Child Passenger Safety Week 2019

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. Based 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.

This week (September 15-21, 2019) is NHTSA Child Passenger Safety Week. This week is important because car wrecks are a leading cause of child fatalities, and the statistics show that around 59% of all car seats are installed incorrectly. If you simply Google the issue, some statistics will put that number over 90%.

Why is proper car seat installation and use important? According to NHTSA, car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers. In the most recent year NHTSA statistics are available, 325 lives of children under the age of five were saved by car seats, but an additional 46 lives would have been saved if those children under the age of five had been properly buckled.

If you have children who use car seats of any type, there are usually resources in your community where you can have a professional check to ensure your car seats are properly installed and your children are being buckled properly.

NHTSA has a tool where you can enter your zip code and locate agencies in your area (typically law enforcement agencies, fire departments, health departments, etc.) that will allow you to schedule an appointment to have your car seats checked for free. The site is: https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats#installation-help-inspection . Please take advantage of this service in your community.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident or any other type of case and would like to speak with an attorney about whether the other party may be responsible for damages 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 an attorney for legal advice.

Georgia Labor Day 2019 Traffic Fatalities

Labor Day weekend is typically one of the most dangerous travel periods on Georgia roads. According to statistics released by the Georgia Department of Public Safety, nine (9) people lost their lives in deadly traffic accidents over the 78 hour holiday travel period in 2019.

Georgia State Patrol Troopers alone (not counting local agencies) investigated traffic accidents in which 288 people were injured this year. Also of note, Georgia State Patrol Troopers alone investigated 244 DUI cases and issued over 600 citations for violations of the Georgia Hands-Free law.

The fatality count for the 2019 Labor Day holiday weekend was half of the 2018 count.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as a result of an unsafe driver in the State of Georgia, 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 senator aims to reduce trucking accidents and fatalities

This blog post by metro Atlanta personal injury and wrongful death attorney Richard Armond deals with legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia which is aimed at making us safer from trucking accidents.

According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, United States Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) introduced bipartisan legislation last week with senator Chris Coons (D-De.) aimed at requiring speed-limiting software in trucks which would limit them to 65 miles per hour. The story indicates Isakson's interest in this legislation dates back to a 2015 tractor-trailer wreck that killed five Georgia Southern University nursing students.

Evidently, this "speed limiter rule" was proposed as Department of Transportation regulation about a decade ago, but has been stalled through delay after delay. The current administration has delayed action on the rule indefinitely. The newly proposed legislation would bypass the administrative regulation process by making it law. Georgia senator Isakson is quoted as saying most other countries already use this software to cap truck speed limits and the article further mentions that most truck in the United States already have this software.

 
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If your or a loved one have been injured or lost in a trucking accident case 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.

Reducing Child Drowning Accidents: USA Swimming Make a Splash Initiative

This blog post by personal injury and wrongful death lawyer Richard Armond is a reminder to stay safe while enjoying the swimming pool this summer in metro Atlanta and to consider signing your children up for swim lessons to avoid drowning accidents.

Swimming pools around metro Atlanta opened up last weekend. This is a good time of year to remind everyone to have fun and enjoy swimming, but to also be safe around the pool especially when children are present. USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative aims to raise awareness of the importance of teaching children to swim, to increase participation in swim lessons, and to align with partner organizations to spread the message of water safety.

To quote directly from the Make a Splash website (linked here):

  1. No child is ever water safe. The goal of swim lessons is to make children SAFER in, on, and around water.

  2. 79% of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little-to-no swimming ability.

  3. Research shows 64% of African-American, 45% of Hispanic/Latino, and 40% of Caucasian children have little to no swimming ability.

  4. 10 people drown each day in the United States. 

  5. Formal swimming lessons reduces the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%

These statistics should be eye opening. We should all strive to make swimming safer for all children and always exercise diligence around pools, lakes, the beach, etc. Let’s make this summer a safe one for all children around Atlanta and throughout Georgia when they go for a swim!

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Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

If you or a loved one have been injured in a Georgia swimming pool 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.

Products Liability: Fisher-Price Rock n' Play Sleeper

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Fisher-Price, a subsidiary of Mattel, has issued a recall for all models of the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper. If your baby has been injured or is deceased as a result of the use of the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper please contact Georgia personal injury and wrongful death attorney Richard Armond for a free consultation regarding your rights.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission recall page for the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper indicates 30 infant fatalities have occurred in the product. The recall involves 4.7 million units. If you know of any parents, daycares, or other caretakers who may have a Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper please notify them immediately so that they can stop use immediately and receive their refund or voucher. Such action may save an infant’s life.

