Bicycles have many distinct advantages over cars. They’re cheaper, more maneuverable, easier to park, greener, and healthier. It’s no wonder that many Atlanta citizens choose to bike around the city. However, bicyclists are at a major disadvantage if they’re ever involved in a wreck. This is directly related to the exposure they face, as opposed to the occupants of a vehicle. Suffering from injuries is difficult enough, but if you believe the collision resulted from someone else’s negligence, an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC is here for you.
When we represent our clients, we recognize that they’re worried about their futures. We’re here to stand up for them and let them know that there are people willing to fight for their rights. The claims process can take time, but it’s the most assured way of receiving compensation that covers all your crash-related losses—including future damages.
Before getting into the dangers of bicycle accidents and how we can help if you’ve been injured, you may be curious as to how many bicyclists are in Atlanta and what the city is doing to reduce the chances of crashes happening.
Are Bicyclists Safe in Georgia?
The Georgia Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Safety Action Plan from 2018 gives information on what bicycle safety looks like in the state and what they can do to improve safety.
In a survey done asking Georgia citizens about bicycles, it was found that about 13% of adults in Georgia will ride a bike once per month. 81% of people agreed they would ride their bikes if their communities had paths and bike lanes. They were also asked if they believed that bicyclist rights should be an important part of driver education and 66% agreed.
While this information can be used to move forward with making areas more bicycle-friendly, they also had to look at crash data.
Between 2005 and 2015, there were 5,834 bicycle accidents that involved vehicles in Georgia. 4,482 injuries occurred and 63 of them were fatal. About 48% of the crashes occurred in Georgia’s five biggest cities. Also within that time frame, about 77% of crashes caused injuries. The mean age for those crashes was 31 years old and 72% were male.
One of the biggest takeaways from this report is that the bicyclist was assigned fault 51% of the time. If a bicyclist is in a wreck in Atlanta, they need a bicycle accident attorney who will represent them so they can get a fair settlement. Often times, collisions are the result of a negligent driver. Proving so, however, can be a challenge without proper legal representation.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
When you’re seeking justice through a bicycle accident claim, you’re going to need to know the details of how the accident occurred and why. Your Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer will look at the police report and other accounts of the accident to find out how the driver was negligent.
When a driver acts negligently, this means the accident would have likely been prevented. They failed to meet the duty of care, which they would have met had they driven responsibly and followed traffic law. They owed to other drivers on the road and to bicyclists and pedestrians.
There are many ways for a driver to fail to meet the duty of care. Some of the most common ones our lawyers have seen include the following:
- Speeding. It doesn’t matter if someone was speeding just one time or regularly drives above the speed limit—accidents can occur any time a driver is negligent. When a driver is going above the speed limit, they have reduced control of their vehicle and much less reaction time. Because bicyclists are more difficult to spot on the road, a driver may come up on a bicyclist and not have enough time to slow down or switch lanes before colliding with them.
- Drunk Driving. An impaired driver will have much less control of their vehicle and are prone to swerving between lanes. They also don’t register others on the road and could veer into a bicyclist. A drunk driver could also fall asleep at the wheel and collide with a bicyclist either on the road or in the bicycle lane.
- Distracted Driving. People may resort to distracted driving when they’re trying to accomplish other tasks when they’re behind the wheel. Many people use their cell phones. They could be trying to answer emails, write texts, or look at social media. Other distractions include trying to eat or drink while driving, or do personal routines like floss or put on makeup. Whatever the distraction is, it takes the driver’s attention away from driving safely. They don’t have control of the vehicle and likely won’t see what’s ahead of them. If a bicyclist is crossing the road or the driver is starting to leave their lane, they can hit a bicyclist before they even knew there was one in front of them.
- Road Rage. Sometimes, drivers may have an issue with sharing the road with bicyclists. They may be more focused on the bicyclist than driving safely. If a driver is angry because a bicyclist is slowing them down, they could try to speed past them, weave around them, or cut the bicyclist off by passing right in front of them. The motorist can collide with the bicyclist and cause an accident.
- Failure to Yield. In some situations, bicyclists are struck when riding into an intersection without yielding. Drivers need to be aware of when they need to yield for bicyclists. A bicyclist may think the motorist is going to follow the rules of the road and the driver may not think they have to stop for the person on the bike. If a car is traveling fast or is closer than the bicyclist realizes, an accident can occur.
