Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

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The number of bicycle miles traveled every year by riders who are older than 450  has increased from 1.9 trillion miles in 2001 to 3.6 trillion miles in 2009. In 1997, 26 percent of medical costs were due to riders 45 and older; by 2013, that had grown to 54 percent. Men continued to comprise the bulk of the injured, with 77 percent of costs in 2013 due to male riders.

What’s behind this increase and what does it tell us about how the circumstances surrounding bicycle rider injuries are changing. Well, as bicycle commuting to work rises in Georgia, so do the number of riders who are hit and injured on the roads of Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Year ago, it was not unusual to watch a movie and see scenes from urban areas in China and other parts of Asia and be struck by the number of people who were riding bikes, not for recreation and enjoyment, but rather to commute to and from work or to get around while working. Now, bikes have certainly become mainstream in Atlanta and it is not unusual to see someone commuting to and from work or making deliveries on their bike instead of their car. Many roads in Atlanta have been repainted or re-paved to add bike lanes and commuters have taken advantage of this increased access to the roads and have decided to ride their bikes instead of drive their cars. This results in better health, increased community awareness and cost savings in the form of less gas usage, decreased car maintenance and repair costs, and in some cases when an automobile is completely replaced by a bicycle, elimination of car insurance payments.

However, as is the case with most things in life, with the good comes the bad. And the bad in this case is that Atlanta bicycle riders are being hit and injured by Georgia drivers at an alarming rate. The medical costs associated with adult car on bike crashes was almost $25 billion in 2013 and, with increased bicycle usage by adult commuters, continuing to rise.

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An Alpharetta man who had stopped to aid another driver on I-75 was killed early Monday when a car struck his own vehicle.  The good Samaritan had pulled his Ford Explorer off behind a disabled Chevrolet Impala just south of Delk Road in Marietta about 4:35 a.m., Cobb police Sgt. Dana Pierce said. After turning on a set of white strobe lights on his vehicle, the victim got out and put on a reflective traffic vest, police said. Moments later, a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt hit the rear of the Ford, causing it to hit the victim, who died on the scene.

Time and again, this is the end result of people (both who are broken down on the side of the road and those trying to aid someone who is on the side of the road) who are working on cars in the shoulder of the road. As an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney who handles car accident cases, this is something that I see too often, and the results are almost always catastrophic. Anyone who finds themselves in this position should move as far to the right of the roadway as possible and not attempt to fix their car in the shoulder.

Due to the unique nature of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle, there are unique legal issues which must be addressed as quickly as possible. Injuries in these types of accidents are usually extensive. The injured pedestrian is often taken from the scene by ambulance and not able to give their account of the accident to the investigating police officer. Because of this, legal representation should be sought quickly in order to protect the victims legal rights, even when the victim is in the hospital and cannot advocate for themselves. Many times, an immediate investigation can uncover witnesses and other evidence which can directly controvert what the at-fault driver (the drive who hit the pedestrian on the side of the road) tells the police of accident team. This can be crucial, not only for the trial or ultimate resolution of the case, but it can also affect insurance coverage, medical treatment and other issues related to the care and treatment of the injured person. Many times, there is only a short window of time to uncover this evidence before it is destroyed (either on purpose or accidentally).

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We have handled a number of cases involving clients who were severely injured while crossing both within a cross walk and outside of a cross walk. Despite popular belief, there are times when an injured pedestrian may recover for the negligence of a driver even if the accident does not happen within the confines of the cross walk. The rights and duties of pedestrians in Georgia are outlined below.

Ga. Code § 40-6-92.

(a) Every 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.

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Causation (i.e., that the negligence causes or substantially contributed to the injuries that the Plaintiff is complaining of in the lawsuit) is one of the key legal hurdles that injured plaintiffs must overcome to prove their case at trial. Most times, it is best to have a treating doctor give testimony on causation to satisfy this legal requirement of proving your case. In Georgia, a physician’s testimony on causation may be introduced during the litigation in the form of an affidavit or Medical Report in certain situations at the pre-trial level. Below is a sample affidavit outlining this type of testimony.

AFFIDAVIT

STATE OF GEORGIA §

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As evidenced by this recent news article which investigated the number of school bus accidents and how they were reported, many Georgia school systems are under-reporting the number of school bus accidents, which hampers efforts to properly investigate school bus accidents, the extent of injuries sustained by school aged children involved in these school bus accidents, and the resolution of these cases. On average, there are about 2 accident per day in the metropolitan Atlanta area involving school buses according to the Georgia Department of Eduction. However, due to the aforementioned under-reporting by the school districts, the numbers are probably higher. Considering that students are not required to wear seat belts while being transported on the bus, the risk of serious injury to students while riding school buses is high. In addition, school officials are not able to use accurate data to make decisions that impact student welfare and safety. For example, if the true accident numbers for Atlanta area school districts are not know, it makes it difficult for the school districts to make proper decisions about whether certain drivers need additional safety training, whether certain buses are not working properly and possible contributing to accident, or whether certain school bus routes are disproportionately involved in serious accident — and thus should be changed in the interest of student safety.

Even though students are not required to wear seat belts while riding the school bus, most school bus accidents involve only minor injuries. In these accidents, bus drivers are charged for negligently causing the wreck about 1/3 of the time. Common examples of school bus driver negligence which causes accidents are: following too close, not properly judging the clearance of the front of the bus while turning, and not properly backing the bus up and running into another vehicle while doing so. However, as we have seen recently, school bus drivers have also been accused of speeding, texting while driving and improper lane changes which have caused many serious injuries in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.

Since it is never clear whether the school district is operating the school bus directly, or the transportation has been outsourced, there are a number of potential road blocks for recovering for your child’s injury. Should your child be injured on a school bus, it is important to quickly gather all of the pertinent information and timely notify any governmental agencies of the potential lawsuit. This is known as an anti-litem notice and must be timely delivered to the governmental entity or the right to sue may be lost forever.

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A woman injured in an Atlanta elevator fall has sued for negligence according to this recent article in the AJC. According to the article, the woman, a Grady Hospital, employee fell 9 floors down the elevator shaft injuring her tailbone, back and legs. Most times, when an employee is injured on the job in Georgia, the exclusive remedy for compensation for the injured worker is a worker’s compensation claim. This is known as the worker’s compensation bar, and it is a very broad bar to overcome in Georgia. However, there are exceptions and this suit is for negligence since the injured work is suing an alleged negligent third-party (in this case, Otis Elevator who apparently, at least according to the lawsuit on file with the court, maintained and serviced the elevators in question). Suing a negligent third-party is one of the major exceptions to the worker’s compensation exclusive remedy bar.

Elevator operators (as well as those who install, service and maintain the elevators for others through the legal doctrines of agency or respondeat superior) have a heightened duty to ensure the safety of the elevator passengers. This duty extends to properly inspecting, servicing, repairing and maintaining the elevators in such a fashion that ensures that those that ride the elevators are not injured. A failure on the elevator operators part to comply with this duty amounts to negligence and, if proved in court, subjects the elevator operator to be liable to the injured passengers for all injuries that flow from the negligence. In most instances, the injured elevator operator will have damages in the form of past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and sometimes a decreased ability to enjoy life or work. As is so often stated, each case is different and the old egg-shell Plaintiff adage in these cases is applicable, i.e., you take your plaintiff as you find them. In this case, this woman according to the lawsuit fell 9 floors down and elevator shaft. The damages she sustained are unique to her and must be proven. Someone else could suffer the similar fall and have far worse and more severe damages than this plaintiff in this particular lawsuit. That is why a jury trial is the best forum to resolve such as situation, rather than a worker’s compensation hearing (which does not get tried to a jury).

Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.

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A lawsuit filed against the City for a breach of its duty to properly maintain a sidewalk has resolved for $300,000. In a one-person bike wreck, the plaintiff lost control of her bike due to an uneven portion of sidewalk which was allegedly not properly maintained by the City. The crash resulted in a broken hip and wrist and also aggravated an earlier back problem, all of which caused pain, suffering and lost wages. At the time of the accident, there was a lift of about 2 inches on one of the sections of sidewalk beneath a viaduct which the plaintiff hit while riding her bike and went over and suffered significant injuries. The uneven portion of sidewalk which allegedly led to the crash has since been repaired.

With few exceptions, cities such as the City of Atlanta are not liable under the traditional theory of negligence for defects in roads and sidewalks. However, a static defect, such as an uneven section of sidewalk can be deemed to be a nuisance.

O.C.G.A. § 41-1-1 defines a nuisance as “anything that causes hurt, inconvenience, or damage to another and the fact that the act done may be otherwise lawful shall not keep it from being a nuisance. Lawful acts become nuisances when they are conducted in a manner causing hurt, inconvenience, or damage to another.
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Accidentally backing over someone accounts for about 15% of all non-traffic crash injuries. Sadly, children between the ages of 1 and 4 years-old account for half of these tragedies and almost half of these accidents happen in the parent’s driveway or in a parking lot. In fact, over 200 children die each year after being backed into by a car.

Everyone, including parents, must be vigilant when backing up or driving in parking lots. Young children are often not aware of their surroundings. Many times they are too small to be seen in the rear-view mirror and wind up in the driver’s “blind spot.” According to Edmonds.com, recent studies show that close to 57 percent of drivers in vehicles equipped with back-up cameras avoided backing over a stationary object that had been placed behind the vehicle when they weren’t looking. The March 2014 research report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also found that three-quarters of drivers in vehicles with both rearview cameras and audible sensors avoided a back-over accident.

By contrast, 100 percent of drivers in the IIHS study who were operating vehicles without back-up cameras or audible sensors ran over a child-size stationary object that had been surreptitiously placed behind them, according to David Zuby, chief research officer at the IIHS vehicle research center in Ruckersville, Virginia. “Our study adds to the body of evidence that’s been building over several years that cameras will help avoid some of these crashes,” Zuby says.

NHTSA expects rearview visibility systems that meet the final regulations’ standards to be 28-33 percent more effective at avoiding back-over accidents than existing sensor-only systems.

By 2054, when most U.S. vehicles on the road will have rearview systems, the technology should save 58-69 lives a year, according to data NHTSA released with the final rule. By that time, the agency estimates the total benefit from rearview technology to preventing injuries, saving lives and avoiding property should be $265 million to $396 million a year. In coming model years, expect to see automakers adding other types of cameras to cars, SUVs and trucks for maneuverability, better aerodynamics and fun. At 2014 auto shows, Land Rover made a splash with a concept off-road vehicle with a hood mounted camera that captures pictures of upcoming terrain and feeds them to a head-up display at the bottom of the windshield to create a 3-D map.
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Spring is in the air, and many Atlantans, weary of the winter weather, will be heading out in their bicycles. It’s the right time for Atlanta bicycle accident attorneys to warn bikers of the special risks they face out there. While bicyclists can do nothing to compensate for the negligence of motorists, they can increase their own risks of surviving an accident, by wearing a helmet, riding a properly functioning bike and obeying all road safety rules.

The number one rule of bicycle safety is – wear a helmet. A helmet will not completely protect you from traumatic brain injury in the event of an accident, but will reduce the chances of suffering a seriously debilitating head injury. The helmet should be well-fitting and fit snugly on your head.

Before you begin a ride, check and make sure that the handlebars are functioning properly, and the wheels are secure. Make sure that your brakes are functioning properly.

Dress for bicycling. Wear brightly colored or neon clothes to stand out in traffic. A motorist is more likely to notice you if you’re wearing a neon yellow T-shirt and a matching yellow helmet.
Avoid biking at night as much as possible. If you really must bike at night, equip your cycle with reflectors and bright lights.

Avoid all distractions. Avoid cycling while listening to music, or talking on your handset.
Be extra careful when you enter intersections -these are bicycle accident magnets.
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The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is joining Georgia Rides to the Capitol in March. On March 22nd, hundreds of cyclists will ride into town to promote cycling awareness and encourage legislators to support measures that enhance bicycling safety in Atlanta.

Currently, Atlanta is not among the most bicycle friendly cities in the U.S. and we have high accident rates. Drivers can be aggressive and resentful of sharing the road with the slower bicycles. Frequently, even the most well-intentioned drivers do not look for the smaller, less obtrusive modes of transport. Consequently cyclists are hit and seriously injured in intersections or run off the road.

Because riders are largely unprotected, these bicycle collisions often leave cyclists with destroyed equipment and nasty injuries, including brain injuries, broken bones and worse. In 2008, bicycle deaths accounted for 2% of all traffic fatalities in the United States. Injured cyclists can require short and long-term medical care, reconstructive surgery and help managing trauma.
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