Articles Posted in Traffic Accidents

bethany-legg-14229-copy-300x200A few years ago the transportation-for-hire business was turned upside down with the advent and widespread use of new smartphone technology for sharing rides. What started out as an application on the phone to share rides with people traveling from one place to another has become the number one choice for paying for rides and getting from point A to point B. This is true across the country, from big cities like Atlanta to small towns. With this increased presence has come increased exposure to liability for the ridesharing companies. In the past, when a taxi driver took passengers from place to place, the driver and his company faced the liability possible when an accident occurred. Now that those drivers have been largely supplanted by rideshare drivers, the liability has been shifted to those drivers and to the ridesharing companies, as well. If you have been involved in a accident involving a driver for a rideshare company, contact an Atlanta car accident lawyer right away.

Conflicting Reports

Despite this clear reality, there are conflicting reports about whether ridesharing companies should be held liable when their drivers get into accidents. One recent report from included an account of the author, who was actually hit by an Uber driver when running down the street. She was fine from the accident, but it caused her to wonder whether, if she had bee seriously injured, she could have sued the rideshare company.

House Bill 459, if passed, would require motorists to get out of the left lance when a faster car comes up from behind.

Left-lane “slow pokes” better speed up or move out of the way.  Legislation flew through the Georgia House last month with a staggering vote of 162 to 9.  If it becomes a law, it will be a misdemeanor if you don’t move out of the left lane when a faster car approaches from behind.

Rep. Bill Hitchens, author of this House Bill told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that “everyone knows this is the slow-poke bill.”  While enforcing the law may be difficult, Hitchens believes it to be likened to the “good manners your mother should have taught you.”

Georgia has very strict laws regarding how you should react immediately following an accident.  If you fail to follow those state guidelines, you could face criminal charges with serious penalties.  Leaving the scene of the accident is a crime that can often have harsher penalties that a DUI offense.

The law varies on the type of accident you were involved in:  property damage, bodily injury, or death.  No matter which type of accident, pull over and stop your vehicle in a safe place.

If you are in a parking lot and hit a parked car when backing out of your space, the law states that you should make a reasonable effort to contact the owner of the other vehicle, such as leaving a note on the windshield with your contact and insurance information.  This is not considered leaving the scene.

GM, a Fortune 500 Company, recently recalled more than 778,000 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 cars and is believed to have known about the problem since 2004, yet just issued the recall less than two weeks ago.  Now, the company will more than double the size of the recall issued for the ignition switch defect adding in 2003-7 Saturn Ions, 2006-7 Chevrolet HHRs and 2006-7 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models.  That expansion brings the number of vehicles covered by the recall to nearly 1.4 million in the United States alone, more in Canada and Mexico.

According to a report posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, something as simple as a heavy key ring or a “jarring event” such as running off the road could cause the engine to shut off leading to loss of power steering and breaking assistance.  And, in the event of a collision, it is possible that the air bags would not deploy.  An engineer for the company experienced the problem while test-driving one of the vehicles in 2004 according to deposition transcripts provided to CNN Money.  GM’s engineers concluded that there was a problem with the ignition switch in 2005.

GM had earlier tried to fix this problem without issuing recalls, and instead issued Technical Service Bulletins that instructed dealers to fix problems that are not deemed to be safety related.  The fix involved putting an insert into the ignition switch, but is believed to have been unsuccessful.

A bill was introduced this week in the Georgia House of Representatives that would make it illegal to stay in the left lane that is designated as the fast lane.  A driver can be ticketed for hindering the flow of traffic, and would only apply if another driver was trying to pass.  The bill specifically limits the use of the left lane for overtaking and passing another vehicle, obstructions in the right lane, and necessity arising from weather conditions.  House Bill 459 was introduced by Representative Bill Hitchens who formerly led the Department of Public Safety.

Speeding over the posted limit is often talked about, because the dangers of speeding are well known.  Driving too slowly, however, can be equally dangerous when driving too slow on a major thoroughfare like an interstate highway.  The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety warns of the dangers of driving on roads that are used by farmers hauling or driving large farm equipment that move at a speed of 15-25 miles per hour.  Catastrophic and fatal injuries can result when a typical consumer car traveling at a high rate of speed crashes into a large, slow-moving piece of farm equipment.

tractorThe state law, Georgia Code O.C.G.A. § 40-8-4, requires slow moving farm equipment, construction equipment, and trailers to display a uniform emblem (an orange triangle with reflectors around the edge) that helps other motorists identify a slow-moving vehicle ahead.  Failure to use the emblem can result in a misdemeanor offense.  The Office of Highway Safety encourages drivers to use patience and yield to the larger vehicles.  Passing must be done with care, and the rules of the road must still be followed when passing. Continue reading

In 2011, at least 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones.  That’s 1.3 million crashes!  Five seconds is the minimal amount of time your attention is taken away from the road when you’re texting and driving.  Think about this…If you’re traveling at 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field without looking at the road.  Texting while driving increases your risk of crashing by 23 times.

