As fellow cyclists we believe in strong advocacy for the rights of cyclists, all non-motorized vehicle traffic and pedestrians. Whether that means lending support for bike lanes, integrated trail systems and safer crosswalks, or filing lawsuits for damages on behalf of injured cyclists and pedestrians, our mission is to make the world a safer place for cyclists.
As avid cyclists we experience first-hand the dangers posed by being on 20-pound bicycle surrounded by drivers traveling twice, or even three times as fast in vehicles weighing more than a ton. While a cyclist is entitled to lawfully share the road with other vehicles, laws to protect those cyclist are unknown to many motorists or simply ignored. Distracted driving is epidemic in the 21st Century, and poses special dangers to exposed cyclists and pedestrians.
How do you advocate for cyclists?
We represent cyclists and pedestrians who have been injured in motor vehicle collisions by seeking monetary damages against the at-fault driver. These damages are for past and future medical bills, lost wages and the emotional and physical pain and suffering associated with a crash. In the event of a fatal accident, wrongful death benefits can be recovered for the surviving spouse, children or other family members. Cases are pursued in civil courts and we will try the case before a jury if necessary.
In addition to filing claims for accident victims, we work to prevent future accidents by lending support to numerous grassroots initiatives and organizations working on behalf of the cycling community. These include Rails to Trails, Bike Walk Savannah (formerly Savannah Bicycle Campaign), PEDS, and anyone else dedicated to making streets and communities safer for cyclists.
What challenges do cyclists face?
Unfortunately there are many. A cyclist-versus-vehicle collision is always a loss for the cyclists. The challenges for cyclists in the age of distracted driving are numerous and too often lead to catastrophic injuries or even death. While overall bicycling accidents have decreased in the past decade, bicycle related deaths ave actually increased. There is no coincidence that this trend tracked the growing use of mobile devices in vehicles, and other in-car technology that leads to more drivers taking their eyes off the road. In addition to distracted driving, roads in communities inevitably see more lanes and more vehicle traffic as their populations increase, not less. While roads are widened and built, very little of this infrastructure is designed to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists. There is also a general lack of basic understanding by drivers regarding how to anticipate and avoid cyclists and pedestrians who are lawfully using the same roads. Better driver education and awareness is crucial to increasing public safety.
What challenges do cyclists face when filing a lawsuit?
In the context of a claim or lawsuit against an at-fault motorist, cyclists face many challenges. Statistically, cyclists are more likely to be the victim of a hit-and-run driver, meaning it may be impossible to know who was at-fault and who to sue for the injury. Even when the other driver is known, proving the vehicle driver’s liability is difficult without another witness. It is often simply a matter of the vehicle driver’s word against the cyclist’s word as far as how the crash occurred. Injuries are obviously more likely to be serious for a cyclists in the event of a collision with a vehicle. A low speed impact that would be a harmless fender bender between two vehicles can have disastrous consequences for an exposed cyclists with nothing but a plastic helmet between their bodies and the vehicle or pavement.
What Insurance Covers Cyclists?
Fortunately, automobile liability insurance in Georgia, and most other states, covers collisions with a pedestrian or cyclist. Therefore, the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage applies to your property damage and injuries the same as if you were riding in a car at the time of the crash. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you should have coverage so long as your own auto policy carries what is known as “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage,” or “UM.” All “uninsured/underinsured” policies written in Georgia must cover any property or bodily injury damages “arising from” a motor vehicle collision. Therefore, if a vehicle hits you while on your bike, you should be covered so long as the other driver is insured, or you are equipped with UM coverage. However, whether the limits of the insurance is adequate to cover your bodily injury damages is another question. Remember, the minimum limits for an auto insurance policy in Georgia is only 25,000 per person, and $50,000 per accident. It doesn’t take much of an injury for medical bills to blow past $25,000. If you are seriously injured, or a family member is killed, this amount of coverage is woefully inadequate. Therefor we recommend getting the most vehicle insurance coverage you can afford.
Should I purchase cycling Insurance?
If you do not own an insured motor vehicle then we strongly encourage you to purchase cycling insurance. Otherwise, you may be left with no insurance at all if you are hit by an uninsured driver, or an unknown driver in a hit-and-run situation.
If you have vehicle insurance, purchasing separate cycling coverage may be a good idea if you want additional coverage for your potential injuries or the value of your bike in the event it is damaged. This coverage also covers you if your bike is damaged by another bike, or a single bike accident where you may strike an object or simply run off the road. Some cycling speciality companies offer coverage that offers full value of the property damage, without depreciation. They also offer full coverage in the event your bike is stolen, damaged, or lost in transit. Because bikes are expensive and accidents are almost inevitable, it is a good idea to purchase separate cycling insurance.
If I am hit by a car, will my the at-fault driver pay my medical bills?
Yes, if they have insurance coverage. In Georgia, the at-fault driver will pay your medical bills but not as they accrue. The bills are paid at the end of the case once a settlement has been reached or a verdict is rendered at trial. This means that it is often several months or even years after your medical treatment that the bill is actually paid. Under Georgia law, you are entitled to make a claim for all medical bills – regardless of whether they were paid by health insurance – as well as any future bills you are likely to incur as a result of the collision.
