Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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Not since 1981 have we seen so many pedestrians on the roads being runover and killed by negligent drivers. I am not sure what to make of it, but we would expect that the number of people who are walking, jogging or running in local neighborhoods and who are run over and killed by cars would decrease over time. However, this is not the case and the trend is worrisome, to say the least.

The number of pedestrians deaths nationwide has taken a sharp turn upward, especially in the last decade. What we have noticed lately is that there is a small percentage of drivers who seemingly disobey all traffic laws, tailgate incessantly, speed, run red lights, disregard stop signs, turn from the middle lane, fail to yield and otherwise drive with a complete disregard for the law and the safety of those around them. It is not clear if this phenomenon was spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic or not, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that this is when this reckless driving starting showing up on our streets. There are surely no conclusive statistics on this erratice driving behavior and how many needless deaths it has lead to (as there is no way to track this and quantify it), but the general sense in Georgia is that this is happening much more frequently since the pandemic and has probably lead to an increase in pedestrian collisions, injuries and deaths. This seems to be especially true in the City of Atlanta city limits and on the interstates such as I-75, I-85, I-20, I-285 and I-675 that run through the city.

A recent federal report cites what could have contributed to this increase on the federal level, including more risky driving during the coronavirus pandemic and a lack of awareness and enforcement of laws meant to keep pedestrians safe. Nationwide, at least 7,508 people who were out walking were struck and killed in the United States last year alone, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Most pedestrian deaths caused by negligence happened after dark and on roads with no sidewalks.  Passenger cars were involved in 35% of deaths and an SUV or pickup was the striking vehicle in 40% of deaths, the report said.

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In order to properly evaluate any negligence case, Georgia lawyers will investigate what insurance coverage is applicable to the case and a lot of time, this involves excess coverage such as Uninsured Underinsured Motorist Coverage. As part of this process, att0rneys may look at the case of Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. North, Nos. A11A0047 and A11A0134, 2011 WL 2716261 (Ga. Ct. App. July 14, 2011). Being sure to read the substitute opinion and not the original.

In this case, the Court notes, “Courts have held that there must be an offer of UM coverage and an insured must be given the option to reject such coverage, select minimum coverage, or select coverage up to the limits of liability under the policy. Georgia Interlocal Risk Mgmt. Agency v. Godfrey, 305 Ga. App. 130, 131 (2010) (citing O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11(a)(1), (3) & (b)(1) (D)(ii)).

Logically it follows that an insured cannot accept or reject UM coverage if there has been no offer from the insurer. Cases in Georgia have held that  insurers are required to offer UM coverage in an amount equal to liability limits, but no cases in Georgia have addressed the fact that the natural consequence of the failure to offer is an insured‚s inability to make an affirmative choice of UM coverage.

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Below is the synopsis following a “routine” car accident. Well, it turned out to be anything but routine.

On Thursday, I was traveling on Piedmont Road to Peachtree Street in Atlanta. I was involved in a accident that was not my fault. I was knocked unconscious with head, chest, knee, and back injuries. I regained consciousness within seconds of the accident but I noticed that I did not have good balance and that my body felt funny and I was having trouble standing, walking, and communicating. I have to say, at this point I was a bit disoriented and I saw a person approaching in dark clothing. I attempted to give him my license, thinking he was a police officer. He said that he was not the police, but the wrecker operator, asking me if I wanted to tow my car. I was dazed and he didn’t seem to care, he just went past me to my car. I moved my hand, and didn’t see my licence. I opened my wallet looking for my license for quite some time. I had no idea it was in already in my hand. The tow trucker operator came back to me and I explained that I could’n find my license.  He told me to look in the passenger seat, and it was there!  Things were not clear to me and I became scared. I realized at the scene of the accident that I was dropping everything (e.g., my wallet, the pen I was trying to use to take notes of the other driver, my cellphone, my license, the other drivers papers. It was seem and I realized I was not in control of my motor skills. This worried me more as time passed and it did not get better. Surely, this accident did not leave me in this condition.  The police officer came toward me and I think he could tell right away that I was not stable. Wait, he thinks I’m drunk, or worse, high on drugs. I’m not but he check my eyes and reflexes and he suspects that I have been driving under the influence. I am not but he does not know that. I am getting more scared and I think this is making my situation worse by the minute. My heart is starting to race and I feel feint.  The officer notices that I have a big bump on my forehead. My head is aching and my chest feels like it’s in a vice. The officer, I think, realizes that I was not driving under the influence, but rather that I am hurt and need and ambulance. He calls the ambulance for me and I wait in fear. I am confused, I hurt in so many place, I am too disoriented to clearly explain to the officer how this happed (and he doesn’t seem interested in talking with me anyway, at least not now). He sees the bump on my head and he tells me that the pain in my chest was caused by the seat belt or maybe the airbag, I forget). Why do I have such pain in left knee. Plus the pain in my head and neck, and back. I wait as the officer says he will make a note in the police report that I am hurt badly.

