The month of March has begun with a fatal crash reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in DeKalb County. A crash of unknown causes, with speed suspected as a factor has taken the lives of two people after their vehicle apparently ended up out of control and rolling over. As a result of this fatal crash, the eastbound direction of Georgia 78 was shut down completely for several hours. In addition, some westbound lanes also needed to be blocked for the investigation and debris removal of this tragic end of two lives. After the vehicle lost control and flipped over, having crossed lanes of traffic, it hit an SUV at some point during this event. The investigation and perhaps witness interviews will help piece together what caused the car to lose control, hit a guardrail and then travel across lanes. Thankfully, the driver of the SUV was not harmed in this accident.
In this accident, reports indicate that the vehicle hit the guard wire or guardrail on the road's shoulder and that the passenger was ejected from the vehicle at that time. Often passengers are ejected when they are not wearing a seatbelt which could have been the case in this incident. The impact of a speeding vehicle hitting a guardrail has been studied by experts and it is often a fatal combination. Guardrails are intended to keep vehicles from exiting the road and hopefully keeping them from rolling over. But when a vehicle loses control and hits a guardrail, the impact may also end up becoming a hazard in and of itself. And there are many accident reconstruction experts that spend their careers studying the design and safety of guardrails.
Continue reading "DeKalb County Car Crash Kills Two " »
There are few words to describe the terrible loss recently suffered by a Douglas County family. A tragic car accident turned deadly, not because of the accident itself, but because of what happened after it took place. First, our hearts are with the family as they suffer the loss of their loved one. The facts surrounding this situation are worthy of consideration. While traveling back from Florida and having traveled there to see a very ill relative, the Georgia family's truck was involved in a crash that did not cause injury. However, after the accident the Douglas County man got out of his truck while his family waited inside the vehicle. The man's wife was reportedly calling 911 to get support. But as the man reviewed the damage, another driver hit the man as his family sat in their truck. His injuries were fatal.
Reports of the fatal crash indicate that the Florida driver involved in the second accident was present and remained on the scene, which is also required under Georgia law. Under our motor vehicle laws, drivers involved in an accident must stop. Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-270 requires that drivers involved in a crash that causes injury or damage must stop and exchange information and in some cases help get emergency or medical support if the other driver is injured. Unfortunately, the Florida driver who was involved in the first crash with the Georgia resident, which ultimately caused his death, left the scene after an initial stop. It was later reported that his vehicle was located through witness tips. The identity of person who had been behind the wheel is still not known by authorities. Authorities have made it clear that they need to speak with the person since it is unknown how the first crash happened and who might have been at fault for it. Having been a witness to a situation that ultimately took someone's life -- the other driver could have very valuable information to share and should come forward.
Continue reading "Tragic Loss for Douglas County Family" »
If you have any doubts about whether your infants or children are properly restrained in your vehicles, the recent death of a baby in Smyra hopefully will prompt you to make sure they are. Later, we will share with you how you can do this at no charge. But first we want to express our sympathies to the family of a baby girl who has lost her life after a car crash. Several people, including other children, were injured when a vehicle driven by the baby's father was involved in a tragic car crash. Reports indicate that the dad driving the car is alleged to have been intoxicated at the time of the accident. His vehicle crossed into the opposing lane of traffic and crashed head on to an oncoming vehicle whose driver has been hospitalized at WellStar Kennestone Hospital, along with the baby's mother.
The Cobb County family is now dealing with not only the death of the infant, but injuries to at least two other children and three adults traveling in the vehicle. The infant was not properly restrained in her car seat and the other children were not wearing seat belts or sitting in booster seats. The other children have been under medical care since the late-night crash and are anticipated to recover from their injuries. The father has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence. It is quite possible as we have reported in other situations that he could be charged with an enhancement that involves child endangerment under Official Code of Georgia Annotated sections 40-6-391(a) and (l).
