Most bicycle enthusiasts in the greater Atlanta metro area recognize the dangers posed by careless or distracted motorists. Some bike riders adapt their riding practices to avoid high risk areas.
However, a recent DeKalb County bicycle accident involving a sandwich bike delivery man provides a reminder that those who use their bicycles for work may not have this option. Bike messengers and others who use their bike to make deliveries often ride in bad weather and during high traffic times.
In the DeKalb County bicycle accident, the bicyclist was hit by a driver who is being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, improper overtaking of a bicycle and marijuana possession. While drivers who operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana pose a significant danger to all others with whom they share the road, bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to debilitating injuries. Bicycles have few options when faced with a need to engage in emergency evasive maneuvers. Bicycles are extremely slow when attempting to evade a motor vehicle on a collision course, and the situation can be far worse if a motorist is distracted, drunk or stoned. When a collision does occur, the bicyclist has no protection from severe injury.
While bicyclists that are injured by unsafe or inattentive drivers of motor vehicles may have a claim for monetary recovery against the driver, the situation can be more complicated if the bicyclist is making a delivery for an employer. Although a bike messenger or other bicycle delivery person may be able to bring a workers’ compensation claim against his or her employer, the compensation available will be rather limited. Workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia generally will only include medical care, a percentage of lost wages up to a maximum that most people find inadequate, temporary disability payments and compensation based on the degree of permanent disability.
Our experienced bicycle accident attorneys explore the viability of a personal injury claim against the driver of the vehicle, owner of the vehicle, manufacturer of a defective bike or motor vehicle or even when appropriate the entity charged with building and maintaining the roadways. A personal injury action may provide access to a much broader range of damages than a workers’ compensation claim, such as damages for pain and suffering, impact on quality of life, loss of consortium, punitive damages and more.
DeKalb County bicycle accident injury claims can be complicated because the cyclist often will be rendered unconscious and not be in a position to report what happened at the scene. The statement of the bicyclist may not occur until later at the hospital. Because the police take the statement of the driver before the cyclist, this can lead to bias in the police report that favors the motor vehicle driver, which may impact the nature of the investigation that occurs by law enforcement at the scene.
In some situations, bicyclists may be only partially at-fault, but the police investigative report will assign all fault to the bicycle enthusiast because the rider is not at the scene when the initial interviews are conducted. This makes careful investigation of the facts of a bicycle accident very important, which includes analyzing the facts regarding fault and causation beyond the conclusions in the law enforcement report. Georgia is a comparative negligence state, so as long as the cyclist is less than 50% responsible for the accident, the cyclist will not be barred from recovery. However, the bike rider will have any recovery reduced based on the rider’s percentage of fault.
Our Georgia bicycle accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.