I’m am taken by ambulance to the hospital for X-rays, CT  scans and MRI’s. I full battery of tests, and I am told that I have a traumatic brain injury in addition to all of the other assorted injuries to my neck, back and head. What does this even mean?
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Georgia is one of 20 states that don’t require adults in the back seats of vehicles to buckle up. Safety advocates say many people are paying with their lives. In 2017, 44% of the 1,057 people who died in crashes on Georgia roads were not wearing seat belts. Nationwide, 43% of people who died in crashes were not buckled up.

It’s hard to imagine that this is the case, but Georgia first started regulating seat belts in 1988, only requiring front-seat occupants to buckle up. The law has been altered over the years — slowly adding specifications that allowed police to cite someone spotted not wearing a seat belt and required minors and those riding in pickups to be restrained. For many years, pickup trucks were specifically excluded from the seat belt laws, presumably to help farm workers, but the rationale makes no sense, as they could have passed the seat belt laws and simply excluded farm workers while they were working on the farm from the new laws.

Pick-up truck drivers and passengers in Georgia are now required to wear seat belts. Georgia is the last state to adopt pick-up truck seat belt laws. The upgraded seatbelt laws came were gradual over time and accompanied the Georgia General Assembly’s decision to increase speed limits on rural interstates, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Seat belt usage has increased 30% since the laws have been tightened, and this is a great development for Georgia driver safety.

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The Georgia Rule of the Road Statutes provides:

40-8-70. Horns and warning devices

(a) Every motor vehicle when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with a horn in good working order and capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than 200 feet, but no horn or other warning device shall emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle. The driver of a motor vehicle shall, when it is reasonably necessary to ensure safe operation, give audible warning with his or her horn but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway.

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The numbers don’t lie. Almost ten people a day are killed in car accidents caused by distracted drivers. In 2017 alone, the yearly total was 3,166 deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Let’s break down the numbers to see just how much of a concern this should be for the pedestrians of Atlanta.


The percentage of fatal crashes that involved a distracted driver who was focused on something other than driving — most often talking or texting on a cellphone (accounting for 15 percent of all distracted-driver fatalities), but sometimes eating, talking to passengers, fiddling with the radio, putting on makeup, drinking, watching videos or playing video games or adjusting controls on the car.

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A Jeep Cherokee driven by a 17-year-old struck a new mom, her baby daughter in arms, and a family friend who were walking to a concert in downtown Woodstock. All three died of their injuries. While the resulting death are certainly heartbreaking and tragic, a jury is about to decide the fate of the 17 year-old driver. Whether the deaths of Kaitlin Hunt, 3-month-old Riley Hunt and Kathy Deming were due to criminal actions or a simple accident will be decided in a Georgia courtroom as the driver faces nine misdemeanor charges, including second-degree vehicular homicide and distracted driving.

