The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that a 31-year-old Gwinnett County man died after the motorcycle he was riding struck the side of a van pulling out of a side-street. Motorcycle-related tragedies like this one are all-too-common in Gwinnett County and other parts of Georgia. Data from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reveals that the number of fatal motorcycle accidents around the state has increased sharply over the last few years, climbing from 137 fatalities in 2014 to 264 in 2018. In addition to an increased risk of fatality, motorcyclists also face an increased risk of injuries when involved in an accident, as compared to the drivers of other vehicles including cars and trucks. Read on for more information about motorcycle accidents and what to do if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident in Gwinnett County that was caused by someone else’s negligence.
Why Are Motorcycle Accidents More Dangerous?
As noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in death or injury to the motorcyclist. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Motorcycles lack the protective features of passenger cars, such as door beams, a roof, airbags, and seat belts.
- Ejections are common with motorcycles, which causes the rider to make contact with other objects, as well as the road.
- Motorcycles lack the bulk of a larger vehicle and drivers often fail to see them, resulting in the driver of a car pulling out in front of, or turning in front of or into a moving motorcycle.
- Motorcycles require a higher level of skill to operate than a passenger car does.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can occur in a variety of ways, but the following are some common causes of these types of crashes.
- Head-on collisions: More than half of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve a collision between the motorcycle and another vehicle. The vast majority of these accidents involve a car hitting the motorcycle from the front.
- Cars making left-hand turns: This is the most dangerous situation for motorcyclists, accounting for about 42 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car. Drivers often don’t see a motorcyclist when making the turn and may strike the motorcycle while it is passing through the intersection, passing the car, or attempting to overtake the car.
- Speeding: Speeding cars pose a risk for motorcyclists as speeding increases the amount of time needed for the driver to see the motorcyclist in his or her path and react by slowing down or stopping before a collision occurs.
- Driving under the influence: Drunk drivers have less ability to judge distances between their car and other objects, including motorcycles. Alcohol or drug impairment can also reduce the driver’s ability to react quickly to hazards in the road or to control his or her vehicle.
- Motorcycle lane splitting: Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of stopped or slow moving traffic. Illegal in Florida, lane splitting crashes causes accidents due to the close proximity of the motorcycle to vehicles, a limited space in which the motorcyclist can maneuver, and drivers who are not anticipating a motorcycle coming up alongside them.
- Dangerous road conditions, including wet roads that may be slippery, potholes, debris in the road, and a lack of traffic control devices such as red lights or stop signs.
- Motorcycle defects: Manufacturers and distributors of poorly designed motorcycles may face liability if the product defects cause the motorcycle to crash.
Injuries Common to Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle injuries can be quite severe. Some common injuries suffered by motorcyclists in accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Lower extremity injuries, including broken legs and broken bones in the ankles and feet
- Internal injuries either caused by blunt force trauma or penetration trauma
- Broken wrists, arms, and other bones due to the body colliding with objects or the roadway
- Road rash: The serious skin abrasions are caused by the motorcyclist’s skin scraping against the road
- Biker’s arm: Biker’s arm is severe nerve damage in the arm caused by the motorcyclist’s protective instinct to use the arms to protect the body during an accident. Damage from biker’s arm is often permanent.
Motorcyclist Fatalities in Gwinnett County, GA
If You Were Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident Caused by Someone Else’s Negligence…
Motorcyclists who are injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence often wonder how they’re going to be able to afford extensive medical treatment, loss of wages, and other expenses associated with their recovery. Georgia is a fault state, meaning that the first resource to turn to for compensation for damages is a third-party claim against the at-fault and his or her liability insurance carrier. If the at-fault party’s insurance carrier delays or denies the claim or fails to offer a reasonable settlement based on the motorcyclists current and future medical needs due to the injury, then the injured motorcyclist usually has the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit in court.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the accident. If the lawsuit involves a governmental entity, such as when a dangerous road condition that a road agency should have prevented caused the accident, then the time limit may be even shorter.
Georgia practices a “modified comparative negligence” standard. What this means is that even if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you may still file a claim against other at-fault parties. However, any damage award you obtain through that claim will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility you bear for the accident.
Gwinnett County Motorcycle Accident FAQ
When another motor vehicle collides with a motorcycle, especially at high speed, a serious accident can occur that leaves the rider with debilitating injuries. Those injuries can include broken bones and bone fractures, cuts and bruises, back and spinal cord injuries (including paralysis), soft tissue injuries, and severe head injuries. Serious injuries are especially likely when a motorcycle operator or passenger falls from the motorcycle and strikes the ground, the impact of which may even crack the rider’s protective helmet.