Continue reading "Infant Dies in Crash, Father Charged" »
The Winter of 2014 will be remembered by our children and grandchildren. We will tell them stories about it and they will see photographs and carry memories of what has happened in the southern United States this year. The many vehicle crashes, stranded citizens, destroyed trees, power loss, kids at home rather than in their classrooms, these will all be remembered and shared for decades to come. The winter is serious. It has now taken lives of two more Georgia residents as we continue to wait out the freezing and dangerous conditions with accidents and injuries on many of our roads and highways over these past couple of weeks.
These conditions are not only dangerous for those attempting to drive in the snow and ice, but also those who are simply walking from one place to another. Although Georgians are not used to such severe weather here, most of us know that being outdoors in severe weather can be very dangerous for such hazards as frostbite. We also need to consider the danger that if something happens while we are outside, our bodies may not respond as they otherwise would in normal temperatures .
Continue reading "Georgia's Historic Winter of 2014 " »
This morning we read with interest in George Mathias' blog "News to Me" that it is legal to flash headlights in Georgia. Why does this matter to drivers? The local tradition around here is that we flash other drivers to warn them of "speed traps." This tradition now has some Constitutional law support from a Missouri federal judge. First, let me say that warning of a speed trap is one thing, but speeding is another. As a personal injury trial lawyer in Georgia, I am a complete proponent of abiding by the law and I also am a proponent of helping our neighbors. But drivers who are cited for driving over the speed limit might be less likely to speed again and also might avoid causing injury or death on our roads. So that is a good thing for public safety. Its good to slow down, but not good when you are slowing down only because law enforcement is present.
According to the Huffington Post, a Missouri federal judge has recently upheld this warning practice (for the time being) under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Having now performed a thorough investigation into this matter, I have concluded that if this is newsworthy for the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal and our own blogger at the AJC, it is newsworthy indeed. So let's dig deeper.
Continue reading "Atlantans Don't Speed Regardless ... " »
Before sharing my thoughts about the serious weather crisis we have been experiencing in the Atlanta area, I want to express my concern for our community and for all our citizens who have been through some very trying days. As I write, I am hopeful that our neighbors have returned to some level of normalcy after this incredibly difficult weather event.
As we are all aware here in Georgia, Winter Storm Leon has truly been our lion in winter. The national news covered the storm plight in our city and state and our elected officials, including Mayor Reed apologizing to us all on national television after folks like Al Roker criticized our local and state official for what he said was lack of proper planning and execution.
Continue reading "Atlanta's Dangerous Gridlock and Storm Aftermath" »
Within Georgia we have so many wonderful assets and we should all be proud of these. One of the greatest assets in our state are the fine institutions of learning at all levels, whether Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, Emory or Georgia State, just to name a few, we are so fortunate to have these fine colleges and universities throughout our state. Some readers may not be aware that the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has a great resource in the area of injury prevention in partnership with the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). The public can access information and about programs offered and safety resources at ridesafe.org.
The Ride Safe site includes several key traffic and highway injury prevention efforts. For example, the site has information about programs for parents and teens to become better informed about how to best utilize the 40 hour requirement under Georgia law for supervised driving prior to teen licensing. This program, called PRIDE, stands for Parents Reducing Injury and Driver Error helps educate parents and teens about maintaining the best attitude by both during the process of supervised driving. Also included in this are child passenger safety certification programs, which provide training for those wishing to be certified to properly fit child safety seats in vehicles. Getting the help of a certified fitter has become an important way to ensure that your infant or child is as safe as possible while riding in your vehicle. Parents, grandparents and caregivers can rely on these certified fitters for the proper seating and safety precautions for infants and children while driving.
Continue reading "Georgia Injury Prevention" »
The Rockdale County sheriff's office has suffered a blow early in this new year after one of their deputies has been arrested while off duty. She has now resigned from her position. The basis for the arrest involves allegations that she was driving under the influence of alcohol which is alleged to have caused a crash that resulted in injuries to two others traveling with her. Another more minor charge against her is failure to maintain her lane. Apparently the vehicle she was driving left the road and hit some trees. Sometimes when an accident involves local law enforcement, the local authorities will request the Georgia State Patrol to get involved to ensure the investigation is neutral and unbiased. That is what happened here. The injured passengers went to an Atlanta facility for medical support. Those involved have said they are grateful that there were no fatal injuries involved.