- Tight Spaces. Sometimes, the bike lane and driving lane are close together. A driver attempting to pass a bicyclist may need more space than what they have. If a driver isn’t familiar with the space they’d need to give the bicyclist to safely pass them, they could clip the rear tire of the bike or swipe the bicyclist as they pass. These actions can make the person riding the bike lose their balance and crash.
If you don’t recognize the cause of your accident, you should still get in touch with a bicycle accident lawyer. While there are common causes, we also understand that everyone’s case is different. If you believe someone acted negligently and it led to your bicycle accident and resulting injuries, we’re here for you.
When you have the details of what led to the accident, then you’re going to look at how the accident played out. Our lawyers will help you find out the type of crash you were involved in. Let’s take a look at common kinds of bicycle crashes.
Types of Bike Crashes
Part of building a strong claim involves understanding the type of accident you were in. When we examine your case, we’ll identify the type. This will help us determine why and how the incident happened.
- Stop Sign Crashes. The most frequent crash type involving bicycles happens at stop signs. Bicyclists are easily injured when negligent drivers disregard stop signs and travel through them without stopping or looking. Drivers may also roll through a stop sign, where they begin to brake, but continue to go through the intersection. This typically happens because they were scanning for other cars and didn’t see any. Because there weren’t any other motorists, they thought it was safe to proceed, but didn’t see the bicyclist.
- Dooring. Dooring collisions are most common on narrow, city streets. If a driver or passenger neglects to check before opening, a person on a bicycle could hit the door. This often results in broken bones and head injuries. If you are exiting a vehicle in a narrow place, make sure to look out your mirrors and to turn and look through the car’s window to make sure you have a clear space to open your car door.
- Left Cross. When a motorist and bicyclist approach each other from opposite directions, there’s a chance the motorist won’t see the bike. When the car goes to make a left turn, they could either cut off the bicyclist and make them lose control of their bicycle as they try to avoid the car, or collide with them directly.
- Right Hook. When a car is making right-hand turns, the driver could cut a bicycle off or turn directly into the rider. Drivers need to be aware that there could be a designated bike lane next to their vehicle or a bicyclist using the side of the road. They need to give the bicyclist plenty of space to avoid collisions.
While the above examples deal with errors made by other motorists, there are some issues you can encounter on the road that aren’t caused by the people you’re sharing it with. If there’s a problem with the road or traffic, then a bicycle accident can occur. Some examples include:
- Poor Road Conditions. If the road has potholes, uncovered sewer drains, or there are construction areas in the road that aren’t properly blocked off, a bicyclist could lose their balance and fall when they hit the area.
- Broken Traffic Lights. A traffic light that isn’t working properly could give more than one person the right of way. When they both proceed, an accident can occur.
- Obstructed Signs. Sometimes, trees or other plants grow to the point where they can block signs. If a motorist cannot see an upcoming stop sign, they may not be able to stop in time and can collide with a bicyclist.
There are many different ways that your bicycle accident may have occurred. You also may not have all the facts or know what kind of accident you were involved in. An Atlanta bicycle accident attorney from Bey & Associates, LLC will review police reports and eyewitness accounts as well as investigate the accident scene. This can provide us with the information necessary to find out how your accident happened and who was at fault.
Common Bicycle Collision Locations
Negligence can happen anywhere. There are, however, a few areas where bicyclists and drivers need to be aware that they are sharing the road. This way, they can keep in mind that they may encounter each other and be prepared, which could reduce the chance of a collision.
City streets are a main area to watch out for. Many people choose to ride their bikes around the city for easier navigation. Drivers need to know that bicyclists have every right to be on the road with them and they need to be given space. If a car is passing a bicyclist, they need to give them an adequate amount of space to safely pass, which is usually three feet.
Intersections are also dangerous for bicyclists. Drivers making left-hand turns may not see a bicyclist coming toward them. Often, drivers may not expect to see bicyclists. Therefore, they’re not keeping a watchful eye out for them. They’re a much smaller object than another car, so drivers can easily miss them and possibly cause a bicycle wreck.
