Pedestrian accidents in Georgia appear to be on the rise, and it’s a very disturbing trend for those concerned about traffic safety – which is almost everyone. In 2006 the city of Atlanta, which includes Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties, had the highest pedestrian fatality rates – 16 died that year in each respective county. Three pedestrians were struck and killed in as many days in Cobb County just last month, and a fourth was left critically injured. Even more disturbing, is that in many of these cases motorists are purposefully failing to stop, and fleeing the accident scenes.
To Atlanta personal injury attorneys, uncooperative hit and run drivers are some of the most dangerous and negligent drivers, posing a definitive menace public safety. Conviction for a hit and run or for leaving the scene of an accident are also grounds for mandatory license suspension, says the Georgia Department for Driver Services (DDS). Fines, jail time and loss of one’s vehicle are also possibilities, although courts will take into account factors such as cooperation with police, the nature of the accident, personal injuries and the extent of damage done.
The laws in Georgia are certainly clear on a hit and run drivers’ responsibilities, and clearly favor the pedestrian, since pedestrians tend to be more vulnerable to injury in such situations. OCGA § 40-6-270 (a), for instance, requires motorists involved in hit and runs to stop at the scene or return as soon as they are made aware of what transpired, rendering aid to the injured parties as necessary. Even more importantly, OCGA § 40-6-270 (b) states that if such accident is the proximate cause of death or a serious injury, any person knowingly failing to stop and comply with the requirements of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
What can this increase in accidents be attributed to? The primary issue is that many motorists fail to be vigilant in maintaining a lookout for walkers, bikers and runners. They also tend to be unsure of what to do upon encountering pedestrians, and this unpreparedness leads to slow reaction times. Pedestrians’ rights are also outlined in the Official Georgia Code. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-92 is the statute that addresses pedestrian crossings. Per section (a), each pedestrian crossing the street shall yield the right of way to all vehicles unless he has already safely entered the road already (whether or not there is a crosswalk).
However, another problem, particularly in cities like Atlanta, is that pedestrians walking in high traffic areas face an increased likelihood of injury. Even more unfortunate is the fact that Atlanta, with its dearth of sidewalks and crosswalks, was not initially designed with cyclists and walkers in mind.
The intricacies of laws governing pedestrians mean that in many cases, eyewitness testimony becomes particularly crucial. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can best assist the injured in preparing a case, and perhaps even in finding needed assistance far beyond the courtroom. If you’re a pedestrian who has been injured and would like a consultation about your potential case, click here.