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, an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC 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. We have experience in fighting for accident victims and know what they can recover from a crash. We’ll review what happened to you, assess the injuries and damages, and we’ll fight for your right to full and fair compensation. When you have this financial security, you’ll be able to focus on recovery and get your life back in order.
The consequences of a motorcycle wreck can be devastating. Bey & Associates, LLC is here for you. We can help you fight for the justice you deserve.
If you’re seeking 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 Crashes in Georgia: Facts and Statistics
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSA), there were 4,985 motorcyclists killed in 2018 in the United States. Of the motorcycle riders who were in fatal crashes in 2017, 29% of riders were not equipped with a valid class M license.
When it comes to vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are 28 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in an accident. 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. According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were approximately 128 fatalities from bike crashes in 2017. Let’s take a look at some more accident stats for Georgia:
- 31 motorcyclists had a BAC of .08 or higher and 19 had a BAC of .15 or higher.
- 120 motorcyclists who died were wearing helmets, 17 were not, and 2 were unknown.
The Differences Between Motorcycle Wrecks and Car Accidents
While it’s true that all motor vehicle 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. Motorcyclists don’t have much protection to absorb the force of the crash. Any accident can make them lose their balance and fall to the ground. 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 17 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. Other basic requirements include passing a knowledge exam, road skills test, and a vision exam.
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.
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.
When these qualifications are met, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re operating your motorcycle safely and abiding by the laws. Now that you have that knowledge, you can also lookup additional safety tips so you can make yourself a safer driver. When you have this information in mind, you’ll be more alert to what could happen on the road and you’ll be more prepared to handle the situation. Let’s take a look at some motorcycle safety tips.
Safety Tips to Aid in the Prevention of Deadly Wrecks
Taking precautions and practicing safe driving behaviors can increase your safety on the road. Read the following tips to reduce the chances of getting into an accident or reduce the severity of injuries that could happen in the event of a motorcycle collision.
- 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.
- Get the Right Motorcycle Helmet for You. There are different kinds of motorcycle helmets for various kinds of riding. The NHTSA has helpful guides on how to find the best helmet for you. First, it’s important to know the size and shape of your head. This can help you identify how the helmet should feel. If there are pressure points, the helmet may not be the best fit. You should also look up the helmet’s safety rating and check that it has the DOT symbol on the back.
- Know What an Unsafe Helmet Looks Like. It may also help to know what not to choose when it comes to getting a motorcycle helmet. Unsafe helmets are usually less than one inch thick and won’t have a stiff foam inner liner. Plastic buckles for chin straps can break in a crash—a reliable helmet will have rivets. Typically, a bad helmet will weigh around a pound while dependable helmets are around the three-pound mark. Anything advertised as thinnest or lightest is likely not going to offer the best protection.
- Inspect Your Bike Regularly. Getting regular tune-ups and checking your motorcycle on a regular basis will alert you to any issues so you can fix them as quickly as possible. You can have peace of mind that the bike is dependable and the issue won’t worsen. 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. Check the weather before you ride your motorcycle so you can avoid getting caught in poor weather. If you are on the road and the weather makes it unsafe, consider exiting the road safely and waiting for the weather to pass.
- Stay Out of Blind Spots. It’s important to remain in the most visible position at all times. Be aware if you’re in a driver’s blind spot. If you’re riding in a blind spot for a period of time, they may try to change lanes without realizing you’re there.
- Don’t Assume Drivers Can See You. While it may be obvious to you where the other motorists are on the road, drivers may not see you as easily. You should assume you’re invisible so you can take measures to be cautious. Those who are driving cars may be trained to look for other cars, but they may not be expecting a motorcyclist, which is a much smaller object to spot.
- Use Headlights. Whether you’re riding in the daytime or at night, put your headlights on. This will give you a better view of the road ahead and will alert other motorists to your presence.
