Articles Posted in Fatal Injury

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Fatal Crash Investigation 

By now most readers have heard about the major limousine accident in New York state. This truly horrific crash caused the death of 17 passengers, the driver and two pedestrians. This fatal accident is now under investigation by the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) which has sent a “go team” to determine the cause. The NTSB investigates only the most serious of accidents. The limo was carrying some young couples and others to a birthday party. What is a senseless loss of life, teaches important lessons for all of us. When we get into a cab or an Uber or Lyft vehicle, or when we hire a limo for that special prom or party, we need to know the driver and the vehicle are safe. And if we do not feel safe, or have concerns, we need to follow those instincts.

According to CNN and other news outlets, the vehicle failed inspection in September. This stretch limo had been altered to carry more passengers. The limo was not supposed to be on the road at all. This limo had been recently inspected by the New York State Department of Transportation. After that inspection, the limo was grounded by authorities as unsafe and unfit for travel. The brakes and braking system had been found in the past to be in need of repair for various reasons. The braking system will be one of the key factors in this crash. The limo sped down a hill and perhaps the driver applied the brakes, but they might have failed. The first party bus rented by this group of friends had broken down. The company apparently sent the limo that was involved in the accident. But it was not safe to drive. The owner of the limo company has now been charged with criminally negligent homicide in New York state for the loss of life. Continue reading

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This week, Atlanta hosts an important national conference for both the public and private sectors. The conference is the annual meeting of the Governors’ Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) which has set a very important and key theme … partnerships in traffic safety. The conference will center around a goal that is important for those across America, achieving zero fatalities on America’s roads and highways.  Here at Scholle Law, we fully support all efforts to ensure zero fatal vehicle crashes, since this will ultimately lead not only to fewer traffic deaths, but to fewer serious injuries as well.

It is truly an honor for Atlanta to be hosting this conference on a subject so important to all of us, particularly those of us working to help victims involved in motor vehicle accidents of all kinds that cause serious injury every day across our country. The conference will be covering topics of interest to regulators and first responders, such as autonomous vehicles, traffic safety technologies and improvements and communications among agencies and responders. Continue reading

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Vehicle Accidents in State and National Parks

Along with summer fun, summer safety is top of mind for many families. As well it should be. We recently wrote about the increased risks and dangers to teens and children in open waters as families head to the beach. Another important concern is staying safe in the outdoors, in places that are new to us and can result in personal injury. Georgia’s parks and recreational areas are wonderful places for family fun. But we all must be mindful when in the outdoors. Here are some tips for staying safe while traveling this summer.

Go slowly on mountain roads and pay attention in areas that are new to you as a driver. Last month a fatal truck crash at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park not only took one life, but caused injury to several others. This is the fourth crash that resulted in a fatality this year at the park. This most recent accident involved a pick up truck that was hauling a flat bed trailer. The trailer was carrying another pick up truck. Apparently the pick up truck driver lost control of his vehicle and was not able to handle the trailer he was pulling. He collided with two oncoming vehicles which resulted in several victims being taken to the hospital. The other accidents that occurred at the park this year, included a fatal fall from a bicycle, a fatal motorcycle crash and a single vehicle crash.

Our Parks Are Safe, When Warnings are Heeded

The National Park Service is a great resource for health and safety when preparing to visit a park. They report that many fatalities in national parks are preventable and are due to heat stroke and failure to bring sufficient water. Hiking and climbing can be exhilarating, but failing to take the dangers seriously can result in serious injury or worse. Visiting parks and recreation areas is a great part of summer fun. But visitors should heed warnings and avoid dangerous situations that can result in harm. This is a problem around the country.

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iStock_000001983354XSmall-300x199A recent Editor’s Pick in the Albany Herald discusses the positive impact of a law that we believe is important for many to know about. As is the case in other states, Georgia has a Good Samaritan law. Georgia’s Good Samaritan law is found at the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 51-1-29. Good Samaritan laws protect medical professionals and the public from liability when they voluntarily and gratuitously assist or provide care to an injured victim. They are also intended to enable those having a medical emergency or those hurt and in need, to get the help that could save their lives or protect them from further injury.

