State Motorcycle Laws

Legal Guidance for Motor Vehicle Collision Victims in Atlanta

A motorcycle accident can change a rider's life forever, while a driver in a larger vehicle may walk away without a scratch. There is little to protect a motorcyclist from the force of impact from a larger vehicle or from hitting the pavement. In some cases, helmets may help, but if high speeds are involved, they may not. Some motorcyclists may be concerned that because they broke state motorcycle laws they may not be able to recover compensation for their injuries. However, this often is not the case. If you have been struck by a careless Atlanta driver, you should consult experienced motorcycle accident attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert to see what options may be available to you.

Laws Governing Motorcyclists in Georgia

Georgia has a number of laws that motorcyclists must follow. In order to operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle, you need a Class M license. Riders must have at least one mirror and a daytime headlight. More then two motorcycles may not ride abreast of each other in a lane. Like many other states, Georgia has a universal motorcycle helmet law, which requires anyone riding on a motorcycle (either as a driver or a passenger) to wear a helmet that complies with the standards set by the Georgia Department of Safety.

Failing to wear a helmet or obey the other state motorcycle laws can have an impact on your ability to recover compensation. Georgia follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence. If the defendant raises this argument, the jury will determine the plaintiff's total damages and then assign both the plaintiff and defendant a percentage of fault for the plaintiff's injuries. The jury may determine that a motorcyclist's failure to wear a helmet partly contributed to his or her harm. When someone is hurt because of a violation of a safety law designed to prevent that type of harm, the doctrine of negligence per se (negligence as a matter of law) may apply.

As long as you are 49% or less responsible, you can potentially recover damages up to the negligent person's percentage of fault. However if the jury finds you are 50% or more at fault for failing to wear a helmet or disobeying another motorcycle law, you will not be able to recover compensation.

For example, suppose a car runs a red light but stops short of hitting a motorcyclist who is not wearing a helmet. The motorcyclist swerves in anticipation of hitting the car and wipes out, hitting his head on the ground and suffering a traumatic brain injury. If the jury finds that the damages are $100,000, and the motorcyclist was 40% at fault, he or she still can potentially recover up to $60,000 from the driver.

As you might imagine, insurers for drivers of larger vehicles will try to interview motorcyclists to get an admission of fault or other evidence that will prove the motorcyclist failed to obey state motorcycle laws. In order to decrease the payout, they may try to show that the motorcyclist is partially or fully to blame for an accident. Any such evidence can be used to play into the general jury bias against motorcyclists. This is why it is critical to retain an attorney who understands motorcycle culture and how to portray what happened to you in the best possible light.

Explore Your Options with an Atlanta Attorney after a Motorcycle Accident

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident involving a possible violation of state motorcycle laws, you should enlist an experienced motor vehicle collision lawyer who has helped Atlanta residents in similar situations. Experienced attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert may be able to help you recover damages. Call us at (404) 370-1000 or contact us via our online form to arrange a free consultation. We also represent accident victims in Decatur as well as other cities throughout DeKalb and Fulton Counties.

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