Poll on public compliance with Georgia hands-free driving law

An article in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution (link here) cites a poll by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs about how Georgia drivers are obeying the new hands-free law that went into effect on July 1 of last year. According to the article, 45% of those surveyed obey the new law all the time, while an additional 40% obey the law most of the time. However, 8.5% of the respondents said they seldom obey the law and 4.3% said they never obey it.

Encouragingly, the article mentions preliminary figures show fatality accidents appear to be down 7% last year, after several years of increasing numbers of roadway deaths led to the passage of the law to combat distracted driving.

As more statistics become available over the next few years, we may have a better idea whether the Hands-Free Georgia Act is making our roads safer. Distracted driving is a real danger and hopefully this law is and will prevent deaths.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a Georgia automobile wreck, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury 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.

Georgia Traffic Accident and Fatality Statistics for Christmas 2018

The official statistics for Georgia traffic fatalities for the 2018 Christmas travel period are in and tragically 26 people lost their lives. According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, there were 700 traffic crashes resulting in 333 injured persons handled just by the Georgia State Patrol (not accounting for local agencies). The Georgia State Patrol alone also made 285 DUI arrests.

Of the fatal accidents in Georgia for the 2018 Christmas travel period, the incidents occurred in the jurisdiction of the following agencies: Georgia State Patrol, Atlanta Police Department, Gwinnett County Police Department, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, DeKalb County Police Department, Clayton County Police Department, Savannah Police Department, Lawrenceville Police Department, Dade County Sheriff’s Office, and Floyd County Police Department.

These statistics are based on a 126 hour travel period from 6:00 PM, Friday, December 21, 2018 to 11:59 PM, Wednesday, December 26, 2018.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a Georgia traffic accident, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury 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.

High Volume Predicated for 2018 Georgia Thanksgiving Travel

The Georgia Department of Public Safety has issued a press release regarding the Thanksgiving 2018 holiday weekend and the expected traffic accidents and fatalities during the travel period.

The report cites AAA with the prediction that this year will be the highest travel volume since 2005 with the vast majority of travelers in automobiles.

Last year the Georgia State Patrol alone investigated 665 crashes that resulted in 373 injuries and 11 fatalities. Certainly, the statewide numbers were higher if one were to take into account county and city police department investigations.

Please be safe on the roads this year and have a happy Thanksgiving!

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as a result of an unsafe driver, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury 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.

Determining the number of accidents under insurance policies in Georgia

This blog post by Gwinnett County based wrongful death and personal injury lawyer Richard Armond addresses Georgia's legal standard for how courts determine under particular sets of facts where multiple people are injured whether an insurance policy covers an insured for a single accident/occurrence (with a single policy limit of liability coverage) or more than one accident/occurrence (with more than one policy limit of liability coverage) when the policy does not specifically define an accident. The Georgia Supreme Court in 2010 adopted a "cause theory" for making this determination as explained below. This is extremely important in cases where more than one person is injured because often multiple plaintiffs have but a single policy limit to cover their losses, but every so often the facts dictate multiple accidents/occurrences in which the policy limits of liability coverage apply separately. Trial attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and he handles cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia.

Many insurance policies, whether auto, home, or other types of liability policies, cover an insured for liability on a per accident or per occurrence basis. An example is with liability coverage on an auto policy where a person has bare minimum bodily injury liability coverage allowed under Georgia law of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. If the insured gets in one wreck which injures two people who incurred $100,000 in medical bills, the policy will only cover a total of $50,000 (and no more than $25,000 as to each person) and not the total loss of $100,000. However, if the the insured's car was drivable and ten minutes later he wrecked and injured a third person, this would typically be a separate accident and the policy limit of liability coverage would be available to cover the insured for damages to that person. 

Sometimes, however, it is difficult to determine whether injuries to multiple people happened in one accident or occurrence or multiple accidents or occurrences. The Georgia Supreme Court case of State Auto Prop. & Cas. Co. v. Matty, 690 S.E.2d 614, 286 Ga. 611 (Ga., 2010) sets forth the applicable legal standard in Georgia for determining whether injuries were sustained in one accident or occurrence or multiple accidents or occurrences. This case is incredibly important in serious injury and wrongful death cases involving more than one injured person because it dictates, as to most common liability policies, whether a single policy limit will apply to all victims, or whether more than one policy limit will be available.

