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.

The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Georgia

statute limitations Georgia personal injury

If you have suffered a personal injury and think you may be able to make a claim against the person or entity responsible, it is imperative that you be aware of the statute of limitations for your claim. The statute of limitations is the time limit that a person has to make a claim. If a claim is not made within this time limit, it will be barred. There is a statute of limitations for virtually every type of claim under both federal and state law in the United States. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years under the Official Code of Georgia Title 9 Section 3 Article 33

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims is one reason that victims should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible following personal injury. It takes time to properly investigate a case and prepare a claim. It is always a tragedy when a personal injury victim fails to get compensation they deserve because they filed a claim too late. If you have suffered a personal injury and would like to find out more about your legal rights and options, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, right away so that we can investigate your case by calling (404) 389-1035. 

The Rationale Behind the Statute of Limitations 

It may seem unfair to prevent an injury victim from getting the compensation they deserve just because they waited too long before bringing their claim. But there are a couple of very good reasons that statutes of limitations exists. The first is that it is unfair to expect people to defend against claims arising out of conduct that occurred in the distant past. Statutes of limitations are intended to prevent lawsuits against people that may not even remember the incident they are being sued for.  Another important rationale for statutes of limitations is that they encourages victims to file lawsuits when evidence is still fresh, which makes the work of sorting out liability much easier on the court system. Statutes of limitations have been around almost as long as the western legal tradition, and were incorporated into the laws in America before the United States was formed. 

Official Code of Georgia Title 9 Section 3 Article 33 

O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33 states, “actions for injuries to the person shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues.” Generally, an action “accrues” at the moment that a victim knows that they have been injured by the defendant’s conduct. In most personal injury cases, this means that the two-year limitations period begins as soon as the defendant’s negligent conduct causes an accident to occur. 

However, in some cases an action may not accrue until months or even years later. This can happen either because a person does not realize they have been injured right away, or because they do not know that their injury was caused by the defendant. An example to illustrate both of these situations is when a person is harmed by a toxic substance or a defective pharmaceutical drug.  In such a case, the victim may not feel symptoms from the harm they suffered until many days, weeks, or even months later. And, after they feel the symptoms, it would require additional investigation for them to discover the cause of their negative reaction or illness. Their claim will therefore not accrue, and the two-year time limit to file their claim will not begin to run, until they are aware or should be aware of the cause of their harm. 

Statutes of Limitations for Specific Claims 

There are a few types of personal injury claims that are governed by special statutes of limitations. These include: 

  • Wrongful death claims, medical malpractice claims, and product liability claims, which all have a two-year statute of limitations under Georgia law. 
  • Workers’ compensation claims, which have only a one-year statute of limitations. 
  • Claims for property damage, which have a four-year statute of limitations. 

Tolling of the Statute of Limitations 

Under Georgia law, the statute of limitations does not run, or is tolled, in certain cases. The Official Code of Georgia Title 9 Chapter 3 Article 5 establishes several instances in which the time limit to file a claim under a statute of limitations is put on pause.  For instance, if a person is legally incompetent prior to or following an accident, the statute of limitations will be tolled until they regain legal competence, and a claim held by a child is also tolled until the child reaches the age of 18. However, in these cases, a parent or guardian may be able to make the claim on behalf of a child or incompetent person. 

Statute of Repose 

Georgia also has enacted several statutes of repose for certain types of claims. A statute of repose completely bars a claim from being made after a certain number of years. Statutes of repose and statutes of limitations may seem like the same thing, but they actually function very differently. A statute of limitations holds that a person may no longer make a claim because they have waited too long. An otherwise valid claim can be barred by the statute of limitations. A statute of repose does not simply bar a claim from being made. Rather, a statute of repose declares that any existing claim is extinguished, as though it never existed, after the statutory time limit has been reached. 

This difference is significant, because when a statute of limitations has passed, a plaintiff will still have the ability to argue that they should be able to bring their claim, for instance, because the time has been tolled. When a statute of repose has run its course, a plaintiff does not have the right to make any argument that they should still be able to make their claim, because their claim simply does not exist anymore. 

Another key difference is that a statute of limitations begins, as discussed, when a claim accrues. A statute of repose, on the other hand, begins to run as soon as the tortious conduct occurred, regardless of whether the victim was aware of what happened at the time. 

Product liability claims are extinguished by a statute of repose 10 years after a product was sold, and medical malpractice claims are extinguished by a statute of repose 5 years after the incident of malpractice occurred. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC Today 

If you have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of someone else, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, right away. Based out of in Kennesaw, Georgia, the experienced personal injury legal team at Joel Williams Law, LLC, works hard to get justice for injury victims throughout the State of Georgia in both state and federal courts. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Georgia Court of Appeals Recently Discusses the “Family Purpose Doctrine” in Car Accident Case

family purpose doctrine accident

A recent case decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals, Anderson v. Lewis, has helped to further define the application of Georgia’s family purpose doctrine. This case involved a Georgia auto accident. The driver that caused the accident was driving his grandfather’s vehicle at the time. The plaintiff, Teena Anderson, named both the grandson and the vehicle owner, the grandfather, as defendants. Anderson claimed that the latter should be liable according to the family purpose doctrine. 

