Greater Atlanta is a dense urban area where the weather is generally mild for most of the year. That combination means lots of people use bicycles, scooters, electric bicycles, and other low-power, two-wheel vehicles to get from place to place. Apparently, there is no safety in numbers. Bicycles, scooters, and other such vehicles account for about 1 percent of vehicle traffic. But these riders account for 17 percent of the roadway fatalities in Georgia.
A Marietta personal injury attorney can obtain substantial compensation for the victims and survivors of these wrecks, usually from the driver who caused the wreck or the company that owned the scooter or other vehicle. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in a few extreme cases.
The cars and trucks on the road today are much safer than the ones that rolled off assembly lines twenty-five years ago. Nevertheless, the number of traffic fatalities has increased significantly over the past twenty-five years as well, mostly because today’s cars and trucks are also much faster and bigger than they were back then.
Scooters and bicycles haven’t benefitted from these changes. These vehicles are still basically a frame and two wheels. Therefore, when accidents occur, scooter and bicycle riders often sustain catastrophic injuries, like:
- Head Injuries: Thin plastic or foam bicycle or scooter helmets don’t protect these riders in high-speed wrecks. The injuries they sustain are difficult to diagnose and treat. Because doctors don’t get much of a head start, these injuries are often permanent.
- Broken Bones: Much like head injuries, crash-related broken bones are hard to treat. Since crashes usually shatter bones, doctors must use metal parts to surgically reconstruct them. Since the recovery period is longer, physical therapy is longer, as well as more difficult. Even after all this, these victims usually must deal with a permanent loss of motion or another lingering injury.
- Internal Injuries: Frequently, tiny fragments of shattered bone enter the bloodstream and pierce various internal organs. This piercing might not be more than a pinprick. But since internal organs have no protective skin layers, a pinprick is all it takes to cause serious bleeding.
On average, the medical bills in a life-threatening (catastrophic) injury case exceed $100,000. These injuries aren’t just expensive. They’re also very difficult to diagnose and treat.
A Marietta personal injury attorney helps meet both these needs. Attorneys connect victims with doctors who focus on injury-related conditions. Additionally, in most cases, these professionals charge nothing upfront for their professional services. Or, they at least agree to defer collection until the case is settled or otherwise resolved. More on that below.
Major Kinds of Wrecks
To reduce the number of these injuries and make bicycling safer, decisionmakers have passed laws and made street deign changes. These well-intentioned changes might have increased the risk of the two most common bicycle/scooter accidents in Cobb County.
Many parts of Marietta and other large cities have designated bicycle lanes to the right of other vehicle traffic lanes. This separation probably seemed like a good idea at the time. It moved slow-moving bicycles and scooters away from fast-moving cars whose drivers weren’t eager to share the road.
However, designated bicycle lanes, like so many other ideas that seemed like the right thing to do at the time, may have been short sited. As motorists turn left against traffic, usually at an intersection, they cannot see scooters and bicycles in the far lane. So, when these motorists gun their mooters to shoot through a gap in vehicle traffic, they often don’t see motorcycles or scooters, and cross directly into the riders’ paths.
The really bad thing about these crashes is that, at the moment of impact, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is usually travelling at or near top speed. When a speeding 4,000-plus pound car or truck smacks into an almost stationary 20-plus pound bike or scooter, the rider almost always sustains serious injuries, not from the impact, but also from the resulting fall off the bike. Usually, the force of the impact propels these victims several yards through the air.
Many urban planners thought that if designated bike lanes were a good idea, concrete pillars were an even better idea. These pillars, which are usually about two feet tall, form a solid barrier between regular traffic and bicycles. Once again, this move may have been short sighted.
These pillars often trigger bikelash. Many motorists are willing to tolerate designated bicycle lanes, even though they narrow the other traffic lanes. But concrete pillars are too much. To many people, these pillars are ugly eyesores that protect people who don’t deserve protection.
So, these motorists pay very little attention to the traffic in these lanes. That’s especially true if the tortfeasor is turning right at an intersection. Most people only look left in these situations. The combination of bikelash and a failure to look often causes tortfeasors to turn right directly in front of oncoming scooters or bicycles.
Left hook and right cross wrecks often involve the last clear chance defense. Insurance company lawyers argue that the bicycle or scooter riders should have swerved out of the way or stopped suddenly to avoid a wreck with an oncoming tortfeasor. In other words, the rider had the last clear chance to avoid a collision. As a result, the rider, and not the tortfeasor, is legally responsible for damages.
This defense usually doesn’t hold up in court in these situations. Cars and trucks have advanced braking and steering features, so they can easily make such evasive maneuvers. Scooters and bicycles have primitive steering and braking functions. So, when riders attempt evasive maneuvers, they usually lose control of their bikes.
Once the two sides sort out these liability and damage issues, personal injury claims usually settle out of court. A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Marietta personal injury attorney, usually helps the two sides reach an agreement. Crash victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta personal injury attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. We routinely handle matters in Cobb County and nearby jurisdictions.