What Is Res Ipsa Loquitur? 

Res Ipsa Loquitur

To win a negligence lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove each of the elements of a negligence claim. These are 1) that the defendant owed them a duty; 2) that the defendant breached their duty by failing to uphold a reasonable standard of care; 3) that the injury complained of was caused by the defendant’s conduct; and 4) that the plaintiff suffered some actual harm as a result of the injury. Generally, a plaintiff has the burden of producing evidence to prove each of these elements. This means that a plaintiff must produce evidence showing that the defendant’s conduct breached a standard of care and that the breach caused Plaintiff’s injuries. 

However, in cases where the circumstances indicate almost certainly that an injury was caused by negligence, a court may presume that the defendant breached a duty even without the plaintiff presenting evidence of breach. This is called the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means “the thing speaks for itself.” Res ipsa loquitur is recognized under Georgia law and can be useful to plaintiffs in certain limited circumstances. 

Application of Res Ipsa Loquitur in Georgia 

Georgia courts have long accepted the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. When a court decides to apply res ipsa loquitur, it creates a rebuttable presumption that the defendant was negligent and the burden shifts to the defendant to prove that they did not breach their duty of care. Under Georgia law, res ipsa loquitur can be applied when: 

  1. the plaintiff’s injury is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of negligence; 
  2. the injury was caused by an agency or instrumentality within the exclusive control of the defendant; and 
  3. the injury must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the plaintiff. 

Although Georgia law has accepted the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, it is rarely applied. The Georgia Supreme Court held that res ipsa loquitur “should be applied with caution and only in extreme cases.” Res ipsa loquitur is thus an extraordinary remedy for plaintiffs who were almost certainly injured by negligence, but due to a lack of evidence, are unable to prove exactly what the defendant did or exactly what happened. 

An example of res ipsa loquitur being applied is the case Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling v. Engle.. In this case, the plaintiff was injured by a piece of broken glass that came from inside of a Coca-Cola soft drink bottle. Because the evidence showed that the broken glass was inside of the bottle before the plaintiff opened it and that the condition of the bottle had not changed since it left the manufacturer’s control, the court determined that the element of breach could be presumed without any evidence being presented. 

Not Applicable in Medical Malpractice Suits 

Unlike in most other states, Georgia courts have expressly ruled that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur does not apply in medical malpractice suits. This is because Georgia law presumes that medical services at issue in a case were performed with due care. In a Georgia medical malpractice case, a plaintiff must always produce evidence showing that the defendant was in breach, even if the injury seems to have been obviously caused by negligence. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC 

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, have deep knowledge of Georgia tort law. Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to getting accident victims the compensation they deserve. If you would like more information or would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Lost Wage Claims 

lost wage claim

A major aspect of many personal injury cases is a claim for lost wages. This is especially true for serious accidents that cause long-lasting or permanent injury. Victims of personal injuries caused by wrongful conduct in Georgia should understand that they have a right to be compensated for any loss of income they suffer as a result of the injuries. This includes both past and future lost income. 

Lost wages are a type of special damages, meaning they are quantifiable economic damages. To prevail on a claim for lost income, a plaintiff needs to be able to show with relative certainty the amount that they claim to have lost or will lose. Lost wage claims can be complicated, particularly when lost future income is being claimed. 

Proving a Lost Wage Claim 

Proving the value of wages that were lost in the past because of an accident is usually fairly simple as long as the plaintiff presents the right evidence. A plaintiff needs to provide (1) evidence of their income prior to the accident, (2) evidence of their income following the accident, and (3) evidence that shows that the injury they sustained prevented them from performing the same job they had prior to the accident. Tax returns, pay stubs, and letters from employers are the most common ways that plaintiffs show their prior income. For self-employed plaintiffs, this can be more difficult. It is important for self-employed plaintiffs to present thorough documentation of past income using personal records and files. 

In some cases, it may be necessary for a plaintiff to hire an expert to explain to the court why a certain injury prevents normal work. These types of experts can be occupational therapists, rehabilitation specialists, or doctors. In other cases, if an injury so obviously prevents work, then an expert may not be required. 

