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What Can You Do as the Victim of a Hit-and-Run Bike Accident?

The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC May 13, 2024

Out of nowhere, a vehicle clips your bike, throwing you off balance and onto the ground. Before you can even process what happened, the driver speeds away, leaving you injured and alone. This is the startling reality of a hit-and-run bike accident.  

Hit-and-run accidents involving cyclists are unfortunately more common than many realize. They often leave victims injured, vulnerable, and unsure about what they should do. Plus, victims can often feel overwhelmed from seeking medical care and dealing with insurance claims and financial hardships, all while trying to heal and recover. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit-and-run bike accident, The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC is committed to providing those affected by hit-and-run bike accidents with the guidance they need to understand what to do after a hit-and-run bike accident and the rights they have for filing a claim and pursuing legal action. 

Understanding Hit-and-Run Bike Accidents 

Hit-and-run bike accidents occur when a driver collides with a cyclist and then leaves the scene without stopping to offer aid, exchange information, or report the incident. These accidents pose significant challenges for victims in terms of filing a claim for several reasons.  

The absence of the at-fault driver makes it difficult to hold someone accountable for the injuries and damages caused. Without the driver's information, insurance companies may be reluctant to pay out claims, leaving victims to face medical bills and repair costs on their own.  

Additionally, law enforcement's ability to locate and charge the responsible party is often hampered, which can complicate the claims process. Not knowing the identity of the offender not only makes securing compensation more complicated but it also can lead to emotional distress for the victim, prolonging their recovery process. 

What Can You Do as a Victim of a Hit-and-Run Bike Accident? 

Victims of hit-and-run bike accidents have several avenues for legal claims and actions they can pursue. Understanding your options is crucial for seeking compensation for your injuries and losses. Some of the types of claims and legal action include the following. 

File a Personal Injury Claim 

One of the most common options for seeking compensation after a hit-and-run bike accident is to file a personal injury claim. This type of claim allows victims to hold the at-fault driver accountable and seek damages for their injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses related to the accident. However, you will need to identify the at-fault driver first. 

Pursue Legal Action against Uninsured Motorist Coverage 

If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy, this may provide some protection for hit-and-run bike accidents. This type of coverage is designed to protect you in case of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. In the event of a hit-and-run, it can also cover damages caused by the unidentified driver. 

File a Property Damage Claim 

In addition to personal injuries, hit-and-run bike accidents can also cause damage to your bicycle and other property. Filing a property damage claim with your insurance company or pursuing legal action against the at-fault driver can help cover the costs of repairing or replacing damaged property. 

Apply for a Crime Victim Compensation Program 

In some states, victims of hit-and-run bike accidents may be eligible for compensation through crime victim compensation programs. These programs are designed to assist victims of violent crimes and can cover expenses such as medical bills, lost wages, and other losses related to the accident. 

Eligible victims can apply for the Crime Victims Compensation Program in Georgia and the Crime Victims Reparations Program in Louisiana.  

File a Civil Lawsuit Against Other Parties 

In some cases, there may be other parties besides the hit-and-run driver who could be held responsible for the accident. For example, if a defective bicycle part contributed to the accident, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer. If a poorly maintained road caused your bike accident, you may have a claim against the government entity responsible for maintaining the road. 

Negotiate Your Claim with Insurance Companies  

Insurance companies are often involved in hit-and-run bike accidents, particularly if the victim is seeking compensation from their own insurance policy. In these cases, it's important to approach negotiations with caution and seek the guidance of a personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the process and ensure that you receive fair compensation. 

Georgia Hit-and-Run Bike Accident Laws 

In Georgia, the laws addressing hit-and-run accidents are strict and designed to protect the rights of cyclists. Under Georgia law, drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage are required to: 

  • Stop at the scene 

  • Provide their name and contact information 

  • Offer aid to any injured individuals  

This is mandatory regardless of who caused the accident. Failing to comply with these requirements constitutes a hit-and-run, a serious offense in Georgia.  

For accidents involving serious injury or death, a hit-and-run is classified as a felony, punishable by significant fines and imprisonment. In cases where the accident results in only property damage, the offense is considered a misdemeanor, yet it still carries hefty penalties, including potential jail time, fines, and points on the driver's license. 

Georgia "3-Feet Law" for Cyclists 

Aside from the requirements for drivers involved in an accident, Georgia also has a "3-Feet Law" to protect cyclists on the road. Under this law, drivers are required to maintain a minimum distance of at least three feet when passing a bicycle on the road. Failure to comply with this law can result in fines and other penalties. 

Georgia Comparative Negligence Laws 

Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means that if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced proportionately. For example, if you are deemed 20% at fault for the accident, your total compensation will be reduced by 20%. However, if you are found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, you may not be eligible to receive any compensation. 

Georgia Statute of Limitations 

In Georgia, there is a limited amount of time to file a claim for damages resulting from a hit-and-run bike accident. The statute of limitations in Georgia is two years from the date of the accident for personal injury claims and four years for property damage claims. 

Louisiana Hit-and-Run Bike Accident Laws 

Under Louisiana law, any driver involved in an accident causing injury, death, or property damage is mandated to stop at the scene, render aid to the injured parties, and exchange information such as name, address, and vehicle registration number. Failing to do so is considered a hit-and-run offense, which carries severe legal consequences. 

The penalties for a hit-and-run offense in Louisiana vary depending on the severity of the accident: 

  • For accidents resulting in only property damage, failing to stop and provide necessary information can result in fines of up to $500 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. 

  • If the accident results in injury or death, the consequences become significantly more severe. The offender may face a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment from six months to ten years. 

  • Aggravating circumstances, such as driving under the influence, can lead to even harsher penalties. 

Louisiana Duty to Report 

Louisiana law requires individuals involved in serious accidents to report the incident to the local police department, especially if the accident results in injury, death, or property damage exceeding a specified amount. This requirement aims to ensure that all accidents are properly documented and that victims have the necessary reports for insurance claims and legal action. 

Louisiana Comparative Fault Rule 

Louisiana applies the comparative fault rule in accident cases, including bike accidents. This means that liability will be shared with everyone who contributed to the accident. If you are found partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault.  

If you are found to be more than 50% responsible, you will not be able to recover any damages. 

Louisiana Statute of Limitations 

In Louisiana, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for personal injury claims, including those stemming from bike accidents, is one year from the date of the accident. This tight time frame makes it crucial for victims to seek legal advice and take prompt action to preserve their rights to compensation. 

Seek Experienced Legal Counsel 

The distress caused by a hit-and-run bike accident can be overwhelming. However, victims in Georgia and Louisiana can still recover damages and pursue legal action, even if the offending driver cannot be identified. 

The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC, located in Atlanta, Georgia, and Alexandria, Louisiana, is dedicated to advocating for the rights of cyclists and hit-and-run victims, aiming for justice and fair compensation. If you or a loved one was injured in a hit-and-run bike accident, reach out to the firm to schedule a free consultation.