Articles Posted in Car Collisions

car-crash-300x169This morning, a motorist, Javarius Exum, (25), was in a stopped 2009 Dodge Charger on I-75 North in Henry County, Georgia. For reasons unknown, Mr. Exum stopped his vehicle in the far right hand lane of I-75 North.  The AJC article indicates that the vehicle was disabled – yet, I suspect that is an assumption at this point.

(Photo credited to Georgia Department of Transportation)

A passing motorist noticed Mr. Exum’s stopped vehicle, called 911 at approximately 4:18 a.m., and notified authorities that the Dodge only had brake lights activated.  Roughly, three minutes later, a bus from Tennessee that was also traveling northbound was unable to get into the left lane (to the left of Mr. Exum) and struck Mr. Exum’s vehicle from the rear.

Among other rules of the road, Georgia’s rule related to left hand turns is set in stone: thou shall yield to oncoming traffic prior to making a left hand turn.  In fact, the Highway Administration estimates that roughly 22% of wrecks are caused by left hand turns alone.  And, UPS made notice of an estimate that a left hand turn adds on an additional 30-45 seconds to a road trip.  Apparently, through creating its own software and maps, UPS has been able to avoid left hand turns that saves UPS from 6-8 miles per route, 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year,  emission pollution equivalent to over 21,000 less passenger cars per year and 10 millions of gas each year.

But, wait, there’s more. A study determined that right hand turns only cause about 1.2 % of all crashes.  And, out of all crashes that occur whilst turning or crossing an intersection, 61% relate to left hand turns as opposed to 3 % as to right hand turns.  If you read further, you discover that left hand turns are three times more likely to result in a fatal wreck.  Thus, if you are a pedestrian, it is probably better to use a sidewalk to the right of moving traffic.

I have been practicing personal injury law for over 25 years.  I represent motorists that have been injured by the negligence of drivers that have made left hand turns.  The law in Georgia, O.C.G.A. 40-6-71, basically mandates that drivers intending to turn left must yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction irrespective if that vehicle is in an intersection or so close to one that it is a hazard.

fitbitWorried that your fitbit may be used against you in a situation where you are injured in an accident? Fitbits are technological devices that are readily available in the market and are crafted to track your physical activities that may range from your heart rate monitoring to your body weight. Personally, I have a Fitbit. One of my friends recommended it to me at a time when I needed to be my own health coach. My core reason for purchasing a Fitbit was to track my exercise activities and sleep pattern.

After buying it, I was all hands on deck determined to make it useful and make a positive change in my life. At first, it was difficult to get used to sleeping with a gadget on my wrist since am not a gadget person. However, my sheer determination to track my physical activities made me adopt to it. Since then, I have grown to enjoy it and I would say that I can’t do anything without it.

One day as I was going through the advantages and disadvantages of using a Fitbit, it came to my attention that the data collected by the gadget can be used in court cases as admissible evidence. This puzzled me and made me develop reservations about using Fitbit.

Allstate Insurance recently completed an analysis of the best drivers in America by reviewing the frequency of property damage caused by drivers insured by Allstate from 2013-2014.  The analysis and conclusions were published in a report that looks at the 200 biggest cities (as identified by U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Estimates) in the United States.  The purpose of the study was to contribute to the ongoing discussion of driving safely and attentively behind the wheel – particularly, as to the popular driving season in the summer.  For our purposes, the study concluded that Atlanta had some of the worst drivers in the country and that 183 of the biggest cities in the United States had safer drivers than us.  FYI, Boston was the worst with a rank of 200 – I think the haphazard road and highway configuration is to blame…. Brownsville, Texas had the safest drivers…

Of course, Allstate has a vested interest in the results of the study as Allstate’s general aim is to take in insurance premiums from customers and minimize payouts to persons injured and property damaged by Allstate insured drivers.  As an interesting side note, I read that Allstate recently requested (from Georgia Insurance Commissioner – aka rubber stamp) and received a 25% increase in the premiums it charges in the State of Georgia.  And, sure enough, I checked the price of my renewal of office insurance policy and it increased exactly by 25%.

