Store Safety and the Holidays

Premises Liability and Store Safety During the Holiday Season

The holidays are here, and stores are bustling with customers. During this busy time retailers must prepare their stores for a safe shopping experience.

Store Safety

Many hidden dangers lurk when careless store owners are more concerned with moving inventory than keeping their property safe. Examples of these dangers include wet floors, falling inventory, poor lighting, and even criminals looking to prey on innocent shoppers. The National Crime Prevention Council provides great safety tips for last minute holiday shoppers.

In Georgia, business owners and occupiers owe their customers a statutory duty to keep their premises and approaches safe. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1. Whether a business owner exercises ordinary care in a particular situation is usually a question that must be decided by a jury if a lawsuit is brought for personal injuries. Robinson v. Kroger Co., 268 Ga 735 (1997).

In most cases, the property owner can still be held liable even when the owner hires a third party to manage the property. This is called a “non-delegable duty.” However, if the owner surrenders full control to an independent contractor the landowner no longer owes the duties required by O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1. When this happens, the landowner is considered an “out of possession” landlord and the landowner will not be held liable for the third parties’ negligence.

Store Owner Responsibility

Despite these statutory duties, an owner or occupier is not an insurer of its customers safety. First Pacific Management Corporation v. O’Brien, et al., 184 Ga. App. 277 (1987). This means that the law requires the landowner to act in an ordinarily prudent manner to discover dangers and fix them. If the danger cannot be removed, a warning should be given. However, landowners are not obligated to warn against open and obvious hazards. For example, a business owner/occupier is required to warn customers when a floor is slippery from being mopped or recently waxed, but the business would not be required to warn a customer about rainwater near the store entrance during a storm. Roby v. Kroger Co., 219 Ga. App. 459 (1995).

The duty to keep a premises safe is not limited to physical defects on the property. Dangerous animals and persons can harm customers. If the conduct of an employee or third person is sufficient to pose threat of danger to customers, the business owner or occupier must act with care to intervene and prevent injury to innocent customers. A classic example of this is when a business is located in a high crime area and the business owner knows that innocent victims have been robbed in the past. A responsible business owner would hire security and install surveillance cameras to deter the criminals from preying on his customers. When the business owner does not act to deter the criminals from harming customers, the owner may be held liable for his or her negligence. Negligent Security Attorney Joel Williams has resolved several multi-million-dollar cases where innocent victims were harmed by others on a business’s property.

Customer Responsibility

Even though the owner or occupier of land must exercise ordinary care to keep his premises safe, the customer must also exercise care for his or her own safety. If the customer fails to exercise ordinary care for his own safety, his claim may be barred by the doctrine of contributory negligence. For example, if the customer sees a wet spot on the floor, then falls on it, he should not recover because he knew of the hazard and voluntarily encountered it. In Georgia, a Plaintiff cannot recover if he is 50% or more at fault for his injuries. O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33(g).

Superior Knowledge Rule

In all Georgia premises liability cases, the injured party must prove (1) the premises owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard and (2) despite the exercise of ordinary care the plaintiff lacked knowledge of the hazard. Georgia courts often refer to this as the “superior knowledge rule.” If the owner has superior knowledge of the hazard and the hazard causes the Plaintiff’s injuries, the business owner is liable. Custer v. Coward, 293 Ga. App. 316, 319 (2008).

If you or a loved one has been injured on a business property due to the carelessness of the business owner, contact the attorneys at Williams Elleby for your free case evaluation by calling 833-LEGALGA or 833-534-2542. If your injuries are serious, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation.

Family-Friendly Holiday Activities in Georgia

Georgia Holiday Activities

For many in Georgia, the holidays are a time for family-friendly activities. Gifts are exchanged, songs are sung, and a good time is had by all. Georgia offers plenty of safe adventures during the holidays, and you are sure to find one that is a perfect fit for your family. This year, we have gathered a list of some of our favorite activities across the state for you and your family to enjoy.

