Bicycle accidents are a steady problem in Georgia; from 2000-2006 more than 5,000 people were injured in bicycle accidents – within that number, 118 people died. Looking at reports, there is still no downward trend in the number of accidents that take place involving bicycles. There are so many injuries that can arise from crashing on a bike. Sadly, only 12% of riders in accidents are actually wearing helmets when the accident occurs. This can lead to a devastating amount head trauma injuries as well as brain injuries. Bicyclists are very vulnerable to the vehicles and environment around them and there are only so many safety precautions that can be taken to avoid injuries. Every year there are about 540,000 bike riders that visit the emergency room throughout the United States because of injuries.
Some of the severe damages that can occur in a bicycle accident include:
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Catastrophic injuries
- Paraplegia and Quadriplegia injuries
On top of these life changing damages, broken bones and road rash are among the many other painful consequences of bike accidents. Just last year there were two bicyclists that were hospitalized after being hit by a truck on a Georgia highway. Sadly, there was a third biker in the accident who was killed. These experienced bikers were heading east on the highway when a truck hit them from behind, knocking them into a ditch. The truck driver told the police that he did not see the bicyclists; this shows the danger that bike riders are in when on the road. All it takes is a distracted driver or a blind spot to end their life or severely injure them. This is why it is vital to take safety precautions when riding your bicycle on the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives tips to remain safe on the road and avoid accidents:
- Wear a fitted helmet
- Have a headlight and a rear light
- Obey all traffic signs and signals
- Increase visibility as much as possible with colors or a reflective vest
- Wave your arm to signal
- Yield if a car does not see you
- Ride further left, cars can see you better in intersections and you avoid car doors
- Don’t ride on the sidewalk or hug the curb
- Don’t ride against traffic
- Don’t pass on the right
- Avoid blind spots
- Have a mirror on your handlebar or helmet
- Do not swerve in and out of parking lanes that have parked cars
Unfortunately, wearing a helmet does not prevent getting hit by a car, so you must be smart about the ways you ride on the road.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A BICYCLE ACCIDENT
Fault is difficult to determine when there is a collision between a bike and a vehicle which is why you need to take immediate measures following an accident. Call 911 and wait for the police to arrive; you should also contact emergency services if needed. It is key to receive the contact information of witnesses who can testify to what happened and also take pictures of the scene and the damages. Then, record your version of what happened in the accident report and also document for yourself what happened and how it happened in detail. Also, keep a list of your injuries and seek medical attention for them even if they are minor so that there is proof of each injury. Do not fix your bike, leave the damaged bike the way it is as evidence. Lastly, seek counsel from an experienced Marietta personal injury lawyer who can help make sure the at-fault party is held liable.
The following questions can help you determine who is to blame for your accident.
Were you following traffic laws?
A bicycle is often treated as a vehicle according to Georgia law. Because of this, you are required to follow all applicable signals, signs, markings, and right of way rules. This will help minimize your risk of liability in an accident.
Were your lights up to code?
In Georgia, you are required by law to use lights or reflectors on your bicycle at night. If you use lights, your bicycle must be equipped with a white light on the front and a red light on the back, both must emit a beam visible from a distance of 300 feet. A bicycle with a red reflector on the back, which has been approved by the department of public safety, does not need to be equipped with lights. Additionally, you can protect yourself at night by wearing bright clothes and using reflective tape.
Was the other party negligent?
Distracted driving is one of the main causes of driver negligence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, and fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system all constitute distracted driving. Anything that diverts the driver’s attention from the road can be considered distracted driving
Reckless driving is another main cause of negligence. Speeding, racing, failing to yield the right-of-way, running stop signs and traffic signals, and drifting into the bike lane are all forms of reckless driving.
Driving under the influence is yet another form of negligence. In Georgia, it is illegal for drivers of all ages to operate motor vehicles if they have blood alcohol concentration of:
- 0.08% or higher, if they’re 21 years old or older operating regular passenger vehicles.
- 0.04% or higher, if they’re operating commercial vehicles.
- 0.02% or higher, if they’re younger than 21 years old.
Similarly, if the driver has other narcotics in their system, they can be held liable.
Did hazardous objects cause your injury?
A property owner may be held liable for the hazardous objects/conditions that caused your injury. If a bicycle accident was caused by a road hazard, then the city, county, or state is may be the responsible party.
Was the accident caused by defective equipment?
If your helmet, bike, or other materials led to an accident, the manufacturer may be held liable for your injury.
NEED MORE INFORMATION? CONTACT AN ATTORNEY!
Consult an attorney from our firm before you speak with any insurance companies to make sure that you do not say anything to jeopardize your case. Need a lawyer for a bicycle accident case in Marietta? Jones & Swanson proudly offers a free consultation so call today to discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers.