Owning and riding a motorcycle often provides a certain sense of freedom that other drivers don’t get with a traditional vehicle. In addition to that, they’re often more cost-effective and greener than a car and they can make commutes easier and more enjoyable. There’s also the benefit of being a part of a strong community of riders. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are at risk for greater injuries than those in cars or trucks because of the lack of protection and control – especially when inclement weather or other irresponsible drivers come into play.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident, our Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyers can explain your legal options and help you decide how to proceed with your claim. If your wreck resulted from another driver’s negligence, we can help you hold that party accountable for their actions.
If you choose to take legal action, our team will be able to determine the amount of financial compensation you are eligible for. It’s likely that you’ll be dealing with factors like unpaid time off from work, emotional trauma, and medical bills that have the potential to cause significant financial burdens. With full and fair compensation, you’ll be able to focus on recovery and get your life back in order.
If you choose to pursue legal action after your accident, you may benefit from having some background knowledge on motorcycle accidents in Georgia and the laws that may impact your case. Let’s take a look at that information.
Motorcycle Accidents in Georgia: Facts and Statistics
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSA), there were 5,286 motorcyclists killed in 2016 in the United States. A quarter of those collisions resulted from driving under the influence of alcohol, and 27 percent of riders were not equipped with a valid class M license. The number of fatalities is so high because riders are more at risk of being seriously harmed because of the size difference between a motorcycle and a car or truck.
Compared to the national numbers and other states, Georgia has fewer fatalities. This does not mean, however, the loss of life is insignificant. Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reports approximately 173 people died in bike crashes in 2016. That number is predicted to continue to rise through 2018 and beyond. Let’s take a look at some more accident stats for Georgia:
- In 2016, six percent of the individuals who died in motorcycle accidents in Georgia were not wearing helmets. This figure is estimated to be down to one percent by the end of 2018, as statistics continue to show helmets save a significant number of lives each year.
- Most fatalities fell in the 30 to 39 age group. The second highest was 50 to 59.
- More motorcycle fatalities occur in multiple-vehicle crashes than single-vehicle crashes. When more vehicles are involved, the force and weight of the collision are greater. This leads to collisions that are far deadlier in nature.
- Motorcycle wrecks are most likely to occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The Differences Between Motorcycle Accidents and Car Crashes
While it’s true that all motor vehicle accidents wrecks have the potential to result in serious injuries and significant property damage, it’s important to recognize that not all vehicles react the same in an accident. There are a number of distinct factors when looking at motorcycle accidents compared to automobile crashes.
One of the most obvious differences revolves around the injuries victims sustain. The open and exposed nature of riding poses a serious risk. Even in a seemingly minor accident, a motorcyclist could sustain permanent injuries, while the occupants of larger, enclosed vehicles may only sustain minor physical harm. It’s also easier for a motorcycle to be totaled.
When a car accident victim attempts to seek compensation, they won’t have to deal with the unfair prejudice that motorcyclists do. Motorcycle owners often get stigmatized because of the reckless behavior of a few riders. As such, jurors may be affected by this bias and the victim may not receive the justice they deserve. Jurors may also not have experience on how motorcycles are operated and how riders are supposed to react to different situations. This can also affect a case’s outcome.
Georgia’s Motorcycle Laws
Responsible motorcyclists understand the laws they’re supposed to abide by; however, it’s a good idea for all motorists to understand these laws. Drivers can benefit from understanding how riders are supposed to operate their bikes because it will make them more aware of their presence on the road.
All operators are required to be at least 16 years of age and take the required course to obtain a Class M license. While a title is not required, the vehicle needs to be registered with the state and insured. Let’s take a look at the other most applicable state laws:
According to Georgia code, no one is allowed to operate a bike with handlebars more than 15 inches in height above the backrest. Motorcycles are also required to have footrests in the event it will be carrying passengers. If a passenger is to ride on the vehicle, there must be a designated seat or sidecar for them. They cannot share the main driving seat.
As like all other vehicles, brake lights and turn signals are required. Left and right mirrors are also required; however, on a motorcycle only one is mandated by law.
