Georgia personal injury case issues in a hit-and-run car and pedestrian accident
A sad story out of Cobb County, Georgia, is in the AJC regarding an incident yesterday in which an alleged hit-and-run driver struck with his car a six year-old boy who was a pedestrian. As a personal injury attorney based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, (Gwinnett County) who handles car accident and pedestrian accident cases all around metropolitan Atlanta and the State of Georgia, I will analyze this news story for potential issues in a Georgia personal injury case. Fortunately, according to the story, though a witness feared for the life of child, he suffered two broken legs but no permanent damage.
Liability in a Georgia car accident or pedestrian accident case (duty and breach of duty)
According to the AJC report linked above the hit-and-run driver is alleged by police to have "improperly passed the stopped traffic and drove on the wrong side of the roadway and struck the victim in the crosswalk." These allegations, if proved, could form the basis for a claim of negligence on the part of the driver for violating Georgia's rules of the road. That one quote alleges multiple different obvious traffic violations.
- O.C.G.A. § 40-6-44 provides: "No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken. In every event, the overtaking vehicle shall return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle."
- O.C.G.A. § 40-6-40(a)(1) provides: "(a) Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway, except as follows: (1) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing such movement;"
- O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-91(a) and (d) provide: "(a) The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For the purposes of this subsection, "half of the roadway" means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel. . .(d) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle."
Additionally, the allegations against the driver, if provable in court, will likely result in additional criminal charges for Reckless Driving in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390 (driving in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property), felony Hit and Run in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270 (a hit and run in which the accident is the proximate cause of serious injury or death), and felony Serious Injury by Vehicle in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-394 (accident that temporarily rendered useless the legs of the child, which is one of three qualifying injuries to prove a violation of this code section--case law makes it very clear uselessness only has to be temporary).
These violations, if proven, would show that the driver had a duty under the law and that he breached that duty.
Causation should be very clear in a case like the one outlined in the AJC. The driver striking a child in a crosswalk with his car caused the two broken legs.
The six year-old child suffered significant injury. Two broken legs, weeks to months in casts, physical therapy, lost time playing with friends and doing the things a six-year old boy likes to do, the significant pain he suffered, the medical and rehabilitation bills--all of that adds up to damages in a case such as this. Fortunately, the child apparently did not suffer life-altering injuries as this Georgia traffic accident between a car and pedestrian could have been much worse.
Sources of Recovery
The first source of recovery will be the insurance company who insured the alleged hit-and-run driver. Hopefully he had insurance on the vehicle. A major issue with the driver's insurance coverage will be how much his policy is worth. Did he have bare minimum coverage under Georgia law which would involve only $25,000 in liability insurance? A case such as this will likely involve damages well above the minimum.
A second potential source will be whether any person in the child's household has an automobile insurance policy with uninsured motorist coverage. If so, any such policies are a potential source of coverage in the event the driver (1) did not have insurance, or (2) damages exceed the policy limit on the driver's policy. Even if the driver had insurance, uninsured motorist coverage typically covers damages exceeding the policy limits of the other driver's policy in a case such as this. One note of caution: uninsured motorist policies typically have strict time limitations and notice requirements which must be complied with to avoid a coverage denial. This is why in cases such as this it is smart to get a Georgia personal injury lawyer involved immediately.
Again, fortunately the child was not injured worse. Let's all hope and pray for a speedy recovery for him.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car or pedestrian accident in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based car and pedestrian accident lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation.
Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.