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Atlanta Bicycle Accident Attorneys
Matt Wetherington with Wetherington Law Firm,P.C. is the hardest working attorney I have ever worked with. He went above and beyond our expectations. Calls and emails are returned promptly and by Mr. Wetherington himself.
5 Stars is nowhere near enough to rate how awesome Matt and his colleagues were. They took my case even when I didn’t think there was anything we could do. I was in a bad situation at the time and Matt, Robert, and Sarah were there for me every step of the way.
I’m so grateful to Ben Levy and everything he did for me. He was truly dedicated to helping my case. Throughout the process, Ben was very thoughtful, responsive, organized, and made sure I was fully informed along the way.
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Skilled and Experienced Atlanta Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Biking is a fun and healthy way to get around, but it’s important to know about the risks. Even though bike trips are only 1% of all trips in the U.S., cyclists face more danger than you might think. In a CDC report, every year, almost 1,000 cyclists die and more than 130,000 get hurt in crashes with cars. These accidents can cost a lot, over $23 billion a year! This includes money for medical care and lost work, plus the value of lives lost and quality of life.
The type of injuries commonly associated with bicycle accidents includes road rash, lacerations, broken bones, head trauma, and more severe cases like spinal cord damage and amputations. Georgia’s comparative negligence standard is often applied in these cases, meaning liability can be shared among different parties, including drivers, employers, or manufacturers of faulty products.
Georgia law offers certain protections for cyclists, such as requiring motorists to maintain a minimum distance of 3 feet when passing a cyclist and recognizing bicycles as vehicles with similar road rights. After an accident, it’s advisable to contact the police, document the accident, and seek medical attention even for minor injuries. Gathering evidence like police reports, witness testimonies, and photographs is crucial for building a strong case.
If you’re involved in a bicycle crash in Atlanta, having the right legal team is crucial. Our Atlanta Bike Crash Attorneys are here to help. We’re not just lawyers; we’re specialists in bicycle injury law, deeply familiar with the challenges and risks cyclists face on Georgia’s roads. Our experience in handling bike crash cases has honed our expertise, enabling us to offer exceptional legal support and advice. We understand the intricacies of Georgia’s traffic laws and how they apply to cyclists, ensuring you get the comprehensive representation you deserve.
If you are ready to hire an attorney for your bicycle accident, click here to complete our personal injury intake form. This is the fastest way to get started. If you would like to learn more about our firm and what rights you have after being involved in an accident while riding a bicycle, read on.
What Should I Do Right After Being Involved in a Bicycle Accident?
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, taking the right steps immediately afterward is crucial for both your health and any potential legal claims. Here’s a guideline based on our experienced Atlanta bicycle accident attorneys:
- Ensure Safety: Move to a safe location if you can. Don’t stay in the road or near traffic.
- Check for Injuries: Assess yourself for any injuries. Even if you feel fine, some injuries may not be immediately apparent due to adrenaline.
- Call the Police: It’s important to have an official report. The police will document the scene and gather information from everyone involved.
- Exchange Information: Get the contact and insurance details of the other parties involved. Also, collect contact information from witnesses.
- Document the Scene: Take photos of your bicycle, the vehicle involved, any injuries, and the overall accident scene.
- Seek Medical Attention: Visit a doctor as soon as possible, even if your injuries seem minor. Some injuries only become apparent later, and a medical record is vital for insurance or legal purposes.
- Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurer about the accident but be cautious with the details you provide until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.
- Keep Records: Save all medical documents, receipts, police reports, and any communication related to the accident.
- Avoid Discussing Fault: Be careful not to admit fault or make statements that could be used against you later.
- Consult a Bicycle Accident Attorney: An attorney can guide you on the best course of action, especially if you’re considering filing a claim.
- Follow-Up on Medical Care: Continue with any recommended treatments or follow-up appointments.
What is Required to Establish Liability in a Bicycle Accident Case in Georgia?
To establish liability in a bicycle accident case in Georgia, specific legal criteria must be met. These criteria generally revolve around proving negligence, which is the failure to take proper care in doing something, resulting in damage or injury to another. Here are the key components:
- Duty of Care: Establish that the defendant (the person or entity you are filing the claim against) owed you a duty of care. In the context of road use, this typically involves adhering to traffic laws and operating vehicles in a reasonably safe manner.
- Breach of Duty: Demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty of care. This breach could be an action (like running a red light) or a failure to act (such as not yielding the right of way).
