Articles Tagged with Georgia personal injury attorney

Millions of cars and other passenger vehicles share the nation’s roads and highways daily with large commercial trucks, including 18-wheeler tractor-trailer rigs. In the vast majority of instances, they do so without collisions or other incidents. When those two classes of vehicles collide, however, the outcome is overwhelmingly to the detriment of the drivers and occupants of the passenger vehicles. When this type of accident involves a truck override, the results quite often are fatal for the people in the passenger vehicles involved.

Commercial Trucks Versus Passenger Vehicles: Trucks Win

“Win” might not be the right term for this match-up so much as “passenger vehicles lose.” Physics dictates that the larger, heavier object dominates in a collision with a lighter object. Commercial trucks such as tractor-trailer rigs weigh at least 10 times what the average passenger vehicle weighs, and often more. Naturally, this leads to one-sided results in truck-passenger vehicle collisions, as federal statistics make clear. In 2018 there were 531,000 accidents involving large commercial trucks, including 18-wheel tractor-trailers, resulting in 4,951 deaths and about 151,000 injuries. Out of those, more than 70% of fatalities and 72% of injuries were suffered by occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in those accidents. Many of those accidents did not involve truck overrides, but many did, and truck override accidents often are especially deadly.

Not all traumatic brain injuries result in permanent damage, but they all involve some level of damage to the brain. That means that all traumatic brain injuries, known as TBIs, deserve serious consideration. While TBIs are common, “common” does not mean “harmless.” No injury to the brain could ever be classified as “harmless,” and TBIs are no different.

What is a TBI?

A TBI is a “bump, blow, or jolt to the head” that interferes with brain function. This is a broad definition that includes everything from a blow that raises a bump on your head and gives you a headache all the way to a skull-penetrating injury that leaves you alive but with permanent brain damage, perhaps even comatose for the rest of your life. TBIs happen every day in all kinds of circumstances and at all kinds of levels of severity. They happen in events as traumatic as traffic accidents and as mundane as slips and falls. They can seem to be not a big deal, or life-altering. All TBIs should receive prompt medical attention, no matter the category into which they fall.

There are more than 78 million dogs living in American households as pets. These dogs often are considered by their owners to be a part of the family and are treated accordingly. For the most part they receive loving attention and respond with loyalty to their owners, providing welcome companionship. The vast majority never show any significant aggression to anyone.

That is not always the case, however. Every year 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, and about 800,000 of those bites require medical treatment. In 2019, there were 59 deaths as a result of dog bites. In 2019, there were two deaths in Georgia from dog bites, while in 2020, there were three dog bite fatalities in Georgia. None were in the Marietta area, although one was in Gwinnett County.

Fatalities are Rare, but Dog Bites are Costly

Just a few short years ago, ride-share services did not exist. It was less than a decade ago that the name “Uber” entered common usage, and the ride-share service became common in cities nationwide within a couple years. In the last six or seven years, ride-share services have proliferated, with Uber joined by Lyft, Sidecar, and who knows how many other services, some of them national, some regional, some serving only a few areas. No matter which service you use – and one in five Americans have used a ride-share service – the experience is largely the same. You use an app on your smartphone to ask for a ride, the car arrives quickly and gives you a ride to your destination, generally for less – often much less – than a traditional taxi cab would cost. Plus you can give the driver a bad rating if the service is not fast and courteous, an option simply not available with a taxi. What’s not to like?

Ride-Share Vehicles Get in Accidents, Too

The problem, of course, is that ride-shares, like the services offered by Uber and Lyft in Marietta and the surrounding area, are vehicles just like any others on the road. They can and do get into accidents. Ride-share drivers do not have special training, and no one really knows whether ride-share drivers get into accidents more or less frequently than the average driver on the road. A few years ago, a Chicago newspaper tried to find out, and learned instead that no government entity keeps statistics on ride-share accidents, and no ride-share service makes its accident statistics public. It is fair to assume, though, that ride-share drivers get into accidents at the same rate as pretty much every other driver on the road. So who pays if you get injured in a traffic accident while riding in an Uber, Lyft, or other rides-share service vehicle?

In late October last year, a pedestrian was killed in Marietta while crossing the intersection of South Marietta Parkway and Aviation Road. While tragic, pedestrian deaths are all too common and on the rise. In fact, a nationwide report found that in 2019, pedestrian deaths in the United States hit their highest level since 1988, with an estimated 6,590 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents. Further mirroring national trends, the Marietta pedestrian death occurred during darkness, more than two hours before sunrise. The death also highlighted national trends, as roughly one in five pedestrian deaths in the U.S. occur in intersections.

Walking Near Vehicular Traffic is a Dangerous Proposition

Let’s face it, walking along a roadway – let alone crossing one – can be a hazardous proposition. In 2017, an estimated 137,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms following traffic accidents. There is no telling how many did not seek ER treatment. Given the estimated 6,590 pedestrian traffic deaths in 2019, which is up from 2017, it is reasonable to believe that traffic injuries to pedestrians that were treated in emergency rooms also increased from 2017. Based on 2017 statistics, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, per trip, than are passenger vehicle occupants.

