Bicycle accidents can be a common occurrence on Atlanta roads. They're often unpredictable and can happen for a number of reasons. However, there are many safeguards that can be put in place to prevent bicycle related injuries. Protect your health and personal safety by enacting good riding habits, and protect your legal rights by consulting with an attorney when bicycle accidents do occur.
The Many Causes of Bicycle Accidents, and What Riders Can Do About Them
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, men are nearly six times more likely than women to be killed in a bicycle accident. It remains to be seen whether this is due to more aggressive riding habits by male cyclists, or simply because there are more male cyclists on the road. Regardless, male riders should be aware that they face increased risks on the road, and use particular caution while riding a bicycle.
The GHSA also reports that bicycle accidents are often the result of an inattentive vehicle operator. In turn, bicyclists are more likely to see drivers, but too often assume that the driver will yield the right of way. Bicyclists should therefore take measures to ensure they are highly visible in the roadway. Bells and lights should be used as needed to alert drivers of a bicyclist's presence. Reflective clothing, tape, head lights, and bike reflectors should be utilized at night and during other times of poor visibility. Bicyclists should never assume that a driver will yield the right of way - even when the driver is legally required to do so. Slow down, make eye contact with the driver, and only proceed with caution when the driver has come to a complete stop. Bicyclists should also use particular caution in parking lots. Drivers have often diverted their attention to the task of backing up or parking, and this can make it even more difficult to see nearby bicyclists.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits for Surviving Family Members
Sadly, the most serious bicycle accidents can result in death to cyclist. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that 2015 saw the largest increase in bicycle fatalities in over twenty years. These numbers raise an important question: what legal rights do survivors have when a bicycle accident occurs? Georgia law provides the right for specified family members to sue the negligent driver for wrongful death. Section 51-4-2 of the Georgia Code also allows for a surviving spouse to sue for wrongful death. If there is no surviving spouse, any child or children may sue for wrongful death. Section 19-7-1 also allows parents to sue for the wrongful death of a child. In such cases, there are two separate lawsuits which can be sustained as a result of the fatal bicycle accident. The bicyclist's estate may sue for the legal losses suffered by the decedent (including pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of income, and other costs directly related to the accident). The surviving family members may sustain a separate action for their legal losses (such as loss of companionship).
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, it is important to contact an experienced Atlanta bicycle and pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible. Georgia law entitles accident victims and surviving family members to be compensated for their injuries and losses.