During our thirty plus years of helping clients, Rowen & Klonoski attorneys have represented dozens of motorcycle accident victims across the Atlanta metropolitan region, including Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Rockdale and Henry Counties. Almost daily, news reports of motorcycle versus car or truck accidents fill the media. The only thing that changes are the names.
Motorcycle accidents are often fatal to the motorcycle driver or passenger. In Cobb County, the killer roads are Barrett Parkway, Windy Hill Road, Cumberland Road, Cobb Parkway and of course, I-75. In DeKalb County it is I-285, I-85 and Lawrenceville Highway. In Gwinnett, Highway 78, State Road 124, Sugarloaf Parkway, I-85 and Highway 316, are the scene of hundreds of motorcycle accidents each year. To non-motorcycle drivers, news of motorcycle accidents tend to go in one ear and out the other. Even the bumper stickers that remind us to “look twice, motorcycles are everywhere” don’t help. As seasoned motorcycle accident lawyers, we know the tragedy of each and every news report involving a motorcycle accident. Our attorneys know from experience that 80% of motorcycle accident victims are not at fault, and yet the collision causes death or permanent catastrophic injuries.
There is a prejudice against motorcycle drivers on the streets of the Greater Metropolitan Atlanta area, and that prejudice carries over to Georgia juries. The prejudice is not a malicious dislike of motorcycle drivers, but rather an unspoken disrespect. Police reports from Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Mabelton, Marietta, Powder Springs, Smyrna, or Vinings read the same as police reports from Snellville, Decatur, Dunwoody, Stone Mountain, Conyers, Stockbridge and Griffin: Citation: “Car failed to yield to motorcycle”. Car and truck drivers routinely fail to give motorcycle drivers the same rights of travel that they liberally give each other. Many people believe that motorcyclists are crazy for driving such a small dangerous vehicle, and put the burden of protecting his life solely on the motorcyclist, no matter what the other car or truck driver does wrong. In the courtroom this prejudice is evidenced by the attitude of “What did you expect?”.
Handling a motorcycle accident case is different than handling other types of accident cases. Time is crucial. Witness interviews must be done immediately. Often witnesses say, “Yeah, that bike took off like a bat out of hell when the light turned green.” In fact, the motorcycle never broke the speed limit. Bikes accelerate faster than cars and the appearance of high speed leads to misconceptions by witnesses of the speed at which the bike was traveling when they observed it.
Insurance adjusters know the statistics. If it is the car or truck drivers’ fault 80% of the time when there is a collision with a motorcycle, the insurance company must find ways to avoid financial responsibility. Get to the scene first, get to witnesses first. Rowen & Klonoski understand the strategy. We do what it takes to be several steps ahead of the insurance company and the defense.
In court, the defense to a fatal motorcycle accident is usually finger pointing, eliciting witness statements such as “The bike was flying”, or pleading ignorance, with statements such as “I didn’t see him”. The defense likes to make it appear as if the motorcycle was hiding with its headlights on. It is the insurance company’s way of saying “Our insured driver may be legally responsibility, but financially the motorcycle must bear some of the blame for just being there.” That is the essence of the motorcycle prejudice in the courtroom. In the law business, it is also called “contributory negligence”. Invariably, the defense in a “motorcycle versus car” accident case will include allegations against the motorcycle driver of speeding, crazy driving, lane cutting, etc. for the purpose of reducing the financial fault of the car or truck driver to a percentage less than 100%. When a jury buys that argument, the amount of their award is likewise reduced. Insurance companies know their defendant driver injured or killed a motorcycle driver, but that does not mean they will step up to the plate to pay the victim or the family a fair compensation. Often they fight even the clearest of liability cases. Call Rowen & Klonoski, we have been down this road before and we know how to get our clients full compensation for the injuries they have suffered. We are proud to have helped motorcycle victims and their families from Marietta, Smyrna, Decatur, Conyers, Snellville, Griffin and Stockbridge and many places in between.