Wage claims for future lost income are more complicated. Compensation for these claims is based on lost earning potential. For instance, in many cases, a victim may never be able to go back to their old job, but they will be able to work in some other type of job. Testimony from an expert — and perhaps multiple experts — is almost always necessary for these claims. When future lost income is awarded in a personal injury case, a plaintiff will usually receive a lump sum that is intended to be roughly equal to the current fair market value of their lost income potential. 

For More Information or to Discuss Your Case, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, Today 

If you have suffered a personal injury due to someone else’s wrongful conduct and you have missed work or income opportunities as a result, you may be entitled to compensation through a lost wages claim. The experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, can help you understand your legal rights and options. Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to getting the best possible outcome for every client. 

Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, serves clients throughout the state of Georgia. Joel Williams Law, LLC, offers free case evaluations and accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. To discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Finding A Reputable Doctor After a Roswell, GA, Car Accident 

One of the most important things for victims of auto accidents to do is to find a reputable doctor. A reputable doctor that has experience dealing with the specific type of injuries suffered can not only provide the best possible care but also can prepare the type of medical record that an accident victim will need to utilize later on when and if they bring a personal injury claim. 

Find a Specialist 

Following an accident, it is usually not the best option to rely on your primary care doctor. He or she may be an excellent doctor that you trust, but a specialist is almost always a better option for treating accident injuries. In most instances, when a car accident victim visits their primary care doctor, their primary care doctor will refer them to a specialist anyway. 

One of the most critical pieces of evidence in any personal injury claim is the plaintiff’s medical records. Specialists focusing on the type of injury you have will be able to create records with more detail and expertise. Moreover, a specialist will simply be better equipped to provide you with the care you need. 

Act Immediately 

It is important to document your condition as soon as possible after an accident. As more time passes, it may be possible for the defendant to argue that some other cause of your harm arose in the meantime. Under some insurance policies, you may also waive coverage if you don’t see a doctor within a certain number of days. If you are bringing a legal claim but can’t afford to pay a doctor, you may be able to find one that will work for a medical lien. This means that the doctor is not paid up front, but instead receives an ownership interest in any potential settlement that comes from a personal injury lawsuit. This option is specifically provided for under Georgia law

Be Honest With Your Doctor 

When you do get an appointment to see a doctor following a personal injury, such as a car accident, be honest. Sometimes accident victims are afraid that pre-existing conditions will ruin their claim. Regardless of whether a pre-existing helps or hurts a claim, you should always give your doctor full and truthful information about your health. The opposing party in a personal injury suit will likely find out everything there is to know anyway. Similarly, there is little purpose in exaggerating or embellishing your condition. Doctors and skilled defense attorneys see through that. 

Get Help from an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney 

Victims of accidents caused by another driver’s negligence are entitled to compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, work hard to get car accident victims the compensation they deserve. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, helps accident victims throughout Georgia in both state and federal court. 

Joel Williams Law, LLC takes cases on a contingency fee basis and offers free case evaluations. This means that our clients don’t pay us any fees unless and until we win their case for them. If you would like more information or discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Injuries Caused by Involuntary Acts 

injuries caused involuntary acts

Very often when there is an accident causing personal injury it is because someone either intentionally or negligently did something wrong. When personal injury victims are harmed by wrongful conduct, they deserve to be compensated. However, a defendant will not be liable if they genuinely had no control over what they were doing at the time. The law refers to these types of actions as involuntary acts. An involuntary act is an action that occurs without any intent. Black’s Law Dictionary defines an involuntary act as an act done “without the will to do it.” Defendants are not generally liable for involuntary acts. 

The Difference Between Involuntary Acts and Mistakes 

It is easy to confuse involuntary acts with mistakes. An involuntary act is something that a person has no control over. For instance, a seizure, a tic, or actions that occur when a person is asleep are all generally involuntary acts. When an involuntary act occurs, a person will not be liable for any harm caused in most cases. A mistake, meanwhile, is an intentional act that has an unintended consequence. When mistakes occur, liability depends on whether the mistake was reasonable or unreasonable under the circumstances. 

