Georgia Motorcycle Accident Frequently Asked Questions


September 22, 2010

While motorcycles can be an enjoyable source for recreation and a fuel efficient means of transportation, they also pose a disproportionately high risk of being involved in catastrophic or fatal accidents. At Montlick & Asssociates, we realize that most motorcycle drivers are well trained, careful, and experienced drivers, but we know that the drivers of larger vehicles don't always see the motorcycle, or don't understand differences in handling characteristics. Even though motorcycles only account for two percent of vehicles on the road, they account for in excess of eight percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. If the total miles traveled are taken into account, a motorcycle rider is 32 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than someone in an automobile. The experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Montlick & Associates has been helping injured riders and their families for over 25 years.

Because of our experience, we receive many telephone calls from victims of serious motorcycle accidents. We have provided answers to some of the most common questions below:

How common are motorcycle accidents?

Thousands of motorcyclists and as many as 50,000 people are injured in motorcycle accidents in a typical year. Because motorcycles are prone to tip and provide no bulk to protect a rider, motorcycle accidents often result in far greater serious injuries and fatalities than accidents involving automobiles.

The seriousness of the risk posed to a motorcycle enthusiast cannot be overstated as the statistics below make clear:

Motorcycle Injuries Nationwide 2008: 49,000

Motorcycle Death Nationwide 2008: 2,284

Motorcycle Deaths Georgia 2008: 177

Motorcycle Injuries Georgia 2008: 5,051

As grim as these statistics may appear, the picture may be even worse for those who ride motorcycles in the Atlanta area. The number of motorcycle fatalities in the state has risen 59% since 2004. Even more telling, 29 percent of all motorcycle fatalities from 2004-2008 occurred in Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb, and Chatham counties.

Can I still recover for my injuries even if I was not wearing my helmet as required by law?

Failure to wear a motorcycle helmet does not affect your ability to bring a personal injury lawsuit and seek recovery for damages. If you suffer head and neck injuries which are the result of not wearing your helmet, however, you may have your recovery reduced for such injuries. By contrast, a rider’s failure to wear a helmet would have no impact in a case where a rider suffers broken ribs.

The officer at the scene said that my skid mark shows I was speeding and am at fault. Is he right?

Motorcycle skid marks are not a reliable indicator of speed. A rider cannot generally leave a very long rear wheel skid mark without losing control of the bike. Hard braking with the front wheels results in the rear wheel coming off the ground. Unlike car or truck skid marks, motorcycle skid marks are not a good predictor of speed. The officer also may be looking at skid marks from a different vehicle.

Who may a victim of a motorcycle accident recover damages from?

The operator of a motorcycle may recover against the driver or owner of the other vehicle if the other driver was at fault in causing the accident. The manufacturer of the vehicle may also be responsible if a defect in the motorcycle contributed to the accident. A public entity may even be liable if the design or maintenance of the roadway was unsafe and played a part in the accident. If a passenger on a motorcycle is injured, the motorcycle operator may also be liable.

Should I call highway patrol if I am involved in a motorcycle accident?

It is important to call the local police or highway patrol if you are involved in a motorcycle accident, and it may be required by law. The officer can initiate an investigation, interview witnesses, review physical evidence at the scene, and even potentially obtain admissions of fault from the other driver. The officer may be a valuable witness and can also document your obvious physical injuries at the scene.

I was in the right side of my lane when a vehicle changed lanes in front of me and suddenly stopped so that I was unable to avoid rear ending him. The officer said I rear ended the vehicle so that I was at fault. Is this correct?

As long as your speed was safe and appropriate under the circumstances, the driver violated your right of way by engaging in an unsafe lane change which cut you off. Legal advice is necessary to evaluate the specific circumstances of the accident. However, highway patrol officer’s do make mistakes and the experienced motorcycle attorney's at Montlick & Associates can conduct an independent investigation.

I presume that since I feel fine I do not need to seek medical attention?

This may not be an accurate assumption. Many injuries do not become obvious immediately. You should seek immediate medical attention and even report symptoms that seem insignificant. This will protect your health and a claim for compensation if you later discover your injuries are more serious than you realized. It is not uncommon for minor symptoms to turn into serious problems later.

What should I do immediately following a motorcycle accident?

