In Georgia, most personal injury claims have to be brought, meaning that a lawsuit has to be filed, within two years of the injury or death. There are some factors that can lengthen that amount of time or shorten it. If the claim in any way involves a governmental entity, such as a city or county, that can dramatically shorten the amount of time in which certain things need to happen in the case. Typically, we’re referring to what is known as an ante-litem notice, which needs to be sent to the appropriate persons within the agency and fulfill other requirements for your claim to be viable.
Any time someone contacts our law firm about a cyclist injury, we want to find out what happened. The first thing we have to do is determine who may be at fault. Was someone else at fault for the accident? The second thing we have to determine is whether the injuries are significant enough to warrant bringing a claim. Typically, if you skinned your knee, you’re not going to want to be involved in a lengthy claim against the party who caused you to skin your knee. However, if you break a bone or suffer a head injury, then the damages are going to warrant filing a claim and potentially filing a lawsuit to pursue that claim.
We try to get as much evidence of what happened as we can. Oftentimes, there is an incident report that is available within a few days after the accident and we always encourage all of our clients to take photographs. Take pictures, if you’re able to, or have someone else take pictures if you’re in any kind of accident involving a vehicle or a bicycle. That is often the only way to document the scene. We evaluate whether we can hold someone else liable for the accident and then evaluate whether the damages warrant bringing a claim. If those two factors are met and we think that there is available insurance either from the at-fault party or the cyclist, we will certainly pursue a claim on behalf of the client.
Communicate with insurance companies at your own risk. The moment your claim occurs, you are in an adversarial relationship with any insurance company that might have to pay. From the moment your incident happens, the insurance company has every incentive to try to find reasons not to have to pay the claim. You may have a nice person on the other end of the line when you call, who is friendly and may even offer you money for your damages. However, you are walking a very thin line and a very perilous one. They are looking for you to say things like you’re not hurt badly, so a year later when you claim you broke your back, they can play that for a jury to hear. Often, the insurance company will make offers to pay you, which sounds great, but then it turns out that you have $30,000 in medical bills and you just settled your case for $1,500. You cannot settle a case until you know what your damages are. For some people, it may take years to finish treating after an accident, and some people never get better.
You don’t know what your damages are in the first few days after your accident, so there is no reason to even talk about settlement negotiations with an insurer. Very often, people who suffer back injuries or traumatic brain injuries may not really feel the effects for a week or two after the accident. It may not be known what is wrong with them until they’ve had an opportunity to get an MRI or a CT scan, which often is not until a month or more after the wreck. Talking with the insurance company is generally not a very good idea. If you need to handle property damage claims on your own, that is fine, but do not discuss what your injuries are. Be very careful in what you tell them about how the accident happened because you don’t want to establish anything that is inconsistent with reality just because you just don’t remember.
There are certainly numerous attorneys who are qualified to handle a case involving a bicycle. There is not such a thing as a cycling specific attorney. Some people market themselves as only taking bicycle accidents but those attorneys are few and far between. What I can tell you about our firm is that in addition to wanting to maximize the value of your damages, hold the at-fault party responsible, and obtain justice for you, we are dedicated to the longer-term goal of making the community and the state of Georgia safer for cyclists.
We advocate for cyclists, promote safe cycling, promote awareness for safe cycling, and participate regularly in cycling. It is a personal case for us anytime someone is riding their bike in a reasonable manner and gets hit by a car. It happens all the time and it will continue happening until laws are made stricter and more people are made aware of how dangerous it is for cyclists to be on the roadway.
For more information on Statute Of Limitations For A Cycling Accident Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (706) 770-6669 today.