- Causation: Prove that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the accident and your resulting injuries. This means showing that the accident would not have occurred if it weren’t for the defendant’s actions or negligence.
- Damages: Provide evidence of the actual damages you suffered due to the accident. This can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses.
In Georgia, the principle of comparative negligence may also apply. This means that if you, as the cyclist, are found to be partially at fault for the accident, any compensation you receive can be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault for an accident, your total compensation will be reduced by 20%.
Gathering evidence is crucial in proving these elements. This can include police reports, witness statements, traffic camera footage, medical records, and expert testimony.
Potential Compensation in Bicycle Accident Cases in Georgia
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, you might be thinking about the compensation you can receive. This kind of compensation is money you get for being hurt in a bike accident. It’s meant to help you pay for things like doctor’s bills and money you lost because you couldn’t work. The amount of money you can get depends on a few things. These include how serious your injuries are, how long your recovery is, and if you have lasting problems from the accident. Your medical costs and lost income are also important.
When it comes to personal injury claims after a bicycle accident, understanding your legal rights is key. A lawyer who knows about personal injury law can help a lot. We can explain how much money you might be able to get. Settlement amounts can be different for each person. Sometimes, you might agree on an amount with the insurance company without going to court. Other times, the case might need to go to trial. Whether you settle or go to court depends on things like who was at fault and how the insurance company reacts.
Financial recovery in bicycle accidents often involves dealing with insurance companies. If the person who caused the accident has insurance, their company might pay for some or all of your compensation. Sometimes your own insurance might help, especially if the other person’s insurance isn’t enough. Every bicycle accident is unique, so the compensation you can get varies. The details of the accident and the laws where you live can affect the amount of money you can receive.
Georgia Law Cares More About Cars than Bicyclists
Georgia’s laws fail to adequately protect cyclists. Wetherington says, “Georgia’s cities are obsessed with cars and expose bicycle riders to unnecessary risk of harm.” Georgia has always been hostile to cyclists. Georgia’s current bicycling laws make cyclists a low priority:
- 40-6-294. Riding on roadways and bicycle paths
(a) As used in this Code section, the term “hazards to safe cycling” includes, but shall not be limited to, surface debris, rough pavement, drain grates which are parallel to the side of the roadway, parked or stopped vehicles, potentially opening car doors, or any other objects which threaten the safety of a person operating a bicycle.
(b) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when:
(1) Turning left;
(2) Avoiding hazards to safe cycling;
(3) The lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle;
(4) Traveling at the same speed as traffic;
(5) Exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; or
(6) There is a right turn only lane and the person operating the bicycle is not turning right; provided, however, that every person operating a bicycle away from the right side of the roadway shall exercise reasonable care and shall give due consideration to the other applicable rules of the road.
(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, or when a special event permit issued by a local governing authority permits riding more than two abreast.
(d) Whenever a usable bicycle path has been provided adjacent to a roadway and designated for the exclusive use of bicycle riders, then the appropriate governing authority may require that bicycle riders use such bicycle path and not use those sections of the roadway so specified by such local governing authority. The governing authority may be petitioned to remove restrictions upon demonstration that the bicycle path has become inadequate due to capacity, maintenance, or other causes.
(e) Bicycle paths subject to the provisions of subsection (d) of this Code section shall at a minimum be required to meet accepted guidelines, recommendations, and criteria with respect to planning, design, operation, and maintenance as set forth by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and such bicycle paths shall provide accessibility to destinations equivalent to the use of the roadway.
(f) Any person operating a bicycle in a bicycle lane shall ride in the same direction as traffic on the roadway.
Throughout the state of Georgia, particularly in larger cities such as Atlanta, Decatur, and Marietta, bicycle lanes are becoming more common. Bicycle lanes give those on bikes a designated space to keep them safer and out of the path of motor vehicles.
Bicycle safety is critically important, and those riding bikes must be responsible for their personal safety. A bicycle is classified as a vehicle in the state of Georgia, and those operating bicycles must adhere to all traffic safety laws.
This means that bicyclists must, for example, ride in single file when riding in groups, obey traffic lights and stop signs, utilize proper passing procedures, use hand signals when turning and stopping, use proper equipment, and ensure that they are capable of having both hands available to operate the handlebars and brakes at all times (e.g., not transport any items restricting their ability to use both hands). While helmets are legally required for any cyclist under the age of 16, every cyclist should always wear a properly fitted helmet to help prevent injury.
Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accident Claims in Georgia
In Georgia, if you’ve been in a bicycle accident and want to file a lawsuit, there’s a specific time limit you need to know about. This is called the ‘statute of limitations’. It’s a legal timeframe that sets a deadline for when you can start your lawsuit. For bicycle accident lawsuits in Georgia, this time limit is generally two years from the date of the accident. This means if you were hurt in a bike accident, you have up to two years to begin your legal action.
Why does this deadline matter? It’s crucial because if you wait too long and miss this deadline, you might not be able to file your lawsuit at all. This can mean losing your chance to get compensation. Compensation is the money you receive to cover things like medical costs and the income you lost because you couldn’t work. Being aware of this time limit helps protect your legal rights. It gives you enough time to get all your evidence together and file a strong case.
If you’re thinking about filing an injury claim after a bicycle accident, it’s really important to keep this time limit in mind. If you’re not sure about the time limits or need help with your lawsuit, talking to a lawyer who specializes in bicycle accidents in Georgia can be very helpful. Our skilled Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers at Wetherington Law Firm can guide you through the legal process and make sure you file your lawsuit on time. This way, you can focus on your recovery while your lawyer handles the legal details. Get in touch with us today!
Why You Should Hire an Attorney if you are Injured on a Bicycle
Reaching out for legal help is important when you are in a bicycle accident. A personal injury lawyer with experience in bicycle injuries will be able to provide a tremendous amount of assistance related to your accident and the money you can recover. At the Wetherington Law Firm, your Atlanta bicycle injury lawyer will have extensive experience assessing your personal injury claim and can most likely tell you right away whether it is worth it to pursue legal action.
Your personal injury lawyer has the expertise to navigate the amazing amount of “red tape” that you will encounter following your accident. Your lawyer will have the ability to investigate the accident, including reviewing police documents, statements, and other related information in an objective way, which will allow you to more fully understand the entire process.
Because your attorney has so much experience dealing with other attorneys, they will be far better to advocate for you than you would be on your own. The average citizen is easily overwhelmed by the complicated nuances of the legal system and may drop the case or settle for far less than they deserve, just to avoid dealing with the hurdles insurance companies throw up for you.
A personal injury lawyer will also have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies. Whether you are filing claims against a car driver, or dealing with your own insurance companies, an expert will be able to strongly advocate for you and reach the best settlement possible. What may seem like an obvious case can quickly change to a $0 recovery based on a failure to preserve evidence or answering a tricky question from an insurance adjuster. An experienced attorney can make a huge difference.
Everyone knows that the insurance companies do not have victims’ best interests at heart. However, most people are unprepared for how well insurance adjusters are trained to minimize injuries and deny valid claims. The Wetherington Law Firm has the experience and financial resources needed to prove your case and obtain full compensation for your injuries.
At Wetherington Law Firm, every personal injury client whether car accident, assault or wrongful death receives a dedicated team of lawyers and supporting staff who will do the heavy lifting so that you can focus on getting better.
Our clients trust us to do everything possible to obtain full value for their injuries. We represent cyclists who have been hit by cars exclusively on contingency. That means that you do not pay us a single penny unless and until we obtain a recovery for you. When you hire us, you can expect us to take the following steps immediately:
- Preserve all evidence immediately;
- Identify and interview all witnesses to your bicycle incident;
- Identify all culpable parties;
- Identify all insurance policies that may provide coverage for your injuries;
- Develop the evidence necessary to determine the correct standard of care for each defendant;
- Fully document your current medical condition;
- Negotiate your medical bills;
- Work with your physicians to understand your future medical needs and how much they will cost; and
- Keep you informed every step of the way.
Even if you have only minor injuries, the costs of being in an accident can be far more than the immediate and obvious costs. Too many people are surprised after the fact to learn that their insurance does not fully cover their medical expenses. An Atlanta bicycle injury lawyer will be well-versed in the details related to your bike accident and know how to maximize your compensation.
Who Can I Recover Money from After a Cycling Injury?
After being struck by a car while riding a bicycle, there are several potential parties that you can recover money from. Although the specifics vary by state and this is a complicated area of law, the following parties must be considered:
The At-Fault Driver
You can assert a claim against the driver of the responsible vehicle. In Atlanta, every driver is required to carry liability insurance. The minimum coverage amount in Atlanta is set by a statute, O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in a single accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of more than one person in a single accident
- $25,000 for injury or harm to the property of others in a single accident
These coverages are the minimum amounts of coverage required, and it is generally advisable to carry higher coverages. Under certain circumstances, if your damages exceed the policy limits, the at-fault driver can be held personally responsible for the difference. Under other circumstances, the insurance company will have to pay for the full value of your injuries.
