Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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Sometimes, car accidents are the result of a driver having a medical emergency at the wheel. For instance, a driver who suffers a heart attack, stroke, or seizure may lose control of his or her vehicle, leading to a serious accident.

In cases like this, can another injured driver or passenger recover damages from the motorist who lost control as a result of a medical condition?

This can be a tricky question to resolve. Liability will depend very heavily on whether the motorist who had the medical emergency was aware of his or her health condition or the medical risks involved in driving.

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Motor vehicle accident fatalities continue to be a problem across the United States. This is true in Georgia, where the traffic accident fatality toll in the first half of 2015 looks set to exceed the number recorded the previous year. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) believes that distracted driving, accounts for much of that increase.

Thus far, according to the statistics, traffic accidents are up by 25% over the previous year. Georgia records an average of 100 fatalities every month, and at that rate, the total will be at least 1,200 fatalities by the end of the year. If that happens, it would be an increase of 4.6% from 2014. There have been close to 400 traffic accident fatalities in Georgia this year.

Other findings from the 2015 statistics should cause even more alarm. For example, many of the fatalities were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. Only 38 % of the motorists involved in fatal accidents were wearing seat belts at the time. In addition, 69% failed to maintain their lanes. These are crucial driving errors that dramatically increase the risk of being killed in an accident.

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Whether or not you’ll be home for Christmas, the holiday season is always a busy travel time. This year is slated to be even busier than usual. Due to the improving economy and the low price of gas, AAA predicts that 2014 will have the busiest holiday travel on record, with nearly 99 million Americans traveling more than 50 miles. Air travel is also expected to increase this year, to 5.7 million travelers.

The last days before Christmas are a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads, as people are rushing to finish their holiday shopping or leaving for trips out of town. For those wanting to avoid the worst of the traffic, traveling on the actual holiday may be your best bet. Fewer people are on the roads on Christmas and Christmas Eve.

Winter weather is another factor that makes holiday travel hazardous. Snow and sleet make roads dangerous and safe driving difficult. If you can’t avoid being on the roads this holiday season, here are some tips to make your journey safer:
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For months now, the Takata airbag recall has been making headlines. So far, the faulty airbags have been responsible for five deaths and hundreds of injuries around the world. Currently over 20 million vehicles have been recalled worldwide, including over 11 million recalled in the United States.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has become involved, urging owners of the affected vehicles to act on the recalls. However, the agency’s powers are limited. In November, the NHTSA called for a national recall of vehicles with affected driver’s side airbags. Takata refused to issue a nationwide recall, although the company said it would cooperate with manufacturers who chose to issue recalls. Honda, Takata’s biggest customer, has issued a nationwide recall in accordance with the request by the NHTSA.

The current recalls by Takata only apply to vehicles in high-humidity areas. Takata justified its refusal by stating that scientific evidence shows the malfunction is only present in high-humidity environments, and that expanding the recall would delay getting parts to those at greater risk. The NHTSA is preparing to take further action.
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Some would say this has been a hard year for auto giant General Motors. Times have been even more difficult, however, for those consumers directly affected by the series of safety issues that have plagued the company, caused car accidents and prompted millions of recalls. The recalls affected several models, including Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions, Pontiac G5s, Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Skys, primarily those manufactured from 2003 to 2007.

Loss in vehicle value aside, an ignition switch flaw in the vehicles has been linked to more than 30 deaths and instances of bodily injury. A federal judge in New York has slated the first of many trials for 2016 and those close to the lawsuit claim there was evidence that certain employees knew about the dangers posed by the ignition switch flaw for the last ten years, a full decade before the recalls were initiated.

According to the announcement finally made by GM earlier this year, the ignition switch may slip out of position when jostled, cutting power to and disabling life-saving devices – including air bags, steering capabilities, and brakes. Plaintiffs’ attorneys hope the ruling in this first case will set a favorable precedent for those to follow.
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Despite all commercial efforts, underage drinking continues to be a prevalent problem amongst today’s youth. Underage drinking is prohibited nationwide and Georgia law makes it illegal for adult motorists to drive with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or greater and 0.02 or higher, for motorists under the age of 21. Not only is the practice of driving under the influence illegal, however, but it also has the added detriment of endangering lives. In fact, it’s a risky business whenever anyone drives impaired. Just ask 18-year-old Alexandria Cymone Brooks, of Smyrna, Georgia. Following an early morning drunk driving car accident this past weekend, Ms. Brooks is currently languishing in jail, charged with two felony counts of serious injury by vehicle, DUI, underage possession and reckless driving, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The teen was allegedly driving her 2002 Nissan Maxima the wrong way on a major highway in Cobb County – southbound in the northbound lanes of I-575, near Barrett Parkway, – when she struck a 2005 Ford Focus head-on. When police arrived at the scene, an obviously still inebriated Brooks allegedly confessed that she had been drinking at a party shortly before getting behind the wheel of her vehicle.

