Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Georgia

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We know about bicycle accidents. Our firm has handled cases on both sides—we have handled cases in which a motor vehicle driver was at fault for injuring a bicyclist, and cases in which the bicyclist was at fault for running a red light and knocking down a pedestrian. We have handled hit-and-run cases in which the bicyclist was injured, cases in which a bicyclist was falsely accused of having improper equipment, and cases in which automobile drivers and bicyclists failed to obey Georgia’s rules of the road. We have the satisfied clients to show for it.
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The Butler Kahn is proud to be a member of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.

Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accidents

Hit-and-run accidents are unfortunately common in bicycle collisions. That is true for two reasons. First, motorists may fear that the injuries to the bicyclist are likely to be severe, and may want to avoid responsibility for the collision. Second, many motorists assume that they can outrun a bicyclist—especially after a collision. Sometimes the motorist gets away. If the motorist is caught, however, the consequences can be severe. In the context of a lawsuit, hitting-and-running may also authorize punitive damages. Even if the motorist is never caught, a bicyclist may have options. Although many people don’t know it, the uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist / UM insurance that a person buys for his or her automobile may cover you if a car violates the rules of the road and collides with you. This UM auto insurance can be available because even though you were on a bicycle, the collision was still “related to” the automobile—i.e., the automobile that hit you. The availability of this insurance coverage can be a relief for a bicyclist who faces mounting medical bills, time missed from work, and significant pain. Also, in some of our cases, we have seen law enforcement catch motorists long after the hit-and-run occurred—so don’t give up hope! Here is one example of a case that our firm successfully resolved, even though it first appeared that the hit-and-run driver would get away.

Mechanisms of Injury in Bicycle Accident Cases

Injuries from bicycle collisions tend to be severe. To understand why, you have to look at the “mechanism of injury,” which is a medical term that refers to the way that an injury happens. The first mechanism of injury in a bicycle accident is that a car or some other object can strike the bicyclist directly. Unlike the driver of a vehicle, a bicyclist has essentially no crash protection – there are no bumpers, doors, crumple zones, or airbags. If a car or truck makes direct contact with a bicyclist’s body, the results are often serious. The second mechanism of injury in a bicycle accident is “ejection,” when the bicyclist is thrown from the bicycle. If a car or truck strikes a bicyclist with any kind of force, the bicyclist is likely to end up airborne. If the at-fault vehicle turns in front of the bicycle without leaving the bicyclist time to stop, or if the bicyclist gets “doored,” then the bicycle is likely to stop suddenly and the bicyclist keeps going. The bicyclist often gets vaulted forward over the handlebars. If a car or truck strikes a bicycle in the rear, then the bicycle will likely accelerate forward rapidly while the rider doesn’t, so the bicyclist may end up flipping backward over the car. In either scenario, what goes up must come down, and the injuries to the bicyclist are often serious. Most of the bicycle accident injuries that we see come from this second mechanism of injury. The type of injury that our client suffers usually depends on what part of his or her body hits the ground first.
image of "dooring" about to happen to a bicyclist in Georgia

Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries

Brain Injuries in Bicycle Accidents

Closed-head injuries are common in bicycle accidents. Even if a bicyclist is wearing a good modern helmet, a bicycle accident can cause a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. Concussions or traumatic brain injuries can happen – and in fact, usually happen – without any visible mark on the skull. One reason is that if the bicyclist goes airborne and lands on his or her head, the bicyclist’s helmet and skull stop suddenly. But the brain, which is suspended inside the skull, doesn’t. The brain keeps moving until it is pressed up against the inside of the skull. If the pressure is great enough, the pressure can cause lesions, bleeding, swelling, or hemorrhaging.

In severe cases, doctors may have to perform emergency surgery to lessen the pressure on a bicyclist’s brain created by swelling. Symptoms of concussions or traumatic brain injuries include persistent headaches, amnesia or memory loss, vertigo, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, anger, or in severe cases, personality changes. Sometimes these injuries are permanent. Even if the brain injury symptoms aren’t perfect, it can take up to two years for the brain to recover or reach what doctors call “maximum medical improvement.”

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Neck or Back Injuries in Bicycle Accidents

image of the spinal cord in the human bodyInjuries to the spine, including the neck or back, are common in bicycle accidents. If you think about it, that makes sense – if a bicyclist is ejected and lands on his or her head, a helmet may lessen the force of impact to the skull, but it does nothing to protect the neck, back or spine. When the head hits the ground, the head stops moving, but the rest of the bicyclist’s body doesn’t. Depending on the angle of impact, the bicyclist’s neck and spine may have to absorb tremendous force. That can be bad. The spine is made up of bony blocks called “vertebrae” that are stacked on top of each other and are separated by softer pads called “discs.” In a particularly severe bicycle accident, if the spine is asked to absorb too much force, one or more of the vertebrae in the neck or back may burst or fracture. This is called a “burst fracture.”

A burst fracture is always painful, and it can be catastrophic – if the burst fracture cuts the nerves that run up and down the spinal column, the bicyclist can be paralyzed. More often, bicycle accident injuries occur to the softer discs that separate the vertebrae. If a disc has to absorb too much pressure, it can rupture, spilling its internal fluid into the spinal column or elsewhere. Doctors call this type of injury an “annular tear.” Or a bicycle accident may cause a part of the disc to poke out in what is commonly called a “herniated disc,” “disc herniation,” or “slipped disc.” If the protruding part of the disc presses against the nerves that travel up and down the spine, that hurts. A bicyclist may feel the pain in the part of the back where the herniated disc is, or the pain can feel like it is coming from somewhere else.  Since the nerves that run through our neck, back, and spine come from all different parts of the body, pressure on that nerve can make a bicyclist feel like the pain is coming from anywhere that the nerve goes – feet, legs, arms, hands, etc. When pain seems to move like that, doctors say that the pain “radiates” and may diagnose “radiculopathy” as a result of the bicycle accident.

Orthopedic Injuries in Bicycle Accidents

image of vertebrae in the human spineOrthopedic injuries are common in bicycle accidents. Like head, neck, or back injuries, they are most common following ejection, when the bicyclist strikes the ground after being launched into the air. We have seen everything from broken legs to fractured shoulders. In more severe bicycle accidents, emergency surgery may be required. Emergency surgeries usually stabilize the injured area, often through the installation of plates and screws. Unfortunately, emergency surgeries usually aren’t “final” – often, they’re a stopgap measure to keep things from getting any worse. Recovering from bicycle accident injuries after an emergency surgery usually involves lots of physical therapy, and may involve additional surgeries to provide a longer-term fix and longer-term comfort for the injured bicyclist.

Road Rash in Bicycle Accidents

Road rash is a serious injury. When a bicycle accident throws the bicyclist off the bicycle and causes him or her to skid across pavement or concrete, the skidding can remove a layer of skin – or sometimes all of the skin in an area. It hurts. Road rash from a bicycle accident can also be serious in the long term, both because of the likelihood of infection and because it can leave scars. Protective clothing helps, but it’s hard to cover everything. Bicycling is a physical activity, so it’s usually not comfortable to ride a bicycle while every inch of your body is covered. In a serious bicycle accident, the clothing may not matter anyway because skidding across asphalt can tear through the clothing and reach the skin.

street sculpture showing bicycle dooring

Someone with a quirky sense of humor created this statue of a bicyclist getting doored. We don’t know why.

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We Support Bicycle Safety

Bicycling holds promise. Done correctly, bicycling can ease traffic congestion, improve air quality, and provide exercise for the American public. But it needs to be safe cycling. Drivers must respect bicyclists, bicyclists must respect drivers, and government should provide the infrastructure that will allow drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to travel in harmony. Cities and counties, across Georgia.

Bicycle Accident Lawyer Georgia

Those who journey out onto the road to ride a bicycle either for leisure or sport may find that their biggest threat to safety is the vehicle driver. Car drivers can easily be distracted by their radio, cell phone, passengers, or due to daydreaming. A rider may eventually come to realize that he or she must take the lead on safety and be alert at all times for careless drivers. It is unfortunate that car drivers cannot always be trusted to act with consideration around folks who travel on these two non-motorized wheels. Here in this article, a Georgia bicycle accident lawyer explores more into bicyclist safety and what a rider can do if he or she is ever hit by a car driver. Remember, if you or a loved one is struck by a vehicle while riding a bike, immediate medical attention should be sought.

HOW CAN I PREVENT BEING HIT BY A CAR WHILE RIDING A BIKE?

While it is difficult to eliminate all possibility of being hit by a car, there are safety tips a rider can follow to help at least greatly minimize the chances. Here are just a few guidelines when venturing out on the road for a bike ride:

  1. Never ride against traffic, always with the flow
  2. Try to avoid wearing dark colors
  3. Purchase protective gear that is also reflective
  4. Consider buying a blinking light attachment
  5. Always wear a helmet that fits your head and is buckled snugly
  6. Keep up on bicycle maintenance and perform needed repairs
  7. Wear bicycle gloves that assist in grip of the handlebars
  8. Do not ride in severe weather conditions, such as heavy rain or ice

IF I GET HIT BY A CAR DRIVER, IS IT POSSIBLE TO SUE FOR COMPENSATION?

