Child Bicycle Accident Legal Guide

Key Points:

  • Neighborhood bicycle accidents can cause serious, life-altering injuries for children.
  • If your child is in a bicycle accident, it’s crucial to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
  • If the vehicle driver who hit your child is found to be at fault, you should be able to seek compensation for emergency and medical bills, medication, physical therapy, the time you spent off from work for care, and sometimes pain and suffering.

Children Are Prone to Serious Injuries in Neighborhoods on Bikes

boy riding his bicycle on bike lane
boy riding his bicycle on bike lane

One of the joys of living in a residential neighborhood in Atlanta is seeing children outside playing and riding bicycles each day. But unfortunately, there are hazards that can cause tragic accidents, as children and vehicles share the same roads. For instance, speed limit laws are broken, large trucks pick up garbage, and delivery vans deliver furniture or online orders daily, causing heavy traffic on residential streets where children play. These dangers can spell disaster and severe accidents in our neighborhoods for biking children.

Common Injuries Children Experience in Neighborhood Bike Accidents

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), common injuries caused during bike accidents can include:

  • Traumatic head injuries – Skull fracture, concussion, brain contusion, or intracranial hemorrhage
  • Face/eye – Contusions, facial or dental fractures, or foreign objects in the eye
  • Musculoskeletal – Fractures, dislocation, strains, or sprains
  • Chest – Rib fractures or injuries to the lungs
  • Abdomen – Injuries to the spleen, liver, kidneys, and pancreas; vascular perforation; small or large bowel contusion; rupture; or traumatic hernia
  • Genitourinary – Pelvic fractures and damage to genitals and urinary systems
  • Skin and soft tissue – Abrasions (“road rash”), lacerations, or contusions

In accidents involving motor vehicles, these injuries can be serious or even fatal, depending upon factors such as speed or the degree of traumatic contact.

If your child is involved in such an accident, we urge you to do two things right away: 1) Seek medical help immediately to determine what injuries are involved, and 2) Consider consulting an attorney to determine if you can seek any compensation for your child’s injuries and care.

Common Expensive Treatments for Bicycle Injuries

In addition to a trip to the emergency room, other expensive medical treatments can be involved. For instance, hospitalization and surgical intervention may be necessary for any of the injuries listed above.

Sometimes physical therapy sessions and follow-up doctor visits will also be required. Again, depending upon the nature of the injury, this care can extend to months or even years of treatment. And sadly, some injuries can leave a young person permanently changed.

How Liability Is Determined When a Child Is Hit on a Bike

In Georgia, all bicycles are considered vehicles and must adhere to the rules of the road. However, the Georgia bicycle laws state that no one under the age of 16 shall be fined or imprisoned for failing to comply with any provision of this subsection. Instead, the next subsection of the bicycle law states, “The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this part (of the statutes).”

When a child is involved in a bicycle accident with another vehicle, the responding law enforcement officers will determine who is responsible for the accident. The child’s age is taken into consideration and whether the child is wearing a well-fitted helmet, as required. If the injured child is in violation of the law, the parents could be ticketed if they knowingly permitted the child to ride without the mandatory safety gear.

Just as they would any other vehicular accident, police officers responding to bicycle accidents will also determine how the accident happened and if traffic violations were to blame. If the driver of the vehicle was speeding, ran a stop sign, was guilty of driving inattentively or recklessly, or was otherwise breaking the law, that driver will likely be deemed at-fault and ticketed.

Expenses That Should Be Compensated for After a Child’s Bike Accident

Just like in car accidents, the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier should cover medical treatment, including ER charges, surgeries, hospital stays, medication, physical therapy costs, and all follow-up doctor appointments. You may also be able to claim compensation for time lost from work as you provide care for your recovering child.

Your attorney may also include other items in your insurance claim, including compensation for the pain and suffering your child was forced to endure as a result of the accident.

Effective Evidence for a Bicycle Accident Claim Involving a Child

If your child was involved in a bicycle accident, take photographs of the scene as soon as possible to ensure valuable evidence is not lost. If possible, you’ll want to include images of the roadway, damage to the bike and car, roadway signs, and injuries.

Also, consider contacting every neighbor or passerby who may have witnessed the accident. The police report will have a list of people they interviewed. However, not everyone who saw the accident may have spoken to law enforcement. So, it’s worthwhile to talk with anyone who lives in the vicinity.

Additionally, neighbors with home security or doorbell camera devices may have caught the accident on tape, which they can obtain and provide to you if there are discrepancies in witnesses’ accounts. These tapes can make the difference between winning and losing an insurance claim.

The Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accident Claims Involving Children

In Georgia, injured parties have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Therefore, it is important that you do not delay seeking compensation.

We recommend that accident injury victims or their parents consult with an attorney as soon as possible following the accident to preserve the right to compensation under the law.

If the Child Had No Protective Gear on When Hit, Can Compensation Be Collected?

According to the Georgia statute O.C.G.A. 40-6-296, every cyclist under the age of 16 must wear a bicycle helmet compliant with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Cyclists over the age of 16 are not required to wear a bicycle helmet in Georgia.

Other required safety equipment includes:

  • Working brakes that allow the rider to skid on level, dry, clean pavement
  • A white front headlight that’s visible from 300 feet away
  • A rear red reflector or red light that’s visible from at least 300 feet away

If the child is found to be at fault for causing the accident, such as for running a stop sign, the insurance company might be able to reduce the total compensation.

- D. Lo
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