Georgia Aquarium: Festival of the SEAson

Atlanta is full of activities this season. You don’t want to miss all the holiday fun at Georgia Aquarium. As the largest aquarium in the United States, you are sure to find activities for the whole family. Look forward to The Polar Express 4-D Experience, daily tree-lightings with live carolers, and Georgia Aquarium’s favorite underwater Santa, SCUBA Claus.

Six Flags Over Georgia: Holiday in the Park

If you are ready for a spectacle, the “Holiday in the Park” event at Six Flags Over Georgia might be exactly what you need. The park is packed with fun attractions, rollercoasters and food. During the holiday season, the park is lit up with Christmas lights and other displays. The event runs throughout the season and is prefect both for the thrill-seekers of the family and for those who are happy to just to view the lights.

Holiday Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Speaking of lights, there are few options better than the display at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The Garden’s natural beauty transforms during the holiday season. Over the holidays, be sure to visit their amazing lightshow after the sun goes down. It is a must-see attraction for most families.

Drive-Thru Light Shows at Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights

If Christmas lights are for you but you’re looking for a drivable option, we have a compromise you will love. Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain offers a sprawling light display known as Fantasy in Lights. The show takes 45 minutes to drive through, and if you’re looking for a little shopping along the way, there are shops and snack vendors on location.

Stone Mountain Christmas

Stone Mountain Park offers millions of lights to enjoy, and several shows including a 4-D version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They even host a parade featuring Santa Claus himself. One of the highlights is a ride up the lift to the top of the mountain. From there, you have a magnificent view of Stone Mountain Park with the Atlanta skyline in the distance.

Old-Fashioned Christmas at Dahlonega

If you are looking to spend Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dahlonega is the place to be! Rich with history, the town’s old-fashioned Christmas celebration offers you the chance to step back in time. In addition to almost-daily events through December, there is no shortage of food and shopping all topped off by the beautiful scenery.

Staying Safe During the Holidays

Hopefully, you will have a wonderful holiday season free from injury. However, if you are involved in an accident, it is important to protect your legal rights. Let the team at Williams Elleby review your case and walk you through the claims process. By working with our professional team you can leave your claim to us and focus on the holiday season. Call us at 833-LEGALGA.

Motorcycle Wrecks

motorcycle accident injured attorney

Motorcyclists face unique risks every time they get on the road. Drivers often fail to pay attention to motorcyclists or aren’t aware of safety rules regarding motorcycles on the roads. When motorcycle accidents occur, the consequences are usually most detrimental for the cyclist.

The personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby understand motorcycle accident cases and help accident victims get the personal injury compensation they are owed. If you have been in a motorcycle accident and would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby online or call 833-LEGALGA to schedule a free case evaluation today.

Motorcycle Accident Facts and Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 5,014 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019, with motorcycle accidents accounting for 14% of all traffic fatalities. In Georgia, there were 93 fatal motorcycle accidents. Of those 93 killed riders, 16% were not wearing a helmet.

Multiple studies have proven the efficacy of wearing a helmet. The NHTSA has calculated that wearing a helmet can dramatically increase a motorcyclist’s chances of surviving an accident. According to the CDC:

  • Helmets saved approximately 1,859 lives in 2016.
  • Each year, the United States could save more than $1billion in economic costs if all motorcyclists wore helmets.
  • Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% for motorcyclists and 41% for their passengers.
  • Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 67%.

Georgia Law

All vehicle drivers and motorcycle riders have a duty to use reasonable care when on the road. If a driver or rider fails to meet this standard of care and causes an accident, injured victims are entitled to compensation. Determining whether a party was negligent or in breach of this standard requires a careful analysis of the facts. A presumption of negligence is created in Georgia when a driver or rider commits a traffic violation by violating one of Georgia’s “rules of the road.”

Motorcyclists generally must follow the same rules as all other motor vehicle operators, but there are some special rules that apply specifically to motorcycles. Motorcyclists are permitted to use a full lane of traffic, and two motorcycles are permitted to ride side-by-side in one lane. Motorcyclists are not allowed to pass a vehicle in the same lane of traffic, and riding between lanes of traffic (“lane splitting”) is prohibited in Georgia. Motorcyclists should also remember that Georgia law requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Call Williams Elleby Today.