In State Auto Prop. & Cas. Co. v. Matty a negligent driver struck a bicyclist, killing him, and then just over a second later struck a second bicyclist, seriously injuring him. The negligent driver's auto policy had a bodily injury liability policy limit of $100,000 for each accident. The insurance company contended these facts constituted a single accident with a single limit of $100,000, while the claimants contended the facts demonstrated two accidents with a two $100,000 limits of coverage. Id. at 690 S.E.2d 616.

The Georgia Supreme Court adopted a "cause theory," meaning that to determine if a set of facts involves one accident or more than one accident, a court looks at the number of causes of the injuries and asks if "there was but one proximate, uninterrupted, and continuing cause which resulted in all of the injuries and damage." Id. at 690 S.E.2d 617. Further, in the context of an automobile accident "courts look to whether, after the cause of the initial collision, the driver regained control of the vehicle before a subsequent collision, so that it can be said there was a second intervening cause and therefore a second accident." Id.

Ultimately, in the Matty case under the facts outlined above, there were two accidents and not just one because there was some evidence through the testimony of an accident investigator that "after the cause of the initial collision, [Rachel] regained control of the vehicle before [the] subsequent collision, so that it [could] be said there was a second intervening cause and therefore a second accident." State Auto Prop. & Cas. Co. v. Matty, Docket No. 11-10419 [unpublished opinion], (11th Cir. 2011).

It is important to note that the Matty case before the Georgia Supreme Court is limited to cases in which the applicable insurance policies does not explicitly define "accident." If a policy includes some specific definition in which a scenario such as that in Matty is a single accident, then the policy will likely only cover one policy limit as a matter of contract law between the insurance company and the insured driver. 

Cases in which multiple people are injured can be complex. An experienced serious injury and wrongful death attorney is needed to properly determine and argue coverage issues to ensure no stone is left unturned regarding potential insurance to cover a loss. 

If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death 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.

Georgia holding phone while driving ban set to pass

As a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia, who handles cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia, I have made frequent blog posts following this year's session of the Georgia General Assembly and the hands-free driving bill. HB 673, which bans driving while holding a phone, appears to be set to pass through the Senate for the governor's signature according to WABE

Supporters of the bill estimate it may reduce traffic fatalities by 20 percent annually, amounting to 300 lives saved on Georgia roadways each year.

The current Georgia laws combating distracted driving are often unenforceable. While O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241.2 bans sending or reading text messages, another similar statute, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241, allows for the "proper use" of mobile telephones. 

In order to stop a vehicle for a violation of the law, a police officer must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion before activating the blue lights and using police power to effectuate a traffic stop. It is currently very hard to make such a stop when a person is allowed to dial phone numbers and look at a phone to do so. Further, even if an officer has specific facts to believe a person is texting rather than engaging in "proper use" the officer cannot look into a person's phone without either consent of the person or a search warrant (a significant hurdle on a routine traffic stop). 

The new law may make enforcement easier and cut down on dangerous distracted driving activities. This may make Georgia roads safer for everyone.

If you or a loved one would like to speak with a Georgia personal injury and wrongful death lawyer please contact Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation today.

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.

Georgia distracted driving bill in jeopardy

Trial lawyer Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. Based in Lawrenceville in Gwinnett County, he handles serious injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. Call him for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585.

For those who follow Georgia politics, an important piece of legislation designed to reduce car accidents, save lives, and make our roads safer, is HB 673. This bill is intended to make an enforceable law which cuts down distracted driving by making non hands free cell phone use illegal. Unfortunately, as reported by the AJC (on the myAJC subscription site with limited free monthly access), the bill may have hit a snag in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Governor Nathan Deal did, however, endorse the bill in an interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting, noting the virtual impossibility of enforcing current distracted driving laws and safety. 

This piece of legislation will hopefully pass by next Thursday's deadline. I have written before on the dangers of distracted driving with the CDC statistics regarding traffic accidents and fatalities caused by distracted drivers. Please do not use cell phones while driving and keep our roads safe for everyone.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident and would like to speak with a lawyer contact attorney Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation.

