WE ARE ATTORNEYS AND WE ARE RIDERS
WE REPRESENT GEORGIA CYCLISTS
HAD A BICYCLE CRASH IN GEORGIA?
Contact Ben Dodge to see if the bicycle crash lawyers at Bike Accident Attorneys (BAA) can help. Unlike other lawyers who attempt to represent cyclists, our BAA lawyers actually ride and race their bicycles as well as appear and win in court. Most attorneys are just pencil pushers. We are court room litigators who are passionate about riding our bikes and we have associated local counsel in other states to allow us to help you in your state. Based on our expertise and experience we have also been admitted in other states to appear in court for our bicycle crash clients on a case by case basis. We can help you directly or ensure that you get the quality help you need in your state. Contact Ben Dodge now to see how we can protect your rights.
3 Tips on Choosing the Best Bicycle Crash Lawyer and Avoid Being Scammed
So how do you know if you have the best lawyer? There are 3 things to investigate when hiring a bicycle lawyer that can help you avoid a scammer. Some of that depends on what you think the “best” really means. To me, it is simple. The “best” lawyer will get you to the most advantageous position possible with as little cost as possible. That’s it. Nothing else to it. I have seen too many lawyers give up or miss out on incredible opportunities for their clients because of their own egos arguing the irrelevant issues or pushing too hard in a direction that only generates their own fees as opposed to the results the client would rather have.
The most advantageous position is sometimes not even what the client comes in asking for. I can’t tell you how many times I probably talked myself out of a job in an initial consult because what the client wanted actually puts them in a worse position and I wasn’t afraid to tell them so. It would have been so much easier to just tell them what they desperately wanted to hear, help them feel heard and let them vent a little. All just tell them we better hurry up and rush to court so they can be vindicated. When in reality, that won’t help them at all. So that is what many lawyers do- they try to figure out what the client wants emotionally and then sell them a legal service that matches that emotional need and of course charge them for it based on whatever they think the client is able to pay.
Obviously not all attorneys are this cold-hearted. Many of us actually care. Many of us strive to do right by the client as opposed to just trying to do right by the pocket book.
Here are some general things to watch out for when looking for an attorney, especially a bicycle accident lawyer (I don’t like the word accident, I prefer “crash” – but most of the world uses the term accident and I understand why, so I sue it too). Here are the issues to watch out for:
1) Specific Knowledge
Do they have the specific knowledge required to handle your case? Just because they graduated from law school doesn’t mean they know anything about cycling! In fact, in my opinion, most of the country doesn’t know anything about cycling. It is crazy that all sorts of professionals from police offices charged with enforcing cycling safety to insurance adjusters responsible for finding fault don’t know anything about cycling laws. This is especially true with local rules, ordinances, and even more so with knowledge of local customs and implied expectations of cycling culture and more. Now fast forward to the moment when you are looking for an attorney to help you with your crash (your bicycle accident case) and you see a billboard on the side of the freeway, or a TV commercial, or even a Google search where the words cycling lawyer were used… How much specific knowledge of bicycle cases do you think they really have? Ask them how often they ride? Ask them what their favorite route is? Ask them if they could buy any bike on the planet what would it be and why? These questions will help you quickly identify if they are even remotely plugged into the cycling community and whether or not they have specific knowledge relating to cycling. Why is this important? SIMPLE- as a cyclist you already know that most people (drivers) hate that we are out on the roads. You already have an uphill court battle of public opinion. Being right on some traffic issue isn’t enough for us. Your lawyer must know this intimately in order to successfully navigate the complex negotiations of your case with the insurance company and opposing attorneys and then ultimately in a court room where you can bet no one on the jury will be a cyclist.
Also on the topic of specific knowledge. How many cases like this issue have they handled? What were the outcomes? How confident do you feel with their answers to these questions? Specific case knowledge is helpful. Do they have experience with the opposing insurance company? With that specific police department? With your judge? And on and on.
Specific knowledge is very helpful and you can’t buy it with expensive marketing on billboards, commercials, etc. It is earned with blood, sweat, and sometimes tears through years of experience.