The Owner of the At-Fault Vehicle
In many states, including Georgia, an injured person may have a claim against the owner of an at-fault vehicle, even if the owner was not driving the car at the time of the accident. This is because of a legal theory called negligent entrustment. In a negligent entrustment claim, liability arises from the negligent act of the owner in lending his automobile to another to drive, with actual knowledge that the driver is incompetent or habitually reckless. This theory commonly arises in drunk driving cases where a person has a history of DUIs and tractor trailer accidents where the company knew that the driver was a bad driver.
Where the owner of the vehicle is a large corporation, there is generally no limit to the amount that can be recovered.
The Resident Relatives of the At-Fault Driver
Some liability insurance policies provide liability coverage for all relatives that reside in the same household as the driver. This type of coverage is not common, but it is important to obtain all relevant liability policies to confirm that their insurance coverage is not missed.
The Employer of the At-Fault Driver
At the time of the accident, if the employee was within the course and scope of her employment, the employer is liable for the employee’s negligence even if the employee was driving a personal vehicle. Where the at-fault driver was using his or her employer’s vehicle, there is a presumption that the person was working in the course and scope of their employment. However, this presumption can be rebutted by the employer. When an accident was caused by an Uber or Lyft driver, this analysis can become very complicated.
The Contractor Responsible for the Design or Maintenance of the Road
If the accident was caused by a hazardous condition on the roadway, such as a large pothole, the contractor responsible for the roadway may be responsible for the injuries and damages caused by the accident. Similarly, if the design of the roadway makes it more prone to accidents or serious injuries, such as failing to install a guardrail on a sharp curve, the designer may be responsible for the accident.
Your Insurance Carrier – Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, it may be possible to recover from your own insurance coverage through underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage for your personal vehicle. This is true even though you were not driving a car at the time of the accident, you may be able to recover from your own insurance.
Your Resident Relative’s Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In Atlanta, GA, all underinsured/uninsured insurance policies provide liability coverage for all resident relatives of a household. If you live in the same house as a family member, but have different insurance policies for your vehicles, you may be able to recover some insurance benefits from your relative’s carrier after you have exhausted all coverage on your own uninsured/underinsured policy.
Your Employer – Worker’s Compensation
If you were riding a bicycle while in the course and scope of your employment, you may be able to recover worker’s compensation benefits. It does not matter who was at fault. If the person is eligible for worker’s compensation benefits, he or she can receive coverage. It is possible to recover both worker’s compensation and liability insurance.
What Must I Prove to Recover for Personal Injuries After Being Struck By a Car?
Although the application of the law in each type of case is very different, all car accident cases come from the same rules. To recover for personal injuries after a car accident, you must establish the basic elements of a tort:
- The existence of a duty on the part of the other driver to act a certain way;
- The failure of the driver to perform that duty;
- Actual injuries; and
- Proof that the injuries were proximately caused by the driver’s negligence.
These elements can be confusing. That is why we have written detailed articles on each of these elements that you can read here. The important thing for you to know is that the first element, duty, is very important in evaluating a bicycle injury case. Another good word for duty is responsibility. In Atlanta, all drivers have the responsibility to drive in a safe manner and avoid causing harm to others. “Driving safely” generally means driving in a manner that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Under most circumstances, a reasonably prudent driver will:
- Drive at a reasonable speed;
- Keep a lookout for bicycle riders;
- Yield to others when necessary;
- Stop or slow when appropriate; and
- Maintain the vehicle in a safe condition.
When a person fails to drive in a reasonable manner, they are deemed “negligent.” Simply driving in a negligent manner does not allow someone to file suit against the negligent driver. For example, if someone is speeding, runs a red light, and almost hits a person riding their bicycle – the cyclist would not have a valid claim against the negligent driver. However, if a negligent driver hits the cyclist, the negligent driver will be liable for damages to the cyclist. Whether a person has operated a vehicle in a negligent manner is generally a question that is submitted to a jury.
