Atlanta Pedestrians: Use Caution When Walking

October 9, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for iStock_000016030629XSmall.jpgOver the past several years we have posted readers about the dangers that face us all when we cross a street in America. Recently, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution sought information on pedestrian statistics for Georgia from our Department of Transportation. In its report we learned that in 2013, more deaths occurred on Georgia roads than in nearly two decades, despite a decline in pedestrian crashes. So, in other words, when vehicles and pedestrians collide, these crashes are proving more dangerous.

Not surprisingly, the Atlanta area was found to be the most dangerous for those on foot and a national study has placed Atlanta as the eighth most dangerous metro region for walkers. It used to be that taking a stroll was a relaxing and enjoyable way to get around. But these days, we must be extremely cautious when entering a roadway on foot. Those who are disabled in some way, are unable to walk on foot, or whose mobility depends on a motorized or hand-powered chair or have challenges with vision may be even more vulnerable.

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Atlanta MARTA Bus & Pedestrian Tragedy

September 29, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000016030629XSmall.jpgEarlier this week a 19 year-old teen was hit by an Atlanta MARTA bus. She did not survive the injuries and passed away several days later at Grady Hospital. This accident has had a tragic end and our hearts and sympathies are with the family and friends of the deceased teen. This truly is a terribly sad time for them. Although the bus driver is unlikely to be charged in this tragedy, due to the early investigative report that the young woman was not crossing legally when the accident occurred, there are potential legal ramifications. Even if the driver is not charged criminally, this does not necessarily indicate the end of the legal options and the victim's family could well file a civil suit against MARTA and others after further investigation. For example, under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-93 a driver must exercise due care not to strike a pedestrian regardless of the circumstances. This provision requires that if a driver observes a child or a confused or otherwise incapacitated pedestrian he or she must try to avoid colliding with that pedestrian. More investigation is needed to determine whether the bus driver violated this provision.

MARTA has issued a statement expressing sympathy to the family of this young woman. Since the accident just occurred, it might take some time for the public to understand just what happened in this tragic incident. Although in many instances, pedestrians have the right of way, that is not always the case. We have seen in recent years that more and more pedestrians are being struck by vehicles that are either traveling too fast or in which the driver is distracted. But there are some instances in which a pedestrian can be viewed by the law as having some responsibility for his or her injuries. Although the driver of a vehicle is responsible for exercising due care when in the presence of a pedestrian, there are limited situations in which the driver may not be held fully responsible for the injuries of a pedestrian.

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Tractor Trailer's Flying Wheels Prove Deadly

September 18, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Truck7.jpgA tractor trailer crash shut down eastbound Georgia I-20 recently as the vehicle ended up on its side over several lanes of traffic. Details on the cause of the crash are not yet available, but the metro Atlanta area is unfortunately all too familiar with similar truck crashes. When large trucks crash, they can cause major issues for the traffic around them, whether or not other vehicles are involved. For example, in a recent truck accident in the east, two people lost their lives when the wheels of an oncoming truck flew off and hit their oncoming vehicle. Another similar crash killed a motorcyclist in Iowa last month when a truck wheel came loose.

There are many other circumstances in which debris falling off or flying off a truck can cause injury or death, including when cargo falls off or out of the vehicle. Flying truck debris can indeed cause serious injury or death on our roadways and only a few years ago, a child was killed when a truck's transmission parts flew off. Under federal regulations, commercial truck drivers are required to perform inspections on their trucks, but parts or debris-related accidents can happen and are especially dangerous at high rates of speed with heavy vehicles. Despite this, officials say that a flying truck wheel is actually not a common occurrence and this specific hazard is not tracked by federal agencies that collect crash statistics. We do know one general piece of information about these hazards. Although accidents involving tractor trailer wheels flying off are actually a very low percentage of overall truck crashes, they can prove quite dangerous.

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Fatal Gwinnett County Crash Could Lead to Charges

September 17, 2014, by

DUI Picture 1.jpgA recent Gwinnett County car crash may well have been the result of excessive speed and alcohol use. This often-deadly combination is part of the investigation currently under way after a tragedy occurred in Buford. The crash occurred in the early morning hours, which is statistically a more dangerous time to mix driving, drinking and speed. The first reports of the crash are that two men were fatally injured as they traveled together. As their vehicle approached an intersection, the man who was driving did not stop at a stop sign at the intersection of the Buford Highway. Unfortunately and tragically, a second vehicle was driving on the Buford Highway approaching that same intersection at the same time. The second vehicle was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the car in which the men were traveling. Although the facts are not clear yet, it is possible that the second vehicle was driving faster than the speed limit and there may have been alcohol involved. The two adults and two children in that vehicle sustained injuries that were reportedly not life threatening. The two men lost their lives.

