Bicycle Accident Attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia
Get compensation from your bicycle accident
If you have been in a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our experienced lawyers will help you determine any claims you might have against the negligent drivers or motorists who injured you. As a victim or bereaved family member whose life was changed by such an ordeal, you’ll receive the highest quality of legal representation from our dedicated lawyers. We have obtained significant settlements for victims injured in bike-related accidents as well as motorcycle accidents in Atlanta and other areas of Georgia.
See our case results page for examples of amounts that we’ve helped our clients get.
The dangers of the road for cyclists
According to the University of Georgia’s Survey Research Center, currently nearly one-in-ten (13%) of adults in our state ride a bicycle at least once per month. Moreover, most (88%) Georgians think bikes provide a reliable, efficient means of transportation while contributing to cleaner air, healthier citizens, and lower healthcare costs. The survey also found that the majority (81%) of people surveyed would ride a bicycle more frequently if their community had better bike lanes or multi-use paths. An overwhelming 92% of Georgians agreed that encouraging cycling would lead to a higher quality of life, but said they would “feel safer” knowing that the law required a 3-foot safe passing distance for cars.
The National Highway Safety Administration reports that 630 bicyclists in the United States were killed in a motor vehicle traffic crash in 2009. 51,000 cyclists were injured. Motor vehicle accidents in Georgia alone killed 21 bicyclists, making Georgia the 6th deadliest state in which to ride a bicycle.
Because cyclists are more exposed than and less visible to passing cars, they face very serious dangers in traffic. Distracted drivers often do not afford them the passing distance they should. Now that motorists are required by law to stay 3 feet away from cyclists, bikers will enjoy a slightly larger safety buffer while riding on the street. But even a 3-feet buffer cannot save a cyclist from a distracted driver. Laws requiring helmets and safety lights likewise do not make cyclists more visible or less exposed to larger vehicles in traffic. However, Georgia law protects cyclists who are injured as a result of another motorist’s negligence.
The rules of the road for cyclists
Like most states, Georgia treats bicycles as “vehicles.” As such, general traffic laws governing motor vehicles also apply to the operation of bikes. The only exception is when a code or regulation uses the specific term “motor vehicle” rather than “vehicle.” That language indicates the section does not apply to bicycles.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) sets forth rules for cycling, requiring the rider to “wear a helmet if under 16 years of age.” OCGA §40-6-294 requires cyclists to ride “as far to the right side of the roadway as practicable” and “with the flow of traffic.” Cyclists should not “ride more than two bikes abreast” upon any roadway or “cycle while drunk.” Georgia laws also prohibit cyclists from carrying anything that would prevent them from keeping one hand on the handlebars at all times. Effective July 1, 2011, cyclists must signal while turning or stopping, “raising their right arm horizontally to indicate a right turn.” Further, motorists must stay 3 feet away from cyclists while passing pursuant to OCGA §§40-6-55 and 40-6-56.
Types of Injuries Caused by Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents often involve motorized vehicles, in which a car struck the cyclist due to human error. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, serious or fatal accidents tend to occur in urban areas, particularly at intersections, and generally involve more men than women.
Because cyclists are less protected than motorists, they often experience injuries that are more serious. If not fatal, they can be life threatening or permanently debilitating and cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
The following injuries can result from a bicycle accident:
Head and Brain Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that head and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused by bicycle-related crashes commonly result in death and serious disability. Even if the accident is not fatal, victims can suffer from long term or permanent disability due to irreversible brain damage. Remember: wearing a properly fitted helmet can dramatically reduce the risk of a head and brain injury.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can occur when a vehicle or other obstruction crashes into a cyclist, or when the cyclist is thrown from their bicycle while traveling at high speed. This causes a dislocation or fracture of the vertebrae, which can then cut into the spinal cord. Herniated or bulging discs and nerve damage are types of spinal cord injuries. An impairment of movement or paralysis results, a condition that can be temporary or permanent. Medical treatment includes surgery, chiropractic care and physical therapy.
Broken Bones and Fractures
When you ride a bike, there’s nothing that really protects your arms, legs and body. The force of crashing into a vehicle or falling on the ground can result in broken bones and fractures affecting any part of your body, including the head, face, collarbone, arm, finger/hand, wrist, leg, pelvis, or back.
Fractures can be categorized as being complete or incomplete, and simple or compound. A complete fracture is when the bone is broken into two or more sections, while incomplete is when the break isn’t all the way through the bone. Simple fractures are those that do not pierce the skin, unlike those that are compound. An imaging test, such as an X-ray, can help spot broken bones and is crucial in providing evidence to support your case.
Soft Tissue Injuries of Muscles, Tendons or Ligaments
Strains, bruises, cuts, tendonitis, and sprains are all types of soft tissue injuries. “Road rash” is another type, an informal term for an injury that involves falling on the ground and scraping the skin (abrasion). These are probably the most common types of injuries caused by bicycle accidents.
It is not unusual for insurance companies to disregard the severity of soft tissue injuries. While most do not have a serious long term impact on your health or require extensive medical treatment, your injuries may still prevent you from working and supporting your family. In some cases they can also lead to chronic pain and weakness if not properly diagnosed and treated.
What to Do If You Are In a Bicycle Accident
- Get medical attention. Taking care of your health is the most important thing to do if you’ve been in a bicycle accident. Seeking medical attention for your injuries should be your top priority. Do this first before anything else. Even if you don’t believe you’ve been injured, you should still seek medical attention because the effects of some injuries may only become apparent some time after the incident.
- Call the police. Once the police arrives, make sure you only communicate with them rather than the other person (or people) involved in the accident. Tell the police only the facts of the incident as you know them, rather than what you guessed happened. You’ll want to have the police document all the facts in a report, which you can later use to support your case.
- Compile evidence of the accident. This includes the following things:
- Get the names and contact information of all the people involved in the accident.
- Get the names of any witnesses. Ask bystanders and anyone in the vicinity whether they witnessed the accident. Remember to get their full name and contact information, such as their phone number, address or email address, so you can reach out to them at a later date if necessary.
- Take photos of the accident scene from different angles. You’ll need to include the positions of your bike and vehicle(s) or other obstruction involved, as well as whatever else that may be pertinent.
It is important that while you take photos, you do not touch or move anything. This includes everything from your bike and the car involved to any surrounding debris. You may think that the debris is irrelevant, but it can provide valuable insight into how the accident happened and who may be at fault. Important details can also be obtained from the position of your bike.
You can start moving things and cleaning up only after the police have arrived and documented all the facts.
- A bike computer, or cyclometer, is a device that records trip information such as speed, time, and distance traveled. If you have one, make sure to download the information on it if possible.
- Once you get home, take more extensive photos of all the damage inflicted on your bike, as well as your helmet or other equipment and clothing worn. Don’t wash your clothes as they can be used as evidence.
4. Call your insurance company within the necessary time. Insurance companies generally need to be notified within a certain time of your accident if you’d like to be covered. It’s crucial that you do not talk to the other person’s insurance company. Not only will your conversation most likely be recorded, your answers may be used against you because they serve the best interests of the other person, not you.
5. Call your lawyer if you want to learn about how you can protect your rights and obtain compensation for your injuries. Most bicycle accident cases are settled outside of court.