2) Desk or Courtroom
The next thing to investigate is whether or not the attorney you’re thinking about hiring is a desk lawyer (I fondly refer to these lawyers as pencil pushers) or a courtroom lawyer. There is a need for all sorts of lawyers. But unless you are planning on having your bicycle accident attorney draft a will or some contract for you, then you want a courtroom lawyer not a pencil pusher.
I know this is a guess, but in my experience it seems like 95% of lawyers, especially the ones who end up on billboards and commercials, are just pencil pushers. Once their cases get to tough they refer them out to a real lawyer to finish the courtroom stuff for them. Most attorneys talk a big talk in their consult with potential clients about how good they are, but when push comes to shove and they have to actually prove it to you in a courtroom with you watching, their peers (opposing lawyers on the other side of your case) and in front of a judge and jury- they simply freak out and completely drop the ball or settle for less than you should ever take just to avoid the scary courtroom.
Don’t mistakenly hire a pencil pusher. Hire a bicycle accident lawyer who thrives in the courtroom. One simple question to help catch them off guard is ask them when is the last time they were in court? What was it about? What kind of hearing was it? What was the argument they proposed and made to the judge? How did it turn out? These simple questions will help you find out if they are pencil pushers or not. Their hesitation or odd answers are a dead give away that they are likely misleading you on their courtroom abilities and experience.
We are courtroom lawyers, sometimes even going multiple times per week to court. We file lawsuits, we don’t just write a few meaningless settlement letters and sell our clients on how good the settlement is- we prove it to our clients.
3) Do You Recognize Them from a Billboard or Commercial?
Yes I said that right, do you actually recognize them from a billboard or a TV commercial? Why is this even a thing? Well, it sounds harsh but those lawyers out there spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year (for some they spend that per month) just to recruit new clients may be struggling to get their current and past clients to even refer to them… Yep, what if your lawyer was so good and you were so impressed that you happily sent business to him/or her? See how powerful that is? I’m not saying that everyone who advertises in our line of work is a horrible lawyer. What I am saying is that it is a bit suspect since advertising is NOT cheap and it begs the question as to why they have to advertise in the first place? Is their reputation with their own clients so bad that they have to find an alternative source to finding clients? Possibly. I’m one of those guys who avoids, in fact runs away from any professional I see on a billboard. I’d much rather consult a trusted friend and get their opinion as to whom I should see or NOT see based on their experience.
Not all lawyers who advertise are bad. But like I said, I personally run away from any professional on a billboard or TV commercial. A good old fashioned referral has always proved to be much better much more often. Just sayin’.
These are just 3 of the many things to look out for when you hire a bicycle accident lawyer. Call my office up and we can chat over the phone sometime about all the other million things to look out for like attorney billable hour quotas, bonus structures, professional reputation among peers, and so much more!
We are here for you. We got your back. We protect our own like you’re a member of our tribe. Good luck. Be safe out there and keep the rubber side down.
Contact Ben Dodge and let the lawyers in the Bike Accident Attorneys National Network help you. We will assist you in your case and/or find someone for you in your state that we can trust and recommend. We have your back. We are here for you.
(Georgia State Flag)
GEORGIA BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities
Pedalcyclist Fatalities per Million Population
GEORGIA BICYCLE STATUTES
In Georgia, as in most states, a bicycle is legally a "vehicle". This classification means that general vehicular traffic law applies to the operation of a bicycle. However, the vehicular code and various regulations include many qualifications for specific classes of vehicles. Wherever the code or regulation uses the phrase "vehicle," that section applies to all vehicles, including bicycles. When the term "motor vehicle" is used, the code does not apply to bicycles.
Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter relating to operating a vehicle on a roadway, where a bicycle lane is provided on the roadway, the operator of a motor vehicle shall yield to a person operating a bicycle in a bicycle lane.
(a) As used in this Code section, the term 'safe distance' means not less than three feet.
(b) Notwithstanding any provision of this article to the contrary, when feasible, the operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between such vehicle and the bicycle and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Except as provided by resolution or ordinance of a local government for sidewalks within the jurisdiction of such local government authorizing the operation of bicycles on sidewalks by persons 12 years of age or younger, no person shall drive any vehicle upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized driveway.
