Bicyclists are among the most vulnerable people on the road. While Alpharetta and Georgia have laws to protect cyclists, the reality is that many vehicles don’t respect those laws—and end up putting cyclists at risk. What many bicyclists don’t know is that you have the same rights in an accident as any other victim. If a vehicle hits you, you can recover a substantial amount of money for your injuries and other losses. In most cases, these damages will be paid by the driver’s insurance.
If you or someone you love has been hit while biking, we can help you. Our Alpharetta bicycle attorneys understand the law and fight for cyclists’ rights—and we charge nothing if we don’t recover money for you. Let us show you what a difference it makes to have an experience attorney after an accident. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.
Does it matter who caused the bicycle accident?
In Alpharetta and statewide, vehicle accidents are resolved based on “fault” or who caused the accident. However, let’s be very clear: it is rare for a cyclist to be at fault for an accident with a car.
This is because:
- Cyclists know that they are at risk and usually try to avoid vehicles
- Cyclists often ride to the side of the road rather than out amidst traffic (even though “taking the lane” is legal in many situations)
- Drivers have a duty to maintain at least 3 feet of space when passing a bicycle in Georgia
As a result, bicycle accidents are usually caused by a motor vehicle driver, not by the cyclist. The driver may have been passing too close, driving aggressively, or simply not paying attention. It is possible for a cyclist to cause an accident—perhaps by weaving out into the lane, turning without hand signaling, or crossing an intersection without looking for traffic. But these types of accidents are in the minority among the cases we see.
What if I’m being blamed for the accident?
Unfortunately, even though most bicycle accidents are caused by vehicle drivers, that doesn’t change how insurance companies respond to claims. The insurance company almost always takes the approach of blaming the cyclist. In many cases, the driver blames the cyclist as well.
A classic example is when a car driver pulls out too far from a driveway while waiting to enter traffic. The cyclist has to stop suddenly—which isn’t always possible. When the bicycle hits the side of the car, the driver automatically thinks it was the cyclist who was being irresponsible, even though the driver is the one at fault. Insurance companies know better, but they pick up on these defenses and try to use them to avoid paying claims.
Some of the ways insurers try to shift blame include:
- Trying to reject claims where the cyclist didn’t have a helmet or lights
- Disputing whether the lights on the bike made it visible enough
- Claiming that the cyclist was biking aggressively or didn’t pay attention
- Disputing where the cyclist was biking, whether it was in in a lane, on a shoulder, or on a sidewalk
If you encounter any of these tactics—from an insurer or from a driver—be very careful. It means they are trying to deny you the money you need for your injuries and losses. The best thing you can do is stop talking to them directly and get an attorney to represent your case.
Your attorney will be your go-between who can negotiate with the insurer on your behalf. They will force the insurance company to back up these accusations, and will assemble the evidence needed to prove your case. This is how cyclists recover money even when being wrongfully blamed.
What if my accident was caused by bad pavement or road hazards?
For cyclists, potholes are as big a threat as moving vehicles. Badly damaged pavement can catch your wheel, throw you from your bike, or damage the bicycle itself. All of these are dangerous when moving at normal bicycle speeds. Sewer grates and other hazards can also be a serious risk.
When a bicycle accident is caused by roadway hazards, there’s often someone who is legally liable. Who you can hold responsible depends on the circumstances:
- On private property, such as a shopping center, the owner or management company may be liable. This will be treated as a property liability case, and the injured cyclist can often win a settlement. Your case may be stronger or weaker depending on whether you were allowed to bicycle there or not, and where exactly you were cycling. For example, someone riding through the parking lot of a store on their way to shop would stand to recover money more easily than someone doing bike tricks in a corporate lot after-hours.
- On roads and highways, the government may be responsible. The exact government body will depend on whether it was a city, county or state road. Claims against the government work differently than normal claims, although you can still recover money. In many cases, the government may try to determine how long the damaged pavement was there. If the damage was recent, they may claim they had no duty to fix it because it was impossible to even have known about it.
Talk to an Alpharetta Bicycle Accident Lawyer for Free
The amount of money you can recover for a bike accident is not small. You may be able to recover all of your medical costs, all bike repair costs, lost work time, and additional compensation for the pain and personal losses you have suffered. Likewise, families can recover a substantial amount of money for a cyclist killed by a vehicle.
Don’t let insurance companies or careless drivers deprive you of your rights. Let our attorneys give you a FREE session to discuss your case and determine your best options. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.