Examples of Involuntary Acts 

The biggest category of involuntary acts is those acts caused by acute health problems. For instance, if a person has a heart attack while driving and causes a wreck, they will not likely be liable. Similarly, if a person suffers from an unexpected seizure or any other type of involuntary movement, they will not be liable. Acts done while a person is sleepwalking can be considered involuntary as well. 

Defendants Are Not Liable for Involuntary Acts 

It is a basic principle of Georgia tort law that defendants cannot be liable for involuntary acts. This is because it would be completely unfair to make people liable for things they had no control over. However, in certain circumstances, a defendant can be liable for negligent behavior that caused or allowed the involuntary act to occur. 

For example, imagine if a person suffering from a seizure disorder neglects to take their anti-seizure medication and then decides to drive a motor vehicle. This person then has a seizure while they are driving, causing a major accident and seriously injuring someone else. The seizure itself was involuntary. The person cannot be liable simply for having a seizure. However, the person can be liable for neglecting to take their anti-seizure medication and then deciding to drive, because that is something they had control over. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC 

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, have deep knowledge of Georgia tort law. They are dedicated to getting justice for accident victims throughout the state of Georgia in both state and federal courts. If you have been injured in an accident, the attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, can help you understand your legal rights and options, and work to get you the compensation you deserve. 

Joel Williams Law, LLC, is located in Kennesaw Georgia and represents clients in all types of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, premises liability, products liability, malpractice, and wrongful death cases. To schedule a free consultation, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Watch Your Children Closely: Child Sex Trafficking is a Major Problem in Georgia 

child sex trafficking Georgia

On June 6, 2018, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that nearly 160 children were rescued in a major sex trafficking sting in Atlanta. Some of the children rescued were as young as three years old. The sting netted nearly 150 arrests. The special agent in charge of the operation, Matt Alcoke, told reporters these types of crimes are of high concern for investigators “because the victims are so vulnerable as children and because the offenders could be from just about any walk of life, from a gang member all the way up to someone who is highly successful and wealthy.” 

Unfortunately, human trafficking is not a new phenomenon for Georgia. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 276 human trafficking cases reported in Georgia in the year 2017. The actual incidence of human trafficking is likely much higher as criminals operating human trafficking rings try to hide in the shadows. 

The Official Code of Georgia Title 16 Chapter 5 Article 3 criminalizes the trafficking of any person “for labor or sexual servitude” and includes more severe penalties for trafficking of children. Additionally, Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has said she is committed to stopping the spread of human trafficking in the city. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, parents and guardians must also work to keep their children safe. 

Sex Traffickers Target Children 

Sex traffickers often target children. The Georgia Department of Education explains: 

Trafficking can involve school-age children — particularly those not living with their parents — who are vulnerable to coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation (i.e., prostitution). 

Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims. Those who recruit minors into prostitution violate federal anti-trafficking laws, even if there is no coercion or movement across state lines. The children at risk are not just high school students — studies demonstrate that pimps prey on victims as young as 12. Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs. 

Civil Claims for Sex Offenses in Georgia 

It is possible for victims of sexual crimes to bring personal injury lawsuits against the person or persons responsible under Georgia law. Victims of sexual abuse have a right to hold perpetrators accountable in civil court and are entitled to compensation for their physical, emotional, and financial injuries.  If the crime occurs at a place of business such as a hotel or apartment complex, the victim may have a negligent security claim.  If you or a loved one has been the victim of sex trafficking or any other type of sexual assault, it is important to be aware of your legal rights and options. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, Today 

Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to getting justice for all types of personal injury victims in civil court. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, serves clients throughout the state of Georgia. If you would like more information about this issue or would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today to schedule a free consultation by calling (404) 389-1035.

Georgia’s Open Records Act and Its Exceptions 

Georgia open records act

Nearly 100 years ago, the great Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis wrote “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” What he meant by this was that shining a light on the conduct of government was the best way to make sure government agencies and politicians operated honestly and properly maintained records. In keeping with this ideal, the federal government passed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1967. “The basic function of the Freedom of Information Act is to ensure informed citizens, vital to the functioning of a democratic society.” Since this time, advocates for open government have succeeded in getting similar laws passed in all 50 states. Georgia’s version of the FOIA is called the Georgia Open Records Act and is found in The Official Code of Georgia § 50-18-70. 