The information above is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with a lawyer for legal advice.

 

Fatality Accident Statistics on I-285 in metro Atlanta

We need to work to eliminate fatality accidents in Georgia as we have way too many wrongful deaths on our roads. Georgia and metro Atlanta have some of the deadliest roadways in America according to a report by Vox. Depending on where you look at the statistics, different highways rank as the most deadly. The Vox report accounts for total miles of interstate highway when factoring its conclusions.

Based on total fatality accidents per ten miles of interstate, the report concluded I-285 in metro Atlanta, which traverses DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, and Clayton counties as Atlanta's perimeter interstate highway, was the nation's deadliest interstate in 2013.  The report also notes that Georgia is the seventh worst state for fatality accidents.

Traffic fatality cases are some of the most emotional and difficult for a family to experience. Let us all work to improve traffic safety around Atlanta and make our roads safer.

If you have lost a loved one in a fatality car accident in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death 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.

What to tell the other driver's insurance company after a car accident in Georgia

Let me start this post with a personal story of a car accident I was in several years ago. My wife and I had taken our dogs to the park and were heading home. We came upon a line of cars stopped for someone waiting to turn left. There was nothing sudden about our stop--it was normal, safe driving.

After being stopped for several seconds I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the other car immediately before impact. Screech!. Bang! The other driver was not paying attention and had his cell phone in hand when he collided into the back of our car. He was going pretty fast and did not brake until just before impact.

To make a long story short, my wife and I declined having the police officer call an ambulance. We were both full of adrenaline and very concerned about our dogs. Neither of us felt any injury when the police officer arrived and wrote her report.

My wife began to feel abdominal pain about an hour after the wreck where her seatbelt had been. Did I mention she was four months pregnant at the time?

My mother, a registered nurse, who had come to pick us up after the wreck because our car could not be driven, let us know my wife needed to be taken to the emergency room immediately. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries to my wife or child.

How fast do insurance adjusters begin to handle auto accident cases?

Some companies have their adjusters respond to the scene and begin photographing and taking statements immediately. In our case, I received a call on the way to the hospital. It was the "friendly" adjuster from the other driver's insurance company.

The call was being recorded for "quality assurance" (I was not their customer, why would I care?). He wanted to "help" us get a claim started to "take care of" the damage to my car and "help" us get set up with a rental. But first, he wanted to let us know he was glad there were no injuries and to "make sure" everyone was okay (i.e., document in that recording that there were no injuries in the wreck). I politely told him to pound sand by informing him that my wife and I were being driven to the hospital and that I could not speak with him.

Is the other insurance company really trying to help you get a claim started, get a rental car, etc.?

No. They want to pay as little as possible for the damages their insured caused. Even little things you say after a car accident can have big impact if you are injured.

It is completely common to not feel hurt right after a wreck when the adrenaline is flowing.

It is completely normal to report to an EMT or nurse or doctor that, for example, your head hurts and that is why you need help when, in fact, on a pain scale of 1 to 10 your head is an 8, your shoulder is a 4, and your leg is a 4. The next morning your head is a down to a 4, but your shoulder is an 8, your leg is an 8, and your back and neck are 9s. The insurance company will say you only had a head injury when you reported your injuries.

In the fight to settle your case months or years later, the insurance company will use your statements against you as proof that you were not injured or that you have exaggerated your injuries because they were either minor or involved one area of the body.

What should you do after a car accident that was not your fault?

1.  If you are hurt to the extent you need immediate medical attention, call 911 or ask someone to call on behalf. 

2. Be completely truthful with the police and any medical providers such as EMTs, nurses, or doctors. Do not exaggerate injuries. You need proper medical care. But, if any part of your body was hurt you need to let the medical professionals know. Even if you have one injury that seems worse than others, let the doctor or nurse know of ALL of your injuries. Your medical charts are one of the first things an insurance company will look at in evaluating a case.

3. If able to, document the accident scene by taking photographs of the damage to all vehicles involved and any other evidence such as skid marks. Your health and safety come first and you should only do this if you are physically able to and if existing traffic conditions allow for it to be done safely.

