Head injuries are the biggest concern for a cyclist in an accident. Obviously, any injury can be serious when you’re hit by a vehicle and you’re unprotected because you’re riding a bike. Your body probably weighs anywhere from 120 to 220 pounds and your bike weighs about 20 pounds. You’re in a collision with a vehicle that weighs about a ton. It is going to be a recipe for a serious injury any time there is a collision between a cyclist and a vehicle. Broken bones are common but are mendable.
Nowadays, everyone rides with a helmet. There are helmet laws nearly everywhere but even with a modern helmet that is designed to sustain an impact with pavement, just falling from your bike while standing still is falling eight or nine feet onto the pavement. You can also hit objects like rocks or roots if you’re riding off-road, or your head can hit the curb, which is especially dangerous. I am aware of cases where people have been riding at 10 to 15 miles per hour and fallen off their bikes and died from head injuries. It doesn’t always require a collision with a vehicle.
Like any type of personal injury case, we have to make sure that the cyclist is not at fault in the accident. The only exception to that is if we think there was an equipment failure that caused the accident, such as a tire that blew out or a helmet that did not adequately provide the protection necessary. Usually, the cause of the accident is a collision with a vehicle. We have to make sure that the cyclist was riding responsibly and obeying the rules of the road, and not doing anything reckless that would potentially cut off the liability of the other driver.
In any personal injury action in Georgia, the actions of the plaintiff can be a factor in how much liability is on the at-fault party. If someone is riding at a reasonable speed and they are hit by a car coming from behind them, there is obviously not any liability that should be attributed to the cyclist. However, if that cyclist is riding their bike down the wrong side of the road or gets to a stop sign and doesn’t stop, while it may not totally cut off the at-fault driver’s liability, it definitely could be a factor in what we call a comparative fault. The liability of the driver of the vehicle may be lessened by a liability portion of the cyclist.
A jury could find that the cyclist is 20% liable for the accident, so the award that they eventually grant for damages would be reduced by 20%. We also have defenses for the assumption of the risk in Georgia and that is a factor with cyclists. If you are acting extremely recklessly or you are riding upon a sidewalk, where you’re not supposed to be, and a collision occurs, there is always the argument that you assumed the risk when you decided to ride your bike in an area where you were not supposed to be. Not only could it potentially limit the liability of another party, but it could also potentially entirely cut off any liability because the assumption is an absolute bar to recovery.
Assumption of risk also comes up in cases involving off-road cycling. Oftentimes, to participate in these events, you must sign a waiver saying that you assume the risk of any injury that may occur, you would agree that it’s a dangerous activity, and you are willing to assume the risk, so that there is no liability if you hurt yourself. Sometimes, those waivers are enforceable and sometimes they’re not; you have to have an attorney look at it.
For more information on Injuries Sustained In Cycling Accidents In GA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (706) 770-6669 today.