For various reasons over the past decade or so—including increased commuter traffic; environmental concerns; and simply more people wanting to exercise—Atlanta roads have seen an influx of bicyclists. Unfortunately, more bicyclists mean more bicyclists hit and injured by cars. These incidents occur for a variety of reasons: inattention or conscious disregard by automobile drivers; confusion about traffic laws; and, sadly, even road rage.
At Rafi Law Firm, we have represented many clients seriously injured for doing nothing other than lawfully riding a bicycle on Georgia roads. One key Georgia statute specifically relating to bicycle crashes is O.C.G.A. § 40-6-56, which holds drivers legally responsible for failing to leave a safe distance when passing a bicyclist. That law codifies the “three feet rule,” and states:
(a) As used in this Code section, the term “safe distance” means not less than three feet.
(b) Notwithstanding any provision of this article to the contrary, when feasible, the operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between such vehicle and the bicycle and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Other rules of the road also apply to bicycle crashes just the same way they would if you were hit while driving a car. These include failure to yield; following too closely; improper passing; failure to obey a traffic device (traffic light, stop sign, etc.); reckless driving, and so on.
Unfortunately, many drivers are apathetic or even disdainful of bicyclists on the road. At-fault drivers, insurance adjusters, and even police officers can sometimes start their analysis with an eye towards blaming the cyclist just because s/he is a cyclist. It is critical that you hire a Georgia bicycle accident attorney who knows how to immediately investigate and prepare your case. This includes preserving evidence, interviewing witnesses, documenting the scene, taking the proper measurements (remember—the “three-foot rule!”), and identifying all potential at-fault parties and insurance coverage.
Another important thing to consider if you are involved in an Atlanta bicycle accident is that your uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance will cover you if you are hit by a car while on your bicycle. This can significantly increase the amount you are able to recover for your injuries—but you need an attorney who knows how to get there.
Atlanta is active in making the city more cyclist-friendly with long-term projects aimed to create safe pathways for pedestrians and bicyclists, such as the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail and PATH Parkway, as well as making the roadways safer to travel on next to vehicles, which is the focus of the Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard Resurfacing Project. According to the City of Atlanta 2017 Annual Bicycle Report, the City has installed 94% of the planned bike-ways set forth in 2013. Unfortunately, bicyclists continue to be hit by careless drivers, so often that people actively protest for the safety of bicyclists and the expansion of protected bicycle lanes next to vehicles.
Rafi Law Firm knows how to properly investigate the unique aspects of a bicycle case, and we can help ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to if you were hit by a careless driver while riding your bicycle. If you or someone you know has been hit while riding a bicycle, call 404-800-9933 or click here for a free consultation with a bicycle accident attorney at Rafi Law Firm.