Road Safety Equipment
Helmets are required by law. No person is allowed to operate or ride a motorcycle unless they are wearing approved protective headgear. Eyewear is also required unless there is a functioning windshield. Speakers are allowed; however, they are only to be used for communication purposes.
Even though these laws are in place, some riders choose to disregard them. Doing so puts them at serious risk of injury or death in the event of a collision.
Motorcyclists must abide by all traffic laws and regulations set by the state; however, there are laws that are specific to bikes:
- No vehicle can drive in a manner that deprives a motorcycle of full lane use.
- Two motorcycles can operate next to each other in a single lane.
- Motorcyclists are not allowed to overtake and pass vehicles in the same lane.
- Headlights and taillights need to be on at all times.
- Operation cannot occur between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lanes or rows of vehicles.
In Atlanta, Georgia, motorcyclists are subject to the same speed restrictions as other vehicles. Riders are required to drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent. Violators caught speeding are likely to be fined. Make note of the following speed limits:
- 30 mph in an urban or residential district.
- 35 mph on unpaved county roads unless designated otherwise by appropriate signs.
- If signs are posted, 70 mph on a highway on the federal interstate system and on physically divided highways with full control of access which are outside of an urbanized area of 50,000 population or more.
- If signs are posted, 65 mph on a highway on the federal interstate system which is inside of an urbanized area of 50,000 population or more.
- If signs are posted, 65 mph on those sections of physically divided highways without full access control on the state highway system.
- 55 mph in other locations.
For more information on Georgia’s motorcycle laws and rider education, check out their safety program (GMSP).
Safety Tips to Aid in the Prevention of Deadly Wrecks
In addition to following the laws above, there are other tips riders can take into consideration to reduce their chances of getting into an accident or reduce the severity of injuries they sustain if a crash does occur.
- Take a motorcycle safety course. Driving a motorcycle is quite different than operating a four-wheeled vehicle. Safety courses will help you learn driving techniques like how to safely turn in traffic and brake properly in dangerous situations.
- Wear protective gear from head to toe. When choosing a helmet, be sure to choose one that fits you properly and offers as much protection as possible. Also consider wearing protective eyewear, gloves, a jacket, thick pants, and boots.
- Inspect your bike regularly. Ensure you have adequate fluids and your brakes, gears, mirrors, and chains are functioning properly. Also be sure to maintain proper tire pressure.
- Avoid riding in the rain, snow, or wind. Wet and icy roads are dangerous for all vehicles, but especially motorcycles. If you know there’s a chance you’ll skid or slide on four wheels, two wheels will definitely not offer you the protection you need.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes in Atlanta
Accidents can be caused by a large variety of mishaps, adverse conditions, and driving mistakes. Many, however, are caused directly or indirectly by the negligent actions of other drivers. Here are just a few examples of common motorcycle crash explanations:
- Left-hand Turns. One of the leading causes of accidents occurs when a passenger vehicle turns left in front of an oncoming motorcycle. If a driver is unaware or does not check for oncoming traffic, it’s possible a collision could occur. The motorcyclist is likely to sustain serious injuries when being struck by or crashing into a larger vehicle. Limited visibility often plays a role in these accidents.
- Lane Splitting. This occurs when a motorcycle travels between lanes or rows of slow moving or stopped traffic. This can be incredibly dangerous, as other passenger vehicles may not be actively looking for motorcycles traveling past them in that sort of situation. All drivers need to be aware of is their blind spots prior to merging or turning.
- Head-on Collisions. Passengers vehicles do not always share the road like they should. In the event they neglect to give a motorcyclist the proper right-of-way when heading into an intersection, a head-on collision could occur. Drivers should take extra precautions when operating their vehicles near bikes.
- Alcohol Consumption. As mentioned with the statistics above, driving under the influence is one of the main contributing factors in crashes. Regardless of which party is driving drunk, alcohol significantly reduces reaction time, decision-making abilities, and general awareness. Drivers who are intoxicated are likely to react too slowly to what’s happening on the road and end up causing an accident.
