Personal Injury Law Firm
Georgia law entitles bicycle accident victims to seek compensation for injuries that are caused by a driver’s negligence. One key to obtaining compensation is proving that the driver was at fault.
In the context of bicycle accidents, fault means that a driver’s negligence contributed to the bicycle rider’s injuries. Negligence means carelessness. For example, a driver who blows through a red light is negligent. When that driver collides with a bicyclist in the intersection, the driver is at fault for the collision and resulting injuries.
Comparative Fault in Georgia Bicycle Accidents
In some cases, including the example of a driver who runs a red light, fault is obvious. In other cases, fault might be shared.
For example, suppose a bicyclist who wants to enter a driveway turns left into the path of an oncoming driver. If the bicyclist left the driver no time to react, the accident might be entirely the fault of the bicyclist. If the driver could have avoided a collision by braking or swerving but was reading a text message instead of watching the road, the negligence of both the driver and the bicyclist may have contributed to the collision.
When fault is shared, Georgia law asks whether the injury victim was more at fault than the other party. If so, the injury victim cannot receive compensation. If not, compensation is reduced in proportion to the victim’s share of fault.
In the left turn example, a jury might find that the bicyclist was 40% at fault for turning in front of the oncoming driver while the driver was 60% at fault for not watching the road. If the jury awards compensation of $100,000, the injury victim would receive $60,000.
Evidence of Fault for Georgia Bicycle Accidents
Proof of fault is based on evidence of how the accident occurred. While evidence is gathered in many ways, the process of investigating an accident should begin as quickly as possible. Delay too often results in lost evidence.
Skid marks, for example, might only be visible for a short time after the accident. Traffic or a heavy rain might cause skid marks to disappear. Conversely, the absence of skid marks might be evidence that a driver did not apply brakes. Taking pictures of the road soon after the accident might prove the absence of skid marks, while taking pictures months later might not prove anything.
Bicycle accident victims who need to be transported to an emergency room will not be in a position to collect evidence at the accident scene, but injured bicyclists who can move around without endangering their health can take some important steps to preserve evidence. An injured bicyclist’s first step should be to call the police so that an officer can come to the accident scene. The officer will obtain basic information and include it in an accident report.
A bicyclist who is carrying a smartphone should take pictures of the accident scene. Photographing the positions of the car and the bicycle before they are moved can provide vital evidence about the cause of the accident. Take multiple pictures of the car, focusing on any damage or paint transfers that may have been caused by the collision.
Taking pictures of the bicycle before moving it is important, but it is just as important to preserve the bicycle in its post-accident condition. The bicycle should not be discarded or repaired until the accident victim’s lawyer has seen it. The lawyer might want to introduce the bicycle as an exhibit during a personal injury trial. A mangled bicycle can be powerful evidence.
Witnesses who saw an accident can provide crucial testimony. While jurors may regard both the driver and the bicyclist as biased, they tend to trust the testimony of neutral witnesses. Get the names and phone numbers of anyone who offers to provide assistance after the accident, as well as bystanders who may have seen the accident. Since the investigating police officer may want to take their statements, ask them if they will remain at the scene until an officer arrives.
Helping Your Lawyer Prove Fault in a Georgia Bicycle Accident
In most cases, a claims adjuster who works for the driver’s insurance company will try to contact the injured bicyclist. The insurance adjuster will want to take a statement. Insurance adjusters hope to talk to accident victims soon after the accident, before they obtain legal advice.
It is always smart to speak to a personal injury lawyer before talking to an insurance adjuster. The bicyclist’s description of how the accident occurred needs to be clear and consistent. A lawyer might want the bicyclist to wait until an investigation is complete before deciding whether to speak to the insurance company.
The bicyclist’s lawyer may want to assign a private investigator or an accident reconstruction engineer to help find evidence. Uncovering all the facts to prove fault may take some time, but the process should start right away. A bike accident lawyer can help injury victims gather the evidence they need to prove the fault of the driver who caused their injuries.