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What Is Georgia’s Bicycle Helmet Law?

By Butler Prather LLP on March 23, 2020

Many people in Georgia ride bicycles, whether as their regular mode of transportation or for recreational purposes. Most people understand that bicyclists are responsible for following the same rules of the roadway as other vehicles. They also know that helmets can save lives. However, many people do not know whether helmets are required for bicyclists in Georgia. Here, we want to discuss the laws as well as some safety issues related to bicycle riding.

What Is Georgia's Bicycle Helmet Law?

Are helmets required for bicyclists in Georgia?

Under Georgia law, bicycle riders 16 years of age or older are not required to wear a helmet (O.C.G.A. Sec. 40-6-296(d)). Any bicycle rider under 16 years of age must wear a helmet.

The law does not allow any person under the age of 16 to be fined or imprisoned for not wearing a helmet. However, it is possible for a parent to be charged with a misdemeanor for failing to equip their child with an appropriate bicycle helmet.

Can a person be held negligent for not wearing a helmet?

In cases where a motorist is responsible for a bicycle accident, they may try to say that a bicyclist is negligent for not wearing a helmet. After all, if it can be shown that a bicyclist was partially or completely at fault, the driver’s insurance carrier would be on the line for less money in a settlement. In Georgia, state law provides that a cyclist who fails to wear a helmet, even a person under the age of 16, is not to be considered negligent due to not wearing a helmet.

Bicycle accidents can be severe

Georgia bicycle accidents can lead to severe injuries or fatalities for a rider. Bicyclists have very little protection from the force of a vehicle slamming into them. Even if a cyclist is wearing a helmet, it is not uncommon for them to sustain the following injuries in an accident:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Loss of or damage to a bodily organ
  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Dismemberment or amputation
  • Significant disfigurement

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a high percentage of all reported bicycle accidents result in injuries for bicycle riders. The National Safety Council (NSC) says that one-third of non-fatal bicyclist injuries are head injuries and that a majority of the 80,000 cycling-related head injuries treated in hospitals each year are brain injuries.

Looking at these statistics, it is easy to see why wearing a helmet is a good idea for bicyclists, regardless of their age. Properly fitted bicycle helmets save lives. The NSC says that more than half of adults in the US report not wearing a helmet when they ride a bicycle. Over 50% of all cyclists killed in crashes during a recent reporting year were not wearing a helmet.

Can a bicyclist recover compensation after a crash?

If a bicyclist is injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a vehicle driver, they may be able to recover compensation. These cases are primarily handled through insurance carriers, though it may be necessary for an injured cyclist to file a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver. There are various types of compensation available in these cases, including:

  • coverage of all bicycle crash-related medical bills
  • lost income if a victim cannot work
  • pain and suffering damages
  • possible punitive damages in cases of gross negligence

A skilled bicycle accident attorney in Atlanta will be able to properly assess your case in order to secure maximum compensation.

Posted in: Bicycle Accident

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