Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

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Thumbnail image for motorcyclistcountryroadiStock_000018067726XSmall.jpgRecently, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that a Marietta police officer was seriously injured while riding his motorcycle in Cobb County. He was off-duty at the time of the accident. The facts we know at this point are very similar to other motorcycle collisions I have dealt with in my law practice as a Cobb County motorcycle injury lawyer.

In past posts, we have considered some of the most dangerous places on the road when motorcycles and motor vehicles share the road. We know statistically that Intersections are particularly dangerous for those riding motorcycles, but very often that is because the motorcycle is turning and motor vehicle drivers fail to see the rider or the rider turns before making sure he or she is seen.

The collision that caused the injury to the Marietta officer occurred on Dallas highway and involves an intersection, but in different way that many intersection collisions. The accident serves as a very important lesson mainly for motor vehicle drivers. First, the facts that we know about this accident.

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1301095_motorcycle_stunter_tyre_burnout_.jpgThis past Saturday, nearly all lanes of Interstate 75 in Cobb County were closed after an accident involving several vehicles. The accident occurred on Allgood Road and the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that northbound traffic was stopped for hours. Multiple vehicle accidents are not uncommon, and as a Gwinnett County accident lawyer I have represented many clients over the years who have been involved in this type of accident.

The accident occurred in the afternoon and involved multiple vehicles. According to reports, what happened on the Interstate was a scenario that involved a landscaping truck traveling north. Unfortunately, the truck blew a tire which can end up causing an accident and in this case did. After the truck blew its tire. the vehicles behind that truck had only seconds to deal with the emergency and they swerved to avoid hitting the truck. The first vehicle was a pick-up truck and the second was a motorcycle.

In swerving, the motorcyclist lost control of his motorcycle and ended up wiping out and injured. Amazingly, another truck hit the motorcycle, but the rider had already been separated from his bike at the time. The rider, a Jasper resident, was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment for what were described as very serious injuries. Reportedly, he needed surgery for his injuries. We sincerely hope that he recovers quickly from his injuries.

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Two Georgia residents found out recently that it is unwise to underestimate the public’s willingness to help fight crime or the ability of law enforcement to uncover the facts. After a fatal motorcycle accident on I-75 last month, two are now charged with the hit and run portion of the accident. In my experience as a Gwinnett County motorcycle accident lawyer and having represented many riders and their families, this case is particularly disturbing.

On August 20, a Norcross resident was riding his bike near Windy Hill Road. He was in the southbound lanes of I-75 when a car struck him and then drove away. After he had already been struck, a second car hit him again. That driver obeyed Georgia law and remained at the scene where the motorcyclist died.

The second driver was able to tell the police that a silver Porsche had originally hit the motorcycle. The second car’s driver will not be charged. Evidence from the first car was collected at the scene.

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Motorcycle4.jpgLast week, two Atlanta area motorcycle crashes remind us of the importance of safety when riding a motor bike. In my experience as a Gwinnett County motorcycle accident lawyer, I have counseled and represented bike enthusiasts who have been injured while riding, as well as the families of those who have been seriously injured or tragically died while riding their bikes.

I am always saddened to learn of motorcycle crashes, because I know how much bike riders enjoy their experience. I also know that by virtue of the exposure one has while on a bike with other larger vehicles on the road, safety is key.

In the first incident last week, a motorcyclist slammed into a MARTA bus that was stopped in Buckhead in the 3800 block of Roswell Road. The motorcycle driver ended up pinned under the bus.

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Just in time for the major global event called “Ride to Work Day,” we have learned about the most dangerous intersections that have resulted in motorcycle accident injury or death in the Atlanta area. Before sharing thoughts on the newly-released information on Atlanta’s dangerous intersections, I do want to encourage riders to participate in the Ride to Work Day event and to ride safely to avoid personal injury.

