At Cruz & Associates, we know the challenges facing modern cyclists in the Atlanta area, and we want residents to know how to ride their bicycles safely. It’s also important to know what to do in the event of a bicycle accident. Many Americans ride bicycles for leisure, exercise, or for an alternative way to commute to and from work. While bicycling is an environmentally friendly and healthy alternative to driving, it’s vital to consider the inherent dangers of sharing the road with larger motor vehicles.

Damages in Bicycle Accident Claims

If a bicyclist collides with a motor vehicle, the bicyclist will likely sustain serious injuries. Many bicycle accidents lead to broken bones, lacerations, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and internal organ damage. Bicycle accidents with motor vehicles also have a higher chance of ending in fatalities since bicyclists have little to no protection from the impact of a vehicle.

While a cyclist may assume a driver who gets into an accident with a bicycle will certainly bear liability for the crash, this isn’t always the case. Bicyclists need to know their obligations under Georgia state law or they risk absorbing a portion of fault for their accidents as well. Bicyclists can recover various types of damages from a personal injury claim against a negligent driver. However, Georgia follows a contributory negligence law, so if a bicyclist is partially to blame for an accident, his or her case award may drop by his or her percentage of fault.

If contributory negligence comes into play, the jury will assign a fault percentage to the plaintiff based on his or her contribution to the accident. For example, if a car strikes a cyclist and causes serious injuries, but the cyclist was riding against the flow of traffic at the time of the crash, the jury may deem the cyclist partially to blame. Although the motor vehicle driver technically has a higher duty of care than the cyclist, the cyclist still had a responsibility to follow the same traffic laws as the car. Georgia state law considers bicycles “vehicles” for most legal purposes.

Proving Negligence and Winning Your Case

Regardless of the plaintiff’s possible fault percentage, the lawsuit for a bicycle accident can cover damages including hospital bills, pain and suffering, lost wages form missed time at work, and property damage to the victim’s bicycle and other personal belongings. To succeed in a personal injury claim, a plaintiff must prove four aspects of negligence:

  • The plaintiff must show the defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff at the time of the incident in question.
  • Next, the plaintiff must show how the defendant failed to meet this duty of care.
  • The plaintiff must clearly and accurately show the court the extent of the damages caused by the defendant’s negligence.
  • Finally, the plaintiff must prove that his or her claimed damages resulted from the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.

A jury will award compensation to the plaintiff if he or she can prove these four elements of negligence and may also award punitive damages depending on the defendant’s conduct in the situation in question. If the defendant was dangerously reckless, intentionally harmful, or otherwise showed blatant disregard for the safety and well-being of the people around him or her, the jury may award punitive damages to discourage similar actions in the future. The amount of punitive damages a plaintiff may receive is relative to the defendant’s behavior and financial situation.

Cruz & Associates has more than 25 years of experience handling car accident claims and all types of personal injury cases, and we’re confident we can put that experience to work for your case. Reach out to our team today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We’ll review the details of your bicycle accident in the Atlanta area and let you know your options for legal recourse.