These laws not only encourage government to operate as it should, but they also ensure that members of the public have access to information they deserve to have access to. Under the law, records maintained by most government agencies or private companies carrying out government functions are open to the public and subject to inspection at a reasonable time and place. This can include personal injury victims that want to get information about their accident. The justification of the Georgia Open Records Act is described in its first section: 

“The General Assembly finds and declares that the strong public policy of this state is in favor of open government; that open government is essential to a free, open, and democratic society; and that public access to public records should be encouraged to foster confidence in government and so that the public can evaluate the expenditure of public funds and the efficient and proper functioning of its institutions. The General Assembly further finds and declares that there is a strong presumption that public records should be made available for public inspection without delay. This article shall be broadly construed to allow the inspection of governmental records.” 

Exceptions 

There are a number of exceptions to the Georgia Open Records Act. In total, there are 20 exceptions that are not open for public inspection. These include medical records, confidential government information, and records of law enforcement. Georgia Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Reports are an exception to the Georgia Open Records Act, except upon a written statement of need by the requesting party. However, the term “need” is defined broadly under the law; anyone with a personal connection to an auto accident is considered to have a legitimate need to see the accident report. 

Using Public Records in Personal Injury Cases 

The Georgia Open Records Act can be useful for plaintiffs in personal injury cases. Government records can often help to show whether a defendant or potential defendant in a case is liable. Thus, making requests under the Georgia Open Records Act is often one of the first investigatory steps to take following an accident. The law specifically says that auto accident reports are to be made available to a person that “was allegedly or actually injured by the accident.” The law also has a section that applies to anyone involved in any type of lawsuit against a government agency. It states: 

“Requests by civil litigants for records that are sought as part of or for use in any ongoing civil or administrative litigation against an agency shall be made in writing and copied to counsel of record for that agency contemporaneously with their submission to that agency. The agency shall provide, at no cost, duplicate sets of all records produced in response to the request to counsel of record for that agency unless the counsel of record for that agency elects not to receive the records.” 

For More Information, Contact Car Accident Attorney in Kennesaw 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to better understand your legal rights and options. It is crucial for accident victims to gather evidence as soon as possible following an accident. The experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, have deep knowledge of Georgia tort law, know how to thoroughly gather evidence in preparation of a personal injury lawsuit, and are dedicated to maximizing compensation for each of their clients. For more information or to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today to schedule a free consultation by calling (404) 389-1035.

Where Do I File the Lawsuit in my Car Accident Case? 

where file lawsuit car accident

Following a car accident, there are two important concepts that dictate where a personal injury victim can bring a lawsuit against the responsible party: jurisdiction and venue. Jurisdiction is the power of a court to render a judgment in a case. Subject matter jurisdiction gives a court the power to hear a particular type of case, whereas personal jurisdiction gives a court the power to render a judgment against an individual defendant. But in most cases, there are multiple courts which have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction. Venue rules narrow things down further to determine which of these courts is proper. 

Subject Matter Jurisdiction 

Every county in Georgia has either a State Court or Superior Court that has subject matter jurisdiction to hear personal injury claims. If a plaintiff and defendant are from different states, and the case is valued at over $75,000, it is possible to bring a claim in federal court under what is known as diversity jurisdiction. Federal courts also have subject matter jurisdiction in cases involving federal law. 

What is Personal Jurisdiction? 

Personal jurisdiction is the power of a court to render judgments over an individual. The requirement that courts have personal jurisdiction is rooted in the United States Constitution. Specifically, the concept stems from the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which establishes that every person in the country has a right to due process of law. Accordingly, the United States Supreme Court has recognized that it fundamentally violates due process to subject a person to the judgments of a state that they may have never even been to. Therefore, a state court can only render a judgment over someone that has had “minimal contacts” with that state. 

If a defendant was driving in the State of Georgia and caused an accident in the state, this would automatically qualify as “minimal contacts.” Therefore, the State of Georgia will always have personal jurisdiction over defendants that caused an accident in the state. Courts in a defendant’s home state, or “domicile,” will also automatically have personal jurisdiction over them. 

