There are between 280,000 and 400,000 motor vehicle accidents reported to law enforcement each year in Georgia, according to statistics from the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety. Sadly, some of these accidents involve particularly vulnerable victims, such as bicyclists or pedestrians, and when they do, the results can be catastrophic. In fact, 232 pedestrians and 29 bicyclists were killed in Georgia in 2016 alone.
Bicycle and pedestrian accident victims injured in crashes caused by another person's or entity's negligence may be entitled to collect compensation for a wide range of related damages. If you're considering taking legal action to pursue a financial award for injuries sustained in a bicycle or pedestrian accident that wasn't your fault, here's what you need to know.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Accident Injuries Tend to Be Serious
Drivers and passengers are protected by a strong exterior cage designed to reduce injury in the event of an accident. Bicyclists and pedestrians, on the other hand, have no such protection.
When a hulking metal beast weighing between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds collides with a defenseless bicyclist or pedestrian, it's hardly surprising that the resulting injuries would be serious, debilitating, disabling, or even deadly.
Some of the most common injuries associated with bicycle and pedestrian accidents include:
- Severe “road rash” abrasion injuries
- Broken or crushed bones
- Head and brain injuries, such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Neck, shoulder, and back injuries
- Spinal cord damage, which can result in varying degrees of paralysis
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Dental and facial injuries
- Limb loss and amputations
Documenting Bicycle or Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Regardless of how extremely serious bicyclist or pedestrian accidents can be, in order for the resulting injuries to serve as evidence in a personal injury case, they must be thoroughly and carefully documented by the treating physician.
Seeking immediate medical attention after a bicycle or pedestrian accident is one of the best things victims can do to protect their rights to recovery. In cases where victims are transported from the scene to a hospital in an ambulance, this goes without saying. For all other victims, it bears repeating.
One thing for victims to keep in mind: Seeing a doctor once immediately after an accident isn't sufficient documentation of an injury. It's important for victims to keep follow-up appointments with their physicians, and follow their prescribed treatment plans to the letter.
Other Important Evidence
In addition to documentation of injuries, there are a number of other types of evidence bicycle and pedestrian accident victims can use to support their claims and build a strong personal injury case. Examples of evidence that could come in handy in a bicycle or pedestrian accident case include:
- Photographs or videos of the accident scene that show placement of vehicles immediately after the collision, as well as relevant road or weather conditions.
- Statements from people who witnessed the accident.
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists.
Potential Damages Available in Bicycle and Pedestrian Accident Cases
If the accident in question was caused by someone else's negligence—or the other person's negligence played a larger role in causing the accident than the victim's—injured individuals may be entitled to compensation for related economic and non-economic damages. These damages may include:
- Accident-related medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of income and earning potential
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In cases where the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious, a third type of damages may be available. Known as punitive damages, these serve as a punishment for the defendant, rather than an attempt to compensate victims for a specific loss.
Consult an Experienced Attorney About Your Bicycle or Pedestrian Accident
Do you have questions about a Georgia bicycle or pedestrian accident? Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and options. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.