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby are dedicated to getting accident victims the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident, call Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA to schedule a free consultation today.

The Georgia Recreational Property Act

Georgia recreational property act

Fall is the perfect season for spending time outdoors with family, especially in the beautiful state of Georgia. Camping, hiking, fishing and hunting are just a few popular outdoor activities that Georgia residents enjoy doing. However, few people actually own land that can be used for such purposes. Instead, most people use public land or use private land that has been made available to the public.

Great places to spend time outdoors in the North Georgia area include:

Great places to spend time outdoors in the South Georgia area include:

When someone in Georgia suffers an injury on land that has been made available for recreational purposes, however, the Georgia Recreational Property Act (GRPA) bars the injured person from suing the landowner in most cases.

The purpose of this law is to encourage landowners to make their land available for recreational activities. Without the GRPA, many landowners would close off their land to the public to eliminate their risk of liability, and in doing so cut millions of people off from the ability to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities.

Activities Covered by the GRPA

Only land made available for recreational purposes is covered by the law. Several notable activities, such as cycling and running, are not actually covered by the law. The law strictly defines “recreational purposes” as:

  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Pleasure driving
  • Nature study
  • Water skiing
  • Winter sports
  • Viewing or enjoying historical, archeological, scenic, or scientific sites

Exceptions to the GRPA

There are two major exceptions to the GRPA that landowners and outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of. The GRPA does not apply when there has been a “willful or malicious failure” of the land owner to guard people against a dangerous condition. Therefore, landowners that make their land available to the public still have a duty to take action to prevent harm when they are aware of a dangerous condition on their property.

The GRPA also does not apply when a landowner charges a fee for the use of the land. Landowners should remember that they forfeit their immunity under the GRPA if they charge any fee in exchange for permission to use their land; but if the fee is collected for some other purpose, the GRPA will still apply. For instance, if a land owner profits by selling goods on the same property, the GRPA will still provide immunity despite the fact that they are making money as long as the purchases are not required in order to use the land.

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby

While participating in outdoor activities is a fun way to spend your time, injuries may happen. If you suffer an injury while doing a recreational activity, or if you are a landowner making your property available to others for recreational purposes, it is important to be aware of the Georgia Recreational Property Act and to protect your legal rights accordingly.

The experienced legal team at Williams Elleby has deep knowledge of all aspects of Georgia tort law and represents clients in personal injury cases all throughout the state of Georgia. If you have suffered a personal injury and would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby today at 833-LEGALGA to schedule a free consultation.

Georgia Halloween Safety Tips

halloween safety tips law

With Halloween just around the corner, be sure to keep you and your family safe while trick-or-treating or participating in other festive events. This Halloween, the Williams Elleby legal team wishes everyone in Georgia a safe and fun holiday. Below are a few safety tips to consider for parents and property owners.

Keep Your Kids Safe While Trick-or-Treating

Parents and guardians should ensure that their children have a safe trick-or-treating experience. This means making sure that the child’s costume is safe and that the child has age-appropriate supervision. Innovative costumes are integral to Halloween’s fun, but parents should make sure that their child can still see and move safely. If they will be trick-or-treating at night, children’s costumes should also be visible to drivers.

When older children are out trick-or-treating without supervision, it is safest for them to do so in a group and carry a cell phone in case of an emergency. Children should also watch for traffic and follow pedestrian traffic rules, stay in well-lit areas, only go to homes that have a front porch light on, and avoid taking short-cuts through back-yards or alleys that may not be safe.

It is also important for parents to inspect their children’s treats to make sure there is nothing dangerous and that their treats contain no tricks. For candy, this means ensuring that the treat does not present a choking hazard and is still in its factory-sealed condition.

Avoid Premises Liability

If you live in an urban or suburban neighborhood, you should assume that children will come onto your property. Young children will likely ring your doorbell even when you leave your porch light off. So, make sure you don’t have anything dangerous in your yard or on your front porch and clearly mark any risks. It is also a good idea to make sure there is nothing on your property that could be considered an “Attractive Nuisance” under Georgia law. If you are a homeowner and a child is injured while on your property, you could be considered at-fault under a theory of premises liability.

