Albany, Georgia and its surrounding area is a great place for motorcycle riders to experience the freedom of the open roads. Unfortunately, traffic-related fatalities have increased in recent years, and motorcyclists make up a significant percentage of these deaths. Motorists find more and more ways to be distracted while driving and we can expect that the rates of motorcyclist fatalities will continue to rise.

Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to the impact of a collision due to the little protection that their vehicles offer. Also, other drivers may be more likely to overlook these small vehicles on the road. For this reason, riders are at greater risk for serious injury or even death than other motorists in larger vehicles. Even a minor accident can be severe or fatal for someone on a motorcycle. Here is some information on what all drivers can do to protect motorcyclists, and on what legal remedies you may have if you are injured while riding your motorcycle.

Risks from Other Motorists in Albany

Even if you are extremely careful when operating your motorcycle in or around Albany, there will always be some risks that are outside of your control. Many motorcycle accidents are caused by another motorist failing to notice the smaller vehicle. Drivers often overlook motorcyclists when making left turns. Although the driver may scan for oncoming traffic before turning, they often subconsciously only look for larger vehicles such as cars and trucks. Unless they intentionally look for smaller vehicles, a driver might not notice the oncoming motorcycle or bicycle, and turn into the biker’s path. If the motorcyclist cannot stop in time to avoid a collision, the results may be deadly.

Albany drivers may also fail to look for or notice motorcycles when changing lanes. If you get trapped in the blind spot of a larger vehicle, the driver might not see you when they glance around before switching lanes. This could send you into other lanes of traffic or into the median, putting you at greater risk of losing control of your bike or of colliding with another vehicle.

Albany, Georgia’s Helmet Law

Wearing a helmet is one of the best ways in which a motorcyclist can protect him- or herself on the roads. In Georgia, it is illegal to drive or ride on a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear. The Georgia Department of Public Safety has issued safety standards that helmets must meet. You should reference these standards before purchasing a helmet to ensure that you are adequately protecting yourself and complying with the law.

Comparative Negligence

In Georgia, “comparative negligence” is used to determine whether a person can receive compensation—and, if so, how much they can get—when more than one driver was negligent. Under this principle, you may be entitled to some payment for your damages as long as you were less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. However, the court will reduce the amount of compensation that you receive by your percentage of fault in the accident.

For example, imagine that your damages from an Albany accident totaled $100,000, perhaps in medical bills and lost wages. If the court determines that you were 40 percent to blame for the accident, you can be compensated for your damages, less 40 percent. This means you could recover 60 percent, or $60,000. However, if the court were to find that you were 55 percent to blame, you may not be able to recover at all. In that situation, you might even have to pay the other driver for part of their damages.

If you break Georgia’s helmet law and do not wear protective headgear, the other driver may claim that you contributed to your injuries. For this to be an effective defense, you would have to be injured in a part of your body that a helmet could have protected, such as your head or face. Even if the other driver were completely at fault for the collision, a court may reduce your damages relating to a head injury if you failed to wear a helmet. However, if you suffered an injury that a helmet could not have prevented, such as a broken foot, you may still receive the full amount of damages, even though you violated the helmet law.

Damages in Your Albany, Georgia Motorcycle Accident

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. These damages might include:

  • Medical bills that you accrued because of the accident, including those for rehabilitative care
  • Lost wages from missing work due to the injuries
  • Future lost wages or medical bills, if the harm will require ongoing treatment and work absences
  • Non-economic damages, such as for mental or physical pain and suffering or disfigurement

While economic damages can be calculated fairly easily, non-economic damages are intangible and more difficult to estimate. A skilled personal injury attorney can help you value these damages based on their knowledge of similar cases. Non-economic damages may exceed your economic damages.

Statute of Limitations for Albany Motorcycle Accidents

“Statute of limitations” is a legal term to describe the amount of time that you are allowed to file a lawsuit. These time limits vary based on the act. In Georgia, you generally have two years to file a claim against another driver when you sustain injuries from a motorcycle accident. However, there may be other factors that can either reduce or extend the time that you have to bring a claim. It is smart to consult with an attorney as soon as possible following your accident to ensure that you do not miss any important deadlines.

Contacting an attorney sooner rather than later can also be helpful when dealing with an insurance company. People often do not think to recruit an attorney’s assistance to communicate with insurance companies regarding accident payout. However, in a case in which you suffer physical harm, a personal injury lawyer may be particularly valuable. They will be able to negotiate on your behalf and get you the compensation that you deserve for the harm and trauma you suffered.

Albany, Georgia Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Albany, Georgia, you should consult with a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. At Williams Elleby, our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys will help ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries, damages and losses. Touch base with a Williams Elleby attorney at (833) 534-2542, or contact us online for a free consultation.