The big Ride to Work Day event will take place on June 20, 2011. it is a worldwide effort to demonstrate the benefits of riding motorcycles or scooters to work. The global event, which is expected to draw millions of participants, is meant to show the efficiencies in riding these smaller vehicles and their positive impact on traffic congestion, fuel consumption and parking.

Georgia’s Motorcycle Safety Program manager noted that: “It is important to spread the word that motorcyclists are from all occupations and all walks of life. We are proud to be joining hundreds of cities, groups and organizations worldwide already supporting the annual Ride to Work Day.” I hope the event will be very successful throughout Georgia.

Georgians are committed to their enthusiasm for motorcycling. And there are many resources for safe riding in Georgia. For example, The “Ride Safe and Legal Georgia!” program encourages riders to wear safety gear, get licensed and take a course to make sure your riding skills are as good as they can be. Among many other things, the Georgia Department of Driver Services offers programs to ensure rider safety and share the road campaigns.

Now for the information on the dangerous intersections. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported recently that a large insurance company received 2009 data from the Georgia Department of Transportation to rank various intersections in Fulton County and indeed found that 14th and Peachtree is statistically the most dangerous. The intersection was the scene of seven fatal motorcycle crashes in Fulton County, which represents 39 percent of the total of 18 fatal crashes. Overall, there were 337 crashes within the county in 2009.

A list of the other intersections in Fulton and Dekalb that had more than one motorcycle crash in 2009 are as follows: Barge Road and Campbelltown Roads; Camp Creek Parkway and Welcome All Road;10th St. and Piedmont Avenue; Bolton Road and Marietta Road; Buford Highway and Peachtree Street; Delmar Lane and Delmoor Court; and Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway and Eugenia Avenue.

In an effort to make these intersections safer and provide greater awareness to all, the AJC reports that new traffic signs will be installed to alert motorists and cyclists that they must use caution in these intersections.

As an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer, I have always urged riders to follow Georgia traffic and motorcycle licensing and safety laws when riding their bikes. I hope all riders will consult some of the resources provided by Georgia, such as the Georgia’s Motorcycle Operator’s Manual which includes a great deal of technical and safe driving information.
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Earlier this week, a woman was killed in a motorcycle crash on I-285 in Atlanta that began with a simple flat tire. The deceased was a passenger on the motorcycle that her husband was driving at the time of the accident.

This serious and deadly motorcycle and vehicle collision began with a disabled vehicle, but ended in the death of a motorcycle passenger. The accident is instructive, because the way it unfolded is in some ways a very common occurrence, but some aspects of this accident are also unusual and worthy of serious consideration. As an experienced Georgia motor vehicle accident lawyer, I want readers to understand both the facts and the law in this incident.

To begin with, the driver of a Toyota Corolla had a flat tire and came to a full stop in the second lane from the median on the northbound direction. That driver, Mr. Touray, a resident of Atlanta apparently was not able to, or did not, move his car from the second lane. This failure to move his vehicle has led to serious consequences that might not be obvious to most drivers.

The next event in this series was that an SUV had to stop in highway traffic to avoid hitting the Toyota — thus, the SUV also came to a stop behind the Toyota. The final and tragic part of this accident occurred when the motorcycle, a Harley Davidson, driven by Mr. Jerry Miller with his wife Mary Joyce as passenger, crashed into the stopped SUV. The Millers were thrown from the bike. Mrs. Miller sustained fatal injuries and Mr. Miller was bruised, but is said to have declined treatment. The driver of the SUV was not injured.

The driver of the Toyota has now been charged with vehicular homicide and improper stopping on the highway. This is a serious consequence to a flat tire.

Vehicular homicide in Georgia carries various penalties. Depending on the severity of the charge, whether it is deemed a first or second degree vehicular homicide, a driver charged with this offense can receive a sentence that is anywhere from one year to 15 years in prison. There is some leniency in the penalty for an unintentional homicide by vehicle (second degree) which carries the potential for a fine and the lesser prison sentence.