Drive with Extra Caution

With so many children walking around, it is extremely important to drive more cautiously on Halloween. Not only will many children fail to follow traffic rules, but they may also be dressed in costumes that make them difficult to see. Stay focused behind the wheel, and take extra care when turning or going through intersections.

There will also be more people out on the road on Halloween and over the weekend before Halloween, so it is important to drive defensively to avoid getting in an accident with a Halloween party-goer. And of course, if you are going to a Halloween party yourself, never drink and drive.

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby, Today

The experienced GA personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby are dedicated to helping injury victims get the compensation they deserve. Williams Elleby is located in Kennesaw, Georgia, and serves clients throughout the state. If you or a loved one have been injured due to the wrongful actions of someone else, call Williams Elleby to schedule a free consultation today at 833-LEGALGA.

Who are the Players Involved in a Car Wreck Case?

Who are the Players Involved in a Car Wreck Case?

When involved in a car wreck in the state of Georgia, there are at least 30 players that may be involved in your case. Despite the many people you’ll likely encounter throughout your case, your personal injury attorney will assist you through every step. Read more to learn about each party and what they do to make or break your case.

  1. The At-Fault Driver: If you suffer injuries in a car wreck that was not your fault, make sure to get the at-fault driver’s contact and insurance information. You will need to know the at-fault driver’s contact and insurance information if you intend to bring a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
  2. The Injured Party: This might be you! If you are injured in a car wreck, you may be asking for compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company. You must find a diligent lawyer who will take the time to understand your injuries and help you recover what you deserve in your injury claim.
  3. Other Drivers in a Multiple Car Collision: This includes other drivers of vehicles involved in the accident who are not the injured victim or the at-fault driver. It’s important to get the contact and insurance information from these drivers, as they can provide more information throughout the case.
  4. Independent Witnesses: People who witness a wreck or those who stop to help the people involved are called independent witnesses. An independent witness may have seen enough of the accident that they can make or break your case. Be sure to get his or her contact information.
  5. Investigating Police Officer: The investigating police officer is the one filling out the accident report, getting information from both parties, issuing citations and filling out the narrative report.
  6. Ambulance or EMS Crew: An ambulance may arrive at the scene to provide care to any injured victims. If you are injured, be sure to let the EMS crew know of any pre-existing conditions you may have.
  7. 911 Operator: After a wreck, the first phone call you should make is to 911. The operator takes all information provided and transmits it to emergency response officers. Remember to remain calm and speak clearly to the operator so they can understand you and send necessary help.
  8. Emergency Room Personnel: ER personnel includes the doctors, nurses and technicians who assess your injuries and determine the next steps for your healthcare treatment. Let them know your injuries are from the car wreck.
  9. Adjuster for At-Fault Driver’s Insurer: The adjuster of the at-fault driver’s insurance company looks at your claim and offers a settlement for your case. They will try to settle your case for the smallest amount possible since they are not on your side. Be sure to hire a personal injury attorney who will ensure you are compensated fairly.
  10. Uninsured Motorist (UM) Adjuster: This adjuster works for your own insurance company and adjusts your claim in the instance that you are hit by a driver who has insufficient liability coverage to compensate you for your damages. They will also try to settle your claim for as little as possible. Hiring a personal injury attorney will ensure you get the most money out of your claim.
  11. Medical Payments or PIP Insurance Adjuster: This adjuster handles medical payments coverage that you may have under your automobile policy that will cover your bills regardless of whose fault the wreck was. This person is who you will send your bills to, and they will then either pay the bills directly to the provider or to you up to the amount of your insurance policy limits.
  12. Tow Company: If your vehicle sustains disabling damages, it will likely be towed to a salvage yard along with all of your personal belongings. The police officers who attended the scene will be able to give you the name of the tow truck company so you can locate your vehicle and retrieve your belongings. You will also need to let your insurance company know where your vehicle is being stored so they can assess the situation and determine any necessary further steps.
  13. Injured Victim’s Attorney: Also known as the trial lawyer or the plaintiff’s attorney, this attorney is responsible for handling all aspects of the claim for the injured victim, including pre-suit and post-suit aspects.
