Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

While it is not impossible, recovering compensation for personal injuries from a municipality or government entity is often a complicated and involved process. For example, if you are involved in a car accident with a municipal employee, in addition to the procedural requirements that navigate the pursuit of damages in a standard car accident case, there are additional ante litem, or pre-lawsuit, notice requirements under Georgia law.

A failure to provide the proper notice can be fatal to a claim, as was recently illustrated in a case arising out of the Court of Appeals of Georgia. If you suffered injuries in a car accident with a municipal employee, you should meet with a skilled Georgia car accident attorney to discuss the facts of your case and whether you may be able to seek compensation.

Factual Background

Reportedly, on May 2, 2014, the plaintiff sustained injuries while riding as a passenger in a truck that was involved in a car accident with a police officer that worked for the defendant city. On September 6, 2014, the plaintiff sent the defendant city ante litem notice, which stated, in part that she sought the full amount of recovery allowed under Georgia law. The defendant city acknowledged receipt of the notice and replied it was investigating the claim. On February 2, 2016, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant city. The defendant city filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit, arguing the plaintiff’s ante litem notice was insufficient. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the trial court’s ruling was affirmed.

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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.


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


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

DSC00671-300x200We are experiencing extreme temperatures for our area. Governor Deal has issued a state of emergency for 28 Georgia counties until Friday. We are concerned that Atlanta and Georgia residents may not be used to these temperatures and also may not know some of the unseen dangers during periods of extreme cold. We want to make sure our readers know what to do in these freezings temps. There are several areas of danger. From heating your home to driving, to keeping your kids warm while waiting for the school bus … we have a few tips for readers and suggest that you review important winter safety tips from the American Red Cross.

Driving in cold weather. As many of you know, the temperatures are below freezing right now especially when the sun goes down. Some areas are expecting snow and many counties are under a state of emergency. Even if it has not rained or snowed recently, there can be ice on the roads. This can be very dangerous. If you have to drive, slow down and put your car into a low gear. DO NOT brake quickly and if you need to brake, apply it slowly. If you begin to slide, steer into the slide. Make sure to turn your steering wheel in the same direction as your rear wheels are sliding. So if you feel the slide to your right, turn your steering wheel to the right. This will help you straighten out your vehicle. Be particularly careful on overpasses and bridges which can ice up quickly.

Heating safety. If you use a space heater make sure the heater is not near anything that is flammable, such as a curtain. Keep your space heater three feet away from other objects. It is not safe to use your stove as a heater. This can lead to fire and can also result in a build up of carbon monoxide which can be deadly. If you are home bound and without heat and need support, call 911 for help. These temperatures are dangerously low. If you have a friend or relative who might need heat, check in with them.

iStock_000000947969XSmall-201x300 Across the country and around Atlanta, we brace ourselves for the injury and crash statistics after holidays. The Georgia State Patrol reported 12 total fatalities over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend which traditionally begins on Wednesday before Thanksgiving and ends on the Monday after. Overall, there were nearly 300 accidents that caused injuries with an overall motor vehicle crash count at over 600. The good news is that fewer resulted in fatality than last year — from 20 last year, to 12 this year. Only one local fatal accident was reported statewide, which tragically occurred in Gwinnett County.

The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reports that more people lost their lives on our roads and highways in 2016 than in 2015. Over 350 fatal alcohol related accidents occurred in Georgia last year. As we approach the end of 2017, we are mindful that the upcoming weeks are among the most dangerous for motor vehicle crashes. Although most states around the country increase enforcement over the holiday season, driving over the holidays can result in accident or injury. The increased enforcement is intended to save lives, by taking impaired or aggressive drivers off the roads before they cause tragedy or loss of life. This can save lives of course. But every holiday season we learn about tragic circumstances that involve drivers who are distracted or under the influence.

Those who have been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence have a greater likelihood of doing this again. The period between Christmas and New Year’s day is a time to be cautious about the potential that drivers around you have been drinking and may be impaired. On average, during this time frame about 300 fatalities have occurred in past years. Our federal and state agencies take the lead over this period to remind drivers of the dangers of impaired driving.


Get Ready for Safe Winter Driving

For those who prefer the warm months, transitioning to early sunset and cold, wet, rainy weather is not the most welcome change. But as Atlanta residents know, eventually winter will be here and before it arrives in earnest, we should prepare. Putting the cover on the grill and closing up the pool, with our memories of spring and summer, we look to winter and holidays to keep our spirits lifted until the sun returns. As the weather cools and heavy winter rains, ice and wind arrive, there are risks for Atlanta motor vehicle accidents and injury. Now is the time to prepare and to get our vehicles ready for winter-weather driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an excellent resource for winter driving preparation. NHTSA’s recommendations are very helpful and could keep you and your family protected and out of harm’s way this winter. One of their top suggestions is to get your car or cars serviced. When the weather is cold and your vehicle breaks down, you and your family could end up waiting on the roadside for help. Getting your vehicle checked out thoroughly could avoid this potentially dangerous situation.

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