In Georgia, bicycles have as much right to be on the road as cars and other motor vehicles. However, sometimes car drivers and other motorists fail to remember or acknowledge this, leading to bike accident injuries.
If you or a loved one were injured in a bike accident, you need to know the laws around bicycles in the state of Georgia and how they apply to your personal injury case.
What Are the Bicycle Laws in Georgia?
In Georgia, bicycles are seen legally as “vehicles,” meaning general traffic laws apply to them just like other drivers on the road. It also means they have the same right to be on the road as everyone else.
Under the Ga. Code § 40-6-291, there are specific rules that apply to cyclists in Georgia, such as:
- Cyclists should travel in the same direction as motorists
- They should ride as far right on the road as possible, as long as it is safe to do so
- If a bicycle lane has been provided on a roadway, motor vehicles should yield to the bicycle rider in the bicycle lane
- If a cyclist is riding at night, they should have front and rear lights
- Riders older than 12 are not allowed to ride on sidewalks
- Riders under the age of 16 must wear helmets (although all ages are encouraged to wear them for safety)
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How Do Georgia’s Bicycle Laws Apply in a Bike Accident Injury Case?
In general, many cyclists will only casually adhere to bicycling laws. Often, this is practical. For example, it may seem safer to ride on a sidewalk with good pavement than on a street with terrible potholes, even if you are legally supposed to be on the road.
Other times, it is simply a matter of the cyclist’s preference. For example, since using front and rear lights is mostly about protecting the cyclist themselves, they might feel that the choice is theirs to make. This is not strictly legal, but it is common in practice.
Unfortunately, that can make a big difference when a bike accident happens and causes injuries. Suddenly, whether you were following the law can affect whether you can recover money. Since cars and other motor vehicles are so much bigger and heavier than bicycles, the cyclist’s injuries from the accident are often serious, even at low speeds. Injuries can include:
- Broken bones, including hands, arms, wrists, and elbows
- Dislocated joints
- Concussions and brain injuries
- Scrapes, bruises, and lacerations
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries or nerve damage
- Many other kinds of injuries
Some bicycle accidents can even be fatal, especially if the cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet or the accident happened at high speeds.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Bicycle Accident Case?
Seeking financial recovery for injuries in a bicycle accident case depends on who is liable (responsible) for the accident. We have found that many times, bike accidents happen at the fault of the motorist for being negligent or careless.
This may include the driver:
- Not giving cyclists enough room on the road
- Passing too closely
- Turning into the cyclist’s path or not yielding as the cyclist enters the road
- Not paying attention to the cyclist or not acknowledging their rights to share the road with other drivers
- Hitting the cyclist while driving drunk or under the influence
- Opening the door of a parked car without looking and hitting the cyclist (getting “doored”)
Some drivers may also try to blame the cyclist for the accident or deny fault. In addition, insurance companies may also try to place blame on the cyclists to avoid paying out what you need to physically and financially recover from the accident. This is where Georgia’s bicycle laws come into play during a bike accident injury case.
Cyclists should remind drivers and police at the scene that cyclists are legally treated as vehicles and have the same rights to be on the road. If a driver does not treat the cyclist the same as other drivers on the road, they’re failing to comply with local bike laws.
If you are a cyclist injured in a bike accident, it’s important to not accept any blame until you’ve spoken with a bicycle accident lawyer. An experienced attorney can help ensure these laws are followed and that the at-fault party is held responsible for damages.
Your Insurance May Cover Your Damages
Typically if a driver was responsible for your accident, their insurance should cover your damages. However, if the driver flees the scene or does not have any insurance, things could get trickier.
There is the possibility that another insurance policy, such as that of the driver’s employer, might cover your damages if their car insurance is insufficient. If not, you may have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for the compensation you require to cover your costs.
Alternatively, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company. If you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, your policy will likely still cover you even though you were not in your vehicle at the time of the accident.
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Beware of the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit
If your best option for recovering compensation after a bicycle accident is a lawsuit against the at-fault party, it is important to be aware of the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Georgia. Typically accident victims will have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the liable party after suffering an injury.
When the responsible party is a government employee who was on the job at the time of the accident, the amount of time you have to file may be significantly reduced. In this situation, you may have as little as six months to file before your right to compensation is nullified.
The best way to ensure that you meet all deadlines and don’t miss out on your chance to recover damages after a bicycle accident is to hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible after you get injured. Your bike accident lawyer can review the details of your case and make sure that all paperwork gets filed on time.
Were You Injured in a Bike Accident?
If you were injured in a bicycle accident and the other driver was at fault, don’t miss out on getting the financial recovery you need and deserve to move forward. At John Foy & Associates, our attorneys understand Georgia bike laws and how they apply to injury cases.
Working with us is risk-free because we do not receive payment unless you get the money. For a FREE consultation to discuss your bike accident injury case and your next options, call us or fill out our online contact form.