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.

Georgia Governor Signs into Law a Fixed School Bus Safety Statute

Today in Atlanta, the Governor of Georgia signed a bill fixing last year’s school bus passing law, according to a report by WSB-TV. A full reading of the text of Senate Bill 25 can be found on the Georgia General Assembly’s website.

The bill amends O.C.G.A. § 40‑6-163, which last year written in a manner that made it no longer a violation to pass a school bus (when loading or unloading children) from the opposite direction of travel when on a road divided by a center center turn lane.

That has been fixed as the problematic language has been deleted from the statute. Now, it is against the law again in Georgia to pass a school bus from the opposite direction when it is loading or unloading children on all roads except in the situation where it occurs “with separate roadways that are separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus which is on the separate roadway or upon a controlled access highway when the school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway." O.C.G.A. § 40‑6-163(b) (2019).

This law went effect immediately, so as of earlier this morning, February 15, 2019, safety measures in the law appear to be restored in Georgia. Hopefully, this fixed law will prevent tragic wrongful deaths and injuries for Georgia’s children.

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.

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.

Parking Lot Injury Risk During Holiday Shopping Season

This blog post by Georgia personal injury and wrongful death attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, discusses the dangers posed to pedestrians in parking lots by cars and trucks during the Christmas shopping season. The Armond Firm, LLC, is located in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia. Call 678-661-9585 for a free case consultation. Please stay safe to avoid personal injuries from car and truck accidents in parking lots this holiday season!

The holiday shopping season makes parking lots a greater risk of personal injury:

Christmas is right around the corner. People are hurrying about finishing their shopping. Roads are and parking lots are packed. Drivers are tired and frustrated. Factors such as these make a lot of people concerned about car accidents when driving around places like malls and shopping centers.

To stay safe this holiday season please keep in mind that once you park just getting to and from your vehicle is more dangerous at this time of year. The National Safety Council points out in its article “‘Tis the Season for Parking Lot Injuries” that the number of insurance claims for parking lot accidents increases on Black Friday and continues throughout the holiday shopping season.

The article also points out the many distractions drivers admitted to doing while driving in parking lots in a nationwide poll. These include grooming, texting, programming GPS systems, making calls, and taking photos.

The article further reminds us all of the dangers of vehicles backing or reversing in parking lots. Somewhat surprisingly, only 9% of pedestrian deaths in parking lots result from backup incidents.

When you are out holiday shopping please stay safe when driving on roads and parking lots, as well as when walking in parking lots to and from your car. When you have children please be extra vigilant about the potential dangers some motorists pose in parking lots. Stay safe this holiday season!

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

Georgia Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise This Year

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, fatal traffic accidents involving pedestrians are up 16% in Georgia this year. Georgia's new hands-free law goes into effect on July 1, 2018, but experts are looking for additional ways to prevent this increase in pedestrian fatality accidents. The AJC story notes that increased horsepower and larger vehicles may be a factor in the increase. This blog post by Richard Armond, a serious injury and wrongful death lawyer in Lawrenceville, Georgia, briefly highlights some of the sobering statistics involving pedestrian deaths in Georgia.

The AJC story linked above includes statistics which demonstrate the dangers to pedestrians in Georgia. Pedestrian fatalities appear to have been, in general, increasing over the last decade. Last year there were 260 pedestrian fatalities and there have been 111 so far this year. Further, Georgia had the fourth most fatal hit and run crashes in the United States in 2016, with 72 fatalities. Those numbers also appear, in general, to have been on the rise over the last decade. 

Please keep these statistics in mind when utilizing roadways and sidewalks as both a pedestrian and a driver to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

If you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident or you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a pedestrian 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.

The Definitive Guide to Georgia's New Hands-Free Distracted Driving Law

HB 673 Signed by Georgia Governor; New Hands-Free Distracted Driving Law, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241, Explained

Today Governor Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 673, the Hands-Free Georgia Act, Georgia's new hands-free distracted driving law. This blog post, by serious injury and wrongful death lawyer Richard C. Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, offers an in-depth explanation of the new law. The Armond Firm, LLC, is based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, near the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center, and handles cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. Please remember this post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

HB 673 Amends Three Georgia Code Sections and Repeals Two Others

Georgia's new hands-free distracted driving law will be found at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 and goes into effect on July 1, 2018. HB 673 significantly amends O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 which currently criminalizes failing to use due care while operating a motor vehicle, but specifically allows for "proper use of a mobile telephone" except as prohibited in O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-241.1 and 40-6-241.2. HB 673 completely repeals O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-241.1 and 40-6-241.2, effective July 1, 2018, and amends or puts in place a new hands-free distracted driving law at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241, also effective July 1, 2018.

