Atlanta is home to thousands of cars on its highways and streets, and motorcycle riders are more at risk of devastating accidents. Being injured in a bike crash can be life-changing, and victims need to seek compensation for the hurt they suffer.
Discovering who is at fault and who should pay for your medical and other bills requires the help of a skilled Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer from Joel Thrift Law. We specialize in the unique needs of motorcycle crash victims. We help defend you against those who would blame you for your own injuries and ensure that you secure justice.
Common Causes of Atlanta Motorcycle Accidents
In Georgia, motorcycles make up only 2% of all registered vehicles but suffer 21% of all driver fatalities. Bikes are smaller, faster, and harder to see. They also have fewer protective safety features than passenger cars do.
Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Atlanta include:
- Reckless driving
- Driving while fatigued, distracted, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Ignoring traffic laws or signs
- Driving aggressively or with the intention of intimidating others (road rage)
- Failing to watch for motorcycles
- Riding too closely behind a bike
- Failing to leave enough distance between vehicles in the event of a slowdown or traffic jam
- Drivers who disregard motorcyclists’ right to the road
- Water, ice, grease, oil, or hazardous debris on the road
- Construction zones with uneven terrain
- Mechanical issues with the bike, such as tire blowouts or brake failure
No matter how your accident happened, you should speak with a reputable motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. The team at Joel Thrift Law is skilled in understanding how the law applies to cases such as yours.
Common Motorcycle Injuries in Atlanta
Motorcycle accidents are much more likely to end in injury or even death. Even with safety gear and helmets, riders and passengers can suffer catastrophic wounds and head trauma. Bikes lack the protection of cars and trucks, making it easier for riders to lose control in challenging road conditions.
When a bike impacts any object or loses control, the rider may be thrown onto some surface, such as the road, a guardrail, or another vehicle. Even at slow speeds, the trauma can be severe.
Riders can suffer severe internal injuries, such as:
- Punctures that cause bleeding in and around the lungs
- Collapsed lungs
- Damage to major arteries or veins, such as the aorta
- Cuts, punctures, or blunt force trauma to internal organs (liver, kidneys, spleen, stomach, or bowels)
- Closed head wounds, such as bleeding on the brain or damage to brain tissue
- Damage to joints, muscles, and tendons
- Broken bones
- Broken ribs that damage internal organs
Most injuries can be diagnosed on the scene of the crash and treated by paramedics or in a hospital. However, many riders will experience symptoms of additional injuries in the hours and days after the accident. Some of these conditions include:
- Concussion or another traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Road rash
- Spinal damage, such as whiplash or fractured vertebrae
- Internal bleeding
- Organ or system failure from internal damage or bleeding
- Blood clots
- Swelling of the brain
- Loss of vision, hearing, or other senses
- Loss of motor function or cognitive functions
- Burns from chemicals or gas fires during the crash
- Amputation of severely damaged limbs
- Paralysis or numbness
Some riders walk away from their accidents. However, most will face significant hospital and medical bills and a lengthy recovery. Regardless of how your crash happened, it is critical that you speak with experienced motorcycle accident lawyers as soon as you can.
At Joel Thrift Law, we work with medical experts to have your injuries fully diagnosed so we understand just how much compensation you will need. We employ accident investigation specialists who can deduce who is at fault and who we should pursue to pay your bills.
Liability Can Be Complex in Atlanta Motorcycle Accidents
Georgia is an at-fault state when it comes to traffic accidents, including those involving motorcycles. Each driver is required to carry insurance, and their insurance will pay for any damage they cause when they are negligent. Multiple parties can be at fault for your crash, and your Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney will investigate to find who is to blame.
Whether you are a victim of a single-vehicle accident where you were the only person injured or you were part of a multi-car pileup, there may be someone else at fault. If debris was left on the road, or a homeowner failed to clear bushes from a traffic sign, your Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney will investigate and find the culprit.
Insurance Companies Are Not on Your Side
When it comes to motorcycles, there is a lot of bias against riders. Other drivers, insurance adjusters, and even judges may think that all motorcyclists engage in speeding, lane splitting, and other dangerous behaviors. They can come into insurance or other settlement meetings determined to show that you are at fault.
Even your own insurance company is not on your side. They are in the business of saving themselves money, and paying out a large claim is not good for their bottom line. Insurance representatives will try to lure you into accepting a lowball offer. Having knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorneys negotiating for you will protect your right to fair compensation.
Your legal team will ensure they have calculated an appropriate estimate of the reimbursement required for your past, current, and future expenses. If you have been severely injured, you will need financial security for the entire time of your recovery. You must also be repaid for the way your life has been drastically affected since the crash.