The Family Purpose Doctrine 

Typically, a person is not liable for the negligence of someone else. But sometimes, as a matter of fairness, it is necessary to look beyond the person directly responsible to see if other parties should be obligated to compensate the victim. This is called vicarious liability. The most common application of vicarious liability occurs when employers are sued for the negligence of their employees. However, vicarious liability can also apply to family members. 

Under Georgia’s family purpose doctrine, “when an owner of a vehicle maintains the vehicle for the use and convenience of his family, that owner may be held liable for the negligence of a family member who was using the vehicle for a family purpose.”  Therefore, when a family member causes an auto accident while driving the family car in service of the family, for instance by getting groceries or giving a family member a ride, the car owner may be liable. The legal basis for the family purpose doctrine comes from Georgia case law, as well as from Georgia’s vicarious liability statute, which states that “every person shall be liable for torts committed by his wife, his child, or his servant by his command or in the prosecution and within the scope of his business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily.” 

Application of the Doctrine in Anderson 

It was clear that the family purpose doctrine applied in Anderson. The grandson was found to be using the vehicle for a family purpose when the accident occurred. However, the plaintiff was unable to serve the grandson with notice of the lawsuit, and without service of process a party cannot be sued. The claim against the grandson was therefore dismissed. 

After that, the grandfather argued that since the driver was no longer a defendant, the claim against him should also be dismissed. He argued that vicarious liability can only apply when the party that directly caused the accident is found to have been negligent. If the party accused of causing the accident is found not to have been negligent, then there can be no vicarious liability. Georgia law is clear that if there is “a judgment on the merits in favor of the servant” then there cannot be vicarious liability against the master. The trial court agreed with the grandfather’s argument and dismissed Anderson’s claim. Anderson appealed. 

The Appeal Court’s Opinion 

The Court of Appeals of Georgia overturned the trial court decision. Although the claim against the grandson was dismissed, it did not constitute a “judgment on the merits.” There was never any judicial determination that the grandson wasn’t negligent. Therefore, even though the grandson was no longer a party to the lawsuit, the Court of Appeals held that Anderson could still continue on with her lawsuit against the grandfather. This case shows that the family purpose doctrine can apply against a defendant even if the family member directly responsible is not a defendant in the lawsuit. 

Find the Best Georgia Car Accident Attorney for Your Case 

The State of Georgia has many attorneys that handle car accident claims.  Some are very good and others are not.  If you are considering hiring an attorney for your case, you should consider interviewing more than one firm before making your decision. 

If you schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, we can help you understand whether the family purpose doctrine may apply in your case. Victims of accidents caused by the negligence of someone else deserve to be compensated for their harm. 

Joel Williams Law, LLC, is a law firm dedicated to providing knowledgeable, accessible, and effective service to each of its personal injury clients. Our attorneys handle all types of personal injury claims throughout the State of Georgia, including auto accidents, workplace injuries, defective products, premises liability, and malpractice cases. We offer free consultations and accept cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning our clients don’t pay a dime in attorney fees unless and until we win their case. To schedule a case evaluation, call Joel Williams Law, LLC, today at (404) 389-1035.

Fatal Accidents on the Rise in Georgia 

fatal accident rise Georgia

Driving a vehicle is an everyday activity for most of us. It can often feel like a mundane task. However, it is important to always 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. 

After trending downward for a decade, the number of fatalities on Georgia highways spiked in 2015, from 1,170 to 1,432. The number increased again in 2016, all the way up to 1,561. In 2017 the number remained about the same as the year previous, with the official number of roadway fatalities being reported as 1550. As WMAZ News recently reported, this amounts to about four motor vehicle accident deaths per day in the State of Georgia. 

Common Causes of Fatal Accidents in Georgia 

There are three major causes of fatal accidents: distracted driving, impaired driving, and speeding. These days, the prime cause of distracted driving is the cellular phone. 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 text-messaging drivers are eight times more likely to be in an accident, and that drivers distracted in any type of way are 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. 

When most of us think of impaired driving, we think of 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 obviously 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 also presents a major risk. Many accidents are caused because drivers are traveling too fast to take 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 2017, 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 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? 

The decision on which attorney to hire for a fatal Georgia car wreck can be difficult.  First, you want someone who has the experience required to handle such a complicated case.  You also need to make sure the attorney you hire is not overworked and can devote his 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. 

Joel Williams Law, LLC, 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 Joel Williams Law, LLC, 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 that if a party is responsible for causing an accident, they have an obligation to compensate any victims of harm. The attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, work hard to provide knowledgeable, accessible, and effective service to each of its personal injury clients, with the goal of maximizing compensation. If you would like to consult with one of the attorneys at Joel Williams Law, call (404) 389-1035 to schedule a free meeting.