- Don’t Use the Shoulder for Passing or Riding. If you’re stuck behind a slow driver or are in traffic, it can be tempting to use the shoulder to pass a car or to move up in the lane. This is extremely dangerous as motorists will likely not expect you to be using the shoulder as they’re intended for pulling off the road in emergency situations. You could also anger other drivers by doing this and could risk a situation where road rage is involved.
Safety tips extend to motorcycle passengers as well. When you’re a passenger on a motorcycle, make sure to do the following to increase your safety and the safety of others:
- Wear a Helmet. If an accident occurs, a passenger on the motorcycle can suffer the same injuries as the driver. Wearing a helmet could prevent permanent brain injuries and could also save your life.
- Avoid Distractions. The driver needs to be able to focus on what they’re doing. It’s important for you to not do anything that could potentially startle them or make them lose focus. Talking and fidgeting could be major distractions. When you’re riding, make sure to look over the driver’s shoulder and keep your eyes on the road as well. This way, you can remain balanced, focus, and will know about any upcoming turns or possible bumps in the road. When you’re turning, lean with the driver.
- Use Footrests. Always keep your feet on the footrests. They will help you remain balanced and reduce your chances of your feet hitting the road. If that were to happen, you could sustain injuries and it may throw you and the driver off balance and cause an accident.
While having these safety tips can help you be a safer motorcyclist, a negligent motorist can still cause serious accidents. When you’re filing a motorcycle accident claim, it’s important to know how the accident occurred. There are different ways drivers can exhibit negligence and cause accidents. Let’s take a look at some of the most common.
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. Passenger vehicles do not always share the road as 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.
- Distracted Driving. This is a major cause of all kinds of vehicle accidents—motorcycle collisions included. When a driver is looking at their phone or another distraction is keeping their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel, they’re not assessing the road in front of them and aren’t focused on driving safely. As the driver looks down, they may not see a motorcyclist merge on to the road beside them or try to pass them. They may also not realize traffic has stopped. Unfortunately, this can cause serious accidents.
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.
Injuries Commonly Sustained by 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. Broken or fractured arms and legs are common because it’s also a natural reaction to try and brace the fall by sticking out your arm or leg. However, this usually means the limb you’re trying to brace with will absorb most of the impact.
- 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.
- Internal Organ Damage. The impact of the crash can cause internal organ damage. The skin doesn’t need to be broken for these injuries to occur—a strong blunt force can cause internal damage and bleeding. These injuries may not always be obvious and need immediate medical treatment.
- 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 necessary.
If your injuries are severe enough, they may be considered catastrophic. These injuries will likely require intense medical care right after the accident and you’ll need continued medical care for the future. Surgeries, therapy, medication, and medical equipment could be necessary for your recovery and for providing you with a high quality of life.
When a catastrophic injury occurs, your entire life can seem to be put on hold. As you recover, you may find that a full recovery isn’t the case. There may be a point up to which you can recover and after that point, you’ll need to learn how to live with the injury.
This adjustment can be extremely difficult. You may find that doing basic everyday tasks you never had to think twice about are now a struggle, such as showering or cooking. There will be a relearning process where you need to be able to focus on caring for yourself and finding your new normal.
Another major part of this adjustment is how it will affect your work. A catastrophic injury may prevent you from returning to your previous job or from returning to the workforce at all. If you’re still able to work but have to take a different position, this could affect your pay. Not being able to work can be a terrifying prospect, as you’ll likely wonder how you’re going to support yourself and get the care you need.
When we’re fighting for you, we’ll need to know who was responsible for your motorcycle accident. Let’s look into who could be liable and how that is determined after a collision occurs.
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 resulting injuries and other damages must be proven.
After an accident, you may think the other person directly involved in the crash was responsible for your injuries. This may be true. The motorist could have been speeding, following you too closely, or was looking at their phone at the time. If the other motorist was at fault, we’ll seek evidence to show this.