Once all injured people have been treated, you or someone on your behalf should take pictures of the accident scene, your motorcycle, the other vehicle and your injuries. You should also take notes regarding the time of day, position and direction of the vehicle prior to the accident, weather conditions, and time of day. You should also try to gather the names, insurance information, driver’s license numbers, vehicle plate numbers and contact information of all other people who are involved in the motorcycle accident. You should also try to get contact information for any witnesses to the motorcycle collision.

Do I need a special attorney to handle a motorcycle case?

While theoretically, any attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia can represent you in a motorcycle accident case in the state- you probably would not hire a dermatologist to perform surgery on your heart, so the same principle applies here. A law firm with experience handling motorcycle accident cases will have knowledge regarding the unique risks and challenges in motorcycle accident cases.

Anyone who has been seriously injured in a Georgia motorcycle accident needs an experienced Georgia motorcycle accident attorney who is familiar with the unique risks and potential issues faced in motorcycle accident litigation. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law we understand that if you or someone you love is involved in a motorcycle accident it is a physically and emotionally trying time. We will fight hard to protect your rights, and will handle your case with the compassion and dignity that you should expect from a law firm.

At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing victims injured in serious motorcycle accidents for over 25 years. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, we are available to help you and your family seek the compensation you are entitled to under Georgia law.

A car turned left in front of my motorcycle resulting in a collision. Who is liable?

In most cases, a vehicle that turn left and is involved in a traffic accident will be liable because vehicles turning left are supposed to yield to cross traffic until it is safe to proceed. There are exceptions to this general rule where a rider may be found partially at fault, such as, if you were speeding.

What is the most significant cause of death in motorcycle accidents?

The most significant cause of death in motorcycle accidents is head injuries. This is the reason the law in mosts states requires the wearing of motorcycle helmets. Wearing a helmet can greatly increase the chance of surviving a motorcycle accident.

Why are those who ride motorcycles so much more at risk?

Motorcycles lack size and bulk so they are not very visible to other drivers and provide no protection when a collision occurs. They are also prone to tipping and are very unforgiving if a rider is forced to make a sudden stop or corrective maneuver. The features of a motorcycle create dangers that are unlike those posed by other motor vehicles on the road. Motorcycles do not possess the crash worthiness and occupant protection features of an automobile. An automobile is safer in a collision because it has far more weight and bulk. Automobiles also have additional safety equipment and features that protect the occupant including door beams, a roof, airbags, and seat belts. The lack of a four tire, broad wheel base or bulk also makes motorcycles less stable and less visible.

What do I do if my loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident?

If a member of your immediate family was killed in a fatal motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. While no amount of money will compensate for the loss of a loved one, you can be entitled to compensation including, but not necessarily limited to, medical and burial expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages or future earnings, loss of companionship, and punitive damages depending on the circumstances of the case. If your loved one is killed in a motorcycle accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Montlick & Associates for immediate advice regarding your rights.

I was on the right side of my lane when a vehicle changed lanes in front of me and suddenly stopped so that I was unable to avoid rear ending him. The officer said that I rear ended the vehicle so that I was at fault. Is this correct?

As long as your speed was safe and appropriate under the circumstances, the driver violated your right of way by engaging in an unsafe lane change which cut you off. Contact the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Montlick & Associates for a free consultation to evaluate the specific circumstances of the accident. Officer's have the best of intentions but do make mistakes, so you should contact an experienced motorcycle attorney who can conduct an independent investigation.

Can I sue a public entity if a pothole in the road caused my motorcycle accident?

A government entity has a duty to design, construct and maintain roadways in a safe condition. An experienced motorcycle attorney can investigate whether there is a history of accidents at that location which may show that the public entity had or should have knowledge of the defective roadway condition and failed to take corrective action.

Do I really need an attorney when I can save money and hassle by representing myself?

Even if the fault of the other driver is undisputed, it is always a bad idea to deal with the other party’s insurance company without legal advice and representation. The adjuster works for the insurance company, and the insurance company makes money by paying you as little as possible. It does not matter if the adjuster acts friendly and amicable. The insurance company’s interests are directly opposed to yours. Always seek legal advice from a qualified motorcycle attorney before communicating with the other driver or his insurance company.

A motorcycle accident is rarely a trivial event because there is no such thing as a “fender bender” where a motorcycle is involved. If you or someone you love is involved in a Georgia motorcycle accident, the compassionate Georgia motorcycle accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, are ready to fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. At Montlick and Associates, we have been representing Georgia motorcycle accident victims for over 25 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller and rural towns in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away, and we will travel to meet you at your home, work or the hospital.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.