Atlanta, Georgia Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Motorcycle Accidents in Atlanta, Georgia
More and more people in the United States, both men and women, have taken up motorcycle riding, both for travel and pleasure, and the State of Georgia is no exception. According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), from 2004 to 2008, motorcycle registrations in Georgia increased by 63%.
With so many motorcycles on the road, motorcycle accidents are a fact of life in Georgia. Naturally, since motorcycle riders and passengers are not as well protected as other vehicle drivers and passengers, motorcycle accidents are unfortunately more likely to result in serious injuries. Again, according to GOHS, in 2008, 12% of all people killed in motor vehicle accidents in Georgia were motorcycle riders, even though motorcyclists accounted for less than 12% of all crash victims. These 177 fatal crash victims constituted the highest number of motorcycle fatalities in Georgia in 15 years.
While this is discouraging, the good news on these statistics is that the increase in fatalities was due more to the increase in the number of riders on the road than a decrease in overall motorcycle safety as the crash rate for motorcycles actually decreased from 2004 to 2008. However, the rate of fatalities is still worrisome and a cause for concern: in 2006, there were over 10 fatalities per 10,000 registered motorcyclists, and in 2009, the number was just over 6 per every 10,000.
Since 2004, Georgia has had a mandatory helmet law. The National Highway Traffic Safety Institute estimates that nationwide helmets saved 1,829 motorcyclists’ lives in 2008 and that 823 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. In Georgia, 97 motorcyclists’ lives were saved due to proper helmet use in 2008 and an additional 5 lives would have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
If you were in a motorcycle accident, or if a loved one has been killed in a motorcycle accident in Georgia, you may wish to consult an experienced motorcycle accident injury attorney to find out if you can recover for these injuries in a negligence case.
Liability for Atlanta Motorcycle Accidents
An individual injured in a motorcycle accident may have a claim against another person if they can show that the other person is at fault for causing the injury. In Georgia, all drivers of motor vehicles owe a duty of care to other drivers on the road. When drivers breach that duty and cause an injury to another, they may be held civilly liable to the injured party in a negligence claim.
As in every accident case, one of the most important questions to address is: who is at fault? When a motorcycle driver has obeyed all the traffic laws but is nevertheless involved in a multi-vehicle crash not caused by environmental conditions (such as ice), one of the most common causes of the crash are a result of the driver of the other vehicle not seeing the motorcyclist.
Because motorcycles are harder to spot than other vehicles as a result of their much smaller size, motorcycle drivers must be very vigilant and defensive in driving. When the driver of another vehicle does not see a motorcycle, an accident can happen as a result of the vehicle driver pulling out in front of a motorcycle; making an abrupt turn in front of a motorcycle; cutting a motorcyclist off in a lane; or passing another car and not seeing that either the passing lane or the target lane is occupied by a motorcyclist. If the driver of the other vehicle is also violating traffic laws by speeding or being drunk or intoxicated, it may be easy to show that the driver of the other vehicle is at fault.
It is also important to remember that Georgia has a comparative negligence statute. In other words, sometimes both parties may bear some fault for an accident, but to differing or equal degrees. Under Georgia law, if a plaintiff is more than 50% or more responsible for an accident, then the plaintiff cannot recover at all. If the defendant is more at fault than the plaintiff, the plaintiff can recover, but his or her damages award may be reduced, depending upon the degree of fault the plaintiff bears. This is all the more reason to contact an experienced Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney to properly investigate and evaluate your potential claim.
Damages Available in an Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Case
Like any other personal injury case, a motorcycle accident victim may be able to sue to recover for both economic and non-economic damages. For example, economic damages may include property loss, medical costs, and lost income. Property damages can include the cost of repairing or replacing the motorcycle, as well as damage to protective equipment such as helmet, leathers, and boots. In addition, there may be damages incurred such as medical bills, physical therapy, and medical equipment. Compensatory damages can include lost wages or other lost income. Non-economic damages can include pain and suffering and, if a defendant has acted in an egregious way (for example, the defendant intentionally caused the accident, or was grossly intoxicated), punitive damages may also be available.
If I Have Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident, When Should I Contact An Attorney?
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered an injury, you may need to consult an attorney right away. Sometimes, accident victims believe that insurance will adequately compensate them for their injuries. However, insurance companies are reluctant to pay out even when the fault may seem clear; they will try to settle claims quickly and finally in order to limit their exposure. That is why it is important to protect your rights by consulting a Georgia motorcycle accident lawyer before settling for what an insurance company may offer or even before you talk to an insurance representative, even if it seems like the insurance company is acting responsibly.
For one thing, not all injuries are readily apparent right away. If you suffered an injury, especially if it is serious, you may not know the full extent of your injuries for some time. In such cases, submitting medical bills or signing a statement too soon may limit your recovery to an amount that is much less than what you may need and/or entitled to recover.
In addition, you may not be aware of how your own statements or words can be used in court against you, even when you do not believe you are harming your interests. For example, it is normal for motorcycle accident victims to second-guess their decisions, even when they are not at fault, and especially when someone else has been injured: they may wish they had travelled at an hour in which traffic was not so heavy, or they might wish they had told their passenger to wear more protective clothing. In addition, when an individual tells their account of a motorcycle accident repeatedly, there may be subtle changes and differences in each retelling; this is entirely normal, since it is very difficult to remember all the facts accurately from a traumatic event. But even these normal statements and feelings may ultimately hurt your case. As dismaying and discouraging as it is, even the most casual conversation with friends or “unofficial” parties can be taken apart in a court proceeding to find something that may be used in a negative way.
The Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter Can Help You
Given all these concerns, it is critical that you get advice from an experienced attorney before you take any steps with regard to your motorcycle accident, and especially before you make or sign any statement to anyone whose interests may be adverse to your own.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, call one of the qualified Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C., right away at 404-814-8949, or use our confidential online case evaluation form here on this site. We have experience representing motorcycle accident victims in lawsuits to obtain recoveries for personal injuries. Your initial consultation is free, and there is no obligation on your part to retain our firm, even if we offer to take your case.
Our Motorcycle Accident Attorneys will listen to your story and ask you key questions to help you to understand the legal implications of your situation, and you can be confident that we will keep all of your information absolutely confidential. If we agree to represent you, we will not charge you a dime unless and until we recover damages for you. When one of our attorneys is representing you, you can simply direct all inquiries to us. We will talk to witnesses and gather evidence, and we will act as a buffer between you and the insurance companies and any other parties. Contact us today, and let us handle all the questions and inquiries, especially during a time when you are injured and in no state to deal with outside parties. Let us handle the case for you, so you can concentrate on your recovery.
Also, be sure to visit our Georgia Learning Center Page where we have assembled a number Articles and Videos specific to Motorcycle Accident Claims such as:
- Overview of Georgia Motorcycle Accident Claims; and,
- Recovering Compensation After a Traumatic Brain Injury
It is our hope that these Articles and Videos will answer some of your immediate questions.
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