Articles Posted in Car Accident Injuries

Victims of automobile accidents are usually focused on receiving fair compensation for their injuries. Unfortunately, the wheels of justice move slowly, and you might need to wait a year or longer before your automobile accident lawsuit goes to trial. On certain occasions, it might be better to settle with the party at fault so that you can receive your compensation faster. Because every situation is different, you should meet with a Georgia personal injury lawyer to assess your situation.

Why Lawsuits Take So Long

Unlike other parts of the world, the American legal system is based on making sure there are no surprises when you go to trial. To that end, each side can engage in extensive fact finding by questioning the other side and asking for documents. This fact-finding phase is called “discovery,” and its goal is to make sure everyone lays their cards on the table before trial. Discovery can be quite extensive, especially if you have serious injuries or multiple cars were involved in the crash. It’s not unusual to spend over a year in discovery.

After a car accident, you should write down your memories and identify any potential witnesses. But there are some things you absolutely should not do, because they will make it difficult to bring a lawsuit and receive just compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one is involved in a wreck, make sure to avoid the following.

Never Handle the Accident Without Police

After a crash, you might just want to swap insurance with the other driver, especially if the accident seems minor. Unfortunately, you can’t usually tell from a visual inspection of the outside of the vehicle whether your vehicle has sustained damage. Instead, call the police so that an officer can investigate and file a police report. Your personal injury lawyer will find the report helpful if you later sue.

Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents every year in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 3,447 deaths and 3901,000 injuries due to distracted driving in the year 2015 alone. Among all types of distracted driving, texting is considered the most dangerous, since sending or reading one text can take your eyes off the road for a full five seconds. While texting is the most common and most dangerous type of distracted driving, there are many activities that can take your attention away from the road, including:

  • Eating
  • Grooming

Human error is the responsible for many traffic accidents and, in those cases, it’s fairly easy to allocate blame. Normally, the person who was responsible for causing the accident is liable for any damages he or she caused to other drivers. But what about accidents that were not caused by human error, but were instead caused by dangerous conditions on the road itself, such as potholes? In most cases, the entity liable for accidents caused by poor road conditions is the government agency responsible for maintaining the road on which the accident happened. However, suing a government entity is a bit more complicated than suing a person or a business.

Proving Negligent Road Maintenance or Construction

A person who is the victim of a car accident due to poor road conditions must first prove that the road conditions actually caused the damage to the car and resulted in their injuries. Second, the plaintiff must also show that the agency or company responsible for maintaining the road was negligent in its duty to provide a safe roadway or that they failed to adequately warn drivers of a potential hazard. And third, the plaintiff must determine if the agency responsible is allowed to be sued in court and whether too much time has passed since the accident. In order to prove that the agency in question was negligent in its duties, the plaintiff must show that the agency could and should have maintained the roadway but chose not to do so, or that the agency built the road in an unsafe manner. For example, assume that a state decides to cut down on roadway maintenance, which causes erosion of a roadway on a dangerous, steep curve. If a car goes off the curve because of this erosion, the agency may be liable for the driver’s damages.

A new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) has found that older teen drivers experience more accidents and near misses than younger drivers. The study hypothesizes that this is because older teen drivers are often overconfident and perceive themselves as safer drivers than they really are. What is even more interesting is that parents may be unwittingly allowing this kind of behavior as consequences taper off for older teen drivers. Nearly 70% of teens aged 15 and 16 said they would lose their driving privileges if they were to get into an accident, while only 55% of older teens believe they would experience the same consequences.

Concerning high school seniors specifically, the study found that 75% of seniors feel confident in their driving abilities, but with age comes riskier behaviors. Older teen drivers (71% of whom were high school seniors) are more likely to use a phone while driving than younger teen drivers (55% of sophomores). These types of behaviors occur most often at red lights, stop signs, and while sitting in stop and go traffic, which are all situations in which the risk of having a rear-end accident are higher.

According to Dr. Gene Beresin, the senior advisor on adolescent psychiatry with SADD, “It’s natural for teens to gain confidence behind the wheel as they get older and log more driving hours…However, this age group is more likely to test the boundaries as consequences for bad driving behaviors decrease and their freedoms and responsibilities at home increase, making them feel more like adults. As a result, it is even more important for parents and teens to have conversations about safe driving practices to avoid potentially putting themselves and others at risk on the road.”

Driving is a dangerous activity, and, as such, car accidents are one of the most common types of cases we handle. Although you might think that you are the perfect driver, even the best drivers can get involved in accidents. And no matter how safe you are, you can be assured that not everyone else on the road is quite so careful. While there are more ways to get into a car accident than we could possibly count, below are a few of the most common reasons why people get into accidents.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a serious and growing threat, and has only gotten worse due to the explosion of smartphone usage in recent years. Studies show that sending one text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. 4.6 seconds might not seem like a lot of time, but, trust us, it’s more than enough time to get into a serious accident.

The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has more than doubled since 2013, federal and state data show. These trends coincide with the legalization of recreational marijuana in that state that began with adult use in late 2012, followed by sales in 2014. Coroners in the Denver area have been finding increasingly potent levels of marijuana in positive-testing drivers who die in crashes. Nearly a dozen in 2016 had levels five times the amount allowed by law and one that was at 22 times the limit. These levels were not as elevated in the years prior to Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana. In response, police, victims’ families, and safety advocates say the numbers of drivers testing positive for marijuana use are rising too quickly to ignore and highlight the potential dangers of mixing marijuana with driving. “We went from zero to 100, and we’ve been chasing it ever since,” Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson said of the state’s implementation of legalized marijuana. “Nobody understands it and people are dying. That’s a huge public safety problem.”