4. If any witnesses stopped and are on scene, if physically able and existing traffic conditions are safe to do so, ask for their names and phone numbers and/or jot down their license plate numbers. Many times this information does not make it into police reports and crucial witnesses cannot be found later. 

5. Politely decline to speak with the insurance adjuster. Again, they are trying to document their file to demonstrate a claim that minimizes the amount for which they are liable. 

6. Follow all advice of treating medical professionals including following through on their treatment plans. You have a requirement to mitigate your damages. If a doctor recommends you do physical therapy or any other follow up treatment and you do not do it, the insurance company and, potentially, a jury may discount your actual damages. If a medical professional says you need treatment, get treatment. They are the medical experts. You should follow their advice and never follow the advice of an adjuster or lawyer on how to care for your injuries. 

7. Promptly call personal injury attorney Richard Armond at 678-661-9585 for a free consultation. This is listed after the part about calling 911 if hurt and getting treatment because your health and well-being come first. However, the earlier I get a case the more value I can often add. Evidence has a way of disappearing if it is not retained quickly. If you need help finding a doctor to treatment your injuries and do not have insurance I can help. If your injuries exceed the other driver's policy limit or the other driver was uninsured, you may have a uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself, but these policies typically have strict time deadlines and requirements. I can help. But the earlier, the better.

Q: The answer to what to tell the other driver's insurance company after a car accident in Georgia?

A: Nothing (or, I just met with Richard Armond and he is my attorney, speak to him).

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death 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.

Increased Car Accidents as Daylight Savings Time Begins

Increased car accidents with the loss of an hour of sleep underscores the dangers of drowsy driving

This morning was the first Monday commute on daylight savings time this year. Roads everywhere in Gwinnett County appeared more congested than usual as I drove into my office in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Later today commuters will get off work and head home more tired than usual. Unfortunately the loss of an hour of sleep means danger on the roads here in Gwinnett County and everywhere across the country in the form of an increased risk of car accidents. 

Twenty-two years ago Stanley Coren, Ph.D., wrote to the New England Journal of Medicine regarding the public health problem involving traffic accidents and and daylight savings time. Basically, with statistical significance the numbers cited by Dr. Coren show an 8% increase in traffic accidents on the Monday following the start of daylight savings time.

The statistics on car accidents also underscore a danger at all times of the year on our roads in Georgia and elsewhere:  "drowsy driving." Noting that auto accidents decrease when daylight savings time ends, Dr. Coren stated, "[I]t is likely that the effects are due to sleep loss rather than a nonspecific disruption in circadian rhythm, since gaining an additional hour of sleep at the fall time shift seems to decrease the risk of accidents."

The sum and substance? Sleepy drivers are at an increased risk of being involved in car accidents. Please be safe when commuting, especially this evening. 

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death 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.

Preventing Car Accident Injury to Children: Winter Coat Use with Car Seats

With the return of cold, windy weather to Lawrenceville, Georgia, today this blog post by Gwinnett County personal injury and wrongful death attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, details a safety issue involving potential dangers to children who are buckled into car seats while wearing winter coats. Please read below to protect your children from injury in the event of a car accident.

Wearing a winter coat in a car seat may pose an injury risk to a child in the event of a car accident

If you have a child who is in the age range for car seat use, you may routinely buckle your little one into her car seat when it is cold outside AFTER making sure she is bundled up in her winter coat. For many parents this is the norm as you want to keep your child warm. However, this can actually be a danger to a child in the event of a car accident.

Consumer Reports details the dangers of car seat use for children wearing winter coats and safety measures to prevent injury. As a general rule, winter coats should not be worn under a car seat harness. You can always have your child use a blanket or wear his coat in reverse after he is buckled into his car seat such that the coat is outside of the harness.

To see the danger to children posed by the wearing of a winter coat while harnessed in a car seat, you can view this video clip from a story which aired on NBC's Today Show.

Basically, there can be a big risk that the car seat harness is too loose because of the puffiness or bulk of a winter coat. In a car accident a child may not remain restrained and it can result in serious injury. 

When buckling your child into her car seat when the weather is cold, please remember that it may be safer to remove her coat before buckling her in. This little step with a few moments of inconvenience to you as a parent may pay off immeasurably if it protects your most precious cargo in the event of a car wreck. 

If your child has been injured in a car accident in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death 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.