This is an excerpt from one of the recent episodes of 'Do I Need a Lawyer?' hosted by: Gary Martin Hays.
Now let's go to the next question from one of our viewers.
I was riding my bicycle about a month ago. I was actually in lane that was clearly marked as a bike lane. I was about 100 yards from an intersection. The light for our direction of travel was green. An older woman that was driving in the lane next to me suddenly came over into my lane and knocked me off my bike. She told the police officer she didn't see me as she was getting ready to turn right at the intersection.
My injuries are pretty severe. I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. They diagnosed me with a broken clavicle and a fractured right arm. I had to have surgery on my arm because of the severity of the fracture.
Do I need a lawyer?
I'm concerned the driver is going to try to blame me even though the police officer gave her the ticket?
-Franklin in Stone Mountain
Franklin - thanks for the question.
I am so sorry to hear about your wreck - and let me tell you right now -
Yes you need a lawyer and I would be happy to help you.
Let me give our viewers some alarming statistics about bicycle accidents from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
* 660 bicyclists were killed in crashed with motor vehicles in 2002.
* These fatal bike accidents are most likely to occur on Fridays and Saturdays.
The peak time is between 3 - 9 p.m.
* In 1999 98% of the bicyclists that were killed reportedly were not wearing helmets.
* 71% of the bicyclists killed in these crashes were riders 16 years and older.
* More bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas.
64% compared to 36%.
* 57% of the bicycle deaths occurred on major roads, and 37% occurred on local roads.
* 35% of bicycle deaths occurred at or near intersections.
And Franklin, I know that hits home for you as you were approaching the intersection when the at fault driver came into your lane.
Here are some stats from Georgia?
* Georgia's Department of Transportation tells us that bicycle riders are ten times more likely to be involved in an accident than those riding in automobiles.
* Between 2000 and 2006, there were nearly 7,000 bicycle accidents in Georgia.
* In this same time frame, there were 118 bicyclists' deaths as a result of accidents.
And biking has really become popular over the last few years here in Georgia:
The city of Atlanta currently has 30 miles of bike lanes.
Bicycling will continue to grow - not only as a healthy recreational activity, but also as a more affordable means of transportation.
Franklin, let's look your concerns:
It was the driver's negligence in not noticing you when she came up next to you. She was also negligent in not making sure the bike lane was clear when she started pulling over to make her turn. You did not do anything wrong. You were operating your bike as the law allows in the bike lane when she hit you.
This is one of the major defenses that we see insurance companies try to use in these cases.
They will claim: "Bicycles are hard to see" or "I don't know where he came from because I never saw him."
We will want to get a copy of the police report to see if there were any witnesses to the wreck.
There are a couple of things I don't know from your question.
(1) What time of day did the wreck occur?
(2) What were you wearing while riding?
If it was daylight and not raining, the driver really has no excuse.
Which brings up why I would want to know what you were wearing while riding.
If it was dark and you were wearing light colored clothing with reflective patches, you would have been visible. Lights on your bike and headgear with reflective stickers also would have increased your visibility to others.
(1) Georgia's Traffic Laws apply to you!
If you are on a bicycle in Georgia, it is considered a vehicle and you are required to obey all of the traffic laws of this state.
(2) Wear a quality protective helmet.
Head injury is the #1 cause of deaths in bicycle crashes.
(3) Wear high visibility, reflective, protective clothing.
Colors that stand out - like yellow, orange, or bright red jackets will help you be seen by others.
Wear reflective clothes when possible, and have reflectors on your bike and helmet.
(1) Look Twice, Save A Life! This doesn't just apply to motorcycles - but to anytime you are on the road.
ALWAYS check your blind spot before changing lanes or merging into traffic.
(2) Keep your eyes on the road!
Please put down that cell phone when you are behind the wheel.
No Texting and no trying to dial the phone.
If you have been hurt in a wreck and you don't hire an attorney, you are letting the insurance company hang onto YOUR money. Plain and simple.