 
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Georgia law provides protection to consumers of products which cause injury or death. A starting point for Georgia products liability law is O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11(b)(1) which provides:

The manufacturer of any personal property sold as new property directly or through a dealer or any other person shall be liable in tort, irrespective of privity, to any natural person who may use, consume, or reasonably be affected by the property and who suffers injury to his person or property because the property when sold by the manufacturer was not merchantable and reasonably suited to the use intended, and its condition when sold is the proximate cause of the injury sustained.

In other words, the manufacturer of a product which proximately causes personal injury or wrongful death to any person in Georgia can be sued for damages.

If your loved one has been injured or is deceased because of a Fisher Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper or any other defective product, please contact Gwinnett County, Georgia, 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 Pedestrian Fatality Accidents Increased in the First Half of Last Year

This blog post by Georgia personal injury lawyer Richard Armond discusses an article in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution (linked here) regarding an increase in pedestrian fatalities in the first half of last year.

The article notes that Georgia saw 130 pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2018, which is up 32 percent from the same period in 2017. The article further mentions that nationally pedestrian fatalities increased, but only by three percent.

The article lists factors affecting the numbers in Georgia which include, among other things, population growth, the amount of time people spend walking, and drivers distracted by smartphones. Georgia’s population, and especially metro Atlanta’s, have been growing rapidly for decades. I think it is likely that greater population combined with more walkable environments are a major factor in the increase in fatalities.

In recent years in Atlanta and surrounding cities such as Decatur, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Norcross, Suwanee, Buford, and many others, we have seen a revitalization of downtown areas with restaurants and shops with a much greater emphasis on walkable areas. Instead of going to the mall, a lot of people now like to shop and dine in live, work, and play mixed-use areas and are on foot a lot more than a decade ago.

Drivers and pedestrians both must keep in mind the apparent dangers and use traffic safety skills to avoid harm. It will be interesting to see what the final statistics show for the second half of 2018. If you recall, the new Georgia hands-free law went into effect on July 1, 2018. The statistics in the article only cover the six months immediately prior to that new law going into effect. Perhaps, if drivers distracted by smartphones are partially to blame, we will see the number of Georgia pedestrian wrongful death accidents decrease or at least stop increasing in the future with the advent of that new law.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a Georgia pedestrian 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.

Should I agree to mediation for my personal injury case?

This blog post by serious personal injury and wrongful death attorney Richard Armond addresses questions surrounding mediation as a means to resolving personal injury and wrongful death cases. Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, near the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center. He handles cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which opposing parties agree to have a neutral party called a mediator listen to each party’s presentation of the case in attempt to reach an agreement to amicably resolve a case short of going to trial. Mediation, as opposed to arbitration, is non-binding. In other words, if either party in a mediation does not like the end result then they do not have to agree to the proposed resolution and can walk away still retaining the right to pursue claims or defenses in a lawsuit.

How does mediation work?

Mediation is less formal than proceedings in a court of law. Each side will agree to a particular Georgia registered mediator to hear the case between them and will schedule the mediation hearing for a particular date. Prior to that date, either side typically is allowed to present a summary and materials to the mediator in advance of the mediation to give the mediator a synopsis of the case and their position going into the hearing.

On the date of the mediation, each party will typically be assigned to their own room. The parties typically sign an agreement that the discussions which take place cannot be used against either party in any subsequent litigation. This is to encourage open talks in an attempt to settle the case. The parties will then get together briefly in a room so that each side can give an opening statement if they wish. Basically, this allows any party to state with everyone present what they believe the facts of the case are and what the damages are. Then, the parties retreat to their assigned rooms for private meetings with the mediator.

The mediator will often meet with the plaintiff and his or her attorney first to get the exact amount demanded and discuss the case from the plaintiff’s perspective. The mediator will then leave the room to meet with the defendant and his or her attorney. If the defendant has a counteroffer the mediator will then leave their room and present it to the plaintiff. The process can go back and forth a few times or many times. The goal of each side is typically to reach an appropriate resolution of the case.

Sometimes sides are able to resolve a case relatively quickly. More often, a mediation can go on for hours or even a full day. Sometimes it is clear that one side is being unreasonable and because of that the mediation ends quickly. Other times cases can be complex as strengths and weaknesses of cases, both in the facts and the law, are discussed with the mediator and negotiations continue.

If an agreement is reached the mediator will typically complete a brief settlement memorandum that each party signs regarding the terms of the agreement. If either side does not reach the result they wanted they can walk away to continue litigating the case in court. As stated earlier, the process is much less formal than court proceedings as the rules of evidence are not at issue, each side presents their case outside the presence of the other side, and things like presenting information in advance that would not be allowed in a court of law are permissible in mediations.

Is it a good idea to mediate a wrongful death or personal injury case?