These laws are now being expanded to an epidemic that is found across our country. Most Americans are aware that thousands in our country are addicted to prescription drugs, such as opioids. Many of these individuals are vulnerable to overdoses which can lead to death. To help those who might be saved after overdosing on these drugs, many states including Georgia have taken a step to save lives.

The Georgia General Assembly has enacted a specific law that allows the public to contact emergency help for those who may have overdosed on these drugs, without fear of criminal or other liability. This means that even if there are other illegal drugs or contraband on the premises, they will not be held for these potential crimes. The law is called the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law and is helping to save lives in Georgia. Another aspect of this law protects first responders from liability in administering help or medications, such as Narcan, that can reverse an overdose for at least a period of time so that the individual can get medical care.

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This morning on the Today Show, NBC took an entire segment to talk about the unseen dangers of house fires. This timely piece on fire danger hits close to home. ESPN reported only this past Sunday that a Monroe, Georgia house fire took the life of Quentin Moses. He was not only a former Miami Dolphin, but also a defensive end and MVP 2005 for the University of Georgia. The cause of the fire is not yet reported. But tragically, not only did Mr. Moses pass away, his friend and her 10-year old child also lost their lives in this tragedy. Moses has been the assistant football coach Reinhardt University for several years. The news of his passing has clearly touched many in our community. Jason Taylor and others who knew Moses well have expressed their sorrow over the loss of life taken so young. He was 33 years of age.

It is believed that the fire may have begun in the kitchen. It may have been related to cooking or to an electrical issue. Classes were cancelled this afternoon at Reinhardt University for a celebration of Moses’ life. He was said to have inspired his student athletes with his positive attitude and wonderful smile.

The tragic loss of a young man, his friend and her daughter, perhaps could have been avoided. We do not know at this point. However, we do know that there are many many homes, in fact most homes, that are not as protected against such a tragedy as we might think.

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Alarming Data on Fatal Crash Rise

The entire country is suffering from various traffic fatality statistics that are going in the wrong direction.  Georgia is not completely immune from this trend, although some of our state statistics are slightly better than the nation’s. Georgia’s traffic fatality statistics show an overall downward trend of fatalities between 2007 through 2013. However, after five decades of decreases in traffic fatalities nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a report about a new trend upward.  Although vehicles are safer now, with features that are intended to protect vehicle occupants, and although we have sustained educational programs that are intended to make us all better drivers … the news in not good.

In the calendar year 2015, over 35,000 souls were lost on America’s roads and highways. This is an increase in fatalities of about seven percent from the prior year. Due to the severity of the increase, which has not occurred at this level since the 1960’s, NHTSA has gone on record with other major agencies and the White House in a “call to action” to beat back the potential for more tragedy. With the news of the wrong turn in fatalities, NHTSA is aligning with various interested entities and researchers to arm them with analytics reporting. The data gathered by the federal agency will help state and local governments and others to evaluate the statistics on motor vehicle fatalities going forward and to perhaps alter the trend.  Technologies are also being provided to interested agencies and researchers aimed at reducing these fatalities.

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Drowsy Driving Ends in Tragedy

The long summer days tend to make for longer driving days. This can become dangerous as drivers have more daylight to travel, but still need rest. With summer travel reaching its height and as we approach Independence Day weekend, we want to remind readers about driving while drowsy and the hazards this presents. Just this past week, the Associated Press reports that a Claxton, Georgia man lost his life when his co-worker likely fell asleep at the wheel. Sadly, the driver was allegedly warned to pull over and rest before continuing their deadly trip which ended in a head-on collision that killed five.

We may have some rare insight into what happened in this tragedy. Reportedly, a young man called his mom while traveling from Virginia back to his home in Georgia. He was heading home with two co-workers after a moving job. The young man called to say that he was worried about his colleague who was getting sleepy at the wheel. According to the mom, her son even passed the phone to the driver and she asked him to pull over at a rest stop before continuing to drive. Only a few minutes later, the driver crossed the median on Interstate 16 and struck another car. All three passengers in his vehicle passed away as did a woman and her step son who were hit by the sleepy driver. Although the mom’s account is not confirmed, the Georgia State Patrol is investigating the crash and its cause.

