In late January 2014, Greater Atlanta and the surrounding areas experienced a storm that brought snow and ice to the roads. The estimate for snow was two inches. The estimate for ice that formed afterwards was unknown. The result was chaos.
Tractor-trailers ignored regulation and attempted to come through the city and blocked up lanes. Schools seemingly all closed at the same time with parents rushing to the streets to pick up the children. Businesses and government offices were not far behind. On that day, it was not uncommon to travel five to seven miles in four to five hours.
I spent a good portion of the night helping to push stuck cars up Roswell Road in Buckhead. Neighbors came to our assistance and brought coffee and food. I asked an Atlanta Police officer to help, but he declined due to potential liability concerns. Later, an unmarked police vehicle was slamming his horn and using his speaker to tell us (the volunteers) to move a truck out of the road. This police officer didn’t bother to help.
I witnessed vehicles and trucks sliding into each other on declines and on inclines. Toward 8 p.m., a lot of folks were leaving their vehicles parked in shopping center lots, neighborhood streets and the main street (Roswell Road). I saw vehicles collide with other vehicles while attempting to maneuver on side streets to snag a choice parking spot.
As of today, another catastrophic ice storm is meandering its way through Georgia The local and state governments along with media have successfully kept motorists off the road by previous news blasts to the public. As of 10:30 a.m., my power is still on and the ice is still accumulating. My parents are in town and my father and I just finished spreading salt on the driveway. I haven’t seen many cars today or last night on the streets near me.
Reverting back to the vehicle crashes from Snowpocalypse and the recent ice storm, many Georgia motorists have been wondering about their bodily injury and property damage claims. The answer is neither brief nor easy. It has come to my attention that some insurers in the State of Georgia have taken a hard stance and plan to fight to such claims – even in court. In public, these insurers state that they will review the specific facts in each claim prior to making any decision to accept liability. In private and behind closed doors, it has been opined by some that there are marching orders by insurers to deny these claims. I offer no opinion.
The question becomes what would be the basis of denial of an injury claim. In short, car insurers will allege assumption of the risk and partial negligence by the claim holder (motorist). I would imagine that many of the Snowpocalypse claims will result in lawsuits and I can envision insurance defense lawyer arguing to the jury that the injured motorist assumed the risk of injury by voluntarily operating a vehicle during the Snowpocalypse and were responsible for their injuries by negligent operating their vehicles in such a dangerous environment.
What happens to these cases is speculative. Will Georgia juries buy into the insurance defense lawyer arguments or will juries side with the Plaintiffs (injured motorists)? I would imagine that many of the jurors will identify with the injured motorist and realize that Georgians did not have a realistic choice not to attempt to get home to their loved ones and did the best they could under the unforeseeable circumstances that were in play that day.
If you were injured or sustained property damage to your vehicle a result of the storms, be prepared to be in the fight for the long haul as I imagine these claims will result in litigation. If you or a loved one has been the innocent victim of a car or truck collision who has sustained bodily injuries and damages from the winter storms, then you may 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 who is familiar with Georgia bodily injury law as well as other state laws regarding the negligent conduct of the at fault motorist to document and preserve evidence and present your claim in a competent and timely fashion.
The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford have more twenty years of experience in handling the claims of Georgia accident victims, and if you or your loved ones have been the victims of car accidents in Georgia, we can help you, too. Contact us today, to speak to an attorney right away. As always, the consultation is free, and there is no obligation. Call us, or use the online form. We are available to answer all your questions.