Yes. If you were in a bicycle accident without a helmet, you can still file a claim. Below, we discuss what you might expect after suffering injuries in an accident while not wearing a bicycle helmet.
Does Georgia Have a Bicycle Helmet Law?
Yes, Georgia does have a bicycle helmet law. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-296 requires all riders and passengers under 16 to wear a helmet while on a bicycle. This means you are not violating a law if you ride a bike without a helmet as an adult.
While the statute requires certain riders to wear a helmet, the statute also states, “Violation of any provision of this subsection shall not constitute negligence per se nor contributory negligence per se or be considered evidence of negligence or liability.”
What Is Contributory Negligence?
To better understand the statute, we should first explain what contributory negligence means. Contributory or comparative negligence is a legal concept that allows you to recover compensation for injuries even if you were partly at fault. However, it also allows the other party to subtract from your settlement based on your contribution to the accident. For example, if you were 50 percent at fault and you had $20,000 in damages, you will get $10,000 after deducting half of the settlement (50 percent).
Each state has its own version of the law. Some versions allow plaintiffs to be 99 percent at fault while others bar compensation if you were even one percent at-fault. Georgia follows a modified negligence law which allows plaintiffs to be 49 percent or less at-fault for an accident. If you are 50 percent or more at-fault for the accident, you must pay for your losses alone.
In some states, violation of a helmet law would make your child partially at-fault for an accident. However, as the statute stated, the defense cannot use the violation as negligence per se. This means that if you or your child is injured in a bicycle accident and he was not wearing a helmet, the other side cannot use your child’s lack of helmet use against him.
For example, say your child was riding his bicycle unhelmeted in a bike lane when a driver entered his lane, hitting him. Your child suffered a broken arm and a traumatic brain injury. Georgia’s helmet statute forbids the other party from using your child’s helmet use, or lack thereof, against him. To prove your child caused or contributed to the accident, the driver would need to prove he was negligent in some other way. This could include refusing to yield right-of-way or running a red light.
So How Can Not Wearing a Bicycle Helmet Affect My Case if It Does Not Make Me Negligent?
While it will not contribute to your negligence, not wearing a bicycle helmet can contribute to your injuries. For example, say you were cycling when a driver hit you. You fell and hit your head, but only suffered road rash because you were wearing a helmet. If you were not wearing a helmet, you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury or even died.
Traumatic brain injuries can be very expensive, costing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars over a lifetime. This can make your claim much higher. Depending on the other party and its insurer, you may be unable to recover the entirety of your settlement demand.
How Can I Prove My Georgia Bicycle Accident Case?
What you need to prove is the same regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet or not. We must be able to establish the other party was more negligent than you were. For example, Georgia law considers bicycles motor vehicles. This means that bicyclists have the same right to the road as drivers. However, many drivers refuse to honor this. We will work to prove the other driver refused to yield the right-of-way (e.g., they turned in front of you, ran a red light while you were proceeding through an intersection, etc.) or did something else to cause your accident.
We will also fight against any accusations that you were at-fault for the accident.
Get Help After an Atlanta Bicycle Accident. Call 404-474-0804 Today.
Bicycle crashes can result in catastrophic injuries because the bike rider’s body has little or no protection from the impact of a motor vehicle that can weigh a ton or more. This is true regardless of whether you are wearing a helmet or not. The bicycle accident team at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. wants to help you navigate the complex process you now face and get all the compensation you deserve.
Please call us today at 404-474-0804, so we can set up your free, no-obligation case evaluation and consultation with our car accident lawyer. And because we handle all cases on a contingency basis, we do not recover compensation unless you do.