Frequently Asked Bicycle Accidents Questions
Bicycle Accidents FAQ’s
What should I do after a bicycle accident in Georgia?
As a bicyclist, the first thing you should do is get help by calling 911. If you’re unable to make the call, ask someone to do it for you. Never refuse or delay medical care, even if your injuries seem minor or nonexistent.
Make sure to call the police to document the accident and write a detailed report of what transpired. If the at-fault driver is present at the scene, ask for their name, contact details and insurance information. If there are any eyewitnesses present, ask them to speak with the police and give you with their contact details.
If possible, take pictures of the accident scene as well as your injuries and damaged bicycle. Refrain from fixing or discarding your bike, damaged clothes or gear. These items can serve as compelling physical evidence when you file a personal injury claim.
Consider contacting a bicycle accident injury attorney to discuss your case. A skilled lawyer can help with gathering time-sensitive evidence and help maximize your financial recovery.
What are some common causes of bicycle accidents?
Bicycle accidents tend to be caused by motor vehicle drivers who fail to notice bicycle riders or adhere to Georgia traffic laws concerning cyclists.
Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Not yielding to a bicycle
- Failing to provide adequate space when passing a cyclist
- Opening a car door in front of an oncoming cyclist (dooring)
- Distracted driving
- Riding a defective bicycle
- Hazardous road conditions
- Riding in severe weather
Can I recover compensation if I was struck by a car while riding my bicycle?
Yes. If the driver is responsible for the accident, you have the right to pursue a personal injury claim with their auto insurance company. The at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for your damages, including your injuries and damage to your bicycle. If the at-fault driver was operating their vehicle in a professional capacity at the time of the accident, their employer may be liable for their driver’s negligence. If that’s the case, the employer’s insurance company may be the one to compensate you for your damages.
What if I was doing something illegal that caused my bicycle accident?
It’s not entirely unheard of for both parties involved in an accident to share blame. There are scenarios where a bike rider’s violation of traffic law contributed to their own injuries. Whether you can still recover compensation depends on the driver’s shared culpability.
Drivers don’t have free reign to collide with every jaywalker or person in the road on their bicycle. People operating motor vehicles must still comport themselves with proper care and avoid injuring people whenever possible.
Your attorney may be able to prove the driver who hit you still had a responsibility to avoid the accident yet failed to do so, in which case they may still be considered primarily responsible for your injuries and damages.
What should I do if I was hit by a car and the driver fled the scene of the accident?
Contact law enforcement immediately and provide a description of the vehicle if you’re able to do so. If witnesses saw the accident, ask them to provide their side of events to police. Once apprehended, the driver will likely face criminal penalties and owe you damages for any injuries or property damage you suffered.
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident and the at-fault driver flees the scene, you may still be able to recover compensation for your losses and injuries by relying on your own insurance coverage. If the bike rider owns a vehicle and has their own UM/UIM (uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage), they may be able to seek compensation under their auto policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage, or UM coverage, allows you to file a claim with your insurance carrier if the at-fault driver cannot be found or didn’t have insurance when the accident took place. While UM coverage is optional, it can spare you from having to pay for medical bills and property damage when you’re unable to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
Do I have to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle?
In Georgia, only children up to the age of 16 must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. As an adult, you don’t need to wear a helmet. However, keep in mind you’re risking a serious head injury if you choose not to wear any headgear while riding a bike.
Failing to take adequate precautions when operating your bicycle may complicate certain types of personal injury claims. For example, if a bicycle rider who wasn’t wearing a helmet suffers a serious head injury in a crash, the insurance company may argue the rider’s failure to take adequate precautions resulted in more severe injuries. While those types of insurance company defenses may not lead to a complete claim denial, it may make receiving fair compensation more difficult.
Are drivers in Georgia required to yield to bike riders in bicycle lanes?
Georgia laws require all drivers to yield to bicyclists who are in a bicycle lane. For instance, if you’re riding your bike through an intersection, the driver coming from the opposite direction must yield to you before making a left turn. As a bike rider, you have the same rights as motor vehicle drivers.
What else do I need to know about bicycle laws in Georgia?
Some additional bicycle laws you should be aware of and adhere to include:
- Having lights on when riding a bike at night. You must have a white light on the front of your bicycle and a red light on the back.
- Cyclists are supposed to indicate right and left turns with either their right or left arm extended horizontally.
- Bike riders must ride with traffic, not against it.
- Bicyclists are not allowed on sidewalks and interstate highways.
- A motor vehicle operator looking to pass a bike rider should do so at a safe distance. In Georgia, a safe distance is considered at least three feet.
What damages are available to victims of bicycle accidents?
If you were injured in a bicycle accident because of the negligence of a driver, you can claim several different types of damages including:
- Economic damages: past and ongoing medical expenses, lost wages, damage to property, loss of earning capacity
- Non-economic damages: pain and suffering, loss of consortium, depression, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life stemming from your injuries
- Punitive damages: These damages are only awarded if the at-fault driver displayed extreme negligence, such as drunk driving, or if they intentionally caused you harm
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