Yesterday, a 34 year-old man, Jose Mena, was operating a 1995 Green Taurus and entered the car wash located at 1932 Metropolitan Pkwy in Southwest Atlanta, Georgia. At the same time, three children who ranged in ages from 3 -13 were also on the premises of the car wash as they waited for their father.
At some point, Mr. Mena unknowingly pinned the three children against the wall of the car wash as he entered the premises and was only alerted by vigilant passersby’s. Thus, either upon his initial entrance or after he entered upon the premises of the car wash, Mr. Mena’s attention was distracted. The article is silent as to what or why his attention was distracted. I will make the following assumptions as to the cause of Mr. Mena’s distraction: Mr. Mena was using his mobile phone; Mr. Mena was looking somewhere other than straight ahead and/or Mr. Mena’s was impaired during the operation of his vehicle.
The impact of the vehicle with the wall and the children had to be somewhat significant inasmuch as it caused a crack in Mr. Mena’s windshield and had pinned the children to the wall. Fortunately, the three children were released by the Children’s Hospital at Egleston and released with minor injuries. This specific incident has gone viral across the country and has even been cited by a San Francisco news agency website among others. Obviously, this is due to the uncommon nature of the incident and tender years of the children involved.
Upon investigation, Atlanta Police determined that Mr. Mena was an unlicensed driver. It is not clear from the article whether or not Mr. Mena was also uninsured. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the Atlanta Police cited Mr. Mena with reckless driving and driving while unlicensed. He was arrested and transported to the City of Atlanta Jail and booked on these charges.
It is common in Greater Atlanta (including the outlying counties) that unlicensed drivers typically do not possess the corresponding auto insurance on the car. In my years of private practice in auto collision personal injury claims, these drivers generally tend to be either illegal immigrants, teenagers, persons who willfully ignore the insurance law or folks who are financially compromised. In these situations and relating to collisions between vehicles, it is important that the victim maintain or purchase uninsured motorist coverage on their own auto insurance policy so as to provide coverage in these situations where the negligent driver has none.
As stated previously, Mr. Mena faces two charges: unlicensed driving and reckless driving. Of these two, the latter is considered the more serious crime under the law of the State of Georgia. Under Georgia law, a motorist commits reckless driving when he/she “…drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property…”. O.C.G.A. 40-6-390. Upon conviction of reckless driving, Mr. Mena could face a $1000.00 fine and imprisonment not greater than a year. Additionally, no motorist “…shall drive any motor vehicle…unless such person has a valid driver’s license…”. O.C.G.A. 40-5-20(a).
Applying the law to the facts, it is clear that Mr. Menas operated the Taurus in total and reckless disregard of pedestrians in the immediate vicinity as he failed to notice three children and pinned them against the wall upon his entrance to the car wash in the daytime hours. Further, at the time of this collision, Mr. Menas was not licensed to drive the Ford Taurus. Thus, it appears that Mr. Menas is guilty of these two offenses. Inasmuch as these offenses concern the safety and well being of children, I highly doubt that the Fulton County Solicitor will be willing to offer any plea bargain in this regard – nor should the Solicitor.
It remains to be seen if there will be any available monetary resources to compensate the children for their injuries. It is well known that the owner of a business is not automatically liable to others just because harm or damage has occurred on his/her business property. An analysis of any premises liability claim is outside the scope of this article and would require further information that is not available at the time of the publication of this article.
If you or a loved one has been the innocent victim of an inattentive or negligent motorist and have sustained bodily injuries and damages, then you have a right to be compensated for your pain and suffering and damages. It is of utmost importance to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to preserve evidence and present your claim in a competent and timely fashion.
The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting car collision cases throughout Georgia. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of the negligence of a negligent driver, then please contact us today for a free consultation and evaluation of your case. We have over 20 years experience and practice throughout the State of Georgia and can come to you. Please call 404-869-6969 or use our toll free number (855) LAW-FORD to secure your rights today!