The injuries resulting from being hit by a car while riding a bike can not only be agonizing, but costly too. After such an incident, it is normal for a bicyclist to wonder about his or her legal options. Depending on how the crash happened, the rider may be able to file a lawsuit against the driver for financial compensation. This can be particularly true for those who suffered very serious conditions that required long-term and intensive care.

WHY ARE BICYCLE-RELATED ACCIDENTS SO SERIOUS?

The average vehicle can weigh anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 pounds. When a car of this size going a relatively decent speed crashes into the body of a human with no protective shield, the injuries can be severe and even life-threatening. The human body simply cannot withstand the impact of such a heavy force.

WHEN MEETING WITH A GEORGIA BICYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYER, WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD I GATHER?

The more details you have for your bicycle accident lawyer, the better he or she can advise you about what steps to take next. You may want to gather documents and proof of the accident such as the official police report, pictures of the scene, medical care expenses, and doctor’s exams. Bring along as much information as you can for your bicycle accident lawyer Georgia clients recommend going through it during the consultation. Contact our Georgia bicycle accident lawyer today!

Bicycle Laws in Georgia

Safety requires rules, and rules require enforcement. That’s where we come in. When motorists pull out in front of a bicycle because they didn’t see it, that’s negligence. When a motorist swerves off the road and strikes a bicyclist, that’s negligence. When a bicycle blows through a stop light and strikes a pedestrian, that’s also negligence. When someone’s negligence hurts an innocent person, the person at fault (and usually that person’s insurance company) should be held accountable. Below are some of the more important rules that establish how motor vehicles should interact with bicycles with citations to Georgia law.
  1. When a car passes a bicycle, the car must leave at least three feet of space.  O.C.G.A. § 40-6-56.
  2. When a bicycle is in a bicycle lane, cars must yield to it. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-55.
  3. Bicycles may legally ride upon the paved shoulder of the road. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-291.
  4. Generally, bicycles must obey the same rules that cars must obey. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-290.
  5. Generally, bicyclists must stay on the right side of the roadway. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-294(b).
  6. Bicycles must have certain safety equipment. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-296.
  7. If a bicycle is built for one person, only one person can ride it—no passengers on handlebars or axle foot pegs! But children under one can ride in a sling or trailer. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-292.
  8. Bicycles should not be ridden on sidewalks. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-144.
  9. And unfortunately, despite how much fun it might be, it is illegal to tow a bicycle (or skateboard, or rollerblader, or sled) behind a car. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-293.
For more information, you can review the “pocket guides” written by Georgia Bikes! and the Georgia Department of Highway Safety.
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$150 Million Landmark Wrongful Death Verdict

Butler Kahn secured a $150 million jury verdict against Chrysler for the family of a 4-year-old boy who was killed in a devastating crash in Georgia. Our firm held the giant automaker accountable for Remington Walden’s death and for failing to warn the public about dangers associated with its Jeep Grand Cherokee. Learn More

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What Should I Do After A Georgia Bicycle Accident?