We all know that texting is a huge temptation for teens – especially when driving.  Thirteen percent of teen driver

s involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking in their phone at the time of the accident.  And while many young drivers believe that they can safely text and drive, it is a problem for the driver, passengers in the vehicle, and other cars on the road.

5 Things NOT To Do After A Car Accident

An auto accident can ruin your entire day. In addition to the inconvenience of missing work or an important appointment, you also have to deal with the stress of damage to your car, liability, traffic citations, and possibly injury.

The National Safety Council estimates that there were 3.8 million crashes with injuries in the U.S. in 2013.

When a car accident happens, you often think of police and emergency services as aids in a time of need and not contributors to the accident.  You may wonder what remedies are available if a paramedic or police officer, while attempting to help you, actually causes an injury or aggravates the pre-existing ones.  Typically one can seek compensation for their injuries by filing a personal injury claim.  However, attempting to hold government entities accountable can be challenging, but not impossible, due to the legal concept of sovereign immunity.   If a government entity or agent was acting within their discretion, then the law protects them from being sued.  Personal injury actions can still be successfully pursued if the alleged injury-causing act occurred outside the scope of the government’s authority, or if the government entity or agent waives sovereign immunity through their actions.

traffic conesA recent Georgia Supreme Court decision, Stevenson v. City of Doraville, decided November 25, 2013, deals with the question of whether an injured motorist should have been able to pursue his personal injury action against the city based upon the police officer’s actions at the scene.  The underlying facts began when the injured man’s car began to fail while he was driving on the highway in a rainstorm.  He attempted to move toward the shoulder, but his car stalled halfway across.  The driver noticed a police vehicle with emergency lights activated.  The police officer in the cruiser noticed the stranded motorist and activated his blue flashing lights.  Both parties had different accounts of where the police car was located, but the injured motorist alleged that the police car was behind his car at the four o’clock or five o’clock position which directed traffic toward his vehicle and led to his injuries.  The officer alleged that he was on the side of an entrance ramp, several lanes of traffic, and a grassy median prior to the accident, and only moved the car after the accident occurred.

The police officer radioed twice to dispatch for assistance due to the location of the stranded motorist’s car and did not leave the car.  The motorist waited several minutes because he believed the officer was going to help him and then decided to try to get the officer’s attention.  After he left his vehicle another motorist crashed into his car which hit him and then caused a multiple-vehicle accident.  The injured motorist alleged that because the officer was behind and to the right of his vehicle and chose not to get out of his car, other motorists were directed to his car and he missed an opportunity to cross the highway on foot when it was clear.  The lower courts granted the city summary judgment, reasoning that the public duty doctrine did not apply or create liability for the city.  Under Georgia law, the public duty doctrine imposes a extra duty on a police officer if they are protecting an individual after a special relationship exists that sets it apart from the general duty to the public.  If the police failed to provide protection once the special relationship was established through inaction, then the city could be held liable for damages.
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Safe Driving Tips For Truck Drivers

Are truck drivers trained on safety before they get out on the road? The answer is that most companies require their truck drivers to go through safety training.  One of the common training methods is to develop what we call the “Five Seeing Habits.” These are driving tips that stress the importance of space and visibility when driving tractor trailers. They may seem awkward but with practice you can easily use them into your every day driving.

An easy way many truck drivers remember the habits are  by remembering “ All Good Kids Like Milk”.  An acronym for Aim High in Steering, Get the Big Picture, Keep Your Eyes Moving, Leave Yourself an Out, Make Sure They See You. Ok, now give it a try and be a safer driver.

As an accident attorney here in Atlanta who deals with medical liens on a regular basis, there are some important points you need to know if you have outstanding medical liens.  First, if you have been injured in auto accident and do not have health insurance  there are health care providers that will treat you on what is called a medical lien.  This means the medical provider will have a lien against your settlement and will be legally entitled to proceeds from your settlement.  This is obviously a fair arrangement as the health care provider treated you without upfront payment for their services.atlanta accident attorney medical bills

In such cases your personal injury attorney will pay your health care providers after your case has been settled.  Upon receipt of the settlement check from the responsible insurance company, your attorney will hold the funds in trust account.  At this stage of the settlement process your attorney can attempt to negotiate your medical bills for less than the original billed amount.  Not all health care providers will negotiate their bills but an experienced accident attorney will know how to proceed and which health care providers will play ball.

Often negotiating a medical bill can take weeks or even months to finalize.  Some attorneys as a favor to their clients will go ahead and issue a settlement check to the client even before all medial billing negotiations have been finalized.  This can be helpful to those injured victims where money is tight and bills need to be paid.