Motorcycle and Bicycle Accident Legal Claims: Similarities and Differences

Key Points:

  • The size of a settlement in a motorcycle or bicycle injury case generally depends on the economic and noneconomic costs of the accident. Typically, the more severe the injury, the greater the total cost, or value, of the claim.
  • Because motorcycles and bicycles are more lightweight and offer less protection than cars, riders are far more likely to suffer severe or even fatal injuries in crashes with larger vehicles.
  • All riders are required to follow regular traffic laws, but Georgia has additional statutes that apply specifically to motorcycles and bikes.
  • Just as violating traffic laws can be used to prove negligence, disobeying a motorcycle or bicycle statute can potentially affect your compensation claim if it caused the accident or was a contributing factor.

Nearly every day in Metro Atlanta, motorcycle and bicycle riders are involved in accidents with a car, truck, or SUV. Because motorcycles and bicycles are more lightweight and offer less protection than cars, riders are far more likely to suffer severe or even fatal injuries in crashes.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle or bike accident because of someone else’s negligence, you may have a legal claim to recover damages against the at-fault driver. Even though the legal remedy is the same, however, you should know that every accident claim differs based on the individual facts and circumstances of the case.

For example, your financial expenses can vary widely depending on the severity of your injury, how much medical treatment is necessary, and the amount of lost income you incur. Additionally, the type of evidence that’s available to prove your claim may be different. In one case, for example, there may be multiple eyewitnesses, police report documentation, and video evidence to establish the driver was at fault, while in another case there’s evidence indicating the bike rider may share the blame.

Keep in mind that even in cases where liability is clear, it can be difficult to calculate and prove the total cost of the accident. It can take time to understand the full extent of your injuries and how those injuries will affect your life in the future, and you and your attorney may have to fight the insurance company to get all your expenses covered. In other words, every legal claim comes with its own set of challenges.

Motorcycle and Bicycle Accidents Have Similarities

Mid adult man on motorbike chasing son riding bicycle

Even though each case is unique, there are certain similarities between motorcycle and bicycle accident claims. For example, every injury claim starts with an investigation, which means collecting evidence such as police reports, eyewitness statements, photos, videos, medical bills and records, vehicle repair bills, and more. The stronger the evidence you collect, the stronger the accident claim.

In both motorcycle and bicycle accidents, riders are vulnerable because they’re less protected, so collisions with cars, trucks, and SUVS can cause far more serious injuries—and fatalities—than a crash between two automobiles. Unfortunately, both motorcycles and bikes often go unnoticed

by automobile drivers, and many riders are hit by drivers going at high rates of speed. Because motorcycle and bike accidents often involve catastrophic injuries, the compensation owed to victims and their families can be higher than in a typical car crash.

Compared to Bicyclists, Motorcycle Riders Have More Laws to Obey

Both bicycle and motorcycle riders have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers, which means they must obey all traffic laws. Because motorcycles and bikes come with additional risks, however, there are also specific laws that apply to each in Georgia. For example, motorcycle riders may share a lane, but lane splitting is not allowed. In addition, motorcycles must have headlights and taillights on at all times and comply with other safety requirements. Georgia also has specific insurance and licensing requirements for motorcycle riders.

Though less stringent than motorcycle requirements, Georgia also has laws that apply specifically to bicycles. For example, bikers must travel as close to the right side of the road as possible unless avoiding a hazardous road condition. Bicycles are also required to have certain types of lights and reflectors for visibility up to 300 feet.

Just as violating traffic laws can be used to prove negligence, disobeying a motorcycle or bicycle statute can potentially affect your compensation. If the evidence shows that violating a law caused the accident or was a contributing factor, your compensation claim may be denied or reduced by the insurance company.

Are Motorcycle Accident Settlements More than Bicycle Settlements?

It depends on the circumstances. The size of a settlement in an injury case generally varies based on the economic and noneconomic costs of the accident. Typically, the more severe the injury, the greater the total cost, or value, of the claim.

Other factors can also affect the victim’s compensation, such as the degree of fault of the parties involved and the amount of insurance coverage available. For example, because Georgia is a comparative negligence state, even a severely injured victim’s compensation can be reduced if they were partially at fault—and denied entirely if they were at least 50 percent to blame.

Because motorcycles are more expensive than bicycles, riders will usually suffer more property damage in a crash. And, because motorcycles travel at higher rates of speed and in heavy traffic, riders often suffer more serious injuries and fatalities than bicyclists. In fact, motorcycle accidents are more than twice as likely to be fatal than bike accidents, though both have higher injury rates compared to automobiles.

Compared to Bicyclists, Are Motorcycle Riders More Likely to Be Found Liable?

There’s no data indicating a higher percentage of fault for motorcycle riders versus bicyclists. However, structural and operational differences between the two vehicles can make it easier for motorcycle riders to act negligently.

For example, motorcycles can travel at high speeds, with some able to reach 165 mph or more. The average bicyclist, on the other hand, only travels 10–15 mph. Therefore, motorcycle riders are far more likely to be guilty of speeding, which is a frequent cause or contributing factor in accidents.

In addition, motorcycles drive in traffic on highways and busy roads, as opposed to bikes that mostly drive on the side of roads. Many collisions with cars happen because drivers either don’t see motorcycles or don’t accurately judge their speed, and this occurs more often when motorcycle riders switch lanes irresponsibly or weave around in heavy traffic.

Bicyclists can also cause accidents by weaving in traffic, and both types of vehicles can be liable for failing to yield to cars or running stop signs/lights. However, vehicles that operate at higher speeds and drive on congested highways, such as motorcycles, are typically involved in more auto accidents—which leads to a higher rate of liability.

For a Free Consultation, Call The Millar Law Firm

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a motorcycle or bike accident, make sure you seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our attorneys have been representing motorcycle and bicycle riders in injury cases since 1993, and we go the extra mile to ensure that our clients recover maximum compensation. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

- D. Lo
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