The provisions of this part applicable to bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon a highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions stated in this part.
The provisions of this chapter that apply to vehicles, but not exclusively to motor vehicles, shall apply to bicycles, except that the penalties prescribed in subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-390,subsection (c) of Code Section 40-6-391, and subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-393 shall not apply to persons riding bicycles.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 40-6-50, any person operating a bicycle may ride upon a paved shoulder; provided, however, that such person shall not be required to ride upon a paved shoulder.
(c) Any person operating a bicycle may signal a right turn with his or her right arm and hand extended horizontally or with his or her left hand and arm extended upward.
(a) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto and shall allow no person to ride upon the handlebars.
(b) No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
(c) No person shall transport a child under the age of one year as a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, roadway, bicycle path, bicycle lane, or sidewalk; provided, however, that a child under the age of one year may be transported on a bicycle trailer or in an infant sling so long as such child is seated in the bicycle trailer or carried in an infant sling according to the bicycle trailer's or infant sling's manufacturer's instructions, and the bicycle trailer is properly affixed to the bicycle according to the bicycle trailer's manufacturer's instructions or the infant sling is properly worn by the rider of the bicycle according to the infant sling's manufacturer's instructions.
No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself to any vehicle upon a roadway.
(a) As used in this Code section, the term 'hazards to safe cycling' includes, but shall not be limited to, surface debris, rough pavement, drain grates which are parallel to the side of the roadway, parked or stopped vehicles, potentially opening car doors, or any other objects which threaten the safety of a person operating a bicycle.
(b) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when:
(f) Any person operating a bicycle in a bicycle lane shall ride in the same direction as traffic on the roadway.
(g) Electric assisted bicycles may be operated on bicycle paths.
No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or other article which prevents him from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
(a) It is a misdemeanor for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required in this part.
(b) The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this part.
The Board of Public Safety is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to carry this part into effect and is authorized to establish regulations for any additional safety equipment or standards it shall require for bicycles.
Restrictions on use of controlled-access roadways*
(a) The Department of Transportation by order and local authorities by ordinance may regulate or prohibit the use of any controlled-access roadway within their respective jurisdictions by any class or kind of traffic which is found to be incompatible with the normal and safe movement of traffic.
(b) The Department of Transportation or the local authority adopting any such prohibition shall erect and maintain official traffic-control devices on the controlled-access highway on which such prohibitions are applicable, and when such devices are in place no person shall disobey the restrictions stated thereon.
(c) For purposes of this Code section, roadways within the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and roadways within the jurisdiction of local authorities shall be as set forth in Code Section 32-4-1.
* In Georgia, bicycles are typically prohibited from using controlled-access roadways such as interstate highways.
Additional laws relevant to cyclists
§ 40-6-397. Aggressive driving
(a) A person commits the offense of aggressive driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person, including without limitation violating Code Section 40-6-42, 40-6-48, 40-6-49, 40-6-123, 40-6-184, 40-6-312, or 40-6-390 with such intent.
(b) Any person convicted of aggressive driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
§ 40-6-390. Reckless driving
(a) Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving.
(b) Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor
§ 16-11-37. Terroristic threats and acts
(a) A person commits the offense of a terroristic threat when he or she threatens to commit any crime of violence, to release any hazardous substance, as such term is defined in Code Section 12-8-92, or to burn or damage property with the purpose of terrorizing another or of causing the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation or otherwise causing serious public inconvenience or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience. No person shall be convicted under this subsection on the uncorroborated testimony of the party to whom the threat is communicated.
(b) A person commits the offense of a terroristic act when:
(1) He or she uses a burning or flaming cross or other burning or flaming symbol or flambeau with the intent to terrorize another or another's household;
(2) While not in the commission of a lawful act, he or she shoots at or throws an object at a conveyance which is being operated or which is occupied by passengers; or
(3) He or she releases any hazardous substance or any simulated hazardous substance under the guise of a hazardous substance for the purpose of terrorizing another or of causing the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation or otherwise causing serious public inconvenience or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.