HB 673 also amends O.C.G.A. § 40-5-57, which sets the points assessed against driver's licenses for various traffic offenses. Effective July 1, 2018, a first violation of the new hands-free distracted driving law at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 will be a one point violation, a second violation will assess two points, and a third or subsequent violation will assess three points to a person's driver's license. This appears to be for lifetime violations such that the points will increase up to a third lifetime violation of the hands-free distracted driving law regardless of how far in the past other violations occurred.

Additionally, HB 673 amends O.C.G.A. § 40-6-165, relating to the use of "wireless communication devices" while operating school buses. Essentially, school bus drivers cannot use a "wireless communication device" for any reason while loading or unloading passengers, and they cannot use them while a bus is in motion unless the use is similar to a two-way radio for the purpose of communicating with school officials or public safety officials.

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Georgia's New Hands-Free Distracted Driving Law Explained

To begin understanding Georgia's new hands-free distracted driving law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241), we must understand the definitions of various devices used in the statute.

Definitions:

Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(a)(3):

"'Wireless telecommunications device' means a cellular telephone, a portable telephone, a text-messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a stand-alone computer, a global positioning system receiver, or substantially similar portable wireless device that is used to initiate or receive communication, information, or data. Such term shall not include a radio, citizens band radio, citizens band radio hybrid, commercial two-way radio communication device or its functional equivalent, subscription based emergency communication device, prescribed medical device, amateur or ham radio device, or in-vehicle security, navigation, or remote diagnostics system."

Essentially, any type of cell phone, smart phone, flip phone, etc., is included in the definition. Further, laptop computers, tablet computers/iPads, and GPS systems which are not "in-vehicle" (presumably meaning permanently installed, but this may be a source of litigation regarding vagueness) are also included in the definition. However, some more old fashioned forms of electronic communications such as CB radios and systems which are "in-vehicle" are not included in the definition. 

Further, under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(a)(1):

"'Stand-alone electronic device' means a device other than a wireless telecommunications device which stores audio or video data files to be retrieved on demand by a user."

A "stand-alone electronic device" means anything which stores audio or video that can be viewed immediately, such as an iPod or MP3 player, a GoPro, or for those older readers it would include Walkmans, Discmans, camcorders, etc.

These pertinent definitions are important to understand exactly what is prohibited in the new Georgia hands-free distracted driving law.

What is now illegal under Georgia law (effective July 1, 2018)?

  1. Anything which distracts from the safe operation of a vehicle. The new O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(b) requires, "[a] driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle." In other words, regardless of whether a cell phone or other device is used at all it is a violation of Georgia law for a driver to take part in any action which distracts her from driving safely. This would include anything such as turning around to discipline children, doing makeup, eating a cheeseburger, etc., IF the action distracts her from driving safely (a case in Georgia was dismissed several years ago when a driving was cited for eating a cheeseburger while driving--the issue was proof that that driver was driving unsafely--these types of actions are not per se unlawful, but only unlawful if a driver is being unsafe because of doing them). However, if a person can do those things while safely driving, they would arguably not be violating the law (which will be a subject of litigation)--this would especially be true if those types of actions are done while at a red light or when the car is technically being operated but stationary. 

  2. The mere act of holding within a person's hand a cell phone (or any "wireless telecommunications device" as defined above) or any other device to store audio or video which can be accessed on demand (so long as defined as a "stand-alone electronic device" above). This where the new Georgia hands-free distracted driving law has its teeth and differs from the old law. As of July 1, 2018, a driver cannot even hold his cell phone in his hand at all while his vehicle is in operation, nor support the prohibited devices with any part of his body, such as holding a phone between ear and shoulder. Operation, under already existing law, will include any time a motor vehicle's engine is on and on a roadway, regardless of whether stopped at a red light, stuck in stand-still traffic, or driving down the road. This hands-free provision will be found at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c)(1). The statute does, however, allow for the use of an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on a wrist to conduct only voice-based communication. Though not explicitly stated in O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 it does not appear to prohibit receiving or placing calls from systems installed in a vehicle (as they do not appear to fit the definition of "wireless telecommunications device" or "stand-alone electronic device") or the use of a cell phone to place or receive a call so long as the phone is not supported by the body in any way *(see below "What appears to be legal under the new Georgia hands-free distracted driving law which may not have been intended?"). 