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1175023_magnoliaThe tragic two-car crash near Athens, Georgia that took the lives of four University of Georgia students is still under investigation. Local authorities have been seeking answers to this unthinkable tragedy that has the campus and many Georgians reeling with sadness for these young lives. Authorities found no drugs or alcohol at the scene. The driver of the vehicle in which the UGA students travelled remains in critical condition. The driver of the other vehicle is not seriously harmed and made the call to 911 saying that a car had swerved in front of her vehicle. It is now thought that the driver of the vehicle that carried the now-deceased young women, might have over-corrected and lost control of her vehicle, striking the oncoming car.

Over correction is a well-known cause of accident. Often over correction involves vehicles veering off the road and can involve speeding. When a driver senses that a wheel is off the pavement or outside its lane that driver might try to steer the vehicle in the other direction, while losing control in the process. This loss of control of a vehicle sometimes causes it to slide sideways or roll over. Overcorrection accidents can result in a vehicle veering into oncoming traffic. Many have been harmed or fatally injured in over correction accidents.

There are ways to avoid the dangers of over correction, but they must be practiced to ensure they become more automatic when a situation arises. These techniques need to be a part of the education of all new drivers and experienced drivers should be reminded about them as well. These include remaining as calm as possible, avoiding braking and decelerating. Although we do not yet know for certain what caused this accident, the swerving as described by the other driver and the lack of other causes, has led authorities to suspect over correction.

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iStock_000016429140XSmallTomorrow evening at the University of Georgia, four students who lost their lives in a car accident over this past weekend will be memorialized along with all other UGA students who passed away this year. The most recent deaths have left the school stunned and in mourning. The loss of these lives hits close to home for many of us who are UGA alumi and who have traveled these roads many times over the years. As an Athens native, I have traveled this highway countless times, and I have driven and ridden on the two-laned highways leading in and out of the classic city for my entire childhood. This tragedy hits close to home. Personally, it is heartbreaking to me that the families of these girls will have to live with this for the rest of their lives. The investigation continues into exactly what happened, but that will do little to assuage the loss felt by the Athens community and the UGA family.

As the school year ends and students begin their summer break, four families, four communities and all of Georgia will be thinking about the loss of these young lives. The crash that ended the students’  lives is being investigated, but no obvious cause has been identified at this time. The sadness of this tragedy has hit home and was evident as the local authorities spoke about the tragedy.

What we do know is that the crash took place in the evening hours as the UGA students, all young women, were traveling north on Highway 15 only about 15 miles from Athens. There were five in one car. At one point in their journey, their vehicle crossed over the center line and struck another vehicle traveling south. The driver of that car was traveling alone and was taken to Athens Regional Medical Center in serious condition.

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iStock_000003411145XSmallRecently, an elderly Norcross husband and wife drove along a local road not suspecting it would be their final moments together. Their vehicle was suddenly struck by another car. Behind the wheel of that vehicle was a 17-year old teen. The auto collision was the result of a rapid and tragic series of events. The teen had come upon stop sign with a vehicle stopped at it. Apparently, to avoid hitting the stopped vehicle, he swerved his vehicle and traversed several traffic lanes hitting the elderly couple’s vehicle. The impact on the couple’s car caused it to travel across two lanes of traffic. Both the husband and the wife passed away due to injuries sustained in this auto crash.

The teen has been charged with several violations of Georgia law, including failure to obey a stop sign and reckless driving. The most severe consequences could come if the teen is indicted and convicted of vehicular homicide in the first degree. Georgia’s vehicular homicide provision is found in Official Code of Georgia Annotated provision 40-6-393 (a). In this provision, homicide by vehicle in the first degree can occur when a person is driving in a manner that results in the death of another, even if the person charged did not intend to harm anyone. The consequences of a conviction of the provision can be severe — prison for three years minimum or a 15 year maximum.

This Georgia auto crash is under investigation. But one thing is certain. The life of this teen has been changed forever. Even if he is not convicted of this crime, he will have to live with the consequences of a failure simply to stop at a stop sign. Perhaps only he knows why this was not possible.