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When someone is killed due to the negligence of another, their representatives may be able to bring a wrongful death suit against the tortfeasor(s) that caused their death. If someone is injured but does not die, they may still be able to collect damages for things like lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and other damages, but a wrongful death suit cannot be brought until after someone dies. If you think that your loved one may have died due to the fault of another, you should contact a skilled Georgia wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

Wrongful Death in Georgia

In most cases, damages for wrongful death amount to the full value of the person’s life. Georgia statute and case law states that the value of the life of the deceased will be shown by the evidence. A wrongful death claim only awards damages for the losses suffered by the deceased person. So even though a representative – such as a child of the deceased – brings the suit, it cannot consider the pain and loss suffered by the child.

In the case at issue, a woman was injured in a car accident resulting in a coma. After the accident, her legal guardian filed a personal injury lawsuit against the car manufacturer, alleging faulty seatbelt and door locking mechanisms. The car manufacturer settled with plaintiff, and in exchange for the settlement the plaintiff’s representative released the company from any claims and damages, including a claim for wrongful death “inasmuch as [plaintiff] has not died…”

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When a case goes to court, both sides are supposed to present evidence to support the arguments they are making. In fact, evidence is one of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of a case. If there is no evidence, then it is impossible for the plaintiff to prove their case. So clearly evidence is crucial. However, there are some kinds of evidence that one of the parties will be in a much easier place to hold on to. For example, a business will be in the best position to access important business records. At some point, there is a time when a party is required to hold on to certain evidence. If you have questions of this nature, be sure to reach out to a Georgia car accident attorney.

Missing Tires

This case looks at when the duty to preserve evidence applies in Georgia. Here, the plaintiff’s husband was killed in a car accident. He was driving on Interstate 16 when a tread on his left rear tire detached. It allegedly caused him to lose control of the vehicle and his vehicle eventually flipped over. He was injured, and although he regained consciousness at the hospital he died before he was able to be discharged from the hospital. His wife filed this suit on his behalf.

Unfortunately, sometimes after a car accident one of the drivers involved will leave the scene of the accident. That can cause some issues and complications for any court cases that follow from the accident. If you are in a car accident, you should contact a skilled Gwinnett County car accident attorney as soon as possible. As this case illustrates, you still may be able to recover damages under Georgia’s uninsured motorist statute. 

Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Georgia

Under Georgia law, it is a crime to leave the scene of a car accident. Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident differ depending on how serious the damage is and whether there was solely property damage or anyone was injured or killed. If you are caught leaving the scene of an accident, the penalty can often be worse than anything that would have arisen from the accident itself. If you are involved in a car accident, a knowledgeable Georgia personal injury attorney can help inform you of your options.

“John Doe” and Venue 

If you are in a car accident and the other party leaves the scene of the accident, you still may be able to hold them accountable for damages under the Georgia uninsured motorist statute. This happened in a recent case heard by the Georgia Supreme Court. The plaintiffs were driving on the highway when a car swerved into their lane and they had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting it. As the car behind them was following too closely, it collided with the plaintiffs’ car which caused injury.

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At any given time, there are several laws that can potentially govern a situation. For example, if someone is in Atlanta, they will be governed by any laws and regulations that govern the city of Atlanta, but also the state laws of Georgia and the federal laws of the United States. An individual may also be subject to specific laws based on their conduct, such as traffic laws if they are driving. The rules around what laws apply in which situations can get pretty complicated, and your skilled Georgia personal injury attorney can help you figure out what laws apply in your situation.

The Supremacy Clause 

The United States Constitution contains a provision known as the “supremacy clause.” This clause states that when federal law conflicts with state or municipal laws, federal law controls. There are certain areas of the law that are usually left to the states to govern. Generally, when there is a car accident, state law will control. Part of the case law around the supremacy clause states that when it is an area that is typically governed by state law, any federal law that Congress passes on that topic will not supersede state law unless it was clearly intended to. Insurance is one of those areas where this applies. Thus, any federal law regarding insurance will only preempt state law when Congress has required the preemption.

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Georgia Loses Noted Jurist

The news last week was not just about elections. We learned of the passing of former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harris Hines. He and his wife were traveling back to Cobb from choir performance of their young granddaughter. Somehow the SUV he was driving may have strayed out of its lane and flipped over. Thus far, the cause of this lane departure crash are not known. Chief Justice Hines passed away, but his wife survived and is expected to recover from her injuries. Justice Hines was an Atlanta native who attended Grady High School and Emory University. He had only retired this past summer after many decades of service. We have lost a great jurist and a fine man. This very sad Atlanta auto crash has left the legal community and the courts and his judicial colleagues in mourning. Across the state, tributes have been pouring in for this Georgia native who had a stellar career on the bench.

Single Vehicle Atlanta Crashes

Single vehicle car accidents are not something we consider often. These crashes can involve serious injuries or even fatalities as was the case in the tragic Atlanta accident involving our former Chief Justice Hines.