Claims Against Out-of-State Defendants 

If a defendant caused an accident in the State of Georgia, then the State of Georgia will have personal jurisdiction over them. Period. It doesn’t matter if the person was only visiting and then went back home to Timbuktu. Georgia statutory law has defined the personal jurisdiction that Georgia courts hold over out-of-state defendants that commit torts in Georgia under the Georgia Long Arm Statute. According to this law, Georgia “may exercise personal jurisdiction over any nonresident” that “commits a tortious act or omission within this state.” 

Accidents Occurring Out-of-State 

When an accident occurs in another state, a lawsuit will either need to be made in that state, or the state where the defendant is domiciled. For instance, if a Georgia resident travels across the state line into Florida and is in an accident with a vacationer from New York, they could not bring a claim in Georgia. They would need to bring their claim in either Florida or New York. 

Proper Venue 

Venue rules narrow things down further. Each state has its own venue rules. Determining the proper venue for a tort case in Georgia generally depends on where the defendant lives. 

The basic venue rule. The basic venue rule for personal injury actions in Georgia is that venue is proper in the county where the defendant lives. So, although the entire State of Georgia will have personal jurisdiction over a defendant that lives in Georgia, proper venue will only be in the county where they are from. 

Joint tortfeasors. When a case has multiple Georgia-domiciled defendants, a suit may be filed in the county where any of the defendants live. 

Out-of-state defendants. If a lawsuit is filed against an out-of-state defendant, special venue rules apply. If a claim is brought under the Georgia Long Arm Statute, venue is proper in the county where the accident occurred.  Claims against out-of-state defendants can also be brought under the Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act. Under this law, venue is proper in the county where the accident occurred, or in the country where the victim lives. 

Corporate defendants. Generally, artificial persons like corporations must be sued where they are registered or where their business is headquartered. 

For More Information, or to Discuss Your Case, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC 

Establishing jurisdiction is often hotly contested. Sometimes one party wants the case to be heard in state court and the other in federal court. Sometimes a defendant denies that the State of Georgia has personal jurisdiction over them. And even once jurisdiction is determined to exist, the proper venue can sometimes also be contested as well. It important for personal injury victims to consult with experienced personal injury attorneys to find out where they can bring their claim. 

If you have been injured in a car accident and would like more information, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today. The experienced and qualified personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, have deep knowledge of personal injury law and the Georgia court system. They are dedicated to getting accident victims the compensation they deserve. Call today to schedule a free consultation at (404) 389-1035.

Pre-suit Settlement Demands in Georgia Automobile Wreck Cases

pre-suit settlement demands Georgia

After an accident victim has discussed their case with an attorney and determined that they have a legitimate claim for compensation, the next step is usually not heading straight to court to file a lawsuit. Rather, it usually makes sense to send the other party a pre-suit settlement demand. Pre-suit settlements are common when the facts of a case are cut-and-dry. Even when there are some disagreements, a pre-suit settlement can be preferable to both parties because it avoids the time and expense of litigation.

The primary rule governing a pre-suit settlement demand in Georgia is found in Official Code of Georgia Title 9 Article 11 Section 67.1 (O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1). This statute lays out specific requirements that must be met in order for a pre-suit settlement offer to be valid. By making a valid pre-suit settlement offer, a claimant will force a defendant to evaluate the merits of the case. If an insurer turns down a reasonable settlement offer, it could be considered bad faith. However, if an offer does not comply with the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1, it is invalid and will have no legal effect whatsoever. In other words, a defendant can simply ignore it, and as a matter of law the defendant’s insurance company will not face statutory penalties for turning down the offer.

The law only applies to demands made by an attorney, or made with the assistance of an attorney. Demands made by a personal injury victim that has not hired an attorney do not need to follow these rules. However, in almost no circumstances should a personal injury victim make a settlement demand without first discussing their case with a personal injury attorney. If you have been in an accident and are contemplating bringing a lawsuit or making a settlement demand, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, to discuss your case today by calling (404) 389-1035.