  14. Injured Victim’s Health Insurance Company: As the injured victim, it is important for you to get medical treatment from a provider that accepts your health insurance whenever possible. This will save you money, which can ease your financial burden.
  15. Medical Funding Company: A medical funding company assists injured victims who may not have medical insurance and cannot pay out-of-pocket but need medical treatment. These companies will pay your medical bills and receive reimbursement from the proceeds of your claim once it is settled.
  16. Lawyer for Hospital for Physician Lien: In Georgia, there is a law that allows a hospital or doctor’s office to file a lien on medical bills. This allows the doctor to collect the full amount of their bills instead of accepting the reduced amount from an insurance company. A lawyer will be able to assist you with the lien.
  17. Subrogation Analyst: A subrogation analyst’s job is to recover as much money as possible from your car wreck settlement to reimburse any relevant health insurance or lien holders for any amounts they paid related to the injured person’s care. It’s important to have a personal injury attorney on your side that can negotiate on your behalf, to save you as much money as possible.
  18. Medical Specialist: Other than your primary physician, a medical specialist includes medical doctors, chiropractors, psychiatrists, and other specialists that may help you after you’ve been involved in a car wreck.
  19. Process Server: This person is hired by your lawyer to make sure the at-fault driver is properly served the lawsuit if filed.
  20. Staff Attorney: This lawyer is employed by the court to work with judges to help them come to the right decision on disputed legal issues in your case. They are also responsible for any additional research about questions of legality to help the judge come to a decision.
  21. Court Reporter: This key player will attend all depositions, motion hearings and trial. The court reporter is responsible for transcribing all words spoken to create a written transcript that will be utilized by all parties involved.
  22. Trial Court Judge: The trial court judge is the overseer of litigation car wreck cases. The trial judge will decide who is right about what law applies to your case and may also issue scheduling orders and deadlines throughout your case.
  23. Insurance Defense Lawyer: Also known as the defense attorney, this person is responsible for defending the case on behalf of the at-fault driver. They will conduct discovery and try the case on behalf of the at-fault driver, if needed.
  24. Expert Witness: This includes accident reconstructionist, biomechanical experts, medical doctors, etc. These people can attend trial and offer an opinion that may be beyond the knowledge of the average juror.
  25. Investigators: In a car wreck case, an investigator may be hired by the at-fault driver’s insurance company to follow the injured party around in an effort to try and catch them doing something that makes it appear as if they are not injured. Investigators are also used by both parties to locate witnesses for more information on the case.
  26. Mediator: A mediator is the middleman of a mediation. His or her primary duty is to meet with both parties involved and help them come to a settlement so a trial is not needed and both parties are satisfied.
  27. Focus Group: To better help your personal injury attorneys prepare for trial, they may hire a focus group that will listen to both sides of the case and provide feedback and/or helpful suggestions that will benefit your case.
  28. Jury: The jury is composed of twelve disassociated citizens that will decide which side wins at trial. The jury will return a verdict in favor of the injured party or the defendant. If the verdict is in favor of the injured party, the jury will normally decide how much should be awarded.
  29. Courtroom Visuals: Visuals, including medical illustrations, PowerPoint presentations, videos, recorded 911 calls, etc., are beneficial to a case in allowing the jury to fully grasp the extent of the car wreck and any sustained injuries.
  30. Appellate Court: The appeals courts in Georgia include The Court of Appeals of Georgia and The Supreme Court of Georgia. After a car wreck trial or motions hearing, The Court of Appeals is usually the first line of appeal for any alleged errors from the trial court. The court will hear the case and decide whether to affirm or reverse the trial court or to remand the case to trial court.

There are many moving parts involved with a car accident case, and it can become confusing and overwhelming to face alone. Trustworthy personal injury attorneys like those in our office are here to help. Have you recently been involved in a car accident in the state of Georgia? Call Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Fatal Accidents on the Rise in Georgia 

fatal accident rise Georgia
Fatal Vehicle Accidents Are On the Rise in Georgia 

Driving a vehicle is an everyday activity for most of us, and often feels like a mundane task. However, it is important to remember that driving is an inherently dangerous activity that causes millions of injuries and thousands of deaths each year in the United States. This is especially true for those of us in Georgia, where there has unfortunately been an increase in fatal accidents in recent years. 

