Legal Rights for Bikers In Georgia

Biking is a great way to exercise and explore Metro Atlanta. But anyone who’s shared the road with other vehicles knows that driver negligence can lead to a costly or tragic accident. Attorney Daniel Adamson, who’s an avid Georgia biker himself, talks about legal options for cyclists, and safety precautions to avoid an accident.

Parts of downtown Atlanta have seen a 27% increase in pedestrian traffic, and about 11% decrease in car traffic, if you can believe it. Part of this is due to an initiative called the Peachtree Shared Space program that started in 2021 of June. But it’s soon coming to an end, which is kind of tragic now that gas prices are going up so high!

In July of last year, Georgia passed the “three feet” law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-56) that required cars to slow down or change lanes with at least three feet of space if they are trying to pass a biker.

It would be nice if more areas were as friendly to cyclists as the Beltline or local places like Decatur, or West End are becoming but there’s always a possibility of an accident caused by a distracted or negligent driver, walkers, or bikers themselves.

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Can a biker sue a driver after an accident?

Attorney Daniel Adamson: Absolutely. In my opinion, I think cyclists should always strongly consider legal action and getting an attorney specifically to help them with their claim against a negligent driver. The only time I would say they don’t need to do that is if they’re the ones at fault and there’s no one to really bring a claim against.

You got to look at who caused the collision. A lot of times, it’s going to be a negligent driver, a reckless driver who ran a stoplight or stop sign or failed to yield while turning left. Things like that. Or maybe just didn’t give the cyclists enough space and bumped him off the road or something like that.

Can cyclists take legal action if they’re injured from a hazardous roadway?

Attorney Adamson: Yeah, they can, it really just depends on the situation and you know, the hazard that they encountered. If it’s something that is really egregious, like a huge pothole or some signage that’s incorrect. Usually, it’s things that they’re not able to really see easily. And it’s kind of, you know–the city or a construction company, if someone should have known that, that they should have covered a hole or cleaned up some debris, which would pose a hazard to cyclists.

Even on the Beltline, here, where there are not any cars, there is a lot of construction going on. And if there’s some metal or dirt or rocks that pose a hazard and should be cleaned up, and it’s not, and it causes a cyclist to get severely hurt and injured, then they definitely can be held responsible.

Can cyclists be sued because of an accident?

Attorney Adamson: Yeah, under Georgia law, they don’t really have a strong claim in those sort of situations where it’s just the weather conditions that are the real hazard, and the bikers, well aware of that, and they should take the precautions necessary. Same thing with any other potential hazards in areas that they ride frequently, if they’re fully aware of it, and have, you know, an ability to avoid it and they don’t then, unfortunately, they’re gonna have a lot of the fault there.

If the cyclist runs a red light or stop sign or is being reckless with how they’re biking down the road–maybe they’re not on the right side of the road, they can definitely be held responsible. So it’s definitely important for the cyclists to follow all the rules of the road just like for a motor vehicle driver. No texting while biking! You can listen to music, I think that’s fine, but just following the proper signage and yielding when you’re supposed to, things like that.

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What should cyclists do if they’ve been in an accident or injured by a road hazard?

Attorney Adamson: You know, depends on the severity of the injuries. If the person is able to, you should definitely try to get the other driver’s contact information. His license plate number, things like that. Also, take photos of the scene, take photos of your bike and any damage to your bike, your helmet. Also, you know, if you’re too badly hurt to do any of that, just call 9-1-1. That will get an ambulance out to the scene as well as a police officer who can help cite the other driver if they were negligent, and you know, get witness information.

After you’ve done those things, you need to call an attorney so that we can investigate and preserve evidence as well and also determined the policy, the insurance policies that are available to the cyclists. As an attorney, we’ll help you get to the necessary doctors that you need, depending on your injuries. And that will also help, not only the cyclist recover, but it’ll help you know have the right documentation and testing done to show the injuries. The quicker you can get medical treatment, the better so that there are no gaps in treatment that the insurance companies can try to use against you.

How can cyclists practice safe riding?

Attorney Adamson: Well, you got to wear a helmet. That’s rule number one! And, wearing bright shirts or garments and reflective gear is also very important, especially if you’re riding at night. Because that is an aspect of who’s at fault. If the biker’s not wearing anything that would help a driver see them, or if they’re not wearing a helmet that could have mitigated their injuries, you know, head injuries, especially, then that will be used against the cyclist.

Could this new bike law change how bikers can seek justice?

Attorney Adamson: Yeah, I think it definitely gives cyclists more rights, and it really protects them more. And, you know, it’s just one more thing in our arsenal to seek justice on their behalf. And if the motor vehicle drivers aren’t adhering to this new law, then we can hold them liable for any injuries that they cause.

How much experience do you have with bike accidents and the cycling community?

Attorney Adamson: Yeah. Both my parents are actually Triathletes and have competed in World Championships and Ironman and things like that. And they’ve both been in bike wrecks. My dad a couple of years ago was hit by a motorist who failed to yield while turning left and suffered some broken bones. And, you know, we got him a good settlement. And we’re able to compensate him for his injuries. And I’ve also helped a couple of his friends in the community who have been hit by cars and suffered broken bones and torn ligaments and things like that. And so far, we’ve been able to get everyone a nice settlement and justice on their behalf.

I actually live in Reynoldstown, which is right on the Beltline, and I like to bike around where we are now as well as down to Ponce City Market. I try to stay off the roads as much as possible, just given the nature of drivers in Atlanta.

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We appreciate Attorney Adamson for giving us this legal insight and for giving us ideas of what we can all do to make cyclists have a better experience. If you’ve been injured in a bike accident, e-bike accident, or pedestrian accident, call or text The Dixon Firm at 888-DIXON-11 to see if you have a claim.

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