There is also a type of optional automobile insurance coverage that drivers can purchase in Georgia called “medical payments coverage.” This type of coverage covers your medical bills up to a certain amount, regardless of who was at-fault in the collision. This allows you to cover your medical bills quickly using your own auto insurance, while you wait to get reimbursed for those same bills by the at-fault driver at the end of the case. We highly recommend purchasing medical payments coverage up to a limit of several thousand dollars on every automobile policy.
If I’m hit by a car can I seek compensation for time I miss from work?
Yes. In the event you are a cyclist or pedestrian injured in a motor vehicle collision that is not your fault, you are entitled to claim damages for all time out-of-work caused by your injuries, as well as any projected time off work due to a future event such as a surgery. Most importantly, you are allowed to claim the lost wage damages even if you were compensated for them by your employer, a long or short-term disability policy, or other insurance. This is typically calculated by simply averaging your hourly rate and applying it to the number of days missed, or that you are projected to miss. In the event of a longterm absence from work, such as a catastrophic injury that prevents you from ever working again, we typically employ the services of an actuary who calculates your projected future lost earnings.
If I am hit by a car, will I get some type of compensation for pain and inconvenience?
Yes. If the other driver is at fault they are liable to your past and future physical and emotional pain and suffering. While a monetary value is placed on these damages, it is a completely subjective standard that varies greatly from case to case. In the event of a trial, a jury would ultimately be asked to place a dollar value on the accident victim’s pain. Obviously that would vary from jury to jury, and victim to victim. In general, cases that involve more serious injuries, such as a bone fracture or multiple fractures have much higher pain and suffering values attached to them. In cases involving a traumatic brain injury or prolonged physical disability, these damages are considered “catastrophic” in nature, and may be valued in the millions of dollars.
If a family member dies in a cycling collision with a vehicle, who is anyone entitled to compensation?
Yes. If the vehicle driver was at-fault in the accident the surviving spouse and children are entitled to compensation for what is known as “wrongful death benefits.” This is monetary compensation for the “full value of the life” of the decedent. In the event the deceased party is a minor or unmarried, the wrongful death benefits flow to the parents. Other family members may also be the beneficiaries if there is no spouse, children or living parents of the decedent. Certain other claims, such as past medical bills and potentially punitive damages, may be pursued by the decedent’s estate against the at-fault driver.
Wrongful death benefits are inherently subjective. The calculation of these damages consists of the amount of earnings the decedent would likely have earned over the remaining course of their working life. This is often calculated by an actuary and varies greatly based on the age, education and earning power of the decedent. In addition to lost earnings, the value of the life damages consider the “intrinsic value of the person’s life.” This is the subjective portion fo the damages, and varies from jury to jury, case to case. Obviously, it is common for the value of anyone’s life to be assigned millions of dollars.
Again, this is a reason we encourage anyone reading this to immediately purchase additional auto insurance, such as UM/UIM coverage, at the maximum policy limits you can afford. While the value of a person’s life is calculated in excess of a million dollars in every conceivable circumstance, the vast majority of drivers on the roadway carry only $25,000 in automobile liability coverage. Therefore $25,000 is all your loved ones are likely to receive in the event you are killed on your bike. The only way to protect against this injustice is to purchase life insurance and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage with high policy limits. Many insurers will bundle your vehicle and home to provide you with “Umbrella” or “Excess” coverage that will cover in excess of one million dollars in damages. You would be surprised how little you have to increase your premium for a drastic increase in coverage.
If I am injured by a hit-and-run driver will I still be compensated?
Yes, if you have what is known as Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This automobile insurance coverage that you purchase to cover you in the event you are hit by an uninsured or unidentified driver. If the driver is uninsured or unknown, your insurance actually steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver to provide insurance coverage to cover your damages as if they actually had insurance. It also acts as additional coverage in the event you need more coverage that the at-fault driver’s policy limit. Again, the vast majority of Georgians carry the minimum insurance limit of $25,000. It doesn’t take much of an injury to make that a seriously inadequate amount of coverage. We highly recommend that you purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars in Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage on your own policy whether you are a cyclist or not.
All cyclists injured by an at-fault motor vehicle driver are represented on a contingency fee basis. This means that we sign a contract to receive a percentage of the ultimate settlement proceeds or verdict we obtain on your case. This ensures that you only pay your attorneys if your case is successful, and the attorney is allowed to front case costs for you, so long as they are compensated for them at the end of the case. It also means that our firm has an incentive to obtain the best possible verdict or settlement for you under the circumstances. The more money we obtain for you, the more money we obtain for our firm.
If you have been injured in an accident we will fight the insurance companies on your behalf to maximize your recovery while keeping you fully informed about your case. Being injured in an accident is not a time for catchy slogans and catch phrases. It is a serious situation that requires serious attorneys. The injury attorneys at Jarrett & Price understand the time constraints and the difficulties our clients face when dealing with insurance companies and at-fault parties. We represent clients throughout the state of Georgia, with offices in Savannah and Northeast Georgia. Fill out the contact form below or call today at (706) 770-6669 | (912) 999-2599 for a personalized case evaluation with one of our attorneys.