What is instructive about this incident is the fact that the police have charged the driver of the stopped vehicle with this crime. The driver apparently presented other cars with a dangerous condition by staying in the lane and should have moved to the side of the road — even with the flattened tire and even if it meant damaging his own vehicle.

It is important to consider this in the event that you are ever in a situation in which your vehicle is disabled. If your engine will not allow you to move that is one thing, but if your engine is not disabled and you can drive your vehicle, it is important to get it off the road so that it does not become the hazard that happened in this tragedy.

The driver of the Toyota might not have anticipated the consequences of his blocking the highway lane. Now he is dealing with criminal charges.
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1301095_motorcycle_stunter_tyre_burnout_.jpgRecently, Southeastern Georgia’s WTOC 11 carried an Associated Press (AP) report that motorcycle accident injury and motorcycle deaths have decreased by two percent during the first three quarters of 2010. Unfortunately, this may not mean that a downward trend will continue for any lasting safety improvement. Practicing as a Gwinnett County catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawyer, and having a platform to speak to the public about safety in the Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, I want to go through the sobering statistics with our readers.

The statistics show that from January through September 2010, 80 fewer bike riders lost their lives in the same period in 2009. Unfortunately, the situation changed in the last three months of 2010 as fatal motorcycle crashes began to increase again.

Since the 1990’s, annual motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled. In 2008, fatalities climbed to 5,312 deaths. And then dropped over 15 percent in 2009.

Some experts believe the reason for the decline in fatal bike crashes, was the economy. These same experts believe that as the economy improves more riders will be out on the roads with a possible rebound in the deaths of recreational motorcycle riders. But others do not see this correlation and believe that increases in gas prices also increases motorcycle ridership and that more bikers are out on the roads when gas is at such high prices.

The most worrisome trend reported by AP is that “the number of motorcyclists wearing federally-approved, impact-absorbing helmets dropped 13 percent in the first nine months of 2010.” During this period the use of lighter weight helmets increased by 9 percent. These helmets are said not to protect riders as well as the heavier helmets.

Here is another sobering statistic: helmets that comply with federal safety standards have a huge impact on saving lives. They reduce the biker’s chances of being killed in a bike crash by 40 percent. Many bike enthusiasts would prefer not to wear helmets and have successfully lobbied to reverse mandatory helmet laws.

The National Transportation Safety Board says there are 20 states that require motorcyclists to wear helmets and 13 of those states go beyond the basic requirement and require the use of helmets that meet federal standards.

Motorcycle ridership will be up throughout Georgia during the spring and summer months. As we continue to report on Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we hope our readers will consider the statistics and safety recommendations when they get out to enjoy their bikes.

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Motorcycle4.jpgAs part of my practice as an Atlanta injury and accident lawyer, I have represented many clients involved in serious motorcycle accidents in our area. It is well-known that drivers of these vehicles are more vulnerable to motorcycle crashes involving serious injury and death than drivers of other types of vehicles. There are no more enthusiastic drivers than those who own and enjoy riding their bikes.

The National Safety Council (NSC) wants to help avoid death and injury to motorcyclists and keep them as safe as possible. To further that effort the NSC has made the month of May, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. We would like all Atlanta area drivers, whether they are driving a truck, car or a motorcycle, to pay close attention to the information that the NSC has provided.

According to the NSC, many accidents involving cars and motorcycles are caused by the fact these vehicles can be hidden in a driver’s blind spot. Those driving a car or truck should always check their blind spots visually prior to changing lanes. Many motorcycle crashes and tragic injuries result from these common maneuvers on the road.
The NSC also urges that motorists share the road with motorcycles by taking extra precautions when they are traveling in proximity to one another. Suggestions for motorists include several important points.