There is something about riding a motorcycle through the countryside, with the wind in your face, that is exhilarating. Motorcyclists say the ride feels like freedom, and they might have a point. On the other hand, freedom comes with a price, even when you are just talking about riding a motorcycle. While deaths from motorcycle accidents are declining, dropping 5% from 2017 to just under 5,000 deaths in 2018, riding a motorcycle is a highly hazardous activity, particularly compared to riding in a passenger vehicle. Riders on a motorcycle – drivers and passengers – are approximately 28 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than are the occupants of passenger vehicles per passenger miles driven. Only 3% of the registered motor vehicles in the U.S. – of all kinds – are motorcycles. Motorcycles account for only about .6% of vehicle miles traveled each year, and yet motorcycle riders and their passengers total about 14% of all road deaths annually.

Motorcycle Accidents are Far More Likely to End in Injuries

Federal statistics indicate that more than 80% of traffic accidents involving motorcycles lead to either the motorcycle’s driver, passenger, or both dying or being injured. In many ways, it is not a surprising statistic. There are no “minor” accidents for a motorcyclist. With only two wheels and no protective steel body around them, a traffic accident for motorcyclists virtually guarantees two things – the bike will end up sliding along the ground on its side and the motorcyclist will either be sliding along half under the bike or sliding along the ground without the bike. If the cyclist is lucky, there will not be a trip through the air before the sliding starts, and the slide will not end with a sudden impact into a stationary object. Needless to say, motorcyclists can be severely injured in an accident that leaves passenger vehicle occupants unscathed.

Side-impact crashes – commonly referred to as “T-bone” collisions – are among the most dangerous of car accidents for occupants of the vehicle being T-boned. A T-bone accident is one in which one vehicle strikes another straight into the second vehicle’s side at a perpendicular angle, hence the popular nickname. The car being struck in the side forms the cross of the “T,” while the striking vehicle forms the stem. T-bone accidents frequently are the result of one vehicle or the other running a stop sign or running the red light at a traffic signal. No matter how they occur, side-impact crashes can have devastating consequences for the occupants of the car on the receiving end of the side impact.

Side-Impact Collisions are Especially Dangerous

According to federal statistics, more than half of all traffic deaths from accidents involving passenger vehicles result from head-on collisions. That makes sense given the impact speeds involved in head-on crashes. Much more surprising, though, is that a quarter of all traffic fatalities occur in side-impact crashes – or T-bone accidents. Unfortunately, the lethality of side-impact collisions also makes sense. Many cars still on the road do not have side airbags, and a car hit from the side does not enjoy the protection of the front-end automobile architecture that has reduced the lethality of head-on collisions. There is no crumple zone on the side of a car. Side airbags were introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Chrysler and Volvo on some models, and have become common in all passenger vehicles since the early 2000s, but they are not mandated by the government except for front-seat side air bags.

When an auto insurer unreasonably refuses to settle a personal injury claim against one of its policyholders, the policyholder can turn around and sue the insurance company for acting in “bad faith.” If successful, a bad-faith lawsuit can mean the insurer is liable for the full amount of any judgment that the accident victim obtained against the policyholder.

Whiteide v. Geico Indemnity Company

A federal appeals court recently asked the Georgia Supreme Court to resolve a number of legal questions arising from a successful bad-faith coverage lawsuit. The case was tried before a jury in federal court following Georgia state law. In situations like this, a federal court may opt to “certify” unresolved legal questions to the state’s supreme court before proceeding further.

There is a common scenario that plays out following an auto accident. First, the injured driver sends a demand letter to the negligent driver’s insurance company, offering to settle for the limits of the latter’s policy. Next, the insurance company either accepts the offer unconditionally–usually by sending a check–or makes a counter-offer. A counter-offer constitutes a rejection of the original offer, so there is no agreement. But if the insurer does send the check, that is often enough to create a binding settlement, which the insurer and its insured may seek to enforce in court.

Claxton v. Adams

What if the insurance company sends a check, but it cannot be cashed right away? Is there still a binding settlement? Not according to a recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Georgia law requires insurance companies to act in good faith when resolving auto accident claims. For example, if you are injured in an accident caused by another driver’s clear negligence, the other driver’s insurance company is expected to make a good-faith effort to negotiate a settlement, especially when your damages meets or exceeds the limits of the actual policy. Conversely, if the insurer acts in bad faith, you can file a lawsuit and seek additional damages.

Kemper v. Equity Insurance Company

For example, a federal appeals court recently revived a bad-faith lawsuit brought against an insurance company by the victim of a motorcycle accident. The plaintiff in this case, Kemper v. Equity Insurance Company, was driving her bike down a road in Coweta County, Georgia. Another driver, who it turned out was intoxicated, crossed the centerline of the road and crashed into the plaintiff, causing her serious injuries.

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