Hers was a choice that would eventually cost both her, and her victims, dearly. Brooks faces possible license suspension, jail time and civil litigation while her two victims, a driver and her passenger, face a long road to recovery from the injuries they sustained. Both parties were lucky enough to escape with their lives. However, as many personal injury attorneys will tell you, that isn’t always the case.
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What happens when a personal injury plaintiff wants to file a claim for injurious acts committed by an on-duty police officer? Finding a remedy in such a situation has the potential to be an extremely difficult, albeit not impossible, road to traverse. Few people are aware that government officials, including police officers, enjoy a degree of official/discretionary immunity, which fortifies them against potential liability in many circumstances.

According to Georgia’s doctrine of official immunity, “police officer who exercises discretion within the scope of the officer’s authority and does not act maliciously or with intent to injure when investigating a complaint and arresting an individual is immune from liability for those activities under the doctrine of official immunity in an action for malicious prosecution…Even if the decisions by the officers are flawed, absent evidence of willfulness, malice, or corruption, such officers are entitled to discretionary immunity.” 14 Ga. Jur. Personal Injury and Torts § 20:21.

Personal injury actions tend to be more successful where an officer’s actions occur outside the scope of his employ or if and when the police department waives sovereign immunity. Waiver itself can be a tricky subject, often depending upon actions taken by the officer at the scene of the accident. While reluctant to overlook an on-duty police official’s sovereign status, courts will often look at things like whether the officer’s emergency lights were on and/or whether they were responding to an emergency call. Being aware that this “loophole” exists is one of the first steps towards a successful personal injury action, but Georgia car accident attorneys are best equipped to help injured plaintiffs navigate the murky waters of the doctrine.
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The hunt continues for the driver of a white, late model pickup truck in Georgia. Officials say the motorist is responsible for callously striking two young children in DeKalb County Saturday afternoon as they waited on the sidewalk, near the entrance of a Tucker Walmart, to cross the street with their mother. Witnesses to the crime reported that they noticed the vehicle erratically making its way down the street just moments before the fatal accident.

One mall patron told local news channels in an interview that she very narrowly missed being hit by the motorist herself, only moments before the driver hopped over a curb, mowed down a two-year old toddler, Caleb, and his older sister, Meyaria, and sped off. Another witness reportedly told investigators that after the driver struck the children, he stopped briefly a few feet away to throw a beer bottle from the vehicle’s cab. It’s possibly an aggravating circumstance but, unfortunately, by the time he is caught, it will more than likely be too late to determine his blood alcohol content (BAC).

The two children were immediately transported to a local hospital. Their mother was not injured. Meyaria, 4, survived and is expected to recover, but 2-year-old Caleb tragically succumbed to his injuries. The local community is already vocalizing its grief and disbelief that someone could commit such a heinous act. The location where the pedestrian accident occurred has quickly become a shrine – with sympathizers leaving behind flowers, balloons and stuffed animals in memory of the deceased child.
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In recent years, many states, including the state of Georgia, have placed an even greater emphasis on the importance of curbing instances of distracted and drunken driving. Millions of dollars have spent on ad campaigns designed to directly target motorists to who text and drive, with one of the most noticeable campaigns being the “It Can Wait” campaign. This and similar campaigns use celebrity endorsements to solicit pledges from drivers to refrain from texting and driving. What the public fails to realize, however, is that another, just as dangerous activity has been contributing to upwards of 17 percent of fatal car crashes per year–yet, for some reason, it doesn’t garner nearly as much attention.

Driving while drowsy is one of the top reasons thousands of Americans are involved in a car crash, with the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) citing it as the cause for upwards of 100,000 accidents annually. In 2010, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS) reported that two out of every five drivers (approximately 41 percent) reported falling asleep or nodding off while driving and, with episodes of drowsy driving primarily making an appearance after midnight (and, on a slightly smaller basis, during the mid-afternoon), certain groups of motorists, including younger drivers, commercial drivers, shift employees and people with untreated sleep disorders, are more susceptible to the phenomenon.

According to the NHTSA, because of the higher speeds and slower reaction times sleepiness causes, car accidents associated with drowsy driver are more likely to be serious or even fatal than the average car crash, with higher rates of morbidity and mortality. In fact, the behaviors characterizing drowsy-driving are eerily similar to those of inebriated drivers or drivers otherwise distracted. Unlike, drunk driving, however, there exists no instrument by which police officers can measure the degree of someone’s “drowsiness” post-accident. This can interfere greatly with an investigation in the accident’s aftermath and means that deterrence becomes even more important.
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Fatal car accidents occurring as the result of a motorist driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are always tragic. Just as unfortunate, is when the resulting car crash claims not only the lives of other, innocent motorists but also the lives of the inebriated motorist’s own passengers. All too often, we hear about the negligence of an irresponsible parent leading to the injury or death of a child. Such a situation is even more heartrending because children are essentially defenseless.

Barely able to walk, let alone see over a steering wheel or reach foot pedals, children are not qualified to be designated drivers. They cannot protest when their inebriated parent loads them into a vehicle, or drunkenly permits them to drive. They cannot confiscate the car keys from their parents’ hands, and neither can they call for a ride. Oftentimes they are too young to fasten their own seatbelts and they certainly are incapable of properly installing their own booster seats. Instead, that’s a duty to be fulfilled by their parents. It’s most unfortunate that the people responsible for ensuring their children’s’ safety often fail to recognize the gravity of their responsibility – until it’s too late.
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