It is not reported whether the driver of the vehicle that hit the men's car will be charged with any crimes. There are currently no facts that would indicate the specific charges that might flow from this tragic crash. Possibly excessive speed could be charged, as well as Georgia's homicide by vehicle laws in some degree might be under consideration by authorities. It is not clear whether the suspected alcohol involved the fatally injured driver or the driver who hit the vehicle in which the two men travelled.

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When Trespass is Dangerous

September 3, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for candles .jpgA railroad crash that took place last winter has now become the subject of a law suit in Chatham County State Court. The case involves a terrible accident that occurred during the filming of a biography about famed musician Gregg Allman and starring William Hurt. One of the scenes for the film involved a somewhat surreal image of a hospital bed on railroad tracks. The film's producers chose a location for the scene to be filmed on and around railroad tracks owned by CSX Transportation. The production requested permission to film on and around the tracks. The transportation company apparently denied these requests twice and in writing, supporting the denials with specific concerns about the need to keep the tracks secure and safe. The production had permission to shoot on nearby property owned by a lumber products manufacturer.

However, for reasons that are not clear, the production decided to film on and very near the tracks. Various unidentified people were apparently sighted around the tracks by two CSX train operators on the day of the horrific accident. In one report it is claimed that the producers knew they did not have permission to shoot on the tracks, but let the filming go forward perhaps allowing the crew to believe permission had been given. As the filming was occurring, a CSX train traveled directly into the path of the filmmaking, hitting the objects that were on the tracks and killing a young woman involved with the production. She was fatally injured by flying debris.

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FedEx Truck in Serious I-20 Crash

August 20, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Truck7.jpgLast week a very serious truck crash took place in the early hours on Wednesday. The Federal Express truck was headed west on I-20 in Carroll County when it is thought that it rear-ended a retired old school bus. The initial comments made by the Georgia State Patrol indicated that the bus had been traveling in the far right lane when it was hit. The bus may have been traveling slowly in its lane. Unfortunately, the impact occurred with sufficient force to overturn both the truck and the bus and, as a result, both drivers were injured.

The crash closed the westbound lanes for about three hours. The vehicles also ended up catching fire. Other drivers, including a UPS driver, saved the FedEx driver as his vehicle burned and he was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital. The other driver also needed medical intervention and was taken to a local medical center. The accident is still under investigation.

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Daycare License Revocation After Toddler's Death

August 13, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1175023_magnolia.jpgThe tragic death of a three-year old in Alpharetta last month has resulted in license revocation of the day care facility in which he was killed and the filing of a civil law suit by the child's parents. The owner of the facility has been in business for 25 years. Her home serves as a day care center and is licensed by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. The agency investigated the event that ended in the child's death and based on that, noted that there were significant violations including dangerous conditions on the property. The allegation with regard to the child's death is that part of a twine type cord was on the play yard swing and the child apparently was caught in that rope and essentially was asphyxiated. The child was left on his own for a short period of time when the tragedy occurred. Although the care giver contacted emergency support and applied CPR, the child ultimately passed away at a local hospital.

The owner of the center has appealed the license revocation. She will have an opportunity to present her case once the Office of State Administrative Hearings sets a date for her to tell her story and why she should be able to stay in business.

Sadly, this horrific death is not the first of its kind in the recent past. A child in England died in similar manner in 2012. She was caught in a rope that had been at the top of the slide. She as alone for 20 minutes and had passed away by the time she was found. It was her first day of nursery school. That center was also criticized for an alleged failure to follow safety rules. Both the facility and the care giver responsible for the child were taken to court. The nursery school was supposed to put ropes away when children were not playing with them and no child was to be on a slide alone. In that little child's case, the physician stated that she might have been saved had she been found sooner.

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Cobb County Judge Allows Family to Reopen GM Lawsuit

August 10, 2014, by

iStock_000001983354XSmall.jpgA Cobb County judge is making national headlines by permitting the family of a deceased woman to reopen their case against General Motors. As noted in prior posts, the parents of Brooke Melton, who died after her GM Chevrolet ignition switch failed, sought to unwind the settlement previously reached with the auto giant. The deceased woman's case is very significant in that it helped reveal the faulty ignition defect which led to the largest automotive recall in the country's history. The judge has now determined that the Melton family can begin discovery related to potential fraud by the company is covering up what they might have known about the defect and present material evidence that has come to light since the settlement was reached.