- Inadequate Experience. Inexperienced motorists may be unaware of how to drive defensively or what the protocols are for driving in inclement weather or heavy traffic. New motorcyclists may be unfamiliar with controlling their motorcycle in different situations or may not know the laws that affect their ride. A serious enthusiast should take the time to learn how their bike operates and how to protect themselves on the open road.
- Improper Licensing. It’s imperative for a motorcyclist to obtain the proper license prior to operating a bike. The training established by the state gives new riders the knowledge they will need to safely and successfully operate their new vehicles on the road. This benefits all travelers.
As you can see from the above list, many causes for motorcycle crashes—in Georgia and throughout the entire U.S.—are either directly or indirectly caused by negligence. When the actions that cause an accident could have been prevented, these are the instances where a personal injury lawyer can make a difference. This is when law offices like ours can help a family recover from a tragic motorcycle accident that shouldn’t have happened.
Injuries Commonly Sustained by Motorcycle Accident Victims
The majority of motorcycle accidents result in some type of injury. The most severe injuries and fatalities are often the result of ejection. If you or a loved one have sustained any of the following injuries after a crash, you could have a long recovery process in front of you.
- Road Rash. This is the most common injury motorcyclists get. It’s a burn injury that is caused by sliding across asphalt, concrete, or pavement. While minor road rash may require simple cleanings and clean bandages, the worst injuries may require surgeries and could result in permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Broken Bones. Being forced to the ground or up in the air by a vehicle will likely cause you to land on parts of your body that could break. Fractured arms and legs are common.
- Head Injury. Head injuries are still possible even while wearing a helmet; however, it’s much less likely to be life-threatening. Without a helmet, traumatic brain injuries and brain death are a possibility.
- Spinal Cord Injury. The neck, back, and spine are at risk for serious injury if the body is thrown into the air. If the spinal cord sustains serious damage, communication between your brain and the rest of your body could be cut, resulting in paralysis.
- Loss of Limb. In catastrophic accidents where a motorcycle ends up underneath a larger vehicle, a body part could become trapped between two surfaces. If the body part is crushed, amputation may be
Determining Liability After a Motorcycle Wreck
To prove a party acted negligently and caused your crash, you’ll need to have an experienced attorney by your side. We can help you prove your case, so you can move on to your compensation eligibility. There are generally four steps to proving someone else’s actions caused your accident.
First, which is generally assumed, is that the opposing party was required to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing the wreck. Second, it needs to be proven that the party did not exercise that care. The third part typically involves presenting medical records. Finally, the correlation between the accident and the injuries needs to be proven. In some cases, the party responsible for your actions may not be another person, but a manufacturer or distributor – if the collision resulted from a defective auto part.
Your attorney will investigate your accident and build a strong case that shows how you were wronged by the negligent driver. This will involve examining your medical records, the crash scene and property damage, and speaking with any witnesses. Once your case is proven, monetary awards can be decided based on the extent and impact of your injuries.
Compensation for Motorcycle Accident Victims
After the negligence is proven, the next step is for the compensation to be determined. Damages for personal injury cases are typically split into economic and noneconomic categories. Depending on the severity of your accident, you may be eligible for both.
Economic damages are able to be calculated exactly. This includes items like medical expenses, past, present, and future lost earnings, and property damage. It’s important to remember to also take the future cost of care into consideration for these damages if you know your injuries will require extensive treatments or medical equipment.
Noneconomic damages cannot be numerically calculated and are for things like pain and suffering and mental anguish. Punitive damages, which serve to punish the guilty party, may be available if they acted in some egregious manner like driving while under the influence.
With the right motorcycle attorney, the value attached to the liability and damages of your case should provide you with the compensation you need to handle the aftermath of your wreck.
Get Help from Bey & Associates
Filing an injury accident claim and pursuing a lawsuit can help your family recover financially from the devastating event you’ve been through. At Bey & Associates, our Atlanta motorcycle lawyers understand how difficult of a time this can be, which is why we’re here to support you through the entire legal process. Your actions also have the power to inform our state and other drivers about the dangers associated with auto accidents. It’s important for everyone to remember to share the road responsibly.
Our experienced lawyers will take steps to ensure your voice is heard and you receive the compensation you need to move forward. For more information about your rights and options or to start your claim, contact our office today.