The 2013-2016 period saw a 40 percent increase in the number of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado, from 627 to 880, according to the NHTSA data. Those who tested positive for alcohol in fatal crashes from 2013 to 2015 – figures for 2016 were not available – grew 17 percent, from 129 to 151.The 2013-16 period saw a 40 percent increase in the number of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado, from 627 to 880, according to the NHTSA data. Those who tested positive for alcohol in fatal crashes from 2013 to 2015 – figures for 2016 were not available – grew 17 percent, from 129 to 151.

While recreational marijuana is not legal in Georgia, medical marijuana is, and there is evidence that the state is not immune from the negative effects of the drug that Colorado has faced. In fact, police estimate that the number of people being arrested for driving while high on drugs is up 20 percent in Georgia in the past five years. Despite this, Governor Nathan Deal signed a measure into law earlier this year that expands the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana to include AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. Although marijuana provides numerous medical benefits to patients suffering from a variety of conditions, it is still a mind-altering substance, and eligible patients should not drive while using it. Driving while under the influence of marijuana is treated as a DUI, and anyone doing so will face the normal consequences that DUIs entail, including criminal prosecution and civil personal injury and wrongful death suits.

The latest automotive technology—driverless vehicles—promises a world where accidents caused by human error are a thing of the past. Several companies, most notably Tesla, have made great strides towards bringing this future into reality, but, as of 2017, we are not quite there yet. Most vehicles equipped with self-driving technology sold today are what are known as semi-autonomous vehicles, in which a human driver is still the primary operator of the vehicle, but the vehicle can assist the driver with a variety of tasks, including automatic braking, self-parking, and lane detection. While these technologies are a promising start toward completely autonomous vehicles, they still have their limitations, which were tragically illustrated last year when an inattentive driver’s over-reliance on his Tesla Model S sedan’s semi-autonomous driving system caused a deadly crash.

Joshua Brown, 40, was traveling on a divided highway near Gainesville, Florida using the Tesla’s automated driving system known as Autopilot when a truck driver made a left-hand turn in front of him. The vehicle did not recognize the oncoming truck, which resulted in a fatal collision. Tesla stated that it told drivers of the Model S vehicle that the automated systems should only be used on limited-access highways where there are no vehicles suddenly turning into the car’s path. Despite this warning, however, the company did not incorporate protections against using Autopilot on other types of roads.

The Model S is a level 2 on a self-driving scale of 0 to 5. Level 5 vehicles can operate autonomously in nearly all circumstances. Level 2 automation systems are generally limited to use on interstate highways, which don’t have intersections. Drivers are supposed to continuously monitor vehicle performance and be ready to take control if necessary. In its investigation of the Brown accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the car’s cameras and radar weren’t capable of detecting a vehicle turning into its path. Rather, the systems are designed to detect vehicles they are following to prevent rear-end collisions.Investigators also found that Brown had his hands on the car’s steering wheel for only 25 seconds out of the 37.5 minutes the vehicle’s cruise control and lane-keeping systems were in use prior to the crash. As a result, Brown’s attention wandered and he did not see the truck turning into his path.

Last month, automakers Toyota, BMW, Subaru, and Mazda agreed to pay a total of $553 million to current and former owners and lessees of 15.8 million vehicles that were fitted with airbags manufactured by Takata, the Japanese automotive parts company. The plaintiffs’ class-action lawsuit alleged that Takata airbags are prone to rupture, and have been linked to at least 11 deaths and over 100 injuries in the United States.

The cause of the ruptured airbags is alleged to be their inflation mechanism, which uses a compound called ammonium nitrate that fills the bags in a powerful controlled explosion. When ammonium nitrate is exposed to air or moisture over long periods of time, however, it can become unstable and explode more violently than it is intended, making the airbags particularly dangerous to consumers living in the Southeastern United States and Hawaii.

The defect has prompted the United States’s largest automobile recall ever, affecting almost 70 million airbags in 42 million vehicles.

More than three years after General Motors (GM) recalled 2.5 million of its 2005-2010 Chevy Cobalts, Pontiacs, and Saturns, the company recently lost its bid to prevent an Arizona driver some seeking damages for ignition-switch liability. The plaintiff, Dennis Ward, alleges that he was driving a 2009 Chevy HHR on March 27, 2014, when he rear-ended another driver in Tucson. The reason why he rear-ended the driver, he alleges, is because his vehicle “suddenly and unexpectedly lost power,” thus disabling his brakes and steering.

Faulty Ignition Switches

Beginning in 2001, several models of GM brands were fitted with an ignition switch that was found to be defective, causing cars to suddenly shut off while still in gear. These faulty switches could cause a loss of power steering, disable brakes, and prevent airbags from inflating. In some models, the key could even be removed from the ignition switch when it was not in the “off” position, which could cause the vehicle to roll away. The switches have been linked to at least 124 deaths and nearly 300 injuries. Once GM became aware of the problems associated with these ignition switches, it initiated a recall of about 800,000 vehicles in 2014, which was eventually expanded to over 30 million vehicles once the scale of the problem became apparent.

Esteemed Lawyers - ELOA
Georgia Trial Lawyers Association Badge
Georgia Trend
Best Lawyers
Super Lawyers Badge
AV Preeminent - Martindale-Hubbell
Top 100 Trial Lawyers
Litigator Awards
Atlanta Bar Association
American Bar Association
State Board of Workers' Compensation
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
State Bar of Georgia
Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb