Bicycle / Pedestrian v. Car Collisions
In Georgia, every year there are more than 130 pedestrian fatalities due to traveling on or near a roadway. It takes an attorney who is knowledgeable, not only in Georgia vehicle law, but also, Georgia pedestrian law to properly evaluate this type of legal matter and protect our clients from the insurance companies.
In collision matters that take the life or seriously injure a pedestrian, the insurance company and their attorneys first goal is to find ways to blame the pedestrian. Georgia law places responsibility on both the driver and pedestrian to avoid a collision. For the driver, Georgia law requires that, “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, shall give warning by sounding his horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.” OCGA 40-6-93 Even with this law, the insurance company and defense attorneys will look at the scene and the facts surrounding the collision and do everything in their power to attempt to show the pedestrian violated a law or did not protect himself or herself.
It is important for pedestrians to know all their rights and duties in Georgia. This can be found in the Official Code of Georgia at Title 40 Chapter 6 Article 5. (OCGA 40-6-90 is the first section of Article 5).
There are specific laws for when a pedestrian is traveling along the road. You can see the exact language of the law, OCGA 40-6-96, at the bottom of this webpage. First, a pedestrian must use a sidewalk if there is one present. If there is no sidewalk, you must travel on the shoulder of the road as far from the edge of the road as you are able to do. If there is no sidewalk or shoulder, you must travel as near as you are able to the outside edge of the road, and you must travel AGAINST TRAFFIC on the left hand side of the road. Please see the code section at the bottom of this page for full details.
Under Georgia law, a driver of a vehicle must stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. However, pedestrians in a crosswalk need to protect themselves and avoid vehicles. If a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, sees a vehicle and does nothing to avoid the vehicle, their legal case will be very difficult. If a pedestrian is not traveling in a crosswalk, they must “yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway unless he has already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway. OCGA 40-6-92.
When a pedestrian is crossing the street in a location that is controlled by a pedestrian control device, a pedestrian must follow the device. If a pedestrian is traveling the road when the device shows red or is stating the person should not travel, most likely they will not have a case against the driver. And, if the pedestrian control device is green or says walk, a pedestrian still must use caution and do everything they can to protect themselves.
BICYCLE WRONGFUL DEATH / INJURY MATTERS:
In 2013, in the United States, over 900 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 related injuries resulting in emergency room visits. It is estimated by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention that in a single year non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10,000,000,000. It takes an attorney who is knowledgeable, not only in Georgia vehicle law, but also, Georgia bicycle law to properly evaluate this type of legal matter and protect our clients.
In Georgia, a bicycle is legally a “vehicle”. This means that a person riding a bicycle on the road must follow the same traffic laws that a car must follow, except for some laws that make specific qualifications for specific classes. A bicycle must follow all traffic laws that apply to a “vehicle”, but may not apply when the term “motor vehicle.” When the term “bicycle” is used, only bicycles and their operators must follow those laws. Last, to fully understand the Georgia Code a person must understand the distinctions between a “vehicle”, “non-motorized vehicle” and “bicycle”.
§ 40-6-96. Pedestrians on or along roadway
(a) As used in this Code section, the term “pedestrian” means any person afoot and shall include, without limitation, persons standing, walking, jogging, running, or otherwise on foot.
(b) Where a sidewalk is provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to stand or stride along and upon an adjacent roadway unless there is no motor vehicle traveling within 1,000 feet of such pedestrian on such roadway or the available sidewalk presents an imminent threat of bodily injury to such pedestrian.
(c) Where a sidewalk is not provided but a shoulder is available, any pedestrian standing or striding along and upon a highway shall stand or stride only on the shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.
(d) Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian standing or striding along and upon a highway shall stand or stride as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway, and, if on a two-lane roadway, shall stand or stride only on the left side of the roadway.
(e) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(f) No pedestrian shall enter or remain upon any bridge or approach thereto beyond the bridge signal, gate, or barrier after a bridge operation signal indication has been given.
(g) No pedestrian shall pass through, around, over, or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad grade crossing or bridge while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed.