Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

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On Monday morning, an Atlanta driver on I-85 South of Atlanta struck and killed HERO operator Spencer Pass. H.E.R.O. stands for Highway Emergency Response Operator. Pass was parked behind a disabled vehicle in the emergency lane when a truck pulling a trailer side-swiped them.
The tragedy brings to mind an important Georgia traffic law that we see violated on a daily basis. Georgia has a “Move Over Law”. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-16, a driver approaching an emergency vehicle should move over into a lane not adjacent to the emergency vehicle. If it isn’t possible to move over safely, the driver should slow down or stop. Violation of this law is punishable by a fine up to $500.00. While it’s the law, this is one of those safety laws that just isn’t enforced and, hence, leads to disastrous results.

A wrongful death action is an action brought when the death is caused by the willful or negligent act of another. The driver of the truck that killed Spencer Pass is now potentially liable for more than the fine. Mr. Pass’s family has lost a father and a husband. Not only did they lose a loved one, they lost his help and financial support. While no amount of money or damages can bring him back, the law does entitle the family to the “full value of the life” of the deceased.
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The Georgia driver of the Cobb County Transit bus involved in a pedestrian accident last week has been charged with failure to yield and failure to exercise due care.

57-year-old Jean Lewis has been formally charged in the Atlanta-area accident, which occurred eight days earlier. On the day of the crash, the victim, a 57-year-old woman was walking on the cross walk at the Hamilton E. Holmes Dr. and ML King Junior Drive intersection. According to the report, the bus driver had a green arrow to turn left. As he was turning, the victim stepped on the curb and into the cross walk. According to witnesses, the victim saw the bus making a turn, and tried to hurry up across to the other side, but was struck by the rear of the bus. She sustained serious personal injuries, including a severed leg and a broken ankle.

A new report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association reveals that pedestrian accident fatalities across the United States actually increased by .4% in the first six months of 2010. It may seem like a small increase, but it comes after years of great progress reducing pedestrian accident fatalities. Although Georgia’s pedestrian accident fatality numbers declined during the first six months of 2010, there’s more that we could be doing to keep pedestrians safer.
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Atlanta joggers, walkers, and bicyclists should use extreme caution while crossing the intersection of LaVista Road, Lindbergh Drive and Chesire Bridge Road. While the City of Atlanta is aware of the safety defects at this intersection, they have not been remedied. In addition to heavy traffic, the following road defects warrant extra precautions: (1) there is no cross walk on the eastern side of the intersection; and (2) one of the cross walk buttons is missing, while others do not work properly. This forces lawful pedestrians into the street and lead to a potentially dangerous situation.

As Atlanta Injury lawyers, we see many Atlanta pedestrian accidents happen as a direct result of unsafe road conditions that result from the City of Atlanta or the State of Georgia’s lack of attention to noted road defects. All Atlanta residents should use extreme caution as these types of busy intersections.

Legal claims against government agencies are difficult because the set of laws involved are biased to protect the governmental entity. This complex set of laws works to the disadvantage of the person injured by the wrongful acts of government employees, negligent operation of a government vehicle, or by a dangerous condition of public property. The law of governmental immunity (also known as sovereign immunity) in Georgia and other states has claims procedures that must be followed exactly and immunities that the government will attempt to use to eliminate a person’s claim and have it rejected from court, even when the facts show wrongful acts by the government or government employees, or dangerous public property. The Federal Tort Claims Act provides the same type of protection to the Federal government for personal injury and wrongful death claims against the Federal Government. Under both sets of laws, an injured person must send a written notice to the governmental entity putting the entity on notice of the injury and potential claim. The deadline to do this varies, depending on the type of governmental entity that you are suing. Because of this requirement, the complexity of the notice requirements, and the varying deadlines, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney who can navigate these legal requirements on your behalf, properly preserve you claims against the city, county, state, or Federal Government and pursue your case in the courts.
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Once again, we are reminded of the dangerous road and side-walk conditions which some Atlanta pedestrians are subjected to while they are walking and biking on city and county roads. According to recent reports, an Atlanta resident suffered a serious ankle injury and was rushed to Emory Hospital for treatment when she fell while trying to cross North Decatur Road where it intersects with Oakdale Drive. The injured woman and her husband reported the dangerous intersection (which legally constitutes a “nuisance”) to the Atlanta Journal Constitution in hopes that the broken concrete and sunken roadway would be repaired by the county before someone else is injured.

