Atlanta Injury Attorneys Blog
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smv-triangle-smallMany Georgians don’t realize that our rural roads can be just as dangerous for fatal accidents or catastrophic injuries as our metropolitan highways. We live in a state in which we have some of the most sophisticated and vibrant metro areas and artistic, historic havens. We also enjoy a significant, productive farming community in our rural areas. Out on the open rural roads of Georgia, whether driving a truck or riding a motorcycle, we can encounter slow-moving farm equipment. Often this equipment, such as a large tractor, must travel more slowly. Many tractors and other equipment, can only travel between 15 and 25 miles per hour. Farmers often have to move equipment on our rural roads when they transfer equipment between fields.

Although perhaps not as well-publicized, Georgia’s rural roads are the scene of serious injuries and fatal accidents. To educate the public, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Georgia Department of Agriculture established a campaign entitled — Improving Georgia’s Yield Behind the Wheel. This educational campaign is intended to help Georgia’s drivers remember to be cautious and patient while driving around farm equipment. Georgia law requires certain slow-moving farm vehicles to display an emblem so that they can be seen by other vehicles and so that other drivers can quickly identify them as farm vehicles. Under the provisions in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-8-4, farm vehicles that travel under 25 miles per hour are required to display the red-orange triangular emblem on the rear of the vehicle. This also applies to certain slow-moving construction vehicles.  Continue reading →

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hoverboardOne of the “hottest” holiday gifts last year were hoverboards; those two-wheel devices with no handles. Riders stand on them and travel while standing, but hold on to nothing. The hoverboard has begun to lose its appeal due to some pretty bad fires and injuries. A Wired magazine report last month noted that hoverboard fires were on the rise and provided some answers to this worrisome situation which we will share in this post. Hoverboard owners are concerned that their homes could be lost or damaged or family members could be seriously injured by these seemingly “fun” rides. The rash of fire incidents around the country has also brought this device to the attention of tech geeks and gadget enthusiasts alike.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission is now paying close attention to the situation and has recently issued a press release regarding the fires. They are warning that consumers cannot be assured that fires won’t happen even when there is a UL mark on the label. They are continuing to work on helping the public protect their homes and personal safety.

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iStock_000001983354XSmallIn the American legal system defendants are entitled to a defense. Sometimes the lawyers for the defense side of a case will turn the case back on the plaintiff — alleging that the plaintiff is fully or partially at fault. In a recent trial, the defense’s opening argument at the start of the case focused blame on the plaintiff. The trial involved a crash alleged to involve a faulty ignition switch made by General Motors. We have posted in the past about other faulty ignition switch cases involving serious injury or death. The trial began in an Oklahoma courtroom and was expected to be important to the plaintiffs in the consolidated GM ignition switch cases in Manhattan. It was expected that the case would be a predictor of the potential damages GM will deal with in the other cases against it.

In this trial, an Oklahoma man alleged he was injured by a faulty switch. But the defense argued that the plaintiff had been injured long before the faulty ignition accident and that the vehicle’s ignition switch was not the issue. Rather, they claimed the plaintiff fell asleep at the wheel of his vehicle. He was also alleged to have had some prior injuries which were actually the problem, not anything that occurred due to the vehicle’s ignition switch. His testimony conflicted with the facts. He made telephone calls when he said he was unconscious at the scene of the accident.

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The year has begun with some big announcements about Georgia’s road and infrastructure improvements. Last year, the Georgia legislature enacted a multi-billion dollar investment in our roads and highways over the next 10 years. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has now provided an infrastructure maintenance plan that could help create safer roads and highways and perhaps reduce Georgia accidents in the process. The intention is to improve roads and bridges and improve safety for freight traffic that traverses our state. This could be important in reducing truck crashes and other motor vehicle accidents throughout Georgia and in the Atlanta metro area.

Over 50 percent of the projects slated early-on will help initially with roads and bridges. The list of projects includes resurfacing of about 2,500 miles, replacing some bridges and repairing others. The effort will be using a successful “Design Build and Finance method” that was put to the test in a project that improved I-285 and I-400 project. GDOT and the legislators say they are reaching a new level of cooperation which is making all of this possible.

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1330873_27868463The popular “fast food” chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is not having a good year so far. Last year was undoubtedly its worst. Chipotle, which has been very successful at capturing a solid quality fast food market share, has seen those long lines dwindle and its stock value fall. Fans of the chain are accustom to waiting for the “fast” service and flavorful Mexican fare. But Chipotle has been plagued with food safety issues that have caused many to become ill. Investors are angry and apparently so are federal authorities.

