Bicycle Accidents in Georgia

Bicycle Accidents in Georgia

Bicycle accidents can be life-altering events, resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities. Common injuries sustained in bicycle accidents include:  

  • head injuries, such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries,  

  • back and spinal cord injuries,  

  • broken bones,  

  • internal injuries, and  

  • road rash from skidding on pavement.  

In Georgia, understanding the ins and outs of bicycle accidents is crucial for all cyclists, whether you are a casual rider or a seasoned pro. Our guide aims to empower you with valuable knowledge to protect your rights, ensure your safety, and provide you with peace of mind while enjoying your time on two wheels. 

Throughout this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the common causes of bicycle accidents, from distracted cycling to poor road conditions. We will also discuss Georgia's comparative negligence laws, which play a significant role in determining compensation for injured cyclists. Moreover, you will learn how to establish liability in a bicycle accident, a critical aspect when it comes to securing the compensation you deserve, and what to do following an accident. 

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents  

Bicycle accidents are unfortunately not uncommon, and they can result in significant injuries that can permanently change a person's life. In 2019, there were 846 bicyclists killed in accidents with motor vehicles in the United States. Even if you are a responsible and cautious cyclist, you cannot always predict the actions of other drivers on the road. 

Here are the leading causes of bicycle accidents: 

1. Distracted Driving 

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of bicycle accidents. Drivers who are texting, using social media, or engaging in other distracting activities may not see a cyclist in their path. In some cases, bicyclists can also cause an accident if they are using their phone or devices while riding.  

For instance, a cyclist may check their watch or try to change their playlist on their phone while riding. Because of this distraction, they may ride into traffic or hit a vehicle or nearby cyclist.  

2. Failure to Yield or Left Crosses 

Many accidents occur because of a failure to yield. Drivers are supposed to yield to cyclists when making turns or changing lanes.  

A left cross accident happens when a motorist turns left at an intersection without noticing an oncoming cyclist. The cyclist might not have enough time to stop or swerve, resulting in a collision with the turning vehicle. 

3. Poor Road Conditions 

Poor road conditions can also contribute to bicycle accidents. Potholes, uneven pavement, and debris in the road can cause a cyclist to lose control of their bike and become injured.  

4. Driving While Impaired  

Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, including on a bicycle, and can result in serious accidents. A driver can also be considered impaired if they are driving while drowsy as drowsiness can have similar effects on the body as alcohol does. If you were hit by a driver who was under the influence, you may be able to pursue punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.  

5. Dooring  

This occurs when a parked car's door suddenly opens in the path of an oncoming cyclist. The cyclist might not have enough time to react, leading to a collision with the door or swerving into traffic to avoid it. 

6. Inadequate Lighting  

Riding a bicycle at night or in low-visibility conditions without proper lighting can make it difficult for other road users to see the cyclist. This increases the risk of collisions, as drivers might not notice the cyclist until it's too late to avoid a crash. 

7. Speeding  

Cycling at excessive speeds, especially in congested areas or on busy roads, can reduce a cyclist's ability to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions. This might lead to accidents involving other cyclists, pedestrians, or vehicles.  

Motor vehicle drivers can also cause an accident because of speeding. When travelig above the speed limit, drivers limit their reaction time and risk losing control of their vehicles.  

8. Tailgating or Failing to Leave a Buffer  

Sometime vehicles travel too close to cyclists which can lead to an accident. While tailgating involves following a bicycle too closely at the rear, drivers should also be careful to avoid passing a cyclist too closely.  

9. Ignoring Traffic Signs & Signals  

Bicycle accidents can occur when drivers ignore stop signs, red lights, crosswalk signals, or other traffic and road signs. While ignoring these signals is dangerous for drivers, this act can also pose a risk to cyclists who are sharing the road.  

10. Weaving Through Traffic  

If a driver or bicyclist is weaving through traffic, they risk causing a dangerous accident. Bicyclists should avoid lane splitting, which involves cutting through lanes to pass cars, and drivers should safely and properly change lanes to avoid collisions.  

The Rights & Responsibilities of Cyclists in Georgia  

As with any other vehicle or mode of transportation in Georgia, cyclists have rights and responsibilities that they need to be aware of. It is crucial to follow the laws and regulations set forth by the state to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.  

Adhering to the rules of the road and Georgia bicycle laws is not solely important for your safety but is also important as Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence system. Because of this system, a bicyclist must be less than 50% at fault for the accident to recover damages. If the bicyclist is found to be 50% or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages. 

For instance, let’s say a cyclist was lane splitting and failed to wear a helmet. The opposing counsel may argue that these factors contributed to the accident and the severity of your injuries, and you may be found to be 30% at fault. While you can still claim damages, your settlement will be reduced—if your damages are $100,000, you will only receive $70,000.  

