Around 5:45 p.m. on Monday, November 23, 31-year-old Donyale Demetrius Pratt was riding his motorcycle on Owens Avenue going west. Jacques Lang, age 20, was driving a Chevrolet Impala and heading east on the same road.
According to the Albany Police Department, Lang was driving toward Whiting Drive and making a left turn when his car and Pratt’s motorcycle collided at the intersection.
The Dougherty County coroner said Pratt died at the scene of the motorcycle accident. Lang has been charged with second degree homicide by vehicle and failure to yield.
Motorcycle accidents are high-risk
In 2018, a total of 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in accidents like Pratt’s. Compared to years prior, motorcycle accidents have decreased by nearly 5 percent, but motorbike riders are still overrepresented in accident fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accidents involving motorcyclists are 28 times as likely as passengers involved in car accidents to result in fatalities.
How to prevent a motorcycle accident
1. Wear personal protective gear
- Whether you’re a beginner or a lifelong rider, wearing a helmet is crucial to preventing a fatality because it’s designed to protect your head in the event of an accident. Motorcycle riders are at an increased risk of suffering from traumatic head and brain injuries because they don’t have the metal shell of a car or seatbelt to protect them, but wearing a helmet can help prevent injuries and death.
- If your helmet isn’t equipped with a visor, safety glasses or goggles are the next best thing to protect your eyes from the sun, dust, dirt, or rocks that might be kicked up behind other drivers in front of you.
- Most people like to wear leather jackets because they’re cool to look at, but they can also protect motorcyclists from road burn, as well as leather or heavy denim pants, and thick-soled shoes such as boots.
2. Make yourself visible
Make sure your lights are working before you drive a motorcycle or car at night. Adding reflectors to your bike and wearing bright or reflective clothing will also make you visible to other drivers and help prevent a collision like Pratt’s and Lang’s.
3. Keep your distance
Motorcyclists and car drivers alike should maintain a minimum distance of at least 1 car length. Tailgating increases the risk of hitting another vehicle, as well as weaving in and out of traffic.
4. Obey traffic laws
Don’t take risks with your life. Yielding at the appropriate intersections, stopping at red lights, riding at the posted speed limit, and following road markings will decrease the risk of a motorcycle accident.
5. Drive sober
Avoid consuming alcohol before taking your bike for a spin. Alcohol, as well as some prescription drugs, can negatively affect your judgment, perception, coordination, reflexes, and balance.
Riding a motorcycle without protective gear, failing to obey traffic laws, or driving while under the influence are the common causes of motorcycle fatalities in Georgia. Similar to Lang, you could be charged with vehicular homicide if your negligence results in another person’s death. In addition, Pratt’s family could also take additional legal action and sue Lang for reckless driving.
Criminal cases versus civil lawsuits
In Lang’s case, he’s been charged with a criminal act—which is “an offense against the public, society, state, or individual.” But if Pratt’s family decides to seek compensation, they can also file a civil lawsuit against Lang.
According to Enjuris:
“A civil lawsuit is filed when someone was harmed as a result of someone’s negligence or recklessness, but the defendant hasn’t necessarily broken any laws.”
Even if Lang obeyed every traffic law during his commute but still hit Pratt’s motorcycle and killed him, since the event was more likely than not to occur because of Lang’s actions, Pratt’s family could sue him in a civil court of law.
Criminal or civil—it doesn’t matter. You want representation.
No matter if you’re the one suing or being sued, going to trial in a civil court is a difficult process. But hiring a Georgia accident lawyer can help ease your anxieties. If you’re the victim of a motorcycle accident, our team of professionals at the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson know what to do.
Having represented motorcyclists in the state of Georgia for over 50 years and recovered millions of dollars in compensation, our lawyers have the compassion and expertise to handle your case. Contact our offices in Macon, Albany, or Warner Robins for a free initial consultation today.