In 2019 there were about 1,500 fatal crashes; In 2020 there were about 1,700 fatal crashes. So far in 2021 there have already been 733 fatal crashes. This number has already surpassed the 600 fatalities from last June, and is expected to continue rising.

Common Causes of Fatal Vehicle Accidents in Georgia 

The three major causes of fatal accidents include distracted driving, impaired driving and speeding.

Distracted Driving

The main cause of distracted driving is cell phone use, which can include texting, using GPS, checking email, social media scrolling, taking photos and more. Texting while driving, or otherwise using a handheld device, is extremely dangerous because it creates both a visual and a cognitive distraction for the driver. It has been reported that drivers who text are eight times more likely to be in an accident, and that any distracted driver is four times more likely to be in an accident. Georgia drivers should also remember that it is illegal to text and drive at the same time. 

Impaired Driving

When most of us think of impaired driving, we think of driving under the influence, or DUI. And indeed, DUI creates an unacceptable risk that should not be tolerated. However, another form of impairment that causes a substantial number of accidents each year is sleepy or drowsy driving. There are few things more dangerous than falling asleep at the wheel, but even when drowsy drivers manage to stay awake, an accident is more likely to occur because fatigue significantly hinders reaction time. 

Speeding

Speeding also presents a major risk to others on the road. Many accidents are caused because drivers are traveling too fast to make a turn or to change lanes when necessary. In other cases, drivers have been traveling at the speed limit, but were going too fast for the weather or traffic conditions. Less frequent, but still sometimes a problem, are drivers that go too slow on highways. Under Georgia’s “slow poke” law, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” 

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 74% of roadway fatalities can be attributed to distracted driving, impaired driving or driving too fast for conditions. Other causes of fatal accidents include violating rules of the road, pedestrian or cyclist negligence, unsafe road conditions, and vehicle malfunctions. 

In more than half of fatal accidents in Georgia in 2019, the victims were not wearing their seatbelts. This is a striking statistic when considering that seat belt usage hovers around 90%. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, seat belts save roughly 14,000 lives every year. 

Drive Alert, Arrive Alive 

In response to the alarming increase in traffic fatalities, the Georgia Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, launched the “DriveAlert ArriveAlive” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce accidents “by educating drivers about simple changes they can make in their driving behavior to prevent crashes, improve safety and save lives.” The campaign has three core messages for drivers: 

  1. Buckle up; 
  2. Stay off the phone and mobile devices; and 
  3. Drive alert. 
Who is the Best Attorney for Fatal Car Accidents in Georgia? 

Choosing an attorney after a fatal Georgia car wreck can be difficult. You want someone who has the experience required to handle a complicated case and you need to make sure the attorney you hire is not overworked and can devote him or herself to your case. Consider interviewing several firms or lawyers before making your decision so you can feel confident that you are hiring the best lawyer for your case. 

Williams Elleby Helps Victims Get the Compensation They Deserve 

All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care and follow the rules of the road. This duty is extremely important because serious traffic accidents can place an enormous burden on personal injury victims and family members. The experienced legal team at Williams Elleby is dedicated to ensuring that accident victims get the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. 

Georgia is a “fault” state when it comes to auto accident liability. This means if a party is responsible for causing an accident, they have an obligation to compensate any victims of harm. The attorneys at Williams Elleby work hard to provide knowledgeable, accessible and effective service to each of their personal injury clients, with the goal of maximizing compensation. If you would like to consult with one of the attorneys at Williams Elleby, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to schedule a free meeting.

Traffic Fatalities Spike Due to Distracted Driving

Traffic Fatalities Continue to Spike Due to Distracted Driving

Forbes reported that in 2020, despite the decrease in traffic on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic death rates are the highest they have been in 13 years. Compared to 2019, there was a 29% increase in lives lost due to automobile crashes.