Traffic Regulations for Cyclists in Georgia 

First, let's review some of the most critical traffic regulations that apply specifically to cyclists in Georgia: 

  • Cyclists are required to ride as near to the right of the roadway. However, you can share the road and venture into traffic when overtaking vehicles or turning left. Cyclists may ride on the shoulder of the road, but this is not mandatory, and they can ride in the traffic lane. 

  • Cyclists are not permitted to ride closer than the width of a car beside vehicles (two abreast) except on bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, or parts of roadways set aside for them. 

  • Cyclists must yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians have the right-of-way.  

  • Cyclists should adhere to traffic signals and signs. If you are riding in the street, you must adhere to stop signs and the rules of the road.  

  • Cyclists under the age of 16 must wear a helmet. While those over 16 years old are not required to wear helmets, it is in your best interest to do so.  

Other Responsibilities Cyclists in Georgia 

As a cyclist, it is not just about following the rules - you also have responsibilities and ethics to consider. Here are some of the essential responsibilities and ethics that come with riding a bicycle on Georgia's roads: 

  • You must signal when turning or changing lanes. 

  • You must avoid making sudden movements or lane changes that could endanger other motorists or pedestrians. 

  • You are responsible for maintaining proper control of your bicycle and avoiding crashes. 

  • You must respect the rights of pedestrians and other vehicles on the road. 

  • You must stay alert and aware of your surroundings, including potential hazards or obstacles on the road. 

Georgia law also states that bicycles are legally classified as vehicles, and general traffic laws apply to their operation. Cyclists should be aware of any additional regulations that may be unique to their area, including local traffic regulations. 

Liability for Bike Accidents in Georgia 

Determining liability is important because it dictates who is responsible for paying damages to the victim or their property. Usually, negligence on the part of a driver who hits a cyclist is the main factor in bicycle accidents, making the driver liable under the "negligence per se" rule.  

Apart from drivers, bike manufacturers, road construction companies, and other parties could also contribute to the accident and be held liable. In cases where both parties involved in the bike accident are cyclists, determining fault can be challenging. However, the bicyclist who caused the accident would be responsible for any damage the other party took.  

In case of a bicycle accident, the victim should document the accident, seek medical assistance, and contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. 

What to Do After a Bicycle Accident  

If you are involved in a bicycle accident, you should take the following steps:  

  • Prioritize your wellbeing. Immediately after the accident, assess your injuries and the injuries of any other individuals involved. If anyone requires urgent medical attention, call emergency services (911 or your local emergency number) right away. Move yourself and your bicycle to a safe location, away from traffic if possible. 

  • Contact the authorities. Report the accident to the police, even if it seems minor. The police will document the incident and create an official report, which can be crucial for insurance claims and potential legal action. When speaking with law enforcement officials, provide accurate and complete information about the accident. However, avoid admitting fault or making any statements that could be interpreted as accepting responsibility for the incident. 

  • Exchange information. Collect contact information, driver's license numbers, and insurance information from all parties involved, including witnesses. Be sure to obtain the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of all witnesses. 

  • Document the scene. Take photographs of the accident scene, including the road conditions, any traffic signs or signals, weather conditions, and the damage to your bicycle and any other vehicles involved. These photos can serve as valuable evidence in building your case. 

  • Seek medical attention. Even if you do not feel severely injured, it is essential to see a medical professional as soon as possible. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and having a record of medical treatment can strengthen your case. 

  • Collect evidence. If possible, while at the scene, take pictures of your injuries and any property damage. Later, gather all relevant documents, including medical records, bills, and receipts for any expenses related to the accident. This may include the cost of replacing or repairing your bicycle, medical expenses, and lost wages due to time off work. 

  • Obtain witness statements. Reach out to the witnesses you identified at the scene and request written statements describing the accident from their perspective. These testimonials can provide additional support for your case. In some cases, the police report may include the names and contract information for witnesses.  

  • Protect your right to fair compensation. Do not sign any documents or agree to any settlements without first consulting with a legal professional. Insurance companies may attempt to minimize their liability by offering quick settlements that do not fully compensate you for your damages. 

  • Seek reliable legal counsel. If you have suffered significant loss or injury, consider hiring an attorney with experience in bicycle accident cases. A skilled lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process and advocate for your best interests. 

Consult with Our Attorneys  

If you are involved in a bicycle accident, the attorneys at Balbo & Gregg, Attorneys at Law, PC can:  

  • advise you on the best legal course of action,  

  • negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and  

  • work to ensure you get the best possible settlement offer to compensate for your injuries, lost wages, and other costs related to the accident. 

To discuss your case with our personal injury attorneys, call (866) 580-3089 today.