Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000015148283XSmall.jpgThe 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.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000015148283XSmall.jpgA recent rash of accidents involving pedestrian injuries and deaths, continues. Just yesterday, two such accidents occurred in an unlikely location. Two pedestrians were hit by motor vehicles on I-75 in metro Atlanta. These are currently being investigated. As we have seen in the recent past and as I have seen in my practice as an Atlanta pedestrian injury lawyer, pedestrian injury and death is becoming more common across the country. There are many factors that are causing this, but our area is not immune to this trend.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that earlier this week, a male pedestrian was walking in the roadway on I-75 southbound. He was near Locust Grove Road in Henry County when he was hit by a tractor-trailer and killed. The truck driver did the right thing after hitting the man, he stopped and perhaps will be able to provide information to the police on what he saw.

The truck driver acted properly under Georgia law which prohibits hit and run in pedestrian accidents. Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-270 states in no uncertain terms that drivers must stop after an accident involving injury or death.

There is no information currently on why the man was walking in the road, whether his own vehicle had broken down or there was some other situation that resulted in his being there.

On the same day, a female pedestrian was standing on the Downtown Connector when she was hit by a car. She had been standing in a lane on I-75/85 southbound near Fulton Street. The woman was struck in the morning at about 10:30 am and there is no information about why she was there. It was reported that other vehicles had swerved around the woman missing her, but that finally a car struck her as she stood in traffic. She was taken to Grady Memorial with unknown injuries.

One of the reasons it is so critical that we all avoid driving distracted is that anything can arise on the roadway at any time. We need to be prepared to expect the unexpected. As our culture changes and we have more and more technology in our vehicles, perhaps that technology will one day help us avoid the type of tragedies that occurred in these pedestrian accidents.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000015148283XSmall.jpgWe have been posting often about the trend in hit-and-run accidents, including drivers who have hit pedestrians and left the scene. Finally, we have a story about a driver who did the lawful thing, the right thing and the only thing that could save a life. This past week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a woman was struck and killed on the Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw.

The accident happened in very early morning hours near the entrance to a mobile home park. I have represented injured pedestrians in the Atlanta region for two decades as an Atlanta pedestrian injury lawyer and there are some times during the day in which these accidents are more prone to occur.

The sad truth is that what makes this story newsworthy, aside from the tragedy of loss of life that possibly could have been prevented, is the fact that the driver contacted authorities saying that he thought he might have hit something on the roadway and he did not know what it was. Lately and across the country, there is a growing trend for motorists to hit pedestrians, cyclists, bikers and other vehicles and leave the scene, which is a crime. The reports indicate that when the police arrived, the deceased woman was in the middle of the road. My sympathies go out to the family of the deceased woman.

Cobb County police will not file charges against the driver. We do not know why the woman was in the road or her condition at the time she was hit by this vehicle. We do know that the driver followed the law and contacted officials regarding his concern that he might have hit something. Although it appears that he did not get out of his car after the incident to see what he had hit and the fact that he did not know that he had struck a person might have exonerated him from the duty to stop and provide assistance in certain circumstances.

Georgia law prohibits hit and run in pedestrian accidents. In fact, it is a crime to strike a pedestrian and fail to stop to provide support or help. But what if the driver doesn’t know he or she hit a person and contacts authorities as occurred here. Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-270 requires that after a crash, drivers must stop as close to the scene as possible.

Our laws also require those in such circumstances to seek medical support for the injured pedestrian when injuries are involved or where the injured person appears to be unconscious or deceased. But in this case, it was likely dark and the driver was unsure what had happened. This honest response, an immediate call to authorities was apparently enough effort for this driver to avoid any criminal liability.

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pedestrians.jpgEarlier this month, the federal government warned of the dangers of drinking and walking because more than one-third of pedestrian deaths in 2011 were for those who had been drinking above the legal limit for driving. Reports indicate that thirty-five percent of pedestrians killed on our roads and highways are doing so with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

Because of this, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun a new focus on reducing pedestrian deaths. That is an alarming statistic and one that concerns me as a Gwinnett County injury lawyer. What also concerns me is why this is happening and what can be done to avoid more injury and death.

Many are concerned as the Governors Highway Safety Association notes that more and more people may be walking home after drinking more than they should have, but that this night walking while intoxicated presents its own issues. Noting that alcohol impairs a pedestrians’ judgment and can result in bad decisions, such as trying to beat out an oncoming vehicle or run a light, the situation is equally dangerous for bicycle riders hoping that they will be safer while riding a bike after a night of drinking.

In addition to drinking and walking, another area of concern is the increase in injuries involving distracted walkers. A number of studies are showing that pedestrians are getting seriously injured and worse by walking and talking or texting.

