Georgia bicycle riders are involved in accidents with cars nearly every day. If the worst happens and you are in an accident with a car, with a truck, or even another bicycle rider, this legal guide may help.
- Georgia motorists have a duty of safety toward bicycle riders, including keeping a safe passing distance, not driving aggressively and staying out of bicycle lanes.
- Automobile and homeowners insurance policies may cover your Georgia bicycle accident and provide compensation for your pain, trauma, medical expenses and past and future lost earnings.
- Insurance companies often unfairly blame cyclists for causing accidents, but such tactics can be fought using 911 recordings, local surveillance cameras, and eyewitnesses to prove the accident was not your fault.
Duties Georgia Motorists Have Toward Bicycle Riders
Drivers of cars and trucks often fail to see bike riders or disregard the rights and safety of cyclists. If you were hit by a car while biking, here are some important Georgia safety laws that may help prove your accident injury case:
Safe Passing Distance: Under Georgia law motorists approaching or passing a bicycle must use due caution and (1) make a lane change in to the next lane if possible on the existing road and if traffic conditions allow, or (2) if it is not possible to change lanes, a driver shall reduce his or her speed to be at least 10 miles below the posted speed limit or 25 miles per hour and pass the bicycle with at least three-feet of distance. O.C.G.A. 40-6-56.
Aggressive Driving: A driver who drives aggressively threatening the safety of a bicycle rider can be guilty of a misdemeanor. O.C.G.A. 40-6-398(a)(b).
Bicycle Lanes: Bike lanes are defined as a portion of the roadway marked with stripes, pavement or signs for the use of persons operating bicycles. Motor vehicles should not drive in a marked bicycle lane.
Legal Duties of Georgia Bicycle Riders
Just because an accident happens between a car or truck and a bicycle does not automatically mean that the motorist is at fault. Studies show that in Georgia many bicycle accidents are actually the fault of a bicycle rider. Common mistakes that bicycle riders make include failing to yield, ignoring stop signs and riding on the wrong side of the road.
Bikes are considered “Vehicles”: Riders of bicycles have the same rights and duties on public roads as do cars, trucks and motorcycles. O.C.G.A. 40-1-1 and 40-6-29(a).
Same direction of travel: Riders must go in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic, even while riding in a marked bike lane. O.C.G.A. 40-6-294.
Bikers may cycle two abreast: Riders on a roadway may lawfully ride not more than two abreast except on paths or roadway sections marked exclusively for the use of bicycles.
Georgia Bicycle Sidewalk Law: No biker over the age of 12 is allowed to ride on sidewalks. O.C.G.A. 40-6-144.
Georgia Bicycle Helmet Law: Bicycle riders under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet on a road, bike path or sidewalk. O.C.G.A. 40-6-196(e)(1)
Proving your bicycle accident case
According to the State of Georgia most accidents between bicycles and cars take place at intersections. Drivers frequently try to blame bikers for causing the accident, but the truth is that either person can be at fault.
Proving who was at fault in an accident between a bike and a car or truck is similar to proving any other type of motor vehicle accident. As bicycle accident lawyers, we advise people to get the police report as soon as possible, obtain statements from eye witnesses, and gather 911 audio recordings and cam recordings from police officers and patrol cars.
If you were seriously injured, especially if you were rushed to the hospital, you may not be able to tell the police what happened. Sometimes this leaves only the at-fault driver to tell his or her side of the story. In such cases it is even more important to find out if there were any bystander witnesses, other bicyclists in the area, 911 callers who saw what happened or surveillance cameras on local businesses. A good personal injury lawyer or investigator can help identify witnesses and other evidence that might prove you did not cause the accident.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
Auto Insurance: Automobile accident insurance can and does cover collisions between cars and bicycles – if it was the motorist’s fault. Often motorists and insurance carriers will try to deny the claim and blame the biker. This is a common tactic, to see if you will give up and go away. It is often advisable to hire an attorney that specializes in bicycle accidents before speaking with an insurance adjuster about the crash or your injuries.
Homeowner’s Insurance: If you are hit by another bicycle rider who negligently crashed into you, you may be entitled to coverage under that riders homeowner’s insurance. Keep in mind that, again, you should be cautious when speaking with the insurance adjuster. While it is not required that you hire an attorney, it can be a good idea as the insurance company may otherwise deny your claim or ask for a recorded statement that could be used against you.
Georgia Bike Shop Owner Says “Safety is Inexpensive and Invaluable”
According to WALB, bike shop owner Gene Kirk is one of many in the state who market safety as a top priority to their customers. He says his shop stresses the need for helmets, reflective gear, and overall safety to each of its customers.
A blinking LED light for your bicycle costs less than $10. A reflective t-shirt can be found for a similarly low price. These items aren’t required by law, but they can significantly increase your visibility and make riding, walking, or jogging at night considerably safer.
We all know that drivers should always be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians. After all, if someone is killed or seriously injured, there’s a good chance the accident was preventable. But cyclists and pedestrians also have a duty to stay alert, practice smart riding (or walking), and exercise caution.
Hiring an Atlanta, Georgia Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Georgia has many personal injury lawyers but not all of them specialize in bicycle accident cases. If you have questions or are interviewing Georgia bicycle accident lawyers, you may call our law offices to have your questions answered at no charge.
The Millar Law Firm are experts in Georgia bicycle accident personal injury cases. 770-400-0000.
I would highly recommend this firm and staff to everyone, they were great with my case.