Georgia is no exception. According to WTOC 11, there has been an increase in fatal car crashes by 13% in just one year. Seventy percent of fatalities in vehicle accidents are caused by unsafe driving behaviors, and one of the deadliest unsafe behaviors is distracted driving.

Distractions Take Focus Away from the Road

For years, experts have been hopeful that advances in technology would lead to a reduction in the fatal accidents on America’s roadways. Innovations like automatic emergency braking systems and lane departure warnings have made an impact on accident rates as well as the severity of collisions.

However, new technology can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to driver safety. Between the prevalence of smartphones and in-dash infotainment systems, distracted driving is having a more significant impact on collision rates. A 2018 study from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that fatalities attributed to phone-based distracted driving have increased in recent years.

Mobile phones may be the most obvious cause of distracted driving, but other actions like eating, grooming, smoking and even disciplining children can cause drivers’ attention to turn away from the roadway.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three main types of distractions that drivers fall prey to:
  1. Visual distractions. These are distractions that take your eyes off the road, like looking at a cell phone or turning to talk to someone in the back seat.
  2. Manual distractions. Any distractions that cause you to take your hands off the steering wheel are manual distractions.
  3. Cognitive distractions. These are distractions that cause you to take your mind off of driving. For instance, although hands-free technology for talking on a cell phone is a safer option, conversing can still cause you to be cognitively distracted. Avoid talking on the phone while driving unless it is truly necessary. 
Stay Focused When You Drive

Because driving is a day-to-day activity, we sometimes take for granted that we will stay safe on the road. Driving is a life-or-death activity that demands our full attention. We should all do our best to avoid visual, manual and cognitive distractions.

Remember the risk that comes with things like using your phone, eating, using your navigation system or interacting with other passengers as you drive – and choose to refrain from those activities until after you are done driving.

Never text, search the Internet or use apps while on your phone while you are driving. These phone-based activities are visual, manual and cognitive distractions all rolled into one dangerous behavior. As the CDC website points out, “Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.” Thinking about a driver not paying attention to the road for that long is a scary thought!

If the risk of physical injury is not enough to dissuade someone from distracted driving, some states have laws prohibiting the use of cell phones. For example, in Georgia, it is illegal to hold your phone while driving thanks to the Hands-Free Law.

If You’ve Been in an Accident, Contact Williams Elleby Today

We all have a duty to stay focused on the road and drive with care every time we get behind the wheel. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. The experienced auto accident attorneys at Williams Elleby work tirelessly to get justice for personal injury victims throughout Georgia.

Joel Williams or Chase Elleby can investigate the facts of your case, help you understand your legal rights and options and vigorously pursue justice for you in pre-suit negotiations or court. If you think you have a claim, contact our Georgia personal injury attorneys to schedule your free consultation today at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542).

Amusement Park Safety

amusement park safety victims
AMUSEMENT PARK SAFETY

Accidents happen every day at amusement parks around the country, including those in Georgia. Many times these accidents are caused by the avoidable negligence of the guest, the amusement park or both. While visitors should enjoy their time at the amusement park, safety should not become a second thought. Guests should prioritize their safety, and victims of amusement park negligence should be aware of their rights and seek justice.

AMUSEMENT PARK SAFETY TIPS

Know your limits. There are numerous health conditions that make riding on fast rides, such as a roller coaster, especially dangerous. Be aware of how a ride may interact with any health conditions you have. Have fun, but be cautious about putting too much stress on your body. This can have long-term effects on your health and well-being.

Respect warning signs. Assume the amusement park has foreseen a clear harm that is likely to occur if the signs are ignored. If you have children that are old enough to be left alone, make sure they understand the risks of not adhering to park rules. Reviewing park safety before you go your separate ways is key to keeping your child safe.

Never enter restricted areas. Do not assume that restricted zones are just glorified employee break areas. Odds are they aren’t places for employees to hang out, but are actually dangerous areas. Reduce your risk of injury by avoiding these areas.