Safety Tips for Bicyclists
Whether you regularly use your bicycle to travel or you only pull it out on a sunny weekend, it’s important to understand how to ride safely and reduce your risks of getting injured by a vehicle. Prior to hopping on, always check your equipment. This means adjusting the seat properly and locking it in place, checking the tire inflation, and ensuring the necessary reflectors are present.
It’s also important to plan on being seen. This means wearing bright clothing and riding only during the day, if possible. Wearing a helmet is necessary, regardless of your age or skill level. Your helmet should meet the requirements set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Once you’re on the road, be sure to follow all traffic rules. Keep in mind that bicyclists must follow the same rules as motorists. Keep alert at all times, and use hand signals to alert drivers of your intentions.
You may want to check the weather to make sure there isn’t inclement weather on the horizon. While it may look like a nice day, a storm can quickly roll in. You don’t want to be caught riding your bike in poor conditions. Rain makes the roads slippery, reduces visibility, and lightning is a safety hazard. Other motorists may have difficulty spotting you on the road through the rain.
It’s also a good idea to plan your route beforehand. If you’re used to a certain route but it’s closed for construction, you may find yourself in a busy, congested area. Looking ahead can show you alternative routes where you may not encounter heavy traffic.
If you are in a situation where you find yourself falling off your bike, there are some ways you may be able to reduce the severity of the injuries. The points above mention safety like wearing protective gear and knowing the route you’re going to take, but when it comes to falling, you may think there isn’t anything you can do.
Many bicycle accident injuries can be severe because you tense or try to brace yourself for the fall. While this reaction may be involuntary, it may mean having a longer recovery time after the impact. When you find yourself falling off your bike, try to control the fall in the following ways:
- Falling Forward. If you’re going up and over your handlebars, you’re at risk of falling face-first into the ground. This can cause severe facial injuries. To reduce the chances of this happening, try to tuck and roll as you fall. Use your arms to protect your face. While this may not prevent all injuries or pain, it may prevent fractures or scrapes to your face.
- Falling Sideways. If you’re falling sideways off your bike, this is typically when people instinctively reach out with their arm to break a fall, risking shattered bones or sprained wrists. Instead, try to make the back of your shoulder the main point of impact.
- Don’t Tense. When using the points above, try to make yourself as limp as possible, as this may help prevent broken bones.
Even when you ride your bicycle responsibly and know the safety tips of how to reduce injuries in a fall, there’s still the chance of getting into a wreck and sustaining injuries because of a reckless driver. When that happens, Bey & Associates, LLC is here for you. Let’s take a look at the damage that can occur when an accident happens.
What Happens When a Driver Collides with a Bicyclist?
The severity of injuries can depend on the driver’s speed and the size of their vehicle. But this doesn’t mean that small vehicles traveling at slow speeds always leave a bicyclist unharmed. Since the bicyclist has considerably less protection, as the most they may be able to do is to wear a helmet and thick, long-sleeved clothing, any collision can prove fatal.
A collision will likely knock the bicyclist off balance, and they’ll fall to the ground. High-speed accidents may throw them from their bikes. There are two major impacts that harm bicyclists. The initial impact from the car hitting them and the impact of when they hit the ground.
The results of the impacts can be devastating. Bicyclists can sustain serious trauma to their brain, neck, and spine. A traumatic brain injury can result in severe impairment of cognitive or motor function. If the spine or neck is damaged and a spinal cord injury is present, the patient could be dealing with varying degrees of impairment. Catastrophic injuries often result in life-long disabilities and affect someone’s ability to return to their job or return to work.
Not being able to work or live life as you did before the accident can be devastating. If you’re adjusting to life with a disability, you may be looking at a future with extensive medical care, continued treatment, and the use of medical equipment to improve your quality of life.
There’s also the emotional toll these injuries can cause. You may be suffering from fear or anxiety from the accident. While it’s normal to be shaken after an accident, if these feelings persist, you may need to seek professional help. This may also be a necessary part of your treatment if you’re having issues with coming to terms with your injury. A licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health care professional could help you get on the right path to healing the mental trauma you’ve been through.
While these may be necessary, you may worry about the medical costs of your injuries and not having a regular paycheck to help with those financial responsibilities. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting the care you need. With an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer at your side, you’ll know that we’re going to fight for your rights no matter what. We understand how devastating a catastrophic injury can be. We’ll do everything we can to advocate for you.
