Cohen & Sinowski are Cobb County bicycle accident lawyers. From our office in Marietta we represent injured cyclists across the Atlanta-Metro area.
Did you know that nearly 467,000 bicycle accident injuries occurred in 2015, and more than 1,000 bicyclists sustained fatal injuries in collisions? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although bicycle trips represent only one percent of all trips taken in the country, “bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants in motor vehicles.”
Adults between the ages of 50-59 actually have the highest bicycle accident fatality rates in the country, followed closely by children and teens, who have the highest rate of nonfatal bicycle injuries. For anyone in Marietta who regularly takes bicycle trips, it is important to know that most fatal injuries occur in urban areas at non-intersections, and that males tend to suffer deadly injuries at a much higher rate than do female bicyclists.
If you or someone you love sustained serious injuries in a crash, you should discuss your options with a Marietta bicycle accident lawyer. You may be entitled to financial compensation.
Georgia Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
File Your Bicycle Accident Claim On Time
One of the most important things to know about filing a bicycle accident lawsuit is that you must file that claim within a specific period of time. This time window is known as the statute of limitations. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, if you are filing a negligence claim against a motorist or another party whose careless behavior caused the crash, you will likely have two years from the date of your injuries to file your lawsuit.
The date of the accident, which is when you got hurt, starts the clock running on the statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations runs (when two years have passed), you cannot file a claim any longer.
What are some incentives for filing on the sooner side? First, it can be difficult to obtain strong evidence if your attorney begins investigating months or even a year after your bicycle accident. Facts are freshest in the minds of witnesses soon after a collision takes place, and your lawyer can gather evidence to help support your version of events.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, you cannot receive financial compensation until you get started on your claim. In other words, the quicker you file your claim, the sooner you might expect to receive a damages award.
When the Plaintiff is Also at Fault: Understanding Comparative Fault and Contributory Negligence
What is comparative fault or contributory negligence? Typically this is a defense raised by the defendant in order to avoid full liability for a bicycle accident. You might be concerned about moving forward with a bicycle accident claim because you believe you bear some responsibility for the crash occurring, or for the severity of your injuries.
Here is the most important thing to remember: as long as the defendant (or the defendants, collectively) are more responsible than you, then you can still recover damages.
Under O.C.G.A. § 51-11-7 and O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33, Georgia operates on a theory of modified comparative fault. While some states say that a plaintiff cannot recover if she is even one percent liable for a crash, Georgia law emphasizes that a plaintiff still can recover as long as she is 49 percent or less to blame.
In such a situation, the amount the plaintiff receives will be reduced by her percentage of the fault. To explain how this works, we will give you a couple of different scenarios.
- For example, consider that a bicyclist fails to use lights, reflectors, or to bear reflective or brightly colored clothing and rides her bicycle early in the morning before sunrise. A driver in a passenger car is running late to an early meeting, is speeding in addition to being distracted, and that driver strikes the bicyclist. The jury determines that the bicyclist bears some responsibility for her injuries and says she is 20 percent to blame. If the jury awarded the plaintiff a total of $50,000, then that award would be reduced by 20 percent (or $10,000), and the plaintiff would recover a total of $40,000.
- As another example, what if the scenario were similar, except this time the driver is not speeding? The jury might say that the plaintiff is 50 percent responsible for the crash. As soon as a plaintiff is 50 percent or more to blame, she is barred from recovery. If a defendant does argue that comparative fault or contributory negligence is a factor, your Marietta bicycle accident attorney can provide evidence to show that you should be entitled to compensation.
What do we mean by the fact that the damages award will be reduced? We will give you some more information about damages in a personal injury claim.
Bicycle Accident Damages in Georgia
When you are seriously injured in a bicycle accident in Georgia, you are likely unable to work all while trying to figure out how you will pay your hospital bills, surgery costs, and costs for follow-up visits to the doctor’s office. By filing a bicycle accident claim, you can seek damages that are designed to compensate you for your losses. These are known as “compensatory damages,” and there are two different types of them:
- Economic, or “special” damages: This type of compensatory damage award is designed to compensate a plaintiff for direct, financial, and objective losses. These are the specific monetary losses you have endured as a result of your injury, such as medical costs or lost wages.
- Non-economic, of “general” damages: This type of compensatory damage award is designed to compensate a victim for subjective losses that cannot necessarily be quantified and may be different for each person. For example, non-economic damages can include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and even the psychological trauma associated with a bike accident.
Contact a Marietta Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bicycle happens can happen almost anywhere in Cobb County. In addition to serving clients in Marietta, we regularly represent plaintiffs in bicycle injury cases in Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Powder Springs, and Smyrna. A dedicated Marietta bicycle accident attorney at our firm can get started on your case today. Contact Cohen & Sinowski, P.C. to learn more about the services we provide.