries, the road conditions, and damage to your bike. Further, write down your recollection of the events while they are still fresh in your mind. If there were any witnesses, see if you can get their contact information.
Direct All Communication to Your Attorney
Now, you may be contacted by the driver’s insurance company at some point after the accident. Remember, they are representing their own interests, so be careful about what you tell them and try not to be too quick about accepting any offer. The process of settlement negotiations can be long and difficult, so it’s always best to have an attorney on your side.
You Might Have a Claim Against Someone Other Than A Negligent Driver
Not all bicycle accidents are caused by a driver. However, don’t assume that this means you do not have a lawsuit. For example, if there was a hazard in the street, this could be evidence of negligence.
Examples could include:
- A broken street light
- Unmarked potholes
- An uncovered drain, or
- Objects left in the street.
If you can prove that someone, such as a local property owner, business, or the city, failed to act reasonably under the circumstances, you may have a claim. However, remember that proving negligence is not enough. You need to establish that the negligence caused your injury.
In addition, if your injury was due to a malfunction on your bike, you may have a claim against the manufacturer. These are known as product liability cases, and they can get complicated. For that reason, it can be helpful to reach out to a qualified attorney.
There are a few types of damages you can receive in a bicycle accident lawsuit.
First, you may be entitled to compensation for damage to your bike. These amounts would also include the cost of repairs or the replacement cost if the bicycle was totaled.
Medical Bills and Related Expenses
You would also be entitled to damages for any bodily injuries you sustained in the crash. This would include payment for your medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and prescription drugs.
Lost Income and Wages
If you are unable to work due to the injury, you may also get lost wages. This would also apply if you were only able to return to work in some diminished capacity.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are also a form of personal injury damages that you can receive in a bike accident. These are a little more subjective than other types of damages and are meant to compensate you for the emotional toll the accident took and your loss of quality of life. There is no concrete formula for these damages and they are often determined by a jury or in settlement negotiations.
Damages Available to Families After a Fatal Bicycle Accident
Note that if a loved one was killed in a collision with a car, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim on their behalf. To qualify, you must be either the victim’s spouse or child. Parents are also entitled to bring these claims, provided the child was not married and did not have any children.
Wrongful death suits allow a loved one to recover the value of the victim’s life. This calculation takes into account lost lifetime earnings and other financial benefits, such as pensions. It also includes medical bills incurred before death as well as funeral/burial costs.
What If I Share Some of the Blame For My Atlanta Bike Accident?
Keep in mind that if you were partially at fault for your injuries, your damage award may be reduced.
Georgia is a modified comparative fault state. This might affect your case in two important ways.
- Damages will be reduced if you share responsibility for an accident.
- Damages will be prohibited if you’re primarily at fault.
Let’s say you were riding your bike at night without lights or weren’t using a bike lane. As long as you were not more than 50% to blame, you can recover damages. However, your award will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. This means that if you are found to be 10% to blame and your damages totaled $100,000, the most you could receive is $90,000. But, note that if you were found 51% or more at fault, you would not be entitled to receive anything.
As you can see, these calculations are very fact-sensitive. For that reason, it’s critical to have a qualified attorney on your side to help negotiate with an insurance company. Cases like these can be unpredictable if they go to trial and are decided by a jury. Make sure you call an attorney right away if you suspect that you might be partly responsible for your Atlanta bicycle crash.
Hit and Run Accidents and Other Insurance Issues
Unfortunately, sometimes a driver flees the scene of an accident without stopping to see if you are okay. If this happens, see if you can get the license plate number. If you do, report this information to the police. If they can locate the driver, he or she may face criminal penalties.
If the driver can’t be located, or he or she doesn’t have insurance, you may still be covered under your own policy. Automobile policies often have uninsured motorist provisions, and some even cover policy owners while they are riding bicycles. For that reason, it’s important to review your policy or check with your insurance company to see if you are covered.
Call Our Atlanta Bicycle Accident Lawyers Today
If you were in a Georgia bicycle accident, Hasner Law is here to help. Keep in mind that it’s always good practice to speak with a personal injury attorney before you begin negotiating with a driver’s insurance company. They are looking out for their own interests, which typically means paying out the lowest injury claim amount.
For that reason, you’ll want someone on your side who knows how to handle these companies and can negotiate the best deal for you. Call our Atlanta law offices today for a free consultation and learn more.