In addition to the general rule that a driver must act reasonably, there are rules of the road that every driver must comply with. Unlike ordinary negligence, when a driver violates one of these rules and causes a accident, the injured person does not prove that a reasonable person should have acted differently — the conduct is automatically considered negligent. In Georgia, the rules most relevant to bicyclists include the following:
Driving While Intoxicated
OCGA 40-6-253 and OCGA 40-6-391
Using a Phone While Driving
Failing to Yield to Pedestrians
OCGA 40-6-91, OCGA 40-6-92, OCGA 40-6-93, and OCGA 40-6-96
Failing to Obey a Traffic Official
Conducting a Police Chase in a Reckless Manner
Failing to Change Lanes to Give Space for Parked Emergency Vehicles and Construction Workers
OCGA 40-6-16 and OCGA 40-6-75
Tampering with or Stealing Road Signs
Failing to Maintain One Lane
OCGA 40-6-40 and OCGA 40-6-48
Going the Wrong Way on a One-Way Road
OCGA 40-6-47 and OCGA 40-6-240
Driving a Tractor-Trailer or Bus in the Far-Left Lane(s)
Failing to Yield to Emergency Vehicles
Making an Improper U-Turn
Failing to Exercise Due Caution Near Railroad Crossings
OCGA 40-6-140 and OCGA 40-6-142
Driving Too Slow in the Fast Lane
Failing to Slow and Exercise Caution in Construction Zones
Obstructing an Intersection
Failing to Secure all Loads
OCGA 40-6-248.1 and OCGA 40-6-254
Causing Serious Injury by Vehicle
Running a Red or Yellow Traffic Light
OCGA 40-6-20, OCGA 40-6-21, and OCGA 40-6-23
Traveling Too Close to Other Vehicles
Running Stop and Yield Signs
Failing to Yield to Other Vehicles
OCGA 40-6-70 and OCGA 40-6-73
Driving on the Shoulder, Gore, or Other Prohibited Areas
Fleeing Police Officers
Tampering with Traffic Signals
OCGA 40-6-25, OCGA 40-6-17, and OCGA 40-6-396
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road
OCGA 40-6-40 and OCGA 40-6-45
Passing Another Vehicle Improperly
OCGA 40-6-42, OCGA 40-6-43, OCGA 40-6-44, and OCGA 40-6-46
Going the Wrong Way in a Roundabout
Turning the Wrong Way at an Intersection
OCGA 40-6-71 and OCGA 40-6-120
Failing to Yield to Funeral Processions
Failing to Use Turn Signals
Failing to Stop First Before Exiting a Parking Lot
Parking a Vehicle in an Unsafe Place
Driving a Vehicle with an Obstructed View
Laying Drags or Intentionally Making Skid Marks
Intentionally Striking and Killing a Person with a Vehicle
Failing to Follow Pedestrian Traffic Signals
Failing to Drive Motorcycles Safely
OCGA 40-6-310 and OCGA 40-6-311
If there is evidence that an at-fault driver committed one of the above violations, the jury will likely be read the following instruction:
The plaintiff contends that the defendant violated certain laws or ordinances. Such violation is called negligence per se, which means negligence as a matter of law. It is your duty to decide whether such violation took place or not.
This means that successfully proving that the alleged violation took place is the same as proving negligence. Your attorney must then only prove that your injuries were caused by the negligent act.
What Damages Can You Recover After Being Hit By a Car While Riding a Bicycle?
The main public policy purpose for tort law is compensation. Compensatory damages are money damages awarded to compensate you. The system is not perfect. Life, limb, and freedom from pain cannot be restored. However, compensatory damages are a means of attempting to place you in the same relative position that you were in before the loss with money. Compensatory damages are categorized as either general damages or special damages.
You Can Recover “General” Damages After Being Struck By a Car
General damages are “non-economic” losses, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or mental anguish, all of which have no specific, itemized value. The monetary value of general damages is determined by the jury, and jury verdicts are not consistent. A broken ankle in one courtroom could be worth $10,000 in pain and suffering. In another courtroom, it could be worth $100,000.
Matt Wetherington tried a case in Fulton County that resulted in a $2.8 million verdict for a broken ankle. You can read about that case here. However, it is important to know that jury verdicts and settlements vary widely, even for the exact same injury. The variance is due to the individual plaintiff, the jurors at the trial, and the effectiveness of the injured person’s attorney.
You Can Recover “Special” Damages After a Car Accident
Special damages are “economic” losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or the cost of hiring household help, all of which do have a specific itemized value and can be more easily determined or calculated on a simple mathematical basis – once you have obtained the necessary records to prove that the expenses were incurred.
It is important to note that only medical expenses “proximately caused” by the accident itself can be recovered. If you would like to learn more about how proximate cause is determined, click here. For simplicity sake, you should know that proximate cause is often highly contested.
If the Accident Results in a Death, Special Rules Apply
When an accident results in a death, the case turns into a wrongful death claim, instead of a personal injury claim.