That is a question for your attorney who knows the facts and law of your case inside and out. My experience is that mediation can be a very useful tool to get a case resolved appropriately without the risk of a trial. There is minimal downside to a mediation in that if either party does not like where the final settlement offer is at they may get up and leave without any of it effecting their case in court. Mediation in personal injury and wrongful death cases, however, is not free and the expenses to each side can be thousands of dollars. There is also strategy involved and personal opinions vary amongst attorneys as to how to present a case at a mediation. Some lawyers almost never present information in advance and others routinely waive opening statements. It is best to trust and listen to your lawyer during the mediation process.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in Georgia because of the bad act or negligence of another party, 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 looking to fix school bus passing law

One thing we want Georgia traffic laws to do is to keep us safe on the roads through reasonable enforcement. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia General Assembly is looking to fix Georgia’s school bus passing law that went into effect on July 1, 2018. The statute at issue, O.C.G.A. § 40‑6-163(b), arguably was written such that it is no longer a violation to pass a school bus from the opposite direction of travel when on a road divided by a center center turn lane. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr came to that opinion on August 20, 2018.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story reports, Georgia lawmakers in both the House and Senate are looking to fix the law this year. This law is a major safety issue for our state and needs to be changed. The story cites a survey of school bus drivers in which 10,988 drivers witnessed 7,465 illegal passes in just a single day.

Further, there has been at least one documented wrongful death of a child since the new law went into effect. This past October in Colquitt County two children were struck while crossing the street to a waiting, stopped school bus. According to WCTV one child died and the other was seriously injured.

Hopefully, the Georgia General Assembly will fix the apparent error with school bus passing law and make our roads safer for children getting on and off the school bus.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a Georgia automobile or pedestrian 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.

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.

Family Purpose Doctrine in Georgia Automobile Accident Cases

This article by Georgia personal injury lawyer Richard Armond is designed to give the reader a brief explanation of Georgia's "family purpose doctrine" or "family car doctrine" as applicable to automobile accident cases. The doctrine is one that is rooted in the law of agency and allows a plaintiff to pursue a claim for damages against the owner of an automobile who was not the driver during an accident when, in certain circumstances, a member of the owner's family was driving (in situations where the doctrine is applicable, a plaintiff can sue, for example, the parents of a minor child in addition to the child so that there is a source of recovery for damages).

What is the "family purpose doctrine?"

"The family purpose doctrine in Georgia provides that "[e]very person shall be liable for torts committed by . . . his child . . . by his command or in the prosecution and within the scope of his business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily." Thus, "when an automobile is maintained by the owner for the use and convenience of his family, such owner is liable for the negligence of a member of the family having authority to drive the car while it is being used for a family purpose."" Dashtpeyma v. Wade, 646 S.E.2d 335, 337 (Ga. App., 2007).

In other words, a parent (or other member of a driver's household depending on the facts) can potentially be held liable under Georgia law for negligent acts of a driver from the household pertaining to the use of the family car for family use. A common example would be parents being held liable for an accident caused by their teenage son who was driving the family car home from school. There are, however, many other scenarios in which the doctrine can apply.

What legal elements muse be present for the "family purpose doctrine" to allow for liability?

There are four necessary preconditions along with a requirements regarding the parent/owner/furnisher's authority and agency under Georgia law. The four preconditions are:

(1) the owner of the vehicle must have given permission to a family member to drive the vehicle;

(2) the vehicle's owner must have relinquished control of the vehicle to the family member; 

(3) the family member must be in the vehicle; and 

(4) the vehicle must be engaged in a family purpose.

Dashtpeyma at 337.

Then, the authority and agency requirements, if those preconditions have been satisfied, are:

". . . [T]he doctrine renders the defendant vicariously liable if [defendant] had the right to exercise such authority and control that it may be concluded that an agency relationship existed between [defendant] and the family member with respect to the use of the vehicle." Id.

What is the purpose behind the "family purpose doctrine?"

"The policy behind the origin of the doctrine was the ever increasing number of automobile collisions and the frequency with which the negligent driver was found to be judgment proof. In the case of a family at least, this factor was minimized by finding liability as to the owner of the car who allowed family members to use the car for family pleasures." Anderson v. Lewis, 809 S.E.2d 260, 261 (Ga. App., 2017).

In other words, it is a policy based principle of law designed to give those people injured in automobile accidents by drivers who do not have funds to cover the losses (example: teen drivers) the ability to pursue the claim against a member of the household of the driver who supplied the car (example: the parent who gave the teen a car).

Conclusion:

This is a very brief summary of an area of Georgia law that can sometimes benefit a person who has been injured in a car accident. Factual scenarios such as whether grandparents supplying a car to a grandchild can be held liable, whether family members are actually part of the same household, and whether the doctrine even applies to certain parents of children depending on parental rights or household living arrangements are just some of the issues that can arise in this area of the law.

The law can be very fact specific when a motion for summary judgment is litigated on the family purpose doctrine and a knowledgeable plaintiff's attorney licensed in the State of Georgia is needed to protect the interests of an injured person.

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.