(c) A person convicted of the offense of a terroristic threat shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both. A person convicted of the offense of a terroristic act shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years, or both; provided, however, that if any person suffers a serious physical injury as a direct result of an act giving rise to a conviction under this Code section, the person so convicted shall be punished by a fine of not more than $250,000.00 or imprisonment for not less than five nor more than 40 years, or both.
§ 16-11-43. Obstructing highways, streets, sidewalks, or other public passages
A person who, without authority of law, purposely or recklessly obstructs any highway, street, sidewalk, or other public passage in such a way as to render it impassable without unreasonable inconvenience or hazard and fails or refuses to remove the obstruction after receiving a reasonable official request or the order of a peace officer that he do so, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
§ 40-6-77. Penalties for causing serious injury due to right of way violation resulting in collision with motorcyclist, pedestrian, bicyclist, or farmer transporting vehicles hauling agricultural products, livestock, farm machinery, or farm products
(a) For purposes of this Code section, "serious injury" shall include, but shall not be limited to, causing bodily harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, by seriously disfiguring his or her head or body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless.
(b) Any person who causes a serious injury to another person as a result of a collision with a motorcyclist, bicyclist, pedestrian, or farmer operating any vehicle used to transport agricultural products, livestock, farm machinery, or farm supplies by committing any right of way violation under this chapter when such motorcyclist, bicyclist, pedestrian, or farmer operating any vehicle used to transport agricultural products, livestock, farm machinery, or farm supplies is abiding by the provisions of this title shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished:
(1) For a first offense, by a fine of not less than $250.00 in addition to any other penalties stipulated by law and the court shall report such conviction to the Department of Driver Services; and
(2) For a second or subsequent offense within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained or a plea of nolo contendere is accepted, by a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,000.00 and imprisonment for not less than ten days nor more than 12 months. Any fine imposed under this paragraph shall be mandatory and shall not be suspended or waived or conditioned upon the completion of any course or sentence. The court imposing punishment under this subsection shall forward a record of the disposition of the case to the Department of Driver Services.
§ 40-6-270. Hit and run; duty of driver to stop at or return to scene of accident
(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forthwith return to the scene of the accident and shall:
(1) Give his or her name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving;
(2) Upon request and if it is available, exhibit his or her operator's license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with;
(3) Render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the transporting, or the making of arrangements for the transporting, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such transporting is requested by the injured person; and
(4) Where a person injured in such accident is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, make every reasonable effort to ensure that emergency medical services and local law enforcement are contacted for the purpose of reporting the accident and making a request for assistance.
The driver shall in every event remain at the scene of the accident until fulfilling the requirements of this subsection. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(b) If such accident is the proximate cause of death or a serious injury, any person knowingly failing to stop and comply with the requirements of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
(c)(1) If such accident is the proximate cause of an injury other than a serious injury or if such accident resulted in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person, any person knowingly failing to stop or comply with the requirements of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and:
(A) Upon conviction shall be fined not less than $300.00 nor more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both;
(B) Upon the second conviction within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be fined not less than $600.00 nor more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both; and for purposes of this subparagraph, previous pleas of nolo contendere accepted within such five-year period shall constitute convictions; and
(C) Upon the third or subsequent conviction within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be fined $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both; and for purposes of this subparagraph, previous pleas of nolo contendere accepted within such five-year period shall constitute convictions.
(2) For the purpose of imposing a sentence under this subsection, a plea of nolo contendere shall constitute a conviction.
(3) If the payment of the fine required under this subsection will impose an economic hardship on the defendant, the judge, at his sole discretion, may order the defendant to pay such fine in installments and such order may be enforced through a contempt proceeding or a revocation of any probation otherwise authorized by this Code section.
(d) Notwithstanding the limits set forth in any municipal charter, any municipal court of any municipality shall be authorized to impose the punishments provided for in this Code section upon a conviction of violating this Code section or upon conviction of violating any ordinance adopting the provisions of this Code section.
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