If the injuries aren’t catastrophic, they can still require extensive care and time to heal. When someone falls off their bike, they may react by trying to catch themselves and break the fall. There’s a high chance that bones will break, or sprains will occur if this happens. The impact of the crash can cause these injuries, too.
When the bicyclist hits the ground, they can sustain severe scrapes or bruises. While most broken bones are treated by setting the bone and placing a cast, some require surgery. Recovery is often extended if this is the case, and physical therapy may be necessary.
When injuries like this happen, the victim will likely need immediate medical attention. Your doctor will assess your injuries and start your treatment. Then, the road to recovery can begin.
Recovering from a bicycle accident doesn’t only mean taking care of your physical and emotional health. You’re also looking to recover financially from the costs of the injuries and damages. Filing a claim with an experienced Atlanta bicycle accident attorney can help you accomplish that.
When you file a claim, your legal representative will look into your medical records and calculate your damages for the wreck. We’ll assess the financial costs of this accident and we’ll also make sure your compensation includes your non-financial losses as well. You may have grounds to recover noneconomic damages like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. We’ll use this to fight for your fair settlement.
In some tragic cases, the result of a bicycle accident can be fatal. If you’ve lost a loved one because of a negligent driver, you may not know what options you have. We also represent families of victims who lost their lives to bicycle accident injuries.
You can file a wrongful death claim to seek justice for your loved one. Our lawyers will do everything possible to hold the negligent driver accountable. While it may seem odd to pursue a legal matter following a loved one’s death, a wrongful death claim may provide a great deal of peace to you and your family.
You can think of a wrongful death claim as the bicycle accident claim your loved one would have filed had they survived the accident. They would pursue compensation for injuries and damages. A wrongful death claim can do that for your family. Costs of the funeral and burial, medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering are components of a wrongful death claim that our lawyers will fight for you to recover.
This compensation can bring a great deal of financial relief to your family. With these costs taken care of, you and your family can grieve in peace. You also may find some comfort knowing the person who recklessly caused the accident was held accountable for their actions. Get in touch with our lawyers so we can help you.
What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident?
While you may use as many safety strategies to prevent bicycle accidents as possible, a negligent driver can cause an accident in seconds. The moments after a bicycle collision can be filled with confusion, painful injuries, and you may not know what to do next. It’s important to have a strategy for what to do after an accident. When you take certain steps after a bicycle wreck, you’re protecting your health and also protecting your future claim.
- Call for Help. After a bicycle accident, you may have minor or severe injuries. You may not know the extent of your injuries immediately. It’s important to call 911 so paramedics can evaluate your health and you’ll be able to report the accident to the police. If you’re unable to make this call yourself, tell someone else to call for help. The driver of the vehicle should remain at the scene until the police arrive. If they leave, the incident is a hit-and-run and the police will investigate.
- Get First Aid. When help arrives, make sure to accept medical assistance from emergency services. They’ll be able to provide first aid and possible transport you to the hospital if you’re in need of medical attention. However, your injuries may be minor and you’ll be able to speak to the police. You’ll report your side of the story. Make sure to be as accurate and detailed as possible. This report could help your claim later.
- Gather Information. You’re going to need to get information from the driver. Their name, contact information, insurance policy number, driver’s license number, and you may also need details about their vehicle like the make and model. Don’t apologize for anything or discuss blame. At this point, you’re unsure of the details about how they acted negligently, how they caused the accident, and the full extent of your injuries.
- Speak with Eyewitnesses. If there are any eyewitnesses who are willing to make a statement about your accident, you should get their names and contact information. Your Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer may use this information to help your case later.
- Preserve Evidence. Document as much evidence at the scene as you can. Photographs of the accident, damage done to your bicycle and the other car, and even your helmet or clothing can be helpful for your case. Don’t immediately repair your bike or throw out clothing that was ruined.
- See a Medical Professional. After you’ve done all that you can at the scene, it’s vital to see your physician to get a full medical evaluation of your injuries. When you talk to your doctor, make sure to list all the symptoms you’re feeling, no matter how minor they may seem. Symptoms of pain aren’t normal and if you let injuries go untreated, the injury can get worse.