Reuters reports that investors have now filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York claiming that the popular restaurant did not have adequate food safety processes. They allege that investors purchasing shares during the period from February 2015 to January 2016 were misled by Chipotle’s failure to disclose the quality control issues.

The federal government is also taking legal action against Chipotle, which is said to be cooperating with the authorities. The matter is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Food and Drug Administration through its Office of Criminal Investigations. USNews reports that Chipotle was served with a subpoena recently and is the subject of a criminal grand jury investigation relating to the norovirus at its Simi Valley, California location. This location was apparently the source of illness to nearly 190 restaurant guests and nearly 20 employees. The virus causes the type of symptoms generally thought of as “food poisoning.”

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Texting and drivingAs we begin the new year, Georgians are looking towards a vibrant 2016. We have wound up the 2015 holiday season with friends and family. But looking back at the last year, we have some sobering news. Fatal traffic accidents in Georgia rose in 2015 for the first time since 2006. The Department of Transportation’s website calls the increase “startling” and has partnered with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Department of Public Safety to launch a campaign called DriveAlert ArriveAlive (DAAA) to focus on the issue. The hope is that educating the public and bringing attention to safety measures we all can take, will reverse this unfortunate trend. The reports indicate that, until this year, Georgia enjoyed a stabilization of the fatal accident rate in prior years.

The most likely culprit for the rise in Georgia’s fatal accidents, might well be something we have posted about in the past — single-vehicle crashes. The increase in these tragic Georgia vehicle crashes includes road departures of various kinds. Drivers involved in these crashes are often not wearing a seatbelt, are fatigued, are driving distracted or are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The DriveAlertArriveAlive program is directed at these very important causes, as well as other concerns about safe driving.

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After months of revelations related to Volkswagen’s fraudulent programming of its “clean diesel” cars to outsmart emissions tests, the company’s woes have found a litigation home. Both dealers and consumers are feeling betrayed by the car manufacturer’s defrauding of the car-buying market. Although sold to consumers as “clean,” its diesel cars were emitting as much as 40 times the amount of pollutants permitted under United States law. VW has admitted to creating a program that would effectively “lie” when emissions testing was done. The VW scandal has forced the car giant to admit that its fraudulent behavior included a powerful tool that enabled cars to pass pollution control tests and then go right back to extremely high emissions when driven.

Although no serious injuries have been connected to this scandal, USA Today and the Associated Press say the scandal goes beyond emissions alone. Arguably, the high emissions has led to some deaths, including fatal lung diseases. Although the victims cannot be pinpointed, the methodology to determine that pollutants so significant could have caused fatalities has been reviewed and confirmed as valid by qualified scientists. Over the past seven years, it is possible that as many as 95 people died due to these high levels of pollutants, not to mention the impact on the environment.

About 500 class action lawsuits were filed against Volkswagen across the country. Essentially these cases involve the claim that consumers paid higher prices for these vehicles which are now worthless because they cannot pass emissions and dealers will not accept them back from owners. Now the many cases brought by consumers who purchased these diesel cars have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation or MDL. MDL litigation is used by the federal courts in situations where there are many litigants across the country with essentially the same or similar claims against a defendant.

A Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has clear guidelines to help manage these cases. Established in the 1960’s, the Panel considers limited factors to determine whether cases should be transferred. These questions include: whether common questions of fact exist in already pending civil actions so that moving these to a single district will better serve the convenience of both the parties and witnesses; and, whether transferring the cases will support their just and efficient management. The Panel also has great discretion to consider the federal district and the judge that is best able to handle the cases. MDL’s are used to ensure that the courts are not overwhelmed with the same or similar claims which supports the efficiency for the courts and the parties.

In the Volkswagen cases, the Panel determined that the MDL will be presided over by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in California’s Northern District. He has significant experience in presiding over MDL’s with an international defendant. The MDL will proceed in California although the Panel heard arguments that other federal judicial venues were preferred. The Panel also considered the fact that the defendant is an international company, something that Judge Breyer has dealt with in the past. Volkswagen sought to have the MDL heard in the Eastern District of Michigan and plaintiffs attorneys sought to have the MDL located in either California, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia or Tennessee. About 20 percent of the cases had been filed in California. The case is now expected to get through the system quickly since VW has accepted liability for their wrongdoing. Now it is just a matter of how much they will pay for their admitted fraud.