In the latest hearing, GM tried to convince the court that the settlement it had reached with the family should stand and that the case should not be permitted to be reopened. The lawyer for the automaker argued that if the Melton's settlement could be reopened, there would be no finality in the process and parties would not be able to rely on settlements reached as being final. But the court disagreed and is allowing the family to reopen the case in what is essentially a new case, that will include the information that has come to light since the case was settled. The Melton family is now able to go forward to pursue in discovery what GM knew about the ignition switch defects prior to their daughter's death.

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Cobb County Parents Bring Case Against GM Home

July 24, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000001983354XSmall.jpgWe have recently posted on the many recalls that General Motors has issued on their vehicles that has taken center stage for the auto maker and its reputation. Most Americans do not have a personal connection with the recalls, but some families have suffered tragic losses due to defects that GM is alleged to have known about and covered up. GM says it intends to ensure that its corporate culture changes. The sheer number of recalls and defective parts is staggering. But apparently the American public believes in their future and is still buying their vehicles.

The recalls and the deaths that resulted from a defective ignition switch has literally come home to the Atlanta area. The parents of a deceased woman whose life was allegedly lost due to the defective ignition switch is front and center local news. The Cobb County parents have returned to the state court and their case is now before a Cobb County state court judge. Its pathway home is an interesting procedural journey that includes their recent win in federal court. A Georgia federal district judge remanded their case back to Cobb County. His ruling rejected the argument made by GM that the couple had joined a local GM dealer solely for the purpose of getting state court jurisdiction over the case and seeking to avoid federal jurisdiction. Although the couple received $5 million in a settlement with GM, they are alleging that since the settlement was reached much more information has been revealed. This information reveals more about the company's knowledge of the ignition switch defect, and other defects. More information has also come to light about GM's attempts to cover up what allegedly they knew was a dangerous defect in the ignition switch that the couple believes caused their daughter's death.

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Cobb County Wrong Way DUI Injures Two

July 23, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DrunkDriver3.jpgFor decades, we have known that excessive alcohol and driving are not a good combination. After many years of involvement in Georgia Mother's Against Drunk Driving, I am all too aware that the consequences of drinking and driving are not only inherently dangerous, but unpredictable. Those who have been convicted of crimes related to DUI and are serving sentences in prison for injuring or killing others on the road, will likely tell you that if they had to do it over again they would have found another way to get home from that party, from that bar from that gathering with friends where they had "a little too much." Those who have been convicted and who present their stories to audiences, such as high school students, note that the first thing to go is judgment.

That result was recently evidenced in Cobb County when a teen driver attended a party and ended up driving on the wrong side of the road, causing serious injury to two people. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the teen hit another vehicle head on while driving in the opposite lane of traffic. The teen is lucky in one sense. Those injured in the other vehicle will survive their injuries, although medical intervention was required due to broken bones and other injuries. The young driver herself needed some medical treatment. The allegedly drunk driver has now been charged with felonies, including two counts of serious injury by vehicle and related crimes. This crime is codified at the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-394.

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Medical Emergency Cause of Fatal Truck Crash?

July 7, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1175023_magnolia.jpgRecently, a Hall County collision between an SUV and a tractor trailer resulted in the deaths of three children and two adults. An absolutely tragic situation, this collision may have been caused by the sudden seizure of the SUV's driver. After this terrible tragedy occurred, the fiancé of the SUV's driver was interviewed and he told WSBTV that she should not have been driving and that the crash may have been caused by an epileptic seizure. It is possible that this horrific accident may well have been the result of a medically impaired driver who entered into oncoming traffic and directly into a tractor-trailer. It is devastating to the families involved, including the truck driver who was not at fault in this particular crash. Two of the driver's children were in the vehicle at the time of the crash and did not survive. One child decided to stay at home and play and another lives elsewhere. The other deceased passengers were very close family friends. The toxicology reports will come later, and whether the five deceased vehicle occupants were wearing seat belts is not known.

Some will remember that just last year, a truck driver suffered a medical emergency and crashed into a Gwinnett County strip mall. The driver passed away after crashing into two businesses. In that situation, the driver had just been at the doctor's office having a post-operative examination after eye surgery. He had been cleared by his doctors to return to work. Amazingly, no one in the businesses was harmed, including kids in a karate studio. In that accident, the driver also jumped the median.