- Start Treatment. Seeing a doctor as quickly as possible will allow you to know the injuries you sustained from the accident, what you need to do to treat those injuries and what your recovery process will look like, and you’ll have a medical record that these injuries occurred.
- Keep Record of Injuries. In addition to showing the severity of your injuries or how the injuries are impacting your life, you can record this with photographs and a journal. Your written account can include details like the pain you’re feeling and how it’s limiting you.
- Contact a Lawyer. Then, you should get in touch with an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC. We’ll listen to what happened to you and go over your options. We can also help you with the insurance company. If an insurance adjuster is trying to get you to settle your case, we’ll facilitate communication so the insurance company gets the information they need but you don’t put your chances of receiving full and fair compensation in jeopardy.
- Avoid Social Media. You may want to update others about your accident or talk about how you’re feeling, but this may affect your future claim. You don’t want to put your claim in jeopardy because of a post you made on your social media account. To protect yourself from the other side using anything you post against you, set all your accounts to private and refrain from making posts in general.
How Does Insurance Work If a Motorist Hits a Bicyclist?
Figuring out how insurance coverage applies to your case can be complex. If the driver was at fault, their insurance should cover your injuries and damages. However, this may not always be a straightforward process.
Since they were responsible, you’d think that the other driver would know they were at fault and their insurance should cover the damages. At the scene of the wreck, the driver may seem cordial and like they’ll work with you. However, you may find that when it comes to file a claim, their story has changed.
There may be instances where the driver is trying to assign some of the fault to you. They could claim that you disobeyed traffic laws or were doing something illegal that contributed to the wreck and your injuries. Accusations such as this can possibly result in you getting less compensation than you deserve.
You get full compensation when the other party is 100% at fault. When that percentage is split, then your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault that is placed on you. So, if you were found to be 10% at fault and the driver was 90% at fault, then you would only recover 90% of the damages. That’s why it’s so important to have an Atlanta bicycle accident attorney on your side.
We’ll look into your case and find out the truth about what happened. If you weren’t at fault, we’ll do everything we can to prove it. The negligent driver needs to be held accountable for their actions and you deserve a settlement that will let you recover in peace.
The matter can be even more complicated if the motorist is underinsured or uninsured. This means their policy won’t cover the costs of the damages or they don’t have insurance in the first place. But this doesn’t mean that you’re left to deal with the damages by yourself. These matters require a skilled lawyer to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
What If a Hit-and-Run Driver Caused the Accident?
If you were injured in a hit-and-run accident, you may not have the driver’s identity. While the police will investigate the matter, if they aren’t able to find the hit-and-run driver, you may not know how to proceed.
Situations involving a hit-and-run driver are tricky. There are some cases where the person doesn’t know they hit someone. This may happen in parking lots or driveways—they didn’t know something happened so they didn’t stop. In other cases, a driver can be aware of what happened, but they’re scared of the consequences. This could be because they don’t have insurance or could possibly lose their license. However, the consequences of a hit-and-run accident are much more severe than going through the accident claims process.
It’s possible the driver could come forward or the police will find something that leads to the driver. They could look into surveillance if businesses or traffic cameras were near the place the accident occurred. Eyewitnesses may also have seen the driver or remember details about the car. It’s possible you remembered the license plate or the car’s make and model. They’ll use all these tools to try and find the hit-and-run driver.
Recover Compensation for Your Injuries
While a bicycle accident can seem to put your life on hold, there are people who can help you move forward. Bey & Associates, LLC is here to represent you and your best interests. You deserve to have compensation that will cover your medical bills, future treatment, lost wages, and more. To give yourself the best chance of recovering full compensation, you may want to contact a lawyer soon after the accident.
Getting started on your claim as quickly as possible has many benefits. Waiting too long could possibly surpass the statute of limitations. In general, Georgia citizens have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim. If you wait too long and miss that window, your case may not be reviewed, and you won’t be able to seek compensation.
When you have us at your side soon after the accident, you can rest assured that we’ll have the important deadlines covered. We may also be able to find physical evidence from the scene of the incident that supports your claim.
You can get in touch with us today for a free consultation of your case. In this meeting, we’ll go over what happened to you and what options you have for the future.