Voted Best Personal Injury Law Firm By Georgia Lawyers
Atlanta Bicycle Accident Attorneys
I called Matt after several people recommended him. He was very kind and did a very good job on my son’s case. We are very thankful for the work he did. Most importantly, he was never hard to reach and answered every question we had while going through the process. Matt is the only attorney I will ever call in the future.
My husband is a cyclist that did not fair well against an SUV recently. Matt and his team took phenomenal care of us, allowing us not to stress out (too much) about the little things. Matt and his team handled everything with professionalism. We know we made the right call.
So glad I hired this firm after my rearend car accident. Matt embodies the skill set and values I was looking for. He treats every case like a mini war, and was a zealous advocate on my behalf. And he did so in the most competent and skillful manner. He listened, was empathetic and understood my legal and nonlegal problems.
My 85-year old mom was in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured motorist. His love, thoroughness and commitment to her case helped us through this accident and her cancer treatment. She underwent successful lobectomy and chemotherapy and is doing exceptionally well. We are immensely grateful.
It was important to me to get the maximum money I could for my broken neck and arm. After getting jerked around for months by State Farm, I interviewed several firms and chose Mr. Wetherington. I’m glad I did. He forced the insurance company to pay twenty times their last offer to me.
It is an honor to share my experience with Mr. Wetherington. He was able to get answers about what happened in my son’s wreck that other attorney’s were not able to do. I am so thankful for the work that he did and he was very thorough in his explanation of why the vehicle had a “defect.”
My case did not settle. The person that hit me only had minimal policy limits. Fortunately, I had my own insurance, which should have provided more money. My insurance company, Allstate, treated me like garbage. We had to sue them and go all the way to trial, which we won.
- Jane Doe
Matt Wetherington is the attorney who is suing the booting companies. We need to do everything we can as a community to help him succeed. God bless you, Mr. Wetherington!
The best! Great people and always friendly.
Atlanta Bicycle Accident Lawyers
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.
Bicycle accidents are on the rise in Atlanta and across the United States nationwide. Bicycling is becoming an increasingly popular form of recreation, exercise, and transportation. Although bicycles only account for about 1% of all transportation needs, those on bicycles are at a much higher risk of injury or death than people riding in a motor vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that there were nearly half a million bicycle accidents in its last reporting period, including more than 1,000 deaths! Knowing what to do in case of a bicycle accident is important, as it is a priority to not only take care of your injuries but also protect your legal rights and your opportunities for appropriate compensation. Finding the best bicycle injury lawyer in Atlanta is one of the most important things you can do.
When a bicycle is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, it can lead to catastrophic results. If you are very lucky, then you will have only minor injuries from a bicycle accident. We focus on very serious head injuries, broken limbs, neck and back injuries, spinal cord injuries, and facial injuries. These injuries can be not only life-threatening but often life-changing at the very least. We have found that we are able to offer better results for our clients by focusing on a very small number of cases with large injuries. It is also important to us to work with our clients to advocate for better safety for cyclists so that other people do not suffer from the same injuries.
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.
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. Every personal injury client 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 a 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 Car Accident Results in a Death, Special Rules Apply
When a car accident results in a death, the case turns into a wrongful death claim, instead of a personal injury claim. To learn more about wrongful death claims, click here.