Some other general statistics gleaned from the study reflect that the average driver will be involved in a collision (there are no accidents – just negligence of behalf of the motorist) at least once every 10 years and that distracted driving causes 26% of motor vehicle collisions. Allstate polled more than 4,500 drivers and published some interesting statistics on distracted driving:  37% of motorists talk on the phone while driving; 39% of motorists say texting is largest contributor of distracting driving; 34.3% of motorists say their ability to talk on the cellphone or text while driving is poor (while less than 1% say it is excellent); 60.4% say texting and distracted driving is about as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and 35.7% of the motorists know someone who has been involved in a car crash caused by distracted drivers. For more information in a well-written blog on distracted driving, please click here, here, here and finally here.

For purposes of this blog post, let us assume that you were not at fault for the collision and do not have medical insurance or medical payments coverage (on your own auto insurance) that would otherwise be available to pay your medical, therapy and hospital bills that you incurred as a result of your injuries in your car crash.  In Georgia, the insurer for the at-fault motorist is not obligated to pay your medical bills as soon as you incur them or when such bills become due and payable.  Typically, medical bills are paid out of a lump sum money settlement after you have finished your treatment. That is why it is always important to use an experienced personal injury attorney to fight for the highest settlement possible!

TIP 1:  Buy medical payment coverage on your auto insurance.  This coverage is cheap and will pay the medical bills that you incur as a result of your car crash irrespective of whether you were at fault.

On occasion, auto insurers will (surely try) promise to pay you (an unrepresented victim) a small paltry sum for pain, suffering and inconvenience and represent it will “pay” your medical bills.  Don’t fall for it – it is a sucker’s bet – and you if you agree to it – then you allow the at-fault insurer in essence to control your medical treatment – and your interests are obviously opposed to one another.  If you have a question regarding this contention, then please contact me and I will happy to speak to you. Now, back to the topic at hand.

I remember the day and the time that it happened to me.  It was a Saturday night around 11 p.m. in the mid 90s and I was leaving a restaurant in a small retail shopping center in Atlanta near Collier Road after meeting with some friends.  I walked out into the parking lot and spent over 10 minutes looking for my car. I retraced my exact steps when I initially arrived at the restaurant from parking the car and walking into the restaurant. I attempted this fruitless maneuver several times without success.  At this point, I was a little concerned.  I knew that I only had two drinks at a nearby restaurant and that my inability to find my car was not based on my intoxication or lack of familiarity with the surroundings.

I decided to walk one more time to what I thought was my initial parking spot.  I looked all around and didn’t see the car.  Then, I decided to look down.  Sure enough – there was shattered car window glass on the ground in my spot – you know, the type of glass that is shatter proof and crumbles upon impact.  At this point, I called the Atlanta Police Department and filed my stolen car report.  APD found my car the next day near the water treatment plant.  Some perps had stolen the vehicle for a joyride and damaged the vehicle beyond its fair market value – not hard to do, as this was a late model Pontiac Bonneville.  Fortunately, I had the right type of auto insurance that compensated me for my loss.

What happened to me that night was not an aberration of human behavior in Atlanta?  Typically, the higher the population, the higher the incidence of crime, particularly, in a large metropolitan city.  Unfortunately, car theft, break-ins and resulting property damage in retail shopping centers in Atlanta are on the rise.


Georgia Uniform Vehicle Accident Report Overlay

Unfortunately, you were involved in a car collision as a driver, passenger or pedestrian.  The investigating officer arrived at the scene of the car wreck; performed an investigation; and then spoke to you and stated that you could pick up your Georgia Uniform Accident Report (GUVAR) either in person or on-line within several days.  If you chose to obtain your car accident report on-line, then you probably read my blog regarding how to buy your report over the computer.  However, the police agencies that utilize in Georgia typically do not offer the Georgia Uniform Vehicle Accident Report Overlay with the report.  Yet, you can typically pick up the overlay form at the police station.

What is the overlay and what does it have to do with your car accident report?  The overlay is broken down into twenty-one (21) separate categories that function to provide crucial information regarding the who, what, when, where and why of car crashes in Georgia. The categories are as follows: alcohol and/or drug test given, type test, driver condition, direction of travel, vision obscured by, vehicle condition, vehicle maneuver, pedestrian maneuver, first harmful event/most harmful event, contributing factors, vehicle class, vehicle type, traffic control, cargo body type, vehicle configuration, traffic-way flow, weather, surface condition, light condition, manner of collision, location at area of impact, road composition, contributing road defects, road character, damage to vehicle, age, sex, taken for treatment, injury code, construction/maintenance zone codes, ejection, safety equipment, extrication, air bag function, seating position and points of initial contact.

