Driver calling ambulance for bike injury victim.

It can be risky going out on the roads while riding a bicycle. Even if you take all the proper precautions, wear the right safety gear, and do everything you’re supposed to do, a careless driver can still cause a serious crash.

When a car hits a bicyclist, the car always wins. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 857 bicyclists died in traffic crashes in a single recent year. In Georgia, there were 29 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in one year.

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you should speak with an Athens bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible. The law firm of Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, is here to stand up for you and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

To schedule your free initial consultation, call us or visit our contact page.

What Are the Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?

There are a great number of ways that a bicyclist can be injured by a car. Many of the most common causes of bicycle accidents involve a distracted or inattentive driver. Alcohol is often a factor in these accidents as well.

Here are some examples of the common causes of bicycle accidents:

  • Distracted driving (texting, making a call, etc.)
  • Speeding
  • Failure to yield
  • Following too closely
  • Reckless driving
  • Unsafe road conditions
  • Cars crossing in front of the bike (for example., when a car turns into the path of oncoming bicycle)
  • Blind spots
  • Bad weather
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Failure to follow traffic laws

What Injuries Typically Occur From Bicycle Accidents?

Because cars are so much bigger than bicycles and bicycles offer essentially no protection from serious collisions, injuries in bicycle accidents are often quite severe.

Here are some examples of injuries that often occur in bicycle accidents:

  • Spinal-cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Dislocated joints
  • Internal organ damage and bleeding
  • Dental or jaw injuries
  • Road rash
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Broken bones

What Laws Does Georgia Have Regarding Bicycles?

Despite how bicyclists are often treated on the roads, Georgia state statutes give bicyclists many rights on the road. Bicyclists have the same right of way as a motor vehicle in virtually all situations. They usually do not have to yield to cars unless a car in the same position as the bike would have to yield.

Unfortunately, many motorists falsely assume that bikes should always move out of their way. Some drivers of motor vehicles are openly hostile to bicyclists and refuse to share the road.

When a driver violates a bicyclist’s right of way, and it results in a collision causing serious bodily harm, the driver can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. Should that same driver commit the same offense again, the penalties are much stiffer.

Cars are required to pass bicyclists at a safe distance, allowing enough time and space to get around the cyclist without placing them in jeopardy.

After an accident caused by the operator of a motor vehicle, drivers can be held liable for the injured bicyclist’s economic and non-economic damages in civil court. In many ways, this is more important for bicycle accident victims than the misdemeanor charge for the driver, as those damages can help cover their medical costs and other financial needs.

How Is Fault Determined in a Bicycle Accident?

Georgia uses a proportional fault system for bicycle accidents. Essentially, this means that whoever is found to be liable for the accident pays out a percentage of the damages according to how big of a role they played in causing it.

If a drunk driver hits a bicyclist, they may be held liable for the full amount of any damages sought by the accident victim. However, if the courts find that the bicyclist’s negligence played a role in causing the accident, they may find their damages award reduced according to a certain percentage, depending on how much their actions are responsible for the accident.

In bicycle accident claims, the driver’s insurance carrier will almost certainly try to shift as much responsibility to the cyclist as possible. Doing so allows them to shift some of the cost for the victim’s injuries. Don’t let them get away with it. A bicycle accident attorney can fight to seek compensation for the full value of your injuries and other losses.

What Should I Do After Being Involved in a Crash?

Should you find yourself involved in a bicycle accident, it’s important to take the right steps to protect your health as well as your legal rights. Here’s what you should do if you’re involved in a crash:

  • Call 911 and seek medical care as soon as possible. Seeing a doctor immediately after an accident is very important, even if you don’t immediately experience serious symptoms. Adrenaline can mask signs of a serious injury, and some injuries don’t show immediate signs. Keep detailed records of any doctor’s visit, hospitalizations, the costs of prescriptions, etc. Those records will help document the extent of your financial losses.
  • If you’re able, document the crash scene as best you can. Take pictures or video of the crash scene, the damage to your bike, the damage to the car, any property damage, your injuries, any injuries to the driver, etc. If there are any witnesses, get their names and contact information. You’ll also want to exchange contact information with the driver.
  • Do not admit fault to anyone. No matter what the facts later bear out, what you say immediately after an accident can be used against you. Only make a statement if you’re required to by a police officer. Do not speak to the driver’s insurer and make any statement to them until you’ve spoken to an attorney.
  • Call a bicycle accident attorney. They can review your case, go over your options, handle all your legal communication, and begin investigating your claim.

Can Uninsured Motorist Coverage Pay in a Hit-and-Run?

Even though you were riding a bicycle at the time of the crash, your auto insurance policy’s uninsured motorist (UM) coverage could provide coverage if you were injured by a hit-and-run driver who is never found. UM coverage may also be available to children and other members of your household who are hurt in a hit-and-run bike accident.

Despite the fact this coverage is provided by “your” insurance company, their goal is still to pay out as little as they can get away with. Our bicycle accident lawyers can negotiate with the UM provider to seek a proper settlement that covers all your losses to the greatest extent possible.

Call an Athens Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today

The attorneys at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, are highly skilled in handling bicycle accident cases.  We’re ready to fight for the full financial compensation you’re owed. Let us show you why we’re the go-to law firm for so many people in the Athens community.

Schedule your free initial consultation by calling us or visiting our contact page.