NEGLIGENCE BY AMUSEMENT PARKS

Sometimes people are injured at amusement parks through absolutely no fault of their own. A recent example was seen in New Jersey, when the Six Flags log flume malfunctioned and sent two guests to the hospital. The boat tipped at an angle, causing it to not complete a cycle. Even though the injuries were minor, it was still no doubt a traumatic experience, not to mention a major inconvenience.

Many other cases end with much worse results. For instance, in July of 2021 an eleven-year-old boy, Michael Jaramillo, died while on a Raging River raft at Adventureland Theme Park. The raft malfunctioned and overturned about 20 seconds into the ride, causing the six passengers to have their heads stuck underwater until help arrived. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence.

Whenever these types of accidents occur, victims are entitled to bring a claim against the amusement park or any other company in charge of maintaining the rides. In Georgia, these will normally be negligence or premises liability claims, which allege that the amusement park failed in its duty to keep patrons safe. If you would like more information about amusement park safety or to discuss your accident case, call Williams Elleby, at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542)

Hotel Premises Liability Cases

hotel liability case

Understanding Hotel Premises Liability Cases

Georgia is a unique state in terms of its geography, history and culture. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, our state welcomed a record 111.7 million visitors in 2018. Millions of these people stayed in our hotels, and Georgia tourism has become a $68.96 billion industry.

The hotel industry profits enormously from tourism and travel in Georgia. In return, hotels that do business in Georgia have a duty to keep their hotels safe for visitors. Despite this duty, thousands of personal injuries occur each year in Georgia hotels. Some of these accidents are unavoidable, and other times hotel patrons irresponsibly cause harm to themselves in ways the hotel can’t control. But in a majority of cases, a hotel is at fault for failing to maintain the safety of the hotel premise.

Georgia Premises Liability Claims Against Hotels

Premises liability claims in Georgia derive from Title 51 Chapter 3 Section 1 of the Official Code of Georgia. This law holds that when landowners invite others onto their property, including when hotels invite people to stay in the hotel, they must “exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.” This duty of ordinary care means hotel rooms and other hotel spaces must be free from conditions that could cause harm. It also means hotels must take reasonable precautions to maintain hotel security and ensure areas like workout rooms and swimming pools are safe for guests.

When is a Hotel Liable for Injuries?

There are many instances in which a hotel may be liable, and there are a few cases that have taken place in our area. If you’ve been harmed because of an unsafe condition that existed in a hotel, you may be entitled to compensation. The key to determining if a hotel is liable for the harm depends on whether the hotel failed to “exercise ordinary care.” There are several important factors that go into this determination, including:

  1. The condition that caused the harm must be dangerous or unreasonable
  2. The hotel must have failed to remedy the condition and/or failed to warn hotel patrons about the risk, even though it had the opportunity to do so
  3. The dangerous condition must have caused the harm

What is Involved in a Hotel Premises Liability Case?

These elements may seem simple, but hotel premises liability cases are often highly complex and hotly contested. Hotels will fight tooth and nail to avoid liability in court. Hotels that are a part of a larger chain may put up a particularly tough fight. Proving that a condition was dangerous and that it was the cause of the harm often requires expert witnesses and eyewitness testimony. In some cases, a medical expert may also be necessary to explain to the court exactly how the hotel defect caused the harm.

However, it is not enough to prove that a dangerous condition existed and caused the harm. A hotel must have negligently failed to fix the problem. This means it must be proved that a hotel knew or should have known about the condition and failed to fix the problem or warn patrons about it.

Georgia courts follow the “superior knowledge” doctrine, which holds that a hotel must have had superior knowledge of the dangerous condition when compared to the plaintiff. Therefore, if a plaintiff was aware of the danger but ignored the risk, the business may not be liable, even if they knew or should have known about the risk. Proving that a hotel could have or should have remedied the problem can also require large amounts of evidence, such as hotel records or surveillance footage.

If You’ve Been Injured While Staying at a Georgia Hotel, Call Williams Elleby Today to Discuss Your Case

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Georgia hotel, the legal team at Williams Elleby can help you get the compensation you deserve. Williams Elleby offers free consultations and accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Williams Elleby represents clients in all areas of Georgia. To discuss your case, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542).