In general, the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-391 prohibits driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are increased penalties for repeated convictions of this crime. Additionally, punishment for crimes involving the endangerment of children while driving a vehicle under the influence are governed by Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 16-12-1 (d).
Continue reading "Rockdale and Smyrna Accidents Result in Serious Injuries" »
Many older drivers are not only experienced, but very careful and considerate on the roads. But with age can also come the normal medical conditions that might affect safe driving. In our prior post, we have shared the statistics gathered by experts that elderly or older drivers and occupants in vehicles are more likely to be seriously or fatally injured in a crash due to the increased frailty of their bodies. This is true even in more minor collisions. These age-related changes and the increased danger to the elderly driver, may cause greater concern for families and adult children of the elderly about their loved one's safety. There is good reason to think about what to do when an older family member seems to be having more difficulty with driving. We might become aware of this as we notice damage to bumpers and other places of impact on a vehicle that are more likely to be damaged when the driver is visually or otherwise impaired. Often the bumpers of the vehicles driven by older family members are a first sign as to whether they are fully able to manage the challenges of driving. When we begin to observe these issues, we need to think about how to approach our elderly loved ones with our concerns. We recommend the resource How to Understand and Influence Older Drivers, published by our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as an excellent place to start.
Some experts recommend that it is helpful to be a passenger on a regular basis with your older relative. This is a natural way to make sure your relative is managing his or her driving skills well. Sometimes when we drive with an older relative we can better assess things like how that person is handling normal driving conditions. For example, are they signaling before making a lane change or are they making that critical check for the blind spot before doing so? Are they stopping at intersections in the right location and are they coming to a full stop? Are they watching for other vehicles properly when moving through an intersection, making sure not to go on green for example until they are sure the intersection has cleared? Are we detecting visual impairment of any kind based on the way they are driving?
Continue reading "Safe Driving for Elderly Loved Ones -- Part 2" »
There are many risk factors while driving these days for all of us on the roads. Some families struggle with something that is difficult to talk about and that is, when should a family keep a relative that is older from driving? Americans are living longer than ever before and can have active and productive lives well into their later years. This means that older Americans are also driving longer and driving offers them a sense of independence that is important to them. Some of us have been through the difficult experience of removing keys from an older loved one who we believe is no longer a safe driver. But this can be very difficult, even for the closest of families when the elder person feels that they are competent to drive, but other family members disagree. Regardless of how difficult this is, we have to consider that if our family member drives and injures someone or worse, their lives and future can be forever changed if there is a law suit filed against them and they are held responsible for the accident.
Here is one big reason to take this question very seriously: the severity of injury in older people is known to be greater than younger people. Of course, an older person as a passenger would also be more likely to become seriously injured even in a low impact crash than their younger counterparts. But when an older person is in even a low severity auto crash, that person is far more likely to not only be seriously injured, but also to lose their lives in what would otherwise be considered to be a less severe crash. These outcomes have been researched thoroughly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and provide solid grounds for thinking very seriously about whether your older or elderly relatives should continue to drive, even as many drivers are noticing that driving is becoming more and more challenging these days.
Continue reading "Elderly Face Higher Risk of Injury in Crashes" »
Earlier this week, a multiple vehicle crash on an I-95 overpass in Camden County, Georgia resulted in the fatalities of three Florida residents. The crash involved a chain reaction and according to the Georgia State Patrol, the fast series of events began with a tractor-trailer that was allegedly traveling too fast when it hit a passenger car which then hit a small SUV. The passenger car ended up under the truck and the SUV ended up hitting the truck.
The SUV driver and those trapped in the passenger vehicle under the tractor-trailer all died in this crash. Several other motor vehicles were also involved in this accident which resulted in additional injuries to four people. This chain reaction crash was not the first accident in the area that day. The traffic in the vicinity was traveling more slowly due to an earlier situation that involved another tractor-trailer that had hit a median and burned after losing a wheel. Fortunately, no one was injured in the earlier crash.