THE REQUIREMENTS OF O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1

Subsection (a) of the law defines the basic requirements that a settlement offer must include to be official. It states:

“Prior to the filing of a civil action, any offer to settle a tort claim for personal injury, bodily injury, or death arising from the use of a motor vehicle and prepared by or with the assistance of an attorney on behalf of a claimant or claimants shall be in writing and contain the following material terms:

(1) The time period within which such offer must be accepted, which shall be not less than 30 days from receipt of the offer;

(2) Amount of monetary payment;

(3) The party or parties the claimant or claimants will release if such offer is accepted;

(4) The type of release, if any, the claimant or claimants will provide to each releasee; and

(5) The claims to be released.”

Subsection (b) of the law holds that recipients of settlement offers may make a binding acceptance in writing. Subsection (c) of the law additionally states that “Nothing in this Code section is intended to prohibit parties from reaching a settlement agreement in a manner and under terms otherwise agreeable to the parties.” The Georgia Supreme Court recently analyzed this subsection and determined that pre-suit settlement offers in motor vehicle accident cases can include terms that go beyond simply stipulating the dollar amount and a date that the offer must be accepted.

What this means is that O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1 should be understood as creating only the minimumrequirements for a valid pre-suit settlement. Personal injury victims should remember that they have the freedom to include additional conditions in pre-suit settlement offers if they are so inclined. One constraint to this freedom is found in Subsection (g), which states that if a party may not demand payment “less than ten days after the written acceptance of the offer to settle.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT OUR KENNESAW CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS

Following an accident, personal injury victims should undertake due diligence to understand the value of their case. The facts of a case dictate how likely a claim is to succeed, and the identity of potential defendants and their respective insurance coverages indicate how much compensation a successful claim is likely to garner. Both of these are important factors that should be considered before making a pre-suit settlement offer.

It typically takes several months to properly investigate and prepare a case to the point where a pre-suit settlement offer is appropriate. Under applicable Georgia Statutes of Limitations for tort claims, most auto accident claims must be made within two years from the date of the accident. Therefore, it is important for accident victims to talk to an experienced local personal injury attorney as soon as possible to begin the process of building their case.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, Joel Williams Law, LLC, is here to help. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, represents clients throughout the State of Georgia and offers free case evaluations. For more information or to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Summer is Here and Bicyclists are on the Roads in Kennesaw and Acworth

summer roads Kennesaw Acworth

Bicycling is a freeing, fun, and healthy activity. It can also occasionally be a convenient mode of transportation, too. That is why millions of Georgia residents take to the road on their bicycles each year. However, whenever cyclists are sharing the road with drivers, there is risk involved. It is important for both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers on the roads in Kennesaw and Acworth this summer to be cautious, and to respect the right of way. 

Right of Way Laws for Cyclists 

Generally speaking, cyclists have the same right to use a roadway as motor vehicle drivers. Some drivers assume that roads are meant for automobiles, and get annoyed when cyclists are on the road. They are simply wrong. In turn, some cyclists jet onto sidewalks and breeze through intersections as though there are no rules that apply to them. They are also wrong. Cyclists must follow the “rules of the road” applicable to them as outlined by Title 40, Chapter 6 of the Georgia Code

It can be dangerous when drivers fail to respect the right of cyclists to use the roads or when cyclists neglect to follow the law. Cyclists and Vehicle drivers each have a duty to follow the law and act with reasonable care. If either a cyclist or motorist fails to use reasonable care to avoid a collision or violates a rule of the road, they can be considered at-fault in an accident. 

The basic duty for cyclists when they are on a roadway is outlined by O.C.G.A. § 40-6-294, which states, “every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when turning left or avoiding hazards to safe cycling.” Therefore, when using a roadway, cyclists have the right of way to use the right side of the roadway, and also have the right of way to move into the left lane if they are turning or avoiding a hazard. 

Just like motor vehicle drivers, cyclists must adhere to traffic signals and stop signs. Cyclists must also yield to pedestrians that are crossing at a crosswalk. Cyclists are generally prohibited from using the sidewalks under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-144, unless they are under the age of 12. 

Popular Locations for Cycling in Kennesaw and Acworth 

When going for a road-ride, cyclists should take time to plan their routes safely. Congested city streets should be navigated with patience and care, and avoided altogether if possible. And while it can be relaxing to go on long rides on country highways, narrow two-lane highways should be avoided if they don’t have an ample shoulder. 

