When I handle
motorcycle wreck lawsuits, I tell my clients that in Georgia, motorcycles have the same right to
the roadway that cars have:
“Every person operating a motorcycle shall be granted all of the
rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver
of any other vehicle under this chapter except as to special regulations
in this part and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by
their nature can have no application. ”
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-310.
Injured Motorcycle Drivers May Be Entitled to Insurance Payments
Motorcyclists also are entitled to get insurance payments when they are
injured, just like people in car wrecks are. As with car wreck cases,
most motorcycle accidents involve a driver who was at fault, and his insurance
comes into play. If a car caused the wreck, then the car driver’s
insurance is required to pay for the medical bills, lost wages and pain
and suffering of the biker and any passenger on the bike. (The payments
only go up to the limits of the policy, however.) If a car forces a motorcycle
off the road – that is, causes a biker to “lay down”
his bike – then the car’s insurance is required to pay the
motorcyclist for his injuries.
The insurance company also has to pay to repair (or replace) the motorcycle,
depending on how badly damaged the motorcycle was. If the car driver does
not have enough insurance, then the motorcyclist’s uninsured motorist
coverage may be required to pay for the medical bills, the pain and suffering,
and the repairs to the motorcycle. The uninsured motorist insurance also
may have to pay if the accident was a hit-and-run and police are unable
to find the car or truck that caused the wreck.
Motorcycle Drivers Also May Be Liable for the Wrecks They Cause
Of course, the street runs two ways. If the driver of the motorcycle caused
the wreck, then the driver of the car or truck can recover from the motorcyclist’s
insurance company. If a passenger on the motorcycle was killed or injured
in the crash, then the passenger or his family may be able to recover
from the motorcycle insurance carried by the biker.
According to the GA DOT report, in more than half of the motorcycle crashes
in Georgia, the motorcycle collided with another vehicle. In another quarter
of the wrecks, the motorcycle hit a fixed object, such as a tree or bridge
abutment. In ten percent of the crashes, the motorcycle rolled over (“rollover
The Georgia DOT has found that “almost one-third of the fatal motorcycle
crashes occurred in rural counties.” Unfortunately, motorcycle crashes
are twelve times as likely to be fatal as accidents involving cars.
Those two facts are probably linked. The rate of deadly crashes is greater
in rural counties than in urban areas like metro Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus,
Augusta, Macon, and Albany.
Helmets Help, But They Aren’t Foolproof
Without question helmets help motorcycle riders if they are in a wreck.
Helmets, however, are not a cure-all: of the motorcyclists who were killed
in wrecks in Georgia, 82.1% were wearing helmets at the time of the wreck.
Only 27.55% of people riding on a motorcycle emerged unscathed after the
wreck. Of people riding in passenger cars, by contrast, 84.10% were left
with no injuries at all at the end of the wreck.