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Summer Water Fun, Still Dangerous

June 26, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for swimming-pool-100155245.jpgThe recent report of a young, strong man losing his life in a swimming accident is another example of the dangers that summer swimming can bring. Reports indicate that the 20 year-old was taking a swim across a local pond in Brunswick, Georgia and was unable to make it across. When he called out for help from a friend who was with him, she was not able to get to her friend. She nearly drowned trying to help him. The young man's community and family are devastated as he was a be loved son, a brother and friend to many. This most recent pond tragedy occurred around the same time as several other Georgia drowning tragedies in our lakes and rivers. Only a couple of weeks ago, three drownings occurred at Lake Lanier. This terrible day on the lake included the death of a father who tried to save his son from drowning. They had been tossing a ball that went into the water and when the teen son went into the water to retrieve the ball, both ended up struggling for their lives as the dad tried to save his son. Neither was able to survive this struggle.

When these drowning accidents occur, we think again about water safety. Each situation is different and even when children, teens and adults know how to swim, it can be difficult in situations that involve natural water, currents and other objects. But as we know from recent local tragedies, including a child who fell into a club pool, these accidents can occur quickly and without warning. For example, there are about 400 teen and child drownings per year in the United States that involve pools and spas. The majority of these drownings take place at private homes and take the lives of kids under the age of five.

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"Look Again" for Child Safety

June 20, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1175023_magnolia.jpgThis week our community has been the subject of national news coverage of another child left in a car to suffer heat stroke and die. The Today Show has reported on the tragedy just this morning. A Cobb County four-year-old life was cut short after his father allegedly failed to take him to day care, left him in the car and went to work, only to remember that he was in the back seat while driving home. According to USA Today, which picked up our local story, in the past 14 years, over 500 kids have lost their lives being left in vehicles in the heat. The child's dad has now been charged with murdering his son. Although there have been other cases in the past around the country in which parents have left kids in vehicles and gone to work, some are not charged at all after authorities conclude that the situation was purely accidental and others, as happened in this case, are charged with felonies as authorities determine that the severe negligence warrants a criminal charge. In this case, the father has been charged with two crimes under Georgia law, including cruelty to children in the first degree and murder.

Just last month, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced a campaign called "Look Again." This effort is targeted at parents and caregivers to check the back seat of their vehicles to avoid leaving a child behind. Often these cases involve parents who are distracted and going to work. In the past four years, nearly ten children have died in this way just in Georgia alone. In the Cobb County case, once the dad realized as he was driving home that his son was in the back seat, his efforts to revive his little boy were fruitless. He was said to be very distraught at the scene. There have been similar cases in which one parent is supposed to take a child to day care, but forgets. This situation can happen when a routine is broken or a parent is distracted. This week alone, a Florida infant was left behind her dad's truck and died.

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Change to Truck Driver "Restart" Rule May Falter

June 12, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Truck4.jpgWhat a difference a week makes. Last week, a United States Senate panel gave the green light to an amendment to federal law that would alter the existing rest and sleep requirements for truck drivers. Changing the rules that have been structured to avoid driver fatigue is controversial and has been brought front and center since the tragic crash in New Jersey last week that we posted on for our readers.

The proposed amendment to pull back on restrictions on driver hours, is viewed by many as a step in the wrong direction. Those who are involved in highway safety are against the change that would push back the requirement that truck drivers be allowed time off during certain hours and take consecutive hours off before restarting their work week. The existing rules were put in place only recently and after much study, to lower the risk of fatigue on drivers. Along with other provisions, the current rules mandate that drivers must take two nights of consecutive rest in the hours between 1 am and 5 am. -- also called the "restart" rule. The proponent of altering this rule claims that it puts more trucks on the roads in daylight hours which presents a safety risk to other drivers. Opponents of changing the rules have said that studies on driver fatigue indicate the rest is key to safer driving.

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Georgia Truck Driver Charged in Tracy Morgan Crash

June 10, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Truck4.jpgWalmart trucks are everywhere and most likely there are hundreds, if not thousands on the road in any given day in America. This past weekend a Walmart truck was involved in a terrible truck crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Walmart has pledged to work with authorities after this weekend's tragic truck crash which left one man dead and several others critically injured, including Tracy Morgan.

The type of accident that took Morgan's comedy mentor's life -- is one that we have posted about in the past. It concerns a driver who is alleged to have fallen asleep at the wheel, swerving and then striking another vehicle that ended up overturned and engaged other vehicles in its wake. This is one of the most dangerous and common causes of serious truck crashes. The truck driver is now accused of several serious criminal counts, including vehicular homicide which is similar to Georgia's homicide by vehicle found at Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-393.

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