On-site and subsequent investigations involved cellphone records, witness interviews and a crash re-enactment informed by U.S. Naval Observatory expertise on how dark it was at the time. A Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office investigation concluded the pedestrians should have been visible; an expert defense witness disagrees. “I found that it was unavoidable,” said the defendant’s expert, a former Sandy Springs and Fulton County police officer who now owns an independent Reconstruction & Expert Consulting firm.

The driver of the Jeep has said she never saw the pedestrians. Investigators have determined she wasn’t speeding or under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the undisputed facts are that the pedestrians who were killed were wearing dark clothing, and the collision site at the time had no traffic lights or a marked pedestrian crossing zone, as it does now. The initial Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office investigation recommended no charges be filed. But, in an about-face, the County has brought criminal charges against the driver who was 17 years-old at the time of the wreck and is now 19.

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Atlanta Braves reliever A.J. Minter was involved in a relatively minor car accident which eventually lead to him having to miss a turn pitching. Despite his own assessment that no one was hurt at the scene of the accident, including himself, the injuries including to his shoulder became apparent during the two days after the accident.

According to the AJC, Minter was driving around 6 p.m. Wednesday when, he said, he ran into the car in front of him. No one suffered any obvious injury, Minter said, and he was prepared to make his first appearance of the spring the next day. The Braves decided to move him back to Friday.

Minter went on to elaborate on how the extent of his injuries from the car wreck that he was involved in were not immediately discovered by him or the Braves medical staff: “Friday I woke up, played catch, everything felt fine. I wanted to get in the game. “Warming up, I started to get a little stiff when I started to let it loose. I got in the game, I realized I probably shouldn’t be out here. A little stiff, nothing serious. I need a couple more days of rest.”

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In the event that you are a driver involved in an accident, Georgia law requires that you stop immediately at the scene, or as close as possible.  This is true for any driver involved, not just drivers of the primary cars in the crash. Bellamy v. Edwards, 181 Ga. App. 887, 354 S.E.2d 434 (1987).   Drivers should cooperate at the scene and exchange information, including name, address, and registration numbers.  If someone is hurt, it is the responsibility of the other driver to offer reasonable assistance — including notification of emergency services and law enforcement, or even transporting the injured person to the nearest doctor, if emergency transport is not available and the injury required immediate attention. 

If you are involved in a bad car wreck and you are not at fault, your first priority is the safety of you and those around you. Make sure that you are free from the danger of being hit by other cars speeding past you and if you have are on the side of the road of shoulder of the highway, make sure that you do not linger close to oncoming traffic as the car speeding by you may not see you and could wind up hitting you. Not only is being hit while on the side of the road more common than you might think, the results are usually catastrophic and often this type of accidents leave the accident victim in much worse shape than the original accident. For example, there are many cases of a fender bender taking place on the highway, the cars moving over to the shoulder of the road, and then one of the driver who was involved in the original wreck being hit and killed by a passing car as they waited for the police or ambulance to come to the scene. Don’t take any chances and don’t assume other drivers are watching out for you and can see you on the side of the road. Move as far from traffic as you can and make sure you are not in a position to be hit by a car who is traveling on the road while you wait for the authorities to come to the scene of your accident. Keep calm, make sure that the at-fault driver does not leave the scene, but most important, stay safe.

For more than 20 years, Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, personal injury, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been injured or died as a result of the negligence of others in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area, including Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, College Park, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. He has handled car wreck cases that have also involved injuries from a second wreck as well. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured or died while under anesthesia and would like quality legal representation or if you would just like to consult about a potential case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.

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When does Georgia law require you to signal when making a turn or changing lanes? Simple question, no simple answer. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-123 provides as follows:

(a) No person shall turn a vehicle at an intersection unless the vehicle is in proper position upon the roadway as required in Georgia Code Section 40-6-120 or turn a vehicle to enter a private road or driveway or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course or change lanes or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety. No person shall so turn any vehicle without giving an appropriate and timely signal in the manner provided in this Code section.

(b) A signal of intention to turn right or left or change lanes when required shall be given continuously for a time sufficient to alert the driver of a vehicle proceeding from the rear in the same direction or a driver of a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction.

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