These accidents can occur in various conditions. For example, a single vehicle can end up in a road departure crash due to speed on a curve or due to distracted driving. Other causes can involve a sudden medical event such as a heart attack or stroke. Some of these crashes are the result of alcohol or drug consumption or distracted driving. Continue reading

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Fatal Crash Investigation 

By now most readers have heard about the major limousine accident in New York state. This truly horrific crash caused the death of 17 passengers, the driver and two pedestrians. This fatal accident is now under investigation by the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) which has sent a “go team” to determine the cause. The NTSB investigates only the most serious of accidents. The limo was carrying some young couples and others to a birthday party. What is a senseless loss of life, teaches important lessons for all of us. When we get into a cab or an Uber or Lyft vehicle, or when we hire a limo for that special prom or party, we need to know the driver and the vehicle are safe. And if we do not feel safe, or have concerns, we need to follow those instincts.

According to CNN and other news outlets, the vehicle failed inspection in September. This stretch limo had been altered to carry more passengers. The limo was not supposed to be on the road at all. This limo had been recently inspected by the New York State Department of Transportation. After that inspection, the limo was grounded by authorities as unsafe and unfit for travel. The brakes and braking system had been found in the past to be in need of repair for various reasons. The braking system will be one of the key factors in this crash. The limo sped down a hill and perhaps the driver applied the brakes, but they might have failed. The first party bus rented by this group of friends had broken down. The company apparently sent the limo that was involved in the accident. But it was not safe to drive. The owner of the limo company has now been charged with criminally negligent homicide in New York state for the loss of life. Continue reading

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Recently, I was a featured speaker at a National Business Institute educational program about auto injury litigation. This reminded me how important it is that drivers know what to do after an Atlanta auto accident. Some alarming statistics show why we should be concerned for highway and road safety. Georgia’s 2018 Labor Day reports indicate that twice as many lives were taken over this past Labor Day than in 2017. The Georgia Department of Public Safety maintains these statistics and has issued them to the public. Given the rise in serious auto accidents in and around our area, it is more important than ever that you know what to do and what not to do if you are involved in an accident.

Keep These Items in Your Vehicle

Most drivers know that they need to keep important documents in their vehicle in case of an accident or law enforcement stop. Registration and proof of insurance should always be at hand. If you don’t have a cell phone with a camera, put a disposable camera in your glove box. If you are involved in an accident are able to do so, take some photos of damage to your vehicle and that of the other driver or drivers. It is also helpful to take some photos of the scene. Only do this if it is safe to do so. Other items that are helpful to keep in your car or truck include a first aid kit, flashlight and flares in case you need to warn other drivers to use caution.

What to Do After an Accident

Accidents can be disorienting and sudden. You could have suffered injury after an auto crash and not know it. Once you are not in harm’s way, take a moment to collect yourself and remain calm. If you are able to get out of your vehicle safely, do so. If other vehicles are involved, check on the driver and passengers in case they need medical support. Call 911 for help if that is the case. They should also be checking on you. If your vehicle is operable, move your vehicle off the road to the shoulder if at all possible. Continue reading

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The tragic nationally-covered news of a fatal truck collision with a bus last week in New Mexico has again revealed that maintenance of commercial vehicles on the roads makes a difference, and one that can save or take lives. The truck, which was traveling on the New Mexico highway I-40, apparently blew a tire and jack-knifed as a result. The truck driver said one of the front tires blew out and he lost control of his vehicle. This caused the truck to cross over the median into oncoming traffic, hitting a Greyhound bus in a head on collision. Eight bus passengers and the driver have lost their lives. The driver of the truck survived the crash. Although the accident is under investigation, the initial conclusion is that the tire blow-out caused the crash.

The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) and local authorities are investigating the cause of this horrific crash. The impact of this collision caused catastrophic damage to the front and side of the bus. The authorities will be looking at every aspect of what happened. The truck’s tires will all be inspected as will the truck’s mechanics. The truck involved in the crash has the mandatory tracking device that all trucks are required to maintain. This device will help investigators to learn about the truck driver’s hours and driving patterns. The road itself, the median and whether there was an issue with either of those will also be evaluated to determine whether these were factors and if there is any way the accident could have been avoided. Continue reading

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This week, Atlanta hosts an important national conference for both the public and private sectors. The conference is the annual meeting of the Governors’ Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) which has set a very important and key theme … partnerships in traffic safety. The conference will center around a goal that is important for those across America, achieving zero fatalities on America’s roads and highways.  Here at Scholle Law, we fully support all efforts to ensure zero fatal vehicle crashes, since this will ultimately lead not only to fewer traffic deaths, but to fewer serious injuries as well.

It is truly an honor for Atlanta to be hosting this conference on a subject so important to all of us, particularly those of us working to help victims involved in motor vehicle accidents of all kinds that cause serious injury every day across our country. The conference will be covering topics of interest to regulators and first responders, such as autonomous vehicles, traffic safety technologies and improvements and communications among agencies and responders. Continue reading

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Over the years we have posted about many Atlanta truck accidents involving all kinds of trucks, including tractor trailers. These accidents can be very dangerous, particularly when two trucks collide and a fuel tanker is involved. This type of truck crash shut down I-20 for many hours earlier this week. Traffic was redirected as the clean up took many hours given the spill involved. Another truck crash the same day happened on I-285, blocking the eastbound lanes for several hours.

The cause of each of these crashes is not yet known. But we do know that truck crashes can be very dangerous and can cause severe personal injuries. Sometimes these crashes are due to driver fatigue. Given these recent truck incidents involving the many trucks that traverse Atlanta’s roads and highways each day, we want to remind our readers about some important aspects of trucking regulations.  Continue reading

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