Let’s take a look at an interesting scenario. A young man in his late 20s is involved in a car crash through no fault of his own.  At the time of the wreck, he is coming back from the gym where he had a thorough workout.  The collision involved a side impact to his passenger door.  He experiences pain in his neck, shoulder and back at the scene and is transported to the hospital.  Upon release from the hospital, the ER physician tells him to follow up with his choice of health care providers for any continuing pain.

The next day, the man decides to visit a clinic that provides chiropractic and medical treatment.  He undergoes several months of treatment and, while his neck and back get better, his shoulder continues to be in pain and he experiences limited range of motion.  The medical doctor refers him for an MRI (magnetic resonance image) of his shoulder that enables the doctor to see the shoulder tissue. The MRI results indicate that the man tore the minor labrum (part of a ring of cartilage that helps to form the shoulder socket) and he undergoes surgery to repair the tear.

After surgery and several months of physical therapy, the man is able to obtain 85-95% of range of motion in his shoulder.  However, the orthopedic surgeon places the man on a permanent restriction of no military pushes or any activity that involves lifting his arms above his head.  Consequently, he is unable to perform about 30% of the exercises that he used to do several times a week at the gym to stay in shape and build muscle.

Craft picture
Two weeks ago, I tried an auto injury case in front of a six (6) person jury in the State Court of Cobb County, Georgia.  Judge Carl Bowers was the presiding judge at this trial and made fair and consistent rulings on the evidence. Prior to this trial, State Farm had undergone some type of a reorganization and the supervisor was contacted (versus the adjuster) by the defense lawyer as to settlement authority. It was relayed to me the morning of the trial that the supervisor had decided to offer zero dollars – no in-depth explanation was provided.  But that was okay because I had prepared for this trial and both my client and I were ready.  By way of background, Cobb County has been known as a conservative venue for car wreck cases.  However, with changing demographics and opinion regarding human losses and injuries caused by car crashes, that old assumption is no longer true.

Let me tell you the facts of our case.  In July of 2012, my client was operating a Lincoln Town car (built like a tank) and was stopped at an intersection at a red light when the defendant collided into his vehicle from the rear.  As luck would have it, the collision was captured on the dash cam video of a Douglas County Sheriff who had been traveling down the road in the opposite direction. However, Georgia State Patrol had jurisdiction of the wreck and completed their investigation.  In my career, I think I have only had several cases that reflected the car crash on video. After investigation, the trooper cited defendant for following too closely behind my client’s vehicle than was reasonable and prudent.

In terms of the property damage, my client’s vehicle was totaled and his trunk reflected intrusion of several feet.  The strength of the impact caused my client’s seat to break and my client was forcibly thrown backwards striking his head and neck against the back seat.  He does not recall losing consciousness but felt a headache and some neck pain at the scene despite telling both the defendant and the trooper that he was not hurt.


Fortunately, I have never had the real life experience of seeing a wrong way driver at night on the highway. In the daytime, I have seen numerous wrong way drivers in cities with many one-way streets, like downtown Atlanta and Savannah, but I did not feel threatened as these drivers were traveling fairly slow and I saw that they quickly figured out their mistake without harming anyone. However, recently in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city that boasts the highest number of taverns per person in the country, a wrong way driver entered the eastbound lane of I-94 (a major highway) and traveled in the opposite direction and struck an innocent motorist in a head on collision. The collision happened at night and tied up traffic for two miles, and clearing the accident took more than five hours. Sadly, the wrong way driver passed away. The details are sparse and do not contain any information as to whether this wrong way driver was impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Yet, at 8 p.m. at night, it is hard to believe that such a driver was guilty of simply bad judgment.

The question becomes…. what would cause a motorist to drive the wrong way on a major highway? I believe the answer is simple: drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two. Studies indicate that the incidence of wrong way drivers increases at night between 1-3 a.m. And, if you are driving by yourself at or around the same time on the highway, then by all means, avoid the fast lane on the far left as if your life depended on it…because it does. That’s because research shows that most wrong way drivers typically enter the far left lane and encounter little resistance…until they do…at a high rate of speed.

Some of these wrong way drivers have been drinking at their favorite bar, restaurant or club. I remember a collision that involved a fatality where the grossly negligent and inebriated driver had just left a “gentleman’s club” in Atlanta. He entered I-75 traveling the wrong way, struck an innocent motorist and both were killed in the ensuing crash. Based on receipts from his credit card and blood alcohol test, it was determined that the at-fault driver had just left the topless bar and was heading home seriously intoxicated.

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