Riding a bike is a quick way to get around, especially during rush hour. Bicycling is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment, and it is more affordable than owning a car. However, cycling can also put you at risk for traffic accidents. If you’ve been in a cycling accident and were not at fault, you may have a case against the driver that hit you.
Here’s what you should do immediately after a cycling accident. If you are seriously injured, contact emergency services and go to the hospital immediately. If you are able to, move away from the road somewhere safe.
  • Trade contact information with the driver. If you are not seriously injured, talk to the other party involved in the accident. Get their name, phone number, and insurance information. If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their contact information as well. They may be vital to your case later on.
  • Take photos. If you are physically able to, take photos of the scene of the accident. Clear, high-quality photos of the accident can strengthen your case later on. Take photos of your bike as well as the car involved from several different angles. You should also make sure to photograph the license plate of the car involved and note down the make and model.
  • File a police report. Next, you should call the police and have them come to the scene. If you are unable to make the call yourself, ask someone nearby to make the call for you. Once the police arrive, you will be able to file an accident report. A detailed accident report will be crucial to your case later on. If you remember additional details after the accident, you can always go to the police station and amend the report later on. If you aren’t able to file a police report at the scene, don’t neglect it – you can always go to the station and file an accident report after the fact.
  • Don’t repair your bike. It can be tempting to repair your bike right away if you use it as your primary mode of transportation. However, your bike will serve as evidence in your case, so you should wait to repair it until the suit is settled. Ideally, the other party’s insurance should pay for your bike repairs as well as any other expenses associated with the accident.
  • Document your experience. It’s very important to keep detailed records of your experience after the accident. Write down your entire memory of the accident, as well as your personal experience afterwards. Save all of your medical bills and ask your doctors for medical records relating to your injuries. If you have to miss work due to your injuries, make sure to note your missed wages and how that affects your quality of life. You may also want to take pictures of your injuries as they progress to illustrate the length of your recovery period.
  • Talk to a Georgia bicycle accident injury lawyer. It’s important to get a personal injury lawyer involved as soon as possible after the accident. A trustworthy lawyer will serve as your advocate as you navigate this very difficult situation. They will help you build an effective case so you can receive compensation for your financial losses, as well as the pain and stress that you have endured. It’s important to look for a professional who specializes in injury cases similar to yours for the best chance of success.
Butler Kahn specializes in bicycle accident injury cases in Georgia. If you’ve been in a bicycle accident in Georgia, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Contact Butler Kahn to learn more about your legal options.

Can I Use Car Insurance For A Bicycle Accident In GA?

Bicycling is a great way to get around. Not only does it help ease congestion in crowded areas, but it is also a great way to exercise. However, bicyclists are often more vulnerable to negligence and careless drivers on the roadways. If you have been involved in a Georgia bicycle accident, you are probably wondering – can I use car insurance for this? The answer is yes, in most cases, you will be able to use car insurance to cover your injuries. It is important that you contact a qualified and experienced Georgia bicycle accident attorney to help you through this process to ensure you get the compensation you need.

What if a driver is at fault in a Georgia bicycle accident?

Bicyclists are among the most vulnerable groups of people in and around the roadways in Georgia. Despite Georgia laws that allow cyclists the right-of-way on most roads, these incidents still occur at an alarming rate, and they often cause major injuries. It is important that both bicyclists and vehicle drivers pay attention to one another on the roadways. Bicycle safety begins with understanding the laws. Most people are not aware of the following:
  • If a car passes a bicycle, the car must leave at least three feet of space. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-56.
  • Cars must yield to a bicycle if it is in a bicycle lane. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-55.
  • Bicycles may legally ride upon the paved shoulder of the road. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-291.
  • Bicycles must obey the same rules that cars must obey. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-290.
  • Bicyclists must stay on the right side of the roadway. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-294(b).
In many cases, we find that drivers are at fault for various reasons, including the following:
  • Driver inattention: as drivers become increasingly more distracted by their phones and other devices, they are becoming more dangerous for bicyclists.
  • Failure to yield: there are times when drivers or cyclists are not aware of their responsibilities according to traffic laws. In many cases, a bicyclist gets struck at an intersection or while they are driving on the right side of the roadway.
*Drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol are more likely to strike a bicyclist. Unfortunately, many motorists flee the scene of a bicycle crash to avoid responsibility for the injuries or because they are hiding something illegal (drunk driving, drugs in the vehicle, warrants for their arrest, etc.).

Will their insurance cover a Georgia bicycle accident?

If another driver is at fault in a bicycle crash, their insurance will likely be required to cover your injury expenses through their bodily injury liability insurance. This will require that you file a claim directly with their insurance company. However, the requirement for bodily injury liability insurance in Georgia is only $25,000. If your injuries cost more than that, you may be able to use your own automobile insurance as well. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM), you will be able to use that if the driver has inadequate coverage. You may also be able to use this coverage if the driver who strikes you flees the scene of the crash.

What happens after a Georgia bicycle accident?

Bicycle crashes can be scary and confusing, especially if you are injured. The good news is that an at-fault driver’s insurance should cover your expenses. However, if there is a dispute with the at-fault party or their insurance company, you may need to secure assistance from a Georgia bicycle accident attorney. A skilled bicycle accident attorney will know exactly how to file a claim with the insurance companies and will guide you through the process. If an insurance company denies your claim or does not offer enough compensation to cover your expenses, an experienced attorney will help negotiate on your behalf.

Contact our Georgia Bicycle Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a bicycle accident, we invite you to call us for a free consultation. Our firm charges no legal fees unless we take your case and we are able to recover money for you.