Comparative Fault and Motorcycle Accidents
Keep in mind that Georgia uses a modified comparative fault rule that dictates liability. You must show that others are negligent, and the court must find them liable. If you are found to have played any part in contributing to the crash, you may have your compensation reduced. For example, if you are found 49% or less at fault, your reimbursement will be lowered by that amount.
At 50%, you cannot recover damages in Georgia. This is important since lawyers for insurance companies and other drivers will try to show you are at fault for your own crash. It is critical that you are honest with your motorcycle accident lawyer, so they are prepared to fight back against these claims. Regardless of whether you are partially responsible, your attorney will work to minimize that fact within the bounds of the law.
This is a key reason you need the advice of experienced Atlanta motorcycle accident attorneys like those at Joel Thrift Law. We work to uncover who is responsible for the crash and will bring evidence to show that you bear no fault or minimal fault. We help you protect your right to fair and reasonable compensation.
Motorcycle Accident Claims Can Be Worth Thousands
Because riders are significantly less protected when they suffer an accident, they face much more damaging injuries. They are also likely to incur extremely high medical bills and need care for months or years. If a rider in their 20s is paralyzed, needs a limb amputated, or has a head injury, they must be sufficiently compensated so they can live comfortably in their new life.
Your attorney will help you and your family put together a comprehensive list of the damages and suffering you have experienced. It is important to remember that you can receive compensation for more than just medical bills. The pain and emotional toll you feel must be included. Essentially, you are due reimbursement for anything you have suffered because of the accident that you would not have experienced otherwise.
Compensatory damages can be paid for economic and non-economic losses. Some examples include:
- Surgical bills
- ICU and ER expenses
- Emergency transport costs, such as for ambulances or helicopters
- Mileage for most doctor visits
- Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
- Prosthetic limbs
- Lost income while you cannot work
- Projected loss of income if you are disabled and can no longer do your job
- Loss of inheritance potential for your heirs
- Renovations to your home to accommodate a permanent disability
- Mobility devices such as wheelchairs and crutches
- Repairs or replacement costs for your motorcycle and equipment
- Physical therapy bills
- In-home nursing care
- Nursing or rehabilitation facility costs
- Pain and suffering
- Amputation or loss of limb
- Emotional anguish
- Mood disorders you may develop, such as depression or PTSD
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental health therapy
- Loss of consortium with your partner
- Loss of society
- Loss of care and guidance for your children
When you are severely injured or disabled, you should have financial relief that lasts for your lifetime. In extreme cases, settlements can total millions of dollars, but each case is unique. Your Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyers will discuss your specific circumstances and explain what a fair and appropriate settlement is for your claim.
When the Worst Happens: Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that motorcycle deaths account for 13% of all fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Riders are much more vulnerable to catastrophic injury and death, even in low-speed accidents. If they do not pass away at the scene, motorcyclists may die hours, days, or weeks later. They often pay the ultimate price for a driver’s negligence.
When a rider’s family loses their loved one, they must still face all the bills that have come in for treatment, along with new ones for dealing with the loss. A skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand the additional damages you are owed and file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible. Losses related to the death may include:
- Funeral home expenses
- Burial costs and cemetery fees
- Transport of your body to where you will be buried
- Cremation costs
- Loss of companionship for your family members
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of income if you contributed to the family household
- Loss of care and guidance for your children
- Grief and emotional damage
In some cases, a judge may award punitive damages. These are based on how a negligent individual’s actions caused a significant impact on your life or your family’s. Suppose you are killed in a motorcycle crash by a drunk driver who drove recklessly, and you leave behind young children. The judge could award large damages meant to harshly punish the offender in addition to whatever compensatory damages are awarded in the trial.
Georgia Insurance Requirements
Georgia law requires that all drivers carry insurance to cover their liability in the event their actions cause an accident. There are minimum amounts, which are the same for all drivers, whether they drive a passenger vehicle or motorcycle. These amounts are:
- Bodily injury: A minimum of $25,000 to cover each person hurt and at least $50,000 per incident
- Property damage: At least $25,000 of coverage per incident
Drivers can choose to carry more insurance, which will potentially reduce what they must pay out of pocket if they hurt someone. Regardless of how much other drivers carry, if your injuries and damage are higher than what their insurance pays, you must seek compensation in other ways. Motorcycle accidents can leave victims with bills for multiple surgeries and lifelong care needs. Most insurance policies will not provide enough for these costs.
Other insurance that drivers can carry, but are not required to in Georgia, include comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Comprehensive insurance pays for the damages such as vandalism, fire, or theft. Collision is what covers damages to your vehicle from an accident. Finally, you may choose to carry uninsured motorist insurance in case you are injured by someone who was driving without coverage.
A Skilled Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Strengthens Your Claim
Medical experts and hospitals will take care of your physical injuries, but you will require expert legal guidance to ensure your financial needs are handled so you can recover with peace of mind. Facing severe injuries and the astronomical bills that come with them can be stressful and prevent you from healing fully. A top-notch motorcycle accident lawyer can take care of the legal complexities for you.
At Joel Thrift Law, we manage every aspect of your claim to build a solid case for negotiating with insurance companies. We aggressively litigate for you in court. Our team of legal professionals will provide numerous services for you and your family, including:
- Hiring an independent accident investigator to produce an accident reconstruction report
- Collecting photos and videos of the crash site, your injuries, and property damage
- Working with experts to understand what happened to cause the accident and who is likely at fault
- Interviewing witnesses and other parties in the crash for their statements
- Collecting supporting evidence of your damage claims
- Calculating your damage estimate for reimbursement
- Negotiating with difficult insurance representatives to secure the best settlement for you
- Filing paperwork correctly and on time, so you do not miss court deadlines
- Filing motions to have evidence introduced or dismissed to build a stronger case for you
- Fighting back against biases against motorcycle riders to ensure your rights are protected and you receive fair consideration
Attorneys must show proof of negligence in order to win compensation for their clients. Your attorney will do this on your behalf, but lawyers for insurance companies and defendants in your claim will also try to prove you were negligent. Your attorney will discuss how this affects your case and explain how they will prove the four elements of negligence:
- Other drivers owed you a duty of care: Other motorists owe one another a duty to follow all traffic laws. They should drive in such a way as to protect themselves and other individuals.
- One or more defendants breached the duty of care: Based on how a reasonable person would have behaved in the situation, you must show that the person(s) who hurt you failed in their duty of care to others.
- You suffered injuries and property damage directly related to their actions: The failure in their duty is the direct cause of your injuries, and the damage was not caused by any other factor.
- You have financial losses as a result of your injuries and damage: Because of their failure and your injuries, you have incurred reimbursable expenses.
Recall that comparative fault is the law in Georgia. Your Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyers will work to minimize any evidence of fault on your part to maximize your jury award.
Evidence Is Critical in Motorcycle Accident Claims
When a motorcycle crash happens in Atlanta, state or local police will come to the scene and take statements from those involved. They will also speak with witnesses and take photographs to help them write a police accident report. You can obtain this report as part of your case, but there are also other sources of evidence to support your claim.
Your attorney will help you pull together this information while you recover. They will access material such as:
- Statements from witnesses to the incident
- Statements from all individuals who were involved in or contributed to the crash
- Video footage from security cameras, traffic cameras, and dashcams
- Photos of the crash scene
- Photos and medical records documenting your injuries
- Photos and receipts of the damage to your motorcycle
- Information on road and weather conditions at the time of the crash
- Driving records of other drivers, including any traffic violations
- Accident reconstrubtion reports
- Records of cell phone use at the time of the crash
- Testimony from medical experts on your injuries
- Testimony from experts on how the accident happened
Your legal team will work to reconstruct the accident as accurately as they can to demonstrate who is at fault for your injuries. They will use your receipts and other information to support your claims for damages.
Some accident claims can be settled out of court when your attorney shows that they have the evidence to support fighting all the way for your case. Trials are expensive and time-consuming for everyone involved, so if the opposing lawyer does not feel they have a strong case, they may choose to settle. You can receive your compensation faster and begin paying off the bills that have piled up.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit in Atlanta
When insurance settlements are not enough to cover your losses, you should consider filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit. You are more likely to receive full compensation with this option, and your lawyer can advise you on whether this choice is best for you. While a trial can be expensive, Joel Thrift Law takes cases on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay until and unless we win your case for you.
Although you can rest easy about legal bills, you must also begin working on your claim immediately. It takes time to gather evidence and build a strong case. Georgia Code § 9-3-33 mandates only two years to file a claim after an accident, but the statute of limitations can be shorter if you are filing a claim against a government agency.
If you are injured as a result of an obstacle causing you to crash your bike, you may still have a valid claim. You could have fallen victim to poor road maintenance from potholes, debris, unsafe terrain, unmarked hazards, standing water, or ice. If a homeowner failed to clear tree branches or bushes to provide a clear line of sight for traffic and road signs, they could be held responsible for your accident.
Claims for the Motorcyclist and Passenger
If you are riding your bike with a passenger on the back, they are eligible for a separate claim. They can also sue the person responsible for the crash as an individual for their own injuries and damage.
In some instances, you may have been a passenger on a motorcycle and wish to file a claim against the motorcycle operator if they are responsible for the crash. You have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, as well as against anyone else who contributed to the crash.
Contact an Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
At Joel Thrift Law, we are here for you. We focus on compassionately and tirelessly representing our clients to secure the maximum compensation and best outcome for their unique situations.
We do not rest until your case is handled. Use our convenient online form to contact us and schedule your free consultation today.