However, it’s possible the negligent party wasn’t at the scene of the accident. If the other motorist had a car issue that made them lose control of their vehicle, it’s possible a manufacturing company could be at fault. They could have had a defective tire blowout, their steering wheel may have been out of control, or their brakes may have failed. If a manufacturing company sold a defective auto part, we’ll hold them accountable for their negligence. Their actions put everyone on the road in danger and resulted in harming you. While it can be intimidating to hold a manufacturing company liable for their negligence, our attorneys are up to the task.
Your attorney will investigate your accident and build a strong case that shows how you were wronged by the negligent driver or manufacturing company. 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 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. Let’s go over the various types of damages that fall under those two categories.
Economic damages are able to be calculated exactly because they refer to monetary losses. We’ve discussed how our lawyers will help your compensation cover your medical needs. But there are also other aspects of economic damages as well:
- Lost Wages. This will cover the days of work you missed because of the accident. If the injuries are severe, you may be away from work for an undetermined amount of time.
- Diminished Earning Capacity. If you find that you have to take a different position, our lawyers will seek compensation for you. Someone else’s negligence resulted in your diminished earning capacity and you shouldn’t have to bear that burden on your own.
- Lost Earnings. In the event you cannot return to work at all, your attorney will calculate what you would have earned if you had been able to return to work. We’ll make sure you’ll have the compensation you need so you can still live your life.
There is another important aspect of your recovery and compensation that you may not have thought as much about is the noneconomic damages, or non-monetary consequences. An accident does more than cause significant financial damages. If you’re no longer able to walk, do your job, participate in hobbies you used to enjoy, or are missing out on other life events, it’s going to take an emotional toll. These consequences cannot be and will not be ignored when determining your compensation.
Noneconomic damages can include the following:
- Pain and Suffering. The accident and injuries you sustained were likely painful. If you experienced pain and suffering from your injuries, our lawyers will take this into account when determining compensation.
- Mental Anguish. Losing a limb or an injury that causes permanent disfigurement can cause mental anguish and emotional distress.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life. If a motorcycle accident results in paralysis and you’re no longer able to go for walks or move in the way you used to, this change in your life significantly and it can be difficult to come to terms with. When these instances are the result of someone else’s negligence, your attorney will seek appropriate compensation for those losses.
While economic and noneconomic damages are the main components of compensation, punitive damages may also apply. These damages are rare because they’re difficult to prove and serve to punish the guilty party. It’s important to know these aren’t common in every case and need to meet specific qualifications. The damages may be available if the negligent party acted in some egregious manner like driving while under the influence or going well above the speed limit.
The Disadvantages of Settling Early
With the right Atlanta motorcycle accident 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. Your lawyer will be the best way of receiving fair compensation for your injuries.
You may find insurance adjusters contacting you after your accident. They may try to offer you an early settlement. While seeing a settlement amount upfront soon after a wreck can be tempting, it’s important to not accept it. It’s likely lower than the compensation you could get with a motorcycle accident lawyer representing you.
While a lawyer will act in your best interests, an insurance adjuster is looking out for the best interests of their company. Protecting their bottom line means that you will likely not get full compensation, which could lead to financial difficulties later on.
When an adjuster speaks to you, the accident may have happened so recently that you don’t know all the injuries you have or the required treatment for your recovery. This information is crucial to determining compensation for your current and continued medical expenses.
They may also ask you to make an official statement about the accident and your injuries. However, this information can be used against you and what you say may end up reducing your claim. If you talk about the symptoms you’re experiencing, but later start to have additional symptoms, that information will not be in your statement. When your claim lists those symptoms and injuries, the insurance company could use your official statement and ask why you didn’t list that information at that time. This could call your credibility into question.
Dealing with insurance companies can be intimidating when you’re nervous about giving out information that could affect your claim. Our Atlanta motorcycle accident attorneys can give the insurance company the information they need and prevent any harassing phone calls pushing you to settle.
Get Help from Bey & Associates, LLC
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, LLC our Atlanta motorcycle lawyers understand how difficult 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.