Scholle Law is a preeminently rated law practice with over two decades of experience helping injured consumers and injury victims. We welcome your call for a free evaluation of your case or concerns after an accident or injury.

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iStock_000000947969XSmallThe holiday season is a time for family, fun and stress. The pressure to get things done for the holidays, whether searching for gifts or shopping for family dinners, can cause us to become overwhelmed. Often we are rushing when we should be taking greater care. Everyone wants to have happy and safe holidays, but the statistics speak to the inherent dangers during this time of year. Not only are Atlanta car accidents possible in busy shopping areas, there are quick-moving delivery trucks working on getting Christmas gifts out to their lucky recipients. There are parents wanting to make their kids’ holidays “perfect” and moving too quickly to get it all done. The nature of this holiday season is a rush to get it all ready and to hurry up to celebrate. All of this stacks up for some great holiday fun and good reason to slow down and pay attention, here is why.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notes that in recent years, as many as 15,000 injuries occurred during the holiday months just from decorating alone! Every year, these estimates have been on the rise. Simple activities like tree decorating can turn very dangerous, from falling off of ladders to stepping on ornaments to serious back and spinal injuries and burns, the season to be jolly is also the season to take greater care. Fire prevention is critical during this time. Avoid doing things like tossing wrapping paper into the fireplace or failing to keep your Christmas tree watered. Also do not ever leave a candle unattended. We all know these common sense things, but when we are tired, rushed and we have excited kids running around our homes or relatives visiting, we can lose focus and do some things that are inherently unsafe.

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Bored, tired man sleeping at the wheel of his car

Last month, a Georgia family suffered an unthinkable loss. A father and four children (two of whom were his sons) were all killed in an auto crash while visiting Florida. At first it was thought that the mother of two of the children was driving at the time. But authorities have listed the driver as unknown and apparently are still determining who was driving the vehicle. It is believed that the driver fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the median line on a highway. The four children in the vehicle ranged in ages from three to 14 and all were ejected in the crash. The mother of two of them survived the crash, but was critically injured. Two of her children were not in the car. Although no one in the car was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, the impact was so great when the pick up truck hit their car, authorities said in this particular crash, seat belts would not have saved the children. The mom underwent multiple surgeries and we do not know whether she is out of the hospital at this time. Of the four riding in the pick up truck, only one was seriously injured.

Those who knew the kids say that they were lovely children who attended church and school in Barrow County for a couple of years. The first reports about this crash indicated that the mom had been driving and must have fallen asleep at the wheel. It appears now that she was not driving and that whomever was driving might have fallen asleep at the wheel or crossed over the line for some other reason which is not known at this time. Drowsy driving can cause serious injury, brain damage (see Official Code of Georgia Annotated section § 40-6-394) or death and is far more dangerous than most of us realize. Most importantly, drowsy driving can be prevented. Continue reading →

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airbagAs if there weren’t enough reasons to be concerned about motor vehicle safety, another major safety scandal has erupted and continues to unfold. Atlanta and Georgia residents are undoubtedly aware of news of auto industry deceptions that include major car manufacturers. The recall of General Motors’ cars with faulty ignition switches has been in the news for some time now. The ignition switch recall has been more intensely covered locally. An Atlanta area victim lost her life due to the faulty switch and her family filed an Atlanta wrongful death action against the car manufacturer which was ultimately settled out of court.

Another recall that is making news is that of Takata Industries’ airbags. Takata manufactures airbags that have been installed in many vehicles made by various manufacturers. This recall is pervasive because the airbags are found in so many vehicles. The defective airbags can cause serious injury and death due to shrapnel that is inside them. Georgia also has a connection to the defective airbags, some of which were manufactured in a LaGrange plant which has been closed for some time now. Several of the fatalities involving the airbags were from the LaGrange, Georgia plant. Initially, Takata denied the problem with its airbags, but then entered into an agreement with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and has been cooperating with regulators to recall the millions of impacted vehicles which hopefully will avoid future fatal or catastrophic injuries. The problem with the airbags is in part due to the infiltration of moisture into the devices and has been more of a concern in the southern states. The serious injuries and deaths have been caused when the airbag’s inflator has ignited with such force that it causes the inflator housing to rupture. The metal shards from the airbag can be propelled into the vehicle’s cabin causing harm to both driver and passengers.

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