Georgia’s “Move Over” Law: What You Need to Know

Georgia move over law

Most of us know that when a police car, fire truck, or ambulance is traveling down the road with sirens blaring, the law requires us to slow down, yield the right of way, and move over to the shoulder of the road if possible. Upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle or police vehicle that is making use of its siren, all other drivers must:

Yield the right of way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.

However, fewer people understand that they are also required to leave plenty of room when passing by police or emergency vehicles that are parked on the side of the road. This duty is defined by Georgia’s “Move Over” law, which is found in Title 40 Chapter 6 Section 16 of the Official Code of Georgia. A recent report by Atlanta news station CBS 46 found that many drivers were completely unaware that this law even existed. Below is the essential information about Georgia’s Move Over law that every Georgia driver should know.

WHAT THE MOVE OVER LAW SAYS

Georgia’s Move Over law states that when a driver approaches a stationary police, emergency, accident recovery, or Department of Transportation vehicle that is displaying flashing lights, the driver shall approach “with due caution” and unless otherwise directed by a peace officer:

(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or

(2) If a lane change would be impossible, illegal, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.

Therefore, the first course of action should always be to change lanes. If this can be accomplished safely, a driver need not necessarily slow down as long as they are otherwise driving safely. If changing lanes isn’t possible or would be illegal or unsafe, a driver must slow down to below the posted speed limit.

CONSEQUENCES FOR VIOLATING THE MOVE OVER LAW

The Move Over law is intended to keep roadside emergency crew and law enforcement personnel safe from passing motorists. Accidents, especially those that cause fatalities, are the most serious consequences. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), before the law was passed in 2003, “Georgia road crews, traffic enforcement officers, and other first responders endured needless years of roadside deaths and injuries due to careless errors made by distracted drivers as they sped by police making traffic stops and emergency crews working roadside jobsites.” Although the law has made things much safer, the GOHS has stated that violations are “still far too common.”

The Move Over law authorizes a penalty of up to $500 for violators. However, if an accident occurs, the legal consequences of violating the Move Over law can be much more serious. Additional charges, such as reckless driving, are common in these types of cases, and of course charges could be much more serious if a police officer or emergency crew member is struck. Moreover, in the event that there is a civil lawsuit for damages, a driver violating the law may be presumed negligent. This is referred to as negligence per se, and when this doctrine applies it is much easier for a plaintiff to win a claim against a defendant.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT JOEL WILLIAMS LAW, LLC, TODAY

Staying safe should always be the number one priority when getting behind the wheel. To this end, all Georgia drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, which includes adhering to Georgia’s rules of the road. Everyone has a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, but many people make unsafe mistakes simply because they don’t know what their duty is in a given situation. This is why knowing the law is essential to driver safety. When accidents do occur, it is also imperative for all parties involved to be aware of their legal rights and options.

The Kennesaw personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, have deep knowledge of Georgia traffic accident laws. They provide thorough, accessible, and effective service to each of their clients, with the goal of maximizing compensation in each case. Joel Williams Law, LLC, offers free case evaluations and accepts cases on a contingency-fee basis. If you would like more information, or if you have been in an accident and would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Falling Objects Causing Injuries at a Work Site—Who’s at Fault?

falling object job injury fault

According to the Federal Department of Labor (DOL), approximately 3 million workers are injured on the job each year, and more than 4,500 are killed. Many of these accidents are caused by falling objects. In fact, the DOL has labeled falling objects as one of construction’s “fatal four” types of accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured by a falling object at a work site, you should be aware of your legal rights and options. Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to getting accident victims the compensation they deserve. To schedule a free case evaluation, call (404) 389-1035 today.

Falling Object Injuries on Work Sites

Whenever work is being done on multiple levels, there is always the risk that debris will fall or objects will be dropped, even when workers are using reasonable care. Severe injuries from falling objects at work sites often can be blamed on the failure of workers to wear a hard hat. Workers should always wear a hard hat when there is even a small possibility of falling objects.

Employers have a duty under OSHA regulations to maintain a safe work site and ensure that workers have the proper protective gear. Workers have a right to request an OSHA safety inspection if they feel conditions are unsafe, and employers are forbidden from retaliating against workers that make such a request.

Ultimately, however, for workers covered by Georgia’s Workers Compensation Law, a determination of fault is ultimately irrelevant in most cases. This is because under this law, workers automatically receive benefits when they are injured on the job, regardless of who is at fault. However, compensation is also limited.

Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Law

Workers’ compensation functions by providing workers injured on the job with automatic compensation for harm and with benefits if they become disabled. Workers’ compensation insurance also provides benefits to dependents if a worker dies as a result of a job-related injury. The trade off, however, is that workers are prohibited from bringing lawsuits against employers (or co-workers) if they suffer harm in the course and scope of their employment.

Determining whether workers’ compensation applies is often complicated. In the State of Georgia, any employer with three or more employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. When jobs utilize contractors and subcontractors, it is often unclear at first whether a particular worker will be covered by the law. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, help worksite accident victims navigate the law so that their rights are protected.

Non-Worker Victims of Harm

Non-workers are not, of course