  3. Writing, sending, or reading a text (or any other written communication) on a cell phone (or any device defined above as a "wireless telecommunications device" or "stand-alone electronic device"). This provision will be found at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c)(2) and makes it illegal while operating a vehicle (which, again, includes being a driver at a red light) to read a text, instant message, email, a website, or any other internet data. However, it specifically allows both sending a text by voice when a person's voice is automatically converted to text and using those devices for navigating by GPS *(see below "What appears to be legal under the new Georgia hands-free distracted driving law which may not have been intended?"). Keep in mind that these devices cannot be held in a driver's hand or supported by her body in anyway while sending text by automatic voice conversion or while using GPS.

  4. Watching a video or movie while operating a vehicle while using a "wireless telecommunications device" or "stand-alone electronic device." This prohibition is found at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c)(3). This subsection specifically allows, however, watching data related to the navigation of a vehicle.

  5. Recording or broadcasting a video on a "wireless telecommunications device" or "stand-alone electronic device." O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c)(4). However, this subsection specifically allows electronic devices used solely for continuously recording or broadcasting video, i.e., you can use dash cams to record your trip, and onboard computers which record your every movement (most new cars have this built in) are also lawful. 

Special Provisions for Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles

The definition of a "commercial motor vehicle" can be found at O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(8.3) and, generally, involves vehicles used in commerce over a certain weight, passenger capacity, or which transport hazardous materials. When driving a "commercial motor vehicle" the new law, in addition to the prohibitions applicable to all drivers, also makes unlawful at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(d):

  1. Using more than a single button on a wireless telecommunications device to initiate or terminate a voice communication.

  2. Reaching for a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device in such a manner that requires the driver to no longer be: (A) In a seated driving position; or (B) properly restrained by a safety belt.

What appears to be legal under the new Georgia hands-free distracted driving law which may not have been intended?

  • Placing and receiving calls when not holding or supporting a defined device with a person's body in any way. The new O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 appears to intend to allow for use of on-board phone systems installed in vehicles. However, it also appears that at least as to non-commercial drivers, if a cell phone is on the seat next to a driver, he may place and answer calls so long as he does not support the phone in any way, AND so long as he does not violate the "catch-all provision" of anything which distracts from the safe operation of a vehicle found at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(b). This will potentially be a source of litigation in criminal/traffic cases, but it appears that if a driver is, for example, at a red light and stopped he would be able to place or answer a phone call from his cell phone so long as he does not hold or support the phone with his body by using the phone while it is laying next to him.
  • Use of GPS on cell phones and other like devices. The Georgia General Assembly specifically included in the definition of "wireless telecommunications device" cell phones and GPS receivers (presumed example:  Garmins and Tom-Toms) which are not "in-vehicle" and made them subject to the hands-free requirement. The General Assembly specifically excluded in-vehicle navigation from the definition, which presumably means the GPS systems permanently installed in vehicles, attempting to make some distinction between portable and "in-vehicle" GPS. While the intent of the new O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 is to save lives and prevent dangerous traffic collisions, subsection (c)(2) specifically allows a driver to enter as much text as the driver wants so long as it for GPS navigation (so long as the driver is not holding or supporting the defined device), with no distinction as to the device being portable or in-vehicle under the allowed acts (so why the distinction?).

This appears to be the biggest weakness of the new law. Anyone who has used a GPS knows it can take quite a while to enter this information and can be just as much of a danger to others as texting and driving. OF VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  it is definitely clearly still illegal to support in one's hand or body a cell phone or any other portable GPS receiver while operating a vehicle, but subsection (c)(2) would allow for using a cell phone or portable GPS while operating a vehicle so long as, for example, the device is laying on the seat or mounted to the dashboard. ALSO OF IMPORTANT NOTE:  Even when using a cell phone or portable GPS and not holding or supporting the device, it will still be illegal to violate the catch-all of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(b) to do "anything which distracts from the safe operation of a vehicle."

In criminal/traffic prosecutions, the State will likely not have to prove that a driver was not otherwise lawfully using his GPS on his cell phone--this appears to be akin to an affirmative defense which a person charged could assert, and, if asserted, the State would then have to disprove it. See May v. State, 179 Ga. App. 736 (1986). However, in most traffic citation cases the police are not going to have access to see what was actually happening on a cell phone at the time they observed a potential violation unless a driver gives consent or the police obtain a search warrant to look into the phone. The State may not have evidence to disprove such an affirmative defense if one is truthfully asserted. This may slightly take away some of the teeth of the new statute in prosecutions, but definitely weakens the prevention aspect as drivers can enter info into a GPS so long as not violating the hands-free/support subsection or the catch-all due care/distraction provision.

What additional actions are specifically legal under the new O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241?