The safest option for cyclists is to ride on paths and trails that are off-limits to motorized vehicles. Of course, it is still important for cyclists to exercise reasonable care to avoid collisions with pedestrians and each other when they ride on bike paths or trails. 

  • To view the Kennesaw trail system, click here
  • To see trails located in Acworth, Georgia, click here
  • If you want to get out there for a longer ride, click here to view more extensive bike paths and trails that are in the greater Atlanta area. 

What to Do if You Are in a Cycling Accident 

If you are in a cycling accident, it is important to stay calm and prioritize the immediate health and safety of cyclists involved. This means cyclists should get themselves and their bicycles off the road or pathway to prevent any more harm from occurring. Whether an accident involves a motor vehicle, a pedestrian, or another cyclist, it is important to stay on the scene and exchange contact information with the other party if an injury occurs. If a collision was serious, the police should be called. It is legally required for motorists to contact police if they are in an accident that causes injury. 

Details about the accident should be documented. If an accident causes personal injury, you should contact the local personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, to investigate your case. Personal injury victims harmed by the negligence of someone else are entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. For more information or to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today at (404) 389-1035.

What You Need to Know about Georgia’s Distracted Driving Law

know Georgia distracted driving law

What You Need to Know about Georgia’s Distracted Driving Law 

Distracted driving as a cause of traffic accidents has been garnering increased attention from media, scholars, and lawmakers over the past few years. The CDC warns that distracted driving is a major cause of accidents, and statistics from the Georgia Department of Transportation show that fatal highway accidents are on the rise as a result of these behaviors. According to the New York Times, talking on the phone while driving is just as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit, text-messaging drivers are eight times more likely to be in an accident than other drivers, and overall, drivers distracted in some way are four times more likely to be in an accident. The NYT put together an excellent video that highlights the unfortunate reality that even though drivers understand the risk of these activities, they continue to take part in them while they drive. 

Georgia passed an anti-texting law in 2010, which made it illegal to “write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data” while operating a motor vehicle on a public Georgia roadway. Georgia recently enacted a new law that will place additional restrictions on drivers. In February 2018, the Georgia House of Representatives passed a bill, by a wide margin, which prohibits certain activities associated with distracted driving. In a 55-0 vote, the Georgia Senate passed a version of the law on March 27th, and the Georgia General Assembly approved that same version of the law on March 29th, 2018 and the Governor just recently signed the bill into law.  The law is titled HB 673 and the full text can be found here

What the New Law Will Prohibit 

In addition to prohibiting sending or reading a written communication (which is already illegal), the new law will prohibit holding a cell phone while driving, as well as watching or taking a video recording while driving a car. The law also makes it illegal to reach for something if doing so requires no longer being seated in the proper driving position. 

Conduct Permitted by the Law 

There are several actions that lawmakers considered including in the new restrictions, but ultimately decided against doing so. Under the new law, drivers will still be permitted to: 

  • Talk or text on a cell phone using hands-free technology; 
  • Wear a smart watch; 
  • Use a GPS system or mapping app; and 
  • Use a radio to communicate. 

Exemptions 

Drivers are exempt from the law if they are experiencing an emergency, or reporting an emergency. The law permits drivers to use a cell phone while driving to report an accident, medical emergency, fire, crime or hazardous road condition to authorities. The law also does not apply to anyone that is legally parked. 

Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, ambulance drivers, other first responders, and utility employees or contractors responding to a utility emergency are also exempt from the law. 

Penalties 

Violating this law will also harm a person’s driving record. A first violation will add one point to a person’s driver’s license; a second violation two points; and a third or subsequent violation three points.  Fines are also levied against anyone who is found guilty for violating this law.   

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, Today 

Most of us drive every day. We sometimes take it for granted that we will always get from point A to point B safely. But the truth is that driving is an inherently dangerous activity. We all owe it to ourselves and to everyone else on the road to drive with focus and caution to avoid accidents. But even when we limit our own distracted driving, getting in an accident is still a possibility. 

If you are in an accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, can help. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, serves clients throughout the State of Georgia in all types of personal injury claims. We can investigate the facts of your case, help you understand your legal rights and options, and work to get you the compensation you deserve. If you would like more information or if you would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.