No one asks to receive injuries from a motorcycle accident. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in a motorcycle accident that someone else caused, you need a lawyer who has experience litigating these types of cases on your side advocating for you. You deserve to be compensated, not only for your medical treatment and lost wages, but also for all of the pain, suffering, and inconvenience you endured. The Gwinnett County motorcycle accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm understand the severe nature of these accidents and can help you pursue the monetary compensation that you need and deserve for your injuries.
How much time do I have to file a claim or lawsuit arising out of my Gwinnett County motorcycle accident?
Georgia has statutes of limitations that apply to Gwinnett County motorcycle accident cases. In the majority of circumstances in Georgia, you only have two years from the date of your motorcycle accident to file a lawsuit in the state court system seeking monetary redress and damages for the injuries that you sustained. If you do not file a lawsuit within those two years, you can’t submit it later, so if you have sustained one or more injuries in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, hire a motorcycle accident lawyer right away.
If you or a person you care about was injured in a motorcycle accident that someone else caused through negligence, the Gwinnett County motorcycle accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm are ready to assist you. Our legal team can help by filing a lawsuit against all potentially responsible parties promptly and efficiently. By doing so, we can make sure that the two-year statute of limitations is observed and get the ball rolling towards a successful result in litigation.
Why do motorcycle accidents in Gwinnett County typically occur?
There are many reasons for motorcycle accidents in Gwinnett County. Moreover, more than one individual or entity may ultimately be responsible for a motorcycle accident occurring on the road or in a parking lot or parking garage.
More often than not, motorcycle accidents are due to another motor vehicle operator’s negligence. When a car, truck, or other large vehicle collides with a motorcycle, especially at high speed, the motorcycle rider may be knocked to the ground and sustain serious injuries. A negligent driver may be speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, or otherwise failing to follow the rules of the road for Georgia.
When an accident takes place as a result of this negligence, the injured motorcycle operator or passenger can file a claim or lawsuit directly against the negligent driver. Moreover, if the negligent driver is acting within the scope of their employment when the accident occurs, the injured rider may bring a claim or file a lawsuit against the person or entity that employs the negligent motor vehicle operator.
In other instances, Gwinnett County motorcycle accidents happen because of dangerous and defective conditions on the roadway. Construction companies and governmental entities (like the county government) are responsible for ensuring that roadways are properly maintained and in a safe condition at all times. To be adequately maintained and safe means that the roadways must be free from uneven pavement, grooved pavement, and potholes. Moreover, if a defect on the road exists, the responsible person or entity must appropriately and promptly remedy the problem to avoid an accident and injuries.
Frequently, expert testimony (such as from a professional in the construction industry) is necessary for a motorcycle accident victim to demonstrate that a defective road condition caused or contributed to a particular accident. If a construction company or municipality is responsible, the accident victim may be eligible to file a claim or lawsuit against the responsible party for damages.
However, before filing a lawsuit, the accident victim may need to satisfy one or more notice requirements, especially if the lawsuit is against the city, county, or other municipality. Keep in mind that filing a lawsuit prematurely and failing to abide by these notice requirements may ultimately lead to your claim being dismissed or even barred.
In addition to defective conditions on Gwinnett County roadways, defective motorcycle parts can result in a severe accident occurring. For starters, manufacturers and distributors of motorcycle parts owe an important due of care to their consumers. Specifically, they must ensure that the parts that they manufacture or distribute into the stream of commerce will work properly when the consumer properly uses those products, and that they will serve their intended purpose.
When motorcycle parts, such as seats, steering mechanisms, handlebars, or brakes are not manufactured or tested correctly, they can malfunction when a cyclist is on the road and lead to a serious accident with possible injuries. When a defective part causes a motorcycle rider to become involved in an accident and that leaves the rider injured, the rider may file a claim or lawsuit not just against the entity that manufactured the defective part, but also against others who are in the product’s chain of distribution.
If you or someone you care about has received injuries from a serious motorcycle collision that was caused by a negligent motor vehicle operator, road defect, or defective motorcycle part, you have legal options available to you. The knowledgeable and skilled Gwinnett County motorcycle accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with bringing a claim or filing a lawsuit against all potentially responsible parties so that you can receive the monetary compensation that you need and deserve.
What are some essential pieces of evidence when it comes to motorcycle accident cases?