Continue reading "Georgia I-95 Tractor-Trailer Crash Causes Multiple Fatalities" »
There are few tragedies that are as heart-wrenching as the loss of life for a woman about to give birth and the loss of her unborn child. When a pregnant woman's child dies after a murder or accident that ends her life, the unborn child's loss of life is viewed by the law as a crime as well. Earlier this week, a man was arrested for allegedly causing the death of his pregnant wife and the loss of their unborn child. As the accused remained in a Gwinnett County jail, authorities were seeking information about the man's immigration status. He has been charged with several Georgia crimes, including the death of a fetus and second-degree vehicular homicide. These crimes are found in our Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393.1 and Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393, respectively.
The accident is apparently of the type we have discussed in the past, a left turn crash involving an oncoming vehicle. The accused man allegedly turned left in front of an oncoming vehicle. The man's young wife and unborn child were in the passenger seat and were struck on the impact of the accident. Another passenger in the car was also hurt, but not fatally. The other driver was driving without a license and was cited for this, but the arrest fell upon the deceased woman's husband and the father of her unborn child.
Continue reading "Tragedy for Pregnant Woman and Unborn Child" »
We so often hear about major truck accidents that involve serious and fatal injuries within Georgia and around the Atlanta area. Truck traffic has become a major part of our daily lives as we travel during the holiday season and year round. What we might not think about is the work that goes into researching the way these vehicles function in various situations and how driver behavior and habits play a part in the safety of all as we travel these roads. The researchers at the Center for Truck & Bus Safety (CTBS) make truck design and systems the focus of their research. WIthin the various sections of this center, scientists study such things as the way drivers view the road, the way drivers use the controls of their vehicles and the way situational factors, including roads and infrastructure in general weigh into accident causation and safety. The Center studies many different types of trucks and buses.
As a Gwinnett County truck injury lawyer, I am interested in a driver's behavior before, during and after a truck accident. It is critical to determine whether there is a distraction involved, such as texting or using the phone. It is also critical to determine whether the driver was working in excess of the hour limitations imposed on commercial carriers imposed under a broad regulatory scheme under the federal government.
Continue reading "Truck Safety Study Benefits All Georgians " »
We are often reminded that during holiday seasons, whether the summer holidays, such as Memorial Day or Fourth of July or the winter holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, there are more fatalities on our roads and highways than other times of year. Thanksgiving weekend is no different as it is a time for families and friends to get together and for many families that means road travel. This year, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that nearly 450 individuals would lose their lives in fatal traffic accidents. This number is actually lower than it has been in years past. They also noted that over 45,000 would end up injured mainly due to other roadway crashes.
The focus of the statistics and the estimating of injuries and fatalities is to reach the public to remind us all to be more careful than ever during this time of year. Holiday fun involves some stress, including late visits with friends and family, too much food and perhaps too much to drink and just plain holiday stress that leads to fatigue. If every driver buckled up over just the Thanksgiving holiday weekend each year, it is estimated that 150 lives could be saved just by doing this one simple safety measure.
Continue reading "Thanksgiving Travel Predictions and Realities " »
The Midtown Atlanta area has become a wonderful residential and business center and a favorite destination for arts and a vibrant nightlife. Unfortunately, along with that comes the possibility that those having fun will perhaps drink and drive, an often dangerous and potentially deadly combination. This past weekend, a woman sustained critical injuries after being struck by a hit and run driver while walking on a sidewalk in Midtown Atlanta. The woman was hit early in the evening on Friday and the driver of the vehicle that allegedly struck her has now been arrested. We do not know where he had been prior to the incident, but it is alleged that he had been drinking prior to the pedestrian hit and run accident.
As is often the case in a hit and run accident, witnesses were able to identify the vehicle that struck the woman and investigators were able to locate both the vehicle and the driver to make the arrest. The many charges that the driver faces are those we have often seen together when a hit and run accident and injury occurs. These include such serious charges as the crime of hit and run with failure to seek medical support itself which is found under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-270 and the crime of driving under the influence which is found under Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-391.
Continue reading "Midtown Atlanta Hit and Run Arrest " »