First, motorists should allow more distance when following a motorcycle. Second, it is critical to be very careful when traveling in an intersection. The NSC says that “[m]ost crashes occur when a motorist fails to see a motorcyclist and turns left in front of a motorcycle.” Third, the NSC suggests that it is very unwise to try to share the lane with a bike — instead, give the motorcycle a complete lane.

The statistics of bike crashes, injuries and deaths are not good. In fact, deaths that involved both motorists and motorcyclists increased 131 percent in the decade between 1998 and 2008. Alarmingly, the motorcyclists’ death rate by miles was “37 times greater than for passenger car occupants.”

The advice to bike riders to avoid crashes is also very important information. If at all possible, do not drive your bike in bad weather. Second, avoid riding in the blind spot of the vehicles around you, whether they are trucks or cars. Third, make sure to signal when you are turning or making a lane change.

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Road Departure Motorcycle Crash
Earlier this week, the Atlanta Injury Attorneys Blog posted readers on the important new studies being done at Virginia Tech regarding various aspects of what are called road departure crashes. These are crashes in which a motorcyclist or motorist veers off the road and is seriously injured or killed. Very little is actually known about why these accidents happen and the studies should provide some answers.

Tragically, this week an Atlanta-area motorcyclist was killed in a road departure crash while coming out of a curve in unincorporated Auburn. No other vehicle was involved in the crash, which is the case with road departure crashes.

The Gwinnett police have told the Atlanta-Constitution Journal that although they are investigating this crash, they do not believe that either speed or alcohol were factors in the accident. The young man was only 24-years old and he passed away after being taken to Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville.

Our hearts go out to the family of this young man. This is precisely the type of accident that is being studied at Virginia Tech and it our hope that one day there will be better answers for motorcycle enthusiasts about how and why road departures occur and how to best avoid them.

All Terrain Vehicle Move Ends in Tragic Accident

In another terrible tragedy, we have learned that earlier this month, a Cornelia Municipal Court judge was killed while moving his all-terrain vehicle. This occurred while he was simply backing the ATV up to move it and the vehicle accelerated suddenly with no warning and for no apparent reason.

We are saddened to learn of this accident and express our deepest sorrow to the family. The cause of the accident is not yet known.

We do know that the judge was apparently thrown from the ATV and when it hit an embankment, he was trapped under the vehicle after it fell on top of him. A neighbor came to his assistance and was able to pull the ATV off of him, but he was pronounced dead at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville after he was transported there.
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Late last year, the National Academies of Science awarded the renowned Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s (VTTI) Center for Injury Biomechanics two research grants amounting to $1.5 million. These grants will go towards the study of a very specific area: fatal road departure crashes. The study is an effort to help identify how road departure crashes occur, as well as the injuries and fatalities involved in these crashes.

The statistics are daunting. In the United States over 10,000 motorists suffer fatal injuries in road departure crashes. We hear of these road departure fatalities and crashes in Georgia and on the news regularly. Sometimes drivers are under the influence, sometimes they are speeding. But when these crashes happen and cars or motorcycles collide with objects on the side of the road — whether a guardrail, a tree, a telephone pole or other object — the result is often fatal. Although guardrails are often intended to protect lives, they sometimes can be just as harmful in a road departure crash as other objects on the side of the road.

One of the VTTI grants is for a very large-scale study of passenger vehicles and will cover a four-year period and the other is specifically focused on the injuries resulting in fatal motorcycle crashes and roadside barriers. The purpose – to save lives.

VTTI is well-known in the area of research regarding crash causation studies. The hope is that in the close study of what is called “injury biomechanics” which includes the study of many factors that occur in an injury or fatality as a car or motorcycle goes off the road, more can be done to avoid serious injury and fatalities.

The reason these studies are so important is that we really do not know why road departure crashes are so serious and fatal. The study will gather information to provide more insight into why this is the case. The motorcycle study will focus on crashes in which the motorcycle road departure involves a traffic barrier since these are statistically more likely to be fatal than passenger vehicles that go off the road.
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