Just today a young woman in Gwinnett County lost her life while walking on I-85. She got out of the car she was riding in as a passenger and started to walk up a ramp. She was intoxicated and it was dark. She had reportedly been having an argument with the driver of the car. Although the driver tried to alert authorities that she was walking on the road, the authorities were not able to reach her before she was struck and killed by another vehicle. The driver of that car will likely not be charged with any crime.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for emergencyvehicle.jpegIt is important after a tragedy to remind ourselves of the perils of the roadside, both when we are in need of assistance and when others are in such need. Today one person lost his life and another person was injured, when another car hit them while they changed a tire.

The car that struck the imperiled driver and passenger was traveling into the northbound direction when the accident occurred. In my work representing victims of injury as a Clayton County auto injury lawyer, I know that the drivers and passengers of disabled vehicles can often become victims, as occurred here.

According to initial reports, this accident caused a major traffic pile-up after additional vehicles became involved in the incident. Traffic was impacted for three miles during a busy time of day. The tire was being changed in the triangular area that is part of the on-ramp to I-75. Authorities said that the driver who initially struck the two individuals, was able to stop to help. But after the initial accident, six cars ultimately collided into one another.

The person injured in this incident was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. However, the person’s condition is not currently known. A reconstruction team was brought in to investigate the tragedy. And two lanes were closed during this investigation which contributed to the major backup.

In this terribly sad situation, it is possible that the driver of the disabled car had no other place to go. And it remains to be seen what could have been done differently, if anything, to have avoided loss of life.

We all know that road shoulders and roadsides can be dangerous for workers and law enforcement. That is why Georgia’s Move Over Law mandates that drivers move over one lane if they can safely do so when workers or other officials are on the roadside. This mandate is set out in Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-16. It requires that if it is not possible for a driver to move over a lane, drivers must reduce their speed.

Statistics show that over ten percent of pedestrian deaths are caused in a roadside event such as a disabled vehicle. Where shoulders are paved, this reduces roadside crashes of all types. In this situation, we do not know if there was any other location where the vehicle could have been stopped for the tire change. If you are in a situation in which you must pull over, remember when possible to turn on your hazard lights. If you can place warning flares on the road, this helps other drivers slow down before they are too close to stop.

The best advice in this situation is get out of your vehicle and move away from it. Have your passengers move away as well. The safest thing to do is to move away and wait for help.

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1175023_magnolia.jpgThe Gwinnett County community has had a long weekend to deal with the loss of a Berkmar High School junior. He lost his young life while doing something very ordinary — walking. The teen was struck and killed trying to cross the Lawrenceville Highway. Our hearts go out to his family and friends as we try to comprehend the loss of a young person. As I have learned from counseling and representing many families in my Gwinnett County injury law practice, the loss of a son or daughter after a tragic accident is difficult and challenging.

The accident itself was under somewhat common, but inherently dangerous circumstances. The teen was standing in the center turning lane at James Road. As he stood waiting to cross in the morning light, a vehicle driven by a woman from Stone Mountain and traveling in the center lane northbound preparing to make a left turn, he was struck by that vehicle. He was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center after the accident and passed away there.

The driver of the vehicle that struck the teen turned herself in and has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor as well as a far less significant turning lane violation. It is possible that weather was a factor in the accident and based on the charges, the driver’s actions were not intentional. Reports indicate that speed and alcohol were not factors in this tragedy.

The charge of second degree vehicular homicide in Georgia is a lesser offense than first degree. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393, vehicular homicide in Georgia carries various penalties depending on the severity of the charge. A driver charged with first degree vehicular homicide can receive a sentence that is from one year to 15 years in prison. There is leniency in the penalty for an unintentional homicide by vehicle or second degree as this offense carries the potential for a fine and a lesser prison sentence.

The teen had a brother who passed away as an infant. The sorrow of this young man’s parents and family are felt by us all.

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Thumbnail image for iStock_000016030629XSmall.jpgAs I write this, we are all in shock over the tragic events in Connecticut. Children and teachers lost their lives in the shootings at an elementary school. As a father and as a person dedicated in my law practice to help those who have been injured or harmed, I want to express my profound grief over the loss of innocent children and educators.

Right here at home, we have learned of the loss of young life in a very sad accident that occurred earlier this week. A kindergartener was walking home from school when he was hit by a vehicle in the area of his apartment complex in DeKalb County. He lost his life after the accident. Investigators are trying to determine the vehicle that struck him.

The five-year-old was walking with another child when he was hit. Although he was taken to the hospital, he died there. Our hearts go out to the family of this young boy.

The situation is now even more difficult because the police do not know which vehicle is responsible for the tragedy. The witnesses interviewed gave varying accounts of the vehicle that hit the child. A truck driver was questioned about the accident, but was released. He was driving a FedEx truck. Another truck or vehicle may have been involved.

We have recently posted on the crime of hit and run pedestrian accidents. It is a crime to strike a pedestrian and fail to stop. Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-270 states that “the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident” or as close as possible. Seeking medical support is also required where there are injuries involved or where the injured person appears to be unconscious or deceased.