In Gwinnett County motorcycle accident cases that arise from motorcycle accidents, the defendant (the person or entity who allegedly caused the accident) doesn’t need to prove anything. Instead, the accident victim has the burden of proving fault and damages for the accident.
Some of the most critical pieces of potential evidence in Gwinnett County motorcycle accident cases (especially those that go all the way to trial) include:
- Police reports – In motorcycle accident cases where the defendant’s insurance carrier disputes liability, the police report becomes a crucial piece of evidence. The police report will include the names and contact information for all of the individuals who were involved in the accident, including motor vehicle operators (and the owners of those vehicles). Many police reports also note the driver(s) whom the police officer deems to be at fault for the accident, as well as whether or not the officer issued a citation to the at-fault individual at the accident scene.
- Medical records and bills – When it comes to proving damages in your Gwinnett County motorcycle accident case, medical records and statements become crucial pieces of evidence. Your medical records (along with doctor testimony at a personal injury trial) demonstrate that there is a causal connection between your motorcycle accident and the injuries you sustained. Your medical bills can establish the cost of the treatment, procedures, and medication that was necessary for your recovery. If your accident case goes to trial, your lawyer may introduce all of your treatment medical records and bills for the jury to review in their entirety during deliberations.
- Eyewitnesses to the accident – Eyewitnesses to a Gwinnett County motorcycle accident are invaluable when a case goes to trial. These individuals were at the scene when the accident occurred and can state first-hand what they witnessed. For example, an eyewitness to a motorcycle accident can testify to relevant matters, including the approximate speeds of the involved vehicles, the positions of those vehicles, the locations of traffic control devices, and how the collision happened. Eyewitnesses to motorcycle accidents become especially important when the insurance company disputes the issue of fault.
- Healthcare providers – Healthcare providers, and most especially treating doctors, are important witnesses when it comes to evaluating a motorcycle accident case and determining the true extent of an accident victim’s injuries. Medical experts can testify about all of the treatment that the accident victim underwent, whether or not the injuries resulted from the accident, whether the treatment was medically necessary, whether the cost of the treatment was appropriate for the geographical region where the accident happened, whether the accident victim sustained one or more permanent injuries in the accident, and whether the accident victim is likely to need a medical procedure (such as surgery) at some time in the future. If a future medical procedure seems likely, a medical expert can render an opinion about the anticipated cost of that treatment and the likelihood that it will be successful under the circumstances.
Do I need a lawyer to settle my case?
You may be wondering whether you can settle your case on your own after a motorcycle accident. While there is certainly no rule or law that prevents victims from representing themselves, it’s vital to keep in mind that insurance companies have financial incentives to settle cases for as little as possible. In addition, insurance companies are in the business of handling car accident claims every day, so it’s safe to assume that the person on the other end of the phone has more experience than you do.
That’s why you want to retain a lawyer to handle your insurance claim. An attorney can accurately assess the value of your case and demonstrate evidence of your losses, ensuring that you do not accept a settlement lower than the actual value of your claim. Additionally, once you have retained an attorney, he or she will communicate with the insurance company on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your physical and emotional recovery.
What are my legal options after being in a Gwinnett County motorcycle accident?
After being involved in a Gwinnett County motorcycle accident, you will have several legal options available to you. If the at-fault person or entity’s insurance company makes a favorable settlement offer in your case, and if you choose to accept that offer, then your case ends. Before accepting the settlement offer, your lawyer can explain what your net recovery will be post-settlement, once they have deducted outstanding expenses and attorney fees.
You also have the option of taking your case to trial. If you allow a jury to decide the outcome of your motorcycle accident case, the jury will make decisions concerning all of the issues that are in dispute. Those issues may include fault, causation, or damages. If damages are in dispute, it is the members of the jury who will decide what, if any, damages you are entitled to recover as a result of the injuries that you sustained in your accident.
Finally, you may pursue some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, where a neutral mediator helps to facilitate a resolution of your motorcycle accident case. The experienced Gwinnett County motorcycle accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will explain all of your legal options to you and can help you decide on the best course of action for your case.
Call Brauns Law if You Were Injured in a Gwinnett County Motorcycle Crash
Personal injury claims are often complex and difficult to pursue on your own, even if you don’t want to go to court. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you to understand the process and provide aggressive representation and thoughtful guidance throughout.
Whether you need a skilled negotiator to help you seek a settlement from an insurance company or an experienced litigator to argue your case in court, a motorcycle lawyer from Brauns Law, PC, is ready to consider your legal options with you. Contact us online or by calling (404) 418-8244 for a free case evaluation.
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