bicycle riding on the street

Bicycle accidents in Georgia can be influenced by a variety of factors including road conditions, driver behavior, cyclist behavior, and local traffic laws. Adverse weather conditions like rain, fog, or low light can increase the risk of accidents. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident in Georgia, the legal actions you can pursue largely depend on the circumstances of the accident, including who was at fault and the extent of any injuries or damages. Gautreaux Law is a leading personal injury law firm serving Macon, Warner Robins, and all of Georgia. Our legal team has decades of experience. We can be there for you to help you navigate the laws surrounding operating a bicycle, as well as any legal case you might have in your specific situation if you were injured while on a bicycle.

Factors That Influence Accidents Involving Bicycles

There are many factors that can come into play when a bicycle injury or fatality occurs.  Some of the more common ones are as follows:

  • Driver Behavior – There are certain behaviors such as speeding, inattentiveness, or a failure to yield to bicyclists that can cause accidents involving bicycles.
  • Cyclist Behavior: Cyclists also need to follow traffic laws, use proper signals, and wear appropriate safety gear. Accidents can occur when cyclists ignore traffic signals, ride against traffic, or ride at night without proper lighting.
  • Traffic Laws and Infrastructure: The presence of bike lanes, as well as specific laws protecting cyclists can greatly influence the occurrence of bicycle accidents.
  • Weather and Visibility: Adverse weather conditions like rain, fog, or low light can increase the risk of accidents.
  • Time of Day: Accidents are more likely during times of high traffic volume, such as rush hours, and during night time when visibility is reduced.

Legal Responsibilities of Bicyclists and Motorists When It Comes To Bicyclists

When it comes to riding on a bicycle, there are certain responsibilities that a cyclist in Georgia has.  There are also certain rights that the cyclist has, especially as relates to the other drivers on the road. Understanding Georgia laws is key to understanding whether you have potential recourse in the event of an accident involving a bicycle. For example, bicycles are legally classified as vehicles in Georgia. Therefore, general traffic laws apply to their operation. Cyclists must also be aware of any additional regulations that may be unique to their area, including local traffic regulations​​. In addition, bicyclists over the age of 12 are generally not permitted to ride on sidewalks unless a local ordinance allows it. Bicyclists should not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside exclusively for bicycles​​.

There is also a specific law known as the “Three Feet Law” in Georgia, which mandates that motorists must provide at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist. However, an amendment to O.C.G.A. §40-6-56 requires drivers to slow down and give bicyclists even more room. Drivers are now required to change lanes if traffic conditions permit. If a bicycle accident ensues due to a negligent driver, the cyclist has the right to seek compensation. 

Potential Legal Actions You Can Take If Injured In  A Bicycle Accident 

If you are involved in a bicycle accident in Georgia, the legal actions you can take largely depend on the circumstances of the accident, including who was at fault and the extent of any injuries or damages. Here are some possible legal actions:

  • Personal Injury Lawsuit: If you were injured in the accident and someone else was at fault (for example, a motorist, another cyclist, or a pedestrian), you could file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party based on negligence. This requires proving that the other party had a duty to exercise reasonable care, breached that duty, and caused your injuries as a result. This lawsuit could seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  • Property Damage Claim: If your bicycle or other personal property was damaged in the accident, you could file a claim for property damage. You may also consider filing a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company.
  • Product Liability Claim: If your injury was due to a defect in the bicycle or any of its components, you might have a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the bicycle.
  • Premises Liability Claim: If your injury occurred due to hazardous conditions on someone’s property (like a private driveway, parking lot, or business premises), you might file a premises liability claim against the property owner or manager.
  • Government Liability Claim: If your injury was due to poor road conditions or inadequate signage, which should have been maintained by a governmental entity, you can file a claim against the relevant government body. However, be aware that claims against government entities have specific procedures and deadlines that are different from other personal injury claims.
  • Insurance Claim: If the at-fault party has insurance (such as auto insurance in the case of a collision with a vehicle), you can file a claim with their insurance company. This can cover medical expenses, property damage, and potentially other losses.
  • Uninsured Motorist Claim: If the at-fault party does not have insurance, or if it was a hit-and-run incident, and you have uninsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy, you may be able to file a claim under this coverage.
  • Wrongful Death Lawsuit: If the bicycle accident resulted in a fatality, the family of the deceased might have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident.
  • Workers’ Compensation Claim: If the accident occurred while you were cycling in the course of your employment, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Criminal Charges: If the driver of the vehicle was breaking the law (for example, driving under the influence, reckless driving), they might face criminal charges. While this is not a legal action you can initiate, it is something that law enforcement might pursue.

In terms of potential legal action, keep in mind that Georgia operates under the principle of modified comparative negligence for personal injury cases, including bicycle accidents. This means that the responsibility for an accident and the injuries that result is distributed based on each party’s degree of fault​​. However, if the injured party is found to be greater than 50% at fault, then the injured party is generally unable to recover damages. If you are involved in a bicycle accident where it is clear that the other party was mainly at fault, you may be entitled to seek various types of damages. These can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and future medical costs. To fully assess these damages, a comprehensive evaluation of your injuries, treatment needs, and long-term prognosis is necessary​​.

It is important to consult with a personal injury attorney who can advise on the specifics of your case, especially since each type of claim has its own legal standards, procedures, and time limits for filing. Gautreaux Law can provide guidance on whether to negotiate a settlement or proceed to court, and how to navigate the legal system effectively. Remember, each case is unique, and the feasibility and success of legal action depend on the specific details of the accident.

Discuss Your Case with Skilled Personal Injury Attorneys

When you become a client of Gautreaux Law, one of our attorneys will handle your claim directly, fighting for the maximum compensation you deserve. Because we understand that many individuals will be facing emotional, physical, and financial challenges, your initial consultation is free, and you will pay no attorney’s fees until we win your case.