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Thumbnail image for pedestrians.jpgAs a Dekalb County pedestrian accident lawyer, I was saddened to learn of another pedestrian death in DeKalb County with little for the police to go on. A man who was walking in the early morning hours on Sunday at the intersection of Covington Highway and Wellborn Drive, was apparently struck more than once by vehicles in the area. The police have said that at least one car struck the man near the Saint Stephen Lutheran Church as he walking along the Covington Highway.

A few drivers stopped their cars and were on the scene perhaps seeing the man on the road. But no one is sure why he was walking at that hour or which vehicles struck him. The police are not calling this a hit and run, but do believe it is possible that he was hit by more than one driver.

Sometimes we forget when we are pedestrians, that drivers might not be able to see us in the dark. Have you ever walked across the street at night and realized that you are wearing only dark clothing and might not be seen by drivers? If you know you will be walking in the dark hours, it is very important to wear something that will be visible when drivers are passing you.

Remember also that in Georgia our laws, specifically Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-91, require that drivers stop and remain stopped for pedestrians to cross a roadway when they are within a crosswalk. The law provides that when the pedestrian is on “the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning, drivers must stop for the pedestrian. “Half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel. This means that drivers are not permitted to drive around a person who is in a crosswalk. Yielding is not permitted, drivers must stop.

But the law also states that “[n]o pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.” And the law prohibits drivers who are behind a stopped vehicle at a marked crosswalk or an unmarked intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, from overtaking and passing the stopped vehicle.

Another of our Georgia laws, Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-92 provides that “[e]very pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway unless he has already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway.

When driving out of an alley, driveway or building, Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-144 provides that the driver coming out “from an alley, building, private road, or driveway within a business or residential district shall stop such vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across such alley, building entrance, road, or driveway or, in the event there is no sidewalk area, shall stop at the point nearest the street to be entered where the driver has a view of approaching traffic” and shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk.

Georgia law protects pedestrians in many situations and it is important to be mindful of those while driving. We hope that remembering these rules will make both pedestrians and drivers safer on the roads we share.

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iStock_000016030629XSmall.jpgA while back we posted readers on a tragic Cobb County pedestrian death case that made the national news. Readers will likely recall the sorrowful interviews with the woman convicted of vehicular homicide in the case. She wasn’t driving, she was walking. But after getting off at the bus stop across from her apartment building with her children, and to avoid walking a significant distance to a cross walk after a long day, she crossed in the middle of the street. Her four-year-old son was hit by a passing car and was killed. In my practice as a pedestrian injury lawyer, I had never seen a case quite like it, nor had many in the Atlanta area or across the county.

The story we did not hear much about had to do with the driver of the vehicle that hit the child. The driver did not stop after hitting the child and he pled guilty to hit-and-run in the case, admitted had been drinking earlier that day and was visually impaired. He also had a record of prior hit-and-run convictions, one on the very road on which he struck the little boy.

We have posted readers in the past about the efforts being made to make streets safer for pedestrians. But a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution report reveals that we aren’t making much progress on this effort in the Atlanta area. And with so much distracted driving and congested suburbs with faster drivers, it seems inevitable that more pedestrians will be injured or killed.

The report notes that recent information provided by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) reveals that our roads are not getting safer for pedestrians. In fact, the reverse is true. For example, the GDOT has issued statistics that 2012 fatalities are likely to exceed those of the prior year. And unfortunately, Georgia pedestrian deaths are above the national average.

Some communities have voter-approved support through specific taxes for these efforts. Gwinnett County, one of the counties in which I have a law office, has over $30 million in funds that will be used for this purpose, but officials say more is needed.

Communities need funding to deal with this issue, as pedestrian safety requires budgeted allocations. Some enhancements that make walking on our streets safer include improvements at busy intersections that allow pedestrians to get across with the use of traffic lights that change once a button is pushed and audible signals that warn of light changes.

Until there is more funding for pedestrian safety, and more improvements are made, it is likely that we will see more injury and death on our roads. I would suggest that when we driver we need to do everything we can to stay at the speed limit, avoid distracted driving and keep our eyes open for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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iStock_000015148283XSmall.jpgThe Georgia Department of Transportation has confirmed the death of a pedestrian earlier this morning in Dekalb County. This occurred at about 4:30 a.m. and is currently under investigation. I have handled many pedestrian death and injury cases in my practice as an Atlanta catastrophic injury lawyer and in each case various factors converge to cause these tragic situations.

In this matter, we do not know the state of mind of the pedestrian. Perhaps he was in shock after the initial accident and did not realize what he was doing in entering the Interstate as a pedestrian or perhaps he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

We do know a few key facts. According to the early reports, after being involved in a crash on the westbound side of Interstate 285 in DeKalb County, the driver exited his vehicle and jumped over the median wall. Investigators believe that he hit another car and then came to a stop. After jumping the median wall, he entered the eastbound lanes of traffic on foot and was tragically hit by several vehicles. Authorities do not appear to intend to file any charges against the drivers that hit the man.