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(g) specifically allows the following four uses of a "wireless telecommunications device" or "stand-alone electronic device" with one major exception to these allowances:

"(1) While reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, an actual or potential criminal or delinquent act, or road condition which causes an immediate and serious traffic or safety hazard;

(2) By an employee or contractor of a utility services (defined at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(a)(2) to basically include what we commonly know as utilities) provider acting within the scope of his or her employment while responding to a utility emergency;

(3) By a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical services personnel, ambulance driver, or other similarly employed public safety first responder during the performance of his or her official duties; or

(4) While in a motor vehicle which is lawfully parked (again, being stopped at a red light is included in the operation of a vehicle and is not considered being parked)."

However, the major exception is that these acts are not exempt from the catch-all provision of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(b) which basically prohibits anything which distracts from the safe operation of a motor vehicle. In other words, it is still against Georgia law to, for example, call 911 while driving to report a crime in progress if it distracts from the safe operation of the car.

Punishments:

In addition to the points on a driver's license explained above, violating any part of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 is a misdemeanor. 

  • a first offense in a 24 month period (from offense date to offense date) involves a maximum $50.00 fine
  • a second offense in a 24 month period (from offense date to offense date) involves a maximum $100.00 fine
  • a third or subsequent offense in a 24 month period (from offense date to offense date) involves a maximum $150.00 fine

However, the law allows for first time a person is charged with violating O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 for the person to be found not guilty if she produces in court a device or proof of purchase of a device which allows for compliance with the statute in the future (example:  earpiece for hands-free calling). It is extremely important to note that anyone taking advantage if this provision must affirm she has not previously used the provision. Along with that, one should know that making a false statement in an official governmental matter or perjuring oneself are both felony crimes which a person might face if caught making this affirmation more than once.

Conclusion

The new O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 appears to be a significant improvement in terms of making Georgia's roads safer by making our state a "hands-free" state to combat distracted driving. According to the CDC, approximately nine people are killed and over 1,000 are injured each day in the United States because of car crashes involving a distracted driver. In 2015 alone 3,477 lives were lost and 391,000 people were injured in United States automobile crashes involving a distracted driver. Let's hope this new law will make our roads safer and protect the lives of everyone on Georgia's roadways.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or a loved one was lost in a traffic collision, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation or fill in your contact info here

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.

Photo by Alexandre Boucher on Unsplash

Pedestrian Accident Statistics Released This Week

This blog post by personal injury and wrongful death attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, a Gwinnett County law practice based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, addresses statistics released this week on pedestrian fatality accidents.

The Governors Highway Safety Association released its 2017 preliminary data on pedestrian traffic fatalities earlier this week. The report has some disturbing trends. Overall, nationwide pedestrian fatality numbers were virtually unchanged from 2016 with approximately 6,000 deaths in 2017. While other types of traffic fatalities have declined in the last decade, pedestrian fatalities have increased 27%.

Additionally, in states where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use pedestrian fatalities increased 16.4% in the first six months of 2017, while in states where marijuana is not legal for recreational use pedestrian fatalities declined 5.8%. While the marijuana statistics speak to correlation without proving causation, the general trend of an increase of pedestrian fatalities over the last decade is cause for concern and the marijuana statistics make one want to see longer term statistics to see if there is any significance to them. 

Georgia had the sixth most pedestrian fatalities in the nation during the first six months of 2017, but our state's total was down 20% from 2016. 

When looking through all of the statistics certain things stand out from a safety standpoint. The most pedestrian fatalities occur when it is dark outside and the highest percentage occur on local municipal streets (urban areas as opposed to highways, county roads, etc.). Additionally, smartphone use has continuously increased over the last decade.

These statistics leave open a lot of questions. Could the trend towards more urban, walkable communities be a contributing factor (are there more pedestrians now than a decade ago)? Could marijuana legalization pose a danger to pedestrians (it is against the law in Georgia not just to drive under the influence of alcohol, but to drive while under the influence of marijuana, See O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(2))? Is smartphone use a/k/a distracted driving a/k/a texting while driving a main contributing factor to the increased danger to pedestrians?

Please keep in mind the danger to pedestrians which seems to be increasing. Use safety precautions when walking near roadways, especially at nighttime. 

If your or a loved one have been injured in a pedestrian 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.

Georgia storefront car crash news story

This blog post by Lawrenceville, GA personal injury and wrongful death lawyer Richard Armond focuses on storefront car crashes. The Armond Firm, LLC, is located in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and litigates cases throughout metropolitan Atlanta and across the State of Georgia. If you or a loved one have been injured or lost in a storefront car crash accident contact trial attorney Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation regarding a potential personal injury or wrongful death case.

Today a pickup truck reportedly crashed into a business in DeKalb County, Georgia. According to the AJC news report no injuries were reported. As you can see in the linked story there was, however, significant damage to the business and some power lines. 