Generally, the local municipality charged with maintaining the roadway and sidewalk in good condition (i.e., safe and free from dangerous defects and/or hazards) is legally responsible to a pedestrian who suffers an injury if the municipality knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to make adequate and timely repairs. Depending on the circumstances, the liable municipality in the Atlanta area would be The City of Atlanta, Dekalb County, Fulton County, the City of Decatur, Cobb County, Clayton County, the City of Marietta, the City of Brookhaven, the City of Johns Creek, the City of Chamblee, Gwinnett County, etc.

What is especially worrisome about dangerous intersections is that, not only does the injured pedestrian fall and suffer from any number of injuries related to the fall (e.g., broken ankle, broken arm, torn rotator cuff, head injuries), but once they fall, they risk being run over by passing cars on busy streets and intersections. This is why local city and county agencies must be vigilant about making these needed repairs.

To their credit, the cities of Chamblee and Brookhaven have installed miles of new sidewalks and cross walks along Buford Highway which goes a long way in alleviating the dangerous conditions that pedestrians that use the Buford Highway corridor face. However, there still exists many other dangerous stretches of road along Buford Highway and other main streets in and around Atlanta that pose a daily hazard to those people who walk along the roads. This would include commuters who travel by bus, bicycle riders and others who are simply walking or riding along the road and have no safe area to traverse.
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If you are an Atlanta cyclist and ride along the shoulder of Howell Mill Road, you will see first- hand a City of Atlanta nuisance. As reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (“AJC”), about 50 feet south of the Peachtree Creek bridge is a hazardous storm grate. If you travel this stretch of road, you will see that there are two storm grates. One is correctly place so that the grates run perpendicular to traffic. The other storm grate, however, poses a severe hazard because the grates run parallel to traffic.

As an experienced Georgia injury lawyer, I cannot overemphasis how dangerous this condition is. The danger occurs when a cyclist’s tire gets stuck in the grate. This can cause the cyclist to lose control and veer into oncoming traffic. It goes without saying that a whole host of catastrophic bicycle injuries can occur when cyclists loose control of their bike and collide with cars. Some common resulting injuries are coma, concussion, closed head injuries, traumatic brain injury ((“TBI”), broken bones, road rash, severe lacerations, and even death.

While governmental agencies such as the State of Georgia, local counties such as Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Clayton and the City of Atlanta enjoy a certain amount of immunity from wrongful acts and negligence due to their special status as municipalities, many times they are liable for the damages caused by a nuisance, such as the above example. However, when the negligent acts result in a nuisance, if not corrected once the municipality knows, or should know, of the dangerous condition, the city, county or state can be held accountable. For instance, in the case of the grates discussed above, once the City of Atlanta (or whichever local municipality which is charged with the care and upkeep of the roadway and grate system) is aware of the problem, they must correct the dangerous condition. Failing to do so, under the laws of Georgia, this dangerous roadway situation now constitutes a nuisance and the injured party can pursue the municipality for damages.  In Georgia, the damages recoverable on account of a nuisance are all the direct damages resulting from the nuisance, including personal injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and in the proper case, attorneys’ fees and expenses of litigation.

It is essential to send an anti-litem notice to the municipality as soon as you become aware of your claim and that a governmental entity may be liable for your injuries. The time to do this varies, but one thing is for sure, if you miss the deadline to send the anti-litem notice to the governmental entity, you are almost always precluded from pursuing the claim agains the government entity in a lawsuit. To be safe, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you as soon as possible so that all deadlines and statutes of limitations are complied with.
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