Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

keep-calm-and-shhhhhThe period immediately following an accident often sets the tone for the insurance claim process.  Though the claims adjuster representing the other party’s insurance company may seem friendly, their primary concern is saving their company money while protecting the individual they insure.  During the claims process the adjuster can use your statements, actions, and behavior against you making it difficult to receive compensation.  Being aware of what not to say after an accident may reduce your chances of doing something that compromises your case.

Avoid Apologizing for the Accident

Immediately following a vehicle accident it is not unusual for drivers to apologize to the owner of the other vehicle.  Even if the other driver is at fault, it is considered common courtesy apologize especially when speaking to someone who is physically injured.  Unfortunately, telling the other driver or the individuals occupying their vehicle that you are sorry may be construed as an admission of fault.  While you will need to talk to the other party in order to exchange insurance information and other details, do not apologize for the accident even if you secretly believe that you were partly responsible.

According to an article in the Norcross Patch, just last week a Gwinnett police officer seriously injured two pedestrians when the officer’s car left the roadway, drove up on the curb, and struck the pedestrians who has been walking on the sidewalk. One pedestrian suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center, while the other pedestrian’s injuries are reported as not life-threatening. This pedestrian accident is a strange one because there is currently no explanation as to why the accident occurred. How and why the officer left the roadway is currently under investigation, the outcome of which will likely have a big impact on the pedestrians’ personal injury lawsuit, should they choose to sue.

At first glance, one might assume that the police officer who was driving will automatically be held legally liable if there is a resulting lawsuit. But is this always the case? In automobile-pedestrian accidents is the driver always at fault? Can the pedestrian ever be liable? This article provides a brief overview of the laws in Georgia that generally apply in pedestrian accidents and seeks to explain how pedestrians in Georgia can in fact be legally liable, either partially or wholly, in automobile-pedestrian accidents.

How is Fault Determined in an Automobile-Pedestrian Accident?

In Central Georgia, a truck driver walking to a Family Dollar store after leaving his truck was killed by a two-car collision.  The car accident left the drivers and any passengers in the vehicle without injuries and was considered a minor accident by authorities.  However, the pedestrian struck by one of the vehicles died less than an hour after the accident at a medical facility.  The recent Georgia pedestrian accident is a reminder of the danger of the roadways, even when vehicles aren’t traveling at high speeds and pedestrians exercise caution.

Injured pedestrians or family members of walkers and runners killed by an automobile may be able to recover compensation for the cost of medical expenses, lost wages from the inability to work, funeral expenses, and other applicable kinds of economic loss.  The injured pedestrian or estate of the deceased must show the driver responsible for the accident was acting negligently, and that this negligence caused the accident and the resulting injuries.  Drivers are obligated to follow the rules of the road and to drive safely, but failure to do so means they are liable to those who are injured.

black shoes - runningWhen serious, or catastrophic, injuries are sustained, other avenues of compensation or legal relief may be necessary to pursue.  Occasionally, other people or entities may share in the responsibility for damages to be paid to the injured or the deceased’s estate.  If the at-fault driver was under an “umbrella” policy, the driver’s family member’s or employer’s policy may be available for additional compensation.  The pedestrian’s own auto insurance policy, depending on the type of coverage obtained, may also be available if policy limits fall far below the cost of medical expenses.  In Georgia, all motorists are required to carry bodily injury liability insurance coverage for $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, but not all drivers follow the law and an injured’s Uninsured/Underinsured coverage may be called upon to provide the financial relief needed. Continue reading

As the warm weather is approaching, we tend to spend more time enjoying the outdoors.  The sun starts to shine and we come out from the depths of winter like bears that have been hibernating.  Local traveling in the car goes from driving with the heat blasting and seat warmers on to opened windows so you can take in the fresh air.  Many opt for walking or biking this time of year.  So what are the rules of the road when pedestrians and cyclists are involved?

In Georgia, as in most states, the bicycle is legally a “vehicle”.  The “vehicle” classification means that general vehicular traffic law applies to bicycles and the operation of a bicycle.  We often see bicyclists traveling on sidewalks through the city streets.  According to Section 40-6-144 of the Georgia Code, “No person shall drive any vehicle upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized driveway”. Excluding multi-use paths, sidewalks are designed for pedestrian travel. Use by cyclists can raise safety issues in the interaction between pedestrians and bicyclists, and also for vehicles entering/exiting access point along the roadway where motorists may not be anticipating a cyclist to be present.

