A 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.
Continue reading "Fatal Gwinnett County Crash Could Lead to Charges" »
We 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.
Continue reading "Cobb County Parents Bring Case Against GM Home " »
By now, most of us are aware that General Motors has had some explaining to do regarding the millions of vehicles it has recalled in recent months for various problems. Some of these problems could cause death or injury and already have in various accidents and situations. The company has had a rough time dealing with the negative publicity and Congressional interest in the culture that may have allowed these defects to creep into their vehicles. The company went through a bankruptcy and emerging from that with a new Chief Operating Officer, the company was also quickly hit with millions of recalls for a variety of defects in parts and systems that could cause serious injury and reportedly already 13 deaths related to faulty ignition switches. The company is hoping to recover from all of this by instituting a different culture, internal inspectors and other functions that are intended to begin a sea-shift in the company's culture.
Earlier this spring, CEO Mary Barra testified before the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. She took over the company lead in January of this year and although she has worked at the company for decades, she has committed to ensuring that it begin a new culture that is more focused on safety. She has reportedly begun an internal investigation and has issued a direct apology to Congress and effectively to the American consumer and those whose loved ones lost their lives due to faulty ignition switches that caused the deaths of thirteen people in vehicles built in about 2000. These catastrophic defects essentially turned off the ignition suddenly which in turn left those in the vehicle without air bag protections, braking capability and power steering.
Continue reading "GM Recalls Millions of Vehicles" »
After a very sad incident, a recent arrest in our area demonstrates what the law says about the death of an unborn child in a crash. In this accident, the baby's dad was driving the vehicle in which his wife was riding as a passenger. The Carroll County resident made an attempt to avoid responsibility for the passing of his unborn baby in this auto crash. But after investigation, he was arrested for the crime of feticide in the first degree as well as insurance fraud. The crime of feticide is found in Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393.1. This crime carries a penalty of imprisonment for between two and 15 years. The death of an unborn baby is tragic under any circumstances. In this case, it is truly a somber event, given that the dad was at the wheel of the vehicle involved.
The father of the baby was driving in with his wife on South Cobb Drive and ended up on the wrong side of the road. He hit another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle sustained some significant injuries. And his pregnant wife was injured as well. But the unborn baby was not able to withstand the impact of the crash and died at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Both the driver and his wife are alleged to have claimed that she was driving the car at the time of the crash. His license was already suspended and he was not supposed to be behind the wheel due to this fact. However, after a review of the evidence, the authorities determined that in fact the wife had not been the driver, the husband was driving and both allegedly tried to hide this fact. The parties have been charged with insurance fraud and the father of the baby faces the additional serious charges related to feticide.
Continue reading "Dad Arrested After Crash Causes Unborn Baby's Passing" »
There is no doubt that distracted driving has become a dangerous practice among drivers throughout the country and within Georgia and the metro Atlanta area. Perhaps it is human nature to believe that we are above any tragedy that could occur if we text and drive or use our phones to make a call while trying to steer our vehicles. Unfortunately, this is actually a false sense of security, because it has been shown again and again that these distractions make it difficult for drivers to consistently manage the many faculties needed to properly and safely drive a motor vehicle. In a crash that occurred last month in the Austell area, one woman lost her life and another is now under arrest for this activity that is alleged to have caused a terrible crash on the C.H. James Parkway.
The driver alleged to have caused the crash that led to the death of a 36-year old female local basketball coach, had a text on her phone, calls that were received and a call that was made at the time of the crash. She apparently deleted the text to try to keep police from seeing that she had done this before the crash took place. But this information is not possible to delete or to avoid from the ultimate view of investigators in a situation like this. The police have finished their investigation and as a result, have charged the driver with a violation of Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 40-6-393 which includes second-degree homicide by vehicle. She has also been charged with violating involving driving too closely to the vehicle ahead of her and driving with a license that had expired.
Continue reading "Distracted Driving Caused Cobb County Fatality " »
Minding the rear view mirror is something we all should do as careful drivers. But the Georgia legislature is about to put a bigger violation on driving too slowly in the left lane on those who fail to move over in certain circumstances. When driving in the left lane, traffic on a divided road is generally going faster than those in the right lane. But sometimes vehicles behind us as we drive in the left lane are clearly intending to go faster than we are traveling. In those instances, the law will be that slower drivers must move over to let the faster traffic pass. This avoids traffic pulling around and having to pass on the right. We all have likely been in both situations.
This new law will apply to those traveling on Georgia's divided highways as well as our interstates. House Bill 459 has been passed through our Senate. It will be a misdemeanor for slower left lane traffic to fail to move to the right. The language of the bill states that drivers may not impede the flow of traffic by driving too slowly in the left lane. But there are some exceptions that are a matter of common sense. In the case of an emergency or severe weather it might be necessary to drive more slowly. The rule will not apply when there are situations involving construction, emergency vehicles on the right or when a vehicle needs to exit on the left. It is now up to the Governor to sign the bill to make it law.
Continue reading "Georgia Legislature Speeds Up on Slow Drivers" »
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" »
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" »
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" »
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 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 " »
Last week, an unusual event occurred in the Atlanta area involving a man leaning over the wheel of his pick up truck, stopped with the motor running and apparently asleep. A news team spotted him and called 911. More on the details follow, but thankfully the incident ended without major injuries to anyone else on the road. This story caused me to think about how the way we react to situations can make all the difference in someone's life. The news team did not know why he looked like he was sleeping. What if he had been having a medical emergency? Are there times when we see someone in distress and assume they are simply trying to make us late to the office by taking too long at a stop light? Do we call authorities when we see someone in possible distress?
There is a concept in the law called the Good Samaritan which comes from an ancient Biblical story about a person who helped a stranger who had been harmed by others. As the story goes, the man was from Samaria. In modern times, a Good Samaritan is someone who helps in an emergency. This concept has survived through the ages and in our state, the Official Code of Georgia Annotated sections 31-11-8 and 51-1-29, codifies a part of this ancient concept and provides protection from civil liability for doctors and others who provide volunteer emergency medical support. This concept helps enable those with the skill to perform emergency care after an accident or sudden medical problem to feel confident that they can do so without being later held liable for something going wrong.
Continue reading "Atlanta Pick Up Truck Driver Gets Unusual Wake Up Call " »