Statistically storefront car crashes can be quite dangerous. According to the Storefront Safety Council operator error (30%) and pedal error (26%) are the leading causes of storefront car accidents. Their site reports this data was compiled from analysis of 11,000 accidents from 2013-2017. 

Storefront car crashes are a public safety concern. Fortunately in the local Atlanta news story nobody was injured. However, there are nearly 500 deaths in storefront car crashes nationwide each year. 

From the perspective of a personal injury and wrongful death attorney, most of the time the driver of the at-fault vehicle will be liable and the driver's liability insurance carrier and the victim's (if available) uninsured motorist insurance carrier will be sources of recovery. 

However, as the Storefront Safety Council points out, proper safety practices by a business can prevent these crashes. In parts of the country ordinances and laws are in place with safety measures designed to protect innocent victims of these car vs. pedestrian accidents. Additionally, some businesses have had a history of more than one of these types of crashes. In some instances it is feasible a business could also be subject to premises liability depending on all the facts and circumstances of a case.

If you or a loved one have been injured or lost in a car accident, pedestrian accident, storefront car crash, or any other 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.

Georgia hit and run car-pedestrian accident

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.

  1. 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."
  2. 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;"
  3. 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

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.

Damages

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.

 

DeKalb County, Georgia School Bus Pedestrian Fatality Accident

This blog post addresses an incredibly sad story in the Atlanta news today. It involves a wrongful death of a child in an auto accident/pedestrian accident case and personal injury to the child's mother. This incident happened in DeKalb County, next door to Gwinnett County where my practice is located. I handled personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. This post addresses some of the legal issues in a Georgia personal injury and wrongful death case such as the tragic one today.  

Today the AJC is reporting heartbreaking news from DeKalb County, Georgia, where an eight year-old girl and her mother were struck by a car. The girl has died and her mother has moderate injuries. Reportedly the girl and her mother were in a marked crosswalk and crossing the street for her school bus, which was stopped with its lights flashing and stop sign out. The driver of the car, whose name has not been released, has allegedly been arrested and charges are allegedly pending.

First and foremost thoughts and prayers should be with the mother of the child and her family.

Potential Liability in this Georgia Pedestrian Fatality and Injury Accident

I have written before about Georgia's rules of the road applicable to school buses (click here for that post). From a legal perspective this case would, after full investigation to determine if the driver was at fault, involve potential claims by child's parents for wrongful death and a personal injury action for the mother based on her injuries. 

In addition to evaluating negligence of the driver of the car, the early reports from the AJC seem to indicate the potential of violations involving O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163 for unlawfully meeting a school bus and O.C.G.A. § 40-6-91 for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. 

Investigation in a Georgia Pedestrian Fatality or Injury Case

Typically in fatality accidents such as this one the accident investigation unit of the DeKalb Police Department will complete a full investigation including an accident reconstruction report. They will typically download any data from the onboard computer of the offending vehicle to determine potential negligence based on speed or lack of braking. They will also typically do a full analysis of the vehicle to determine if there were any defects with the vehicle and to determine if it was properly maintained in areas such as the braking system and tire tread. Sometimes they will also look at cell phone records of the driver to see if phone usage at the time is an issue (distracted driving or texting and driving). 

Sources of Recovery in a Georgia Pedestrian Fatality or Injury Case

If it can be shown that the driver of the car in this Georgia pedestrian accident is liable through negligence and/or other violations of the rules of the road, the amount of automobile liability insurance she carried will be the first source of recovery of damages. Hopefully, this is more than the Georgia minimums of $25,000 per person and $50,000 total in any one incident. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for motorists in Georgia to have bare minimum coverage.

A second source of potential recovery, and a major reason why a Georgia personal injury and wrongful death lawyer should be retained promptly, is uninsured motorist coverage on any auto policy in the household of the mother or child. It is important to protect your household to have this coverage on all of your auto policies. The reason is because this coverage can be a source of recovery in any accident involving a motor vehicle, including when a member of your household is struck as a pedestrian. This coverage can cover any loss should the driver of the car not have insurance or any amount of loss that can be proven as greater than the other driver's policy limit. Uninsured motorist coverage typically has strict time limitations and requirements for how your insurance company must be notified in the event of an injury. Failure to comply with your policy can result in a denial of coverage and a personal injury lawyer can ensure this is done correctly. 

Again, car accidents and pedestrian accidents such as the one today are tragic and heartbreaking. One family will never be the same. Our thoughts in prayers are with the girl and her family. 

If a loved one of yours has been injured lost in a car accident, pedestrian accident, or any other type of personal injury or wrongful death incident in 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.