All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.  Bicyclists are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.

A woman leaving a graduation ceremony fell into an opening when she stepped from a sidewalk onto the roadway.  Her leg became stuck in a hole on the curb where rainwater drains from the road.  The woman sued the Superintendent, the Assistant Superintendent of facilities, the principal of the school, and the director of maintenance of the school system.  The injured woman argued in Austin v. Clark, S13G1590, that the defendants failed to inspect the property and neglected to maintain and repair the sidewalk and road.

traffic-coneThe defendants filed a motion to dismiss based on their alleged statutory rights to sovereign immunity.  Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that’s been developed through statute and case law that provides the government protection from lawsuits so the government can function without being hindered by legal actions.  The Georgia Constitution provides protection to the state departments and agencies for all claims unless they are based on a written contract or fall under the Georgia Tort Claims Act where immunity has been waived. O.C.G.A. Section 50-21-23 waives the immunity for tortious acts of state officers and employees who are acting within the scope of their official duties or employment.  The state is liable as a citizen or entity would have been liable under the same circumstances.  This applies to state courts only and does not include any action within the United States.

The Supreme Court focused on whether the acts or failure to act of the school officials were violation of a ministerial or discretionary duty.  A ministerial act is when someone executes a specific duty – something that is simple, absolute, and definite.  A discretionary act is when the person exercised judgment and acted outside of their direction.  If a public officer or agent was performing a ministerial act, he or she can be held personally liable, but if the public officer or agent was performing a discretionary act, they cannot be held liable unless the act is willful, wanton, or outside the scope of his or her authority.  The Supreme Court reasoned that the distinction between the two is very fact-specific, and that up to the point of the initial dismissal, there were not enough facts provided of the job descriptions of the defendants to completely rule out the possibility of the defendants performing ministerial acts.  The Supreme Court ruled that summary judgment was not appropriate and reversed the prior decisions of the trial court and Court of Appeals. Continue reading

I am the attorney for the two young women who were seriously injured by this horrific car crash.  Please contact my office if you have any information relating to this accident at (770) 217-4954.

Bryce C. Angell

As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child is safe. Many children walk to and from school and it is important you understand your local pedestrian laws in the event that your child is involved in a pedestrian accident. Here are some tips and guidelines you should know and instruct your child to follow:

Walk against traffic: While walking, you should always be walking on the left lane. In other words, you should be walking and facing oncoming traffic head on. Walking with traffic is actually illegal and is often a major cause of pedestrian accidents.

Hold your child’s hand: Children tend to have a lot of energy and can disappear from your view within a few seconds. While walking, hold your child’s hand and make sure they are safe as you cross intersections and streets.

Believe it or not, bicycle accidents account for two percent of all traffic fatalities as well as two percent of all people injured in auto accidents. 662 riders were killed in bicycle accidents and an additional 48,000 were injured in the year 2002. Since 1932, approximately 47,000 riders have died in accidents in the United States.

The majority of bicycle accidents occur because an automobile driver is distracted or drives irresponsibly around a cyclist. This comes despite most cyclists taking safety precautions to prevent an accident from occurring. In also does not take much time to realize that in a bicycle accident, the cyclist normally takes the brunt of the damage. Thanks to a lack of public support and a bias from law enforcement officers, it is extremely hard to determine the cause of the majority of bicycle accidents.

Cyclists that are injured in bicycle accidents can sustain severe and permanent injuries. They can also sustain horrible financial loses, which can affect their lives as well as their families’ lives. The law does provide an injured person the right to try to recover damages if another person is responsible for their injury. Damages include: lost wages, funeral expenses, medical expenses, pain and suffering, among other things. If a cyclist is killed, the spouse is entitled to attempt to recover damages from the offending party. Monetary compensation cannot bring a loved one back but it can ease the financial suffering that the accident caused.

With the large number of pedestrians walking each day, it comes as no surprise that there are a large number of accidents involving pedestrians each day. Atlanta itself has a fair amount of pedestrian accidents each year.

In fact, here are two recent pedestrian accidents:

An Atlanta area woman sustained severe injuries when she was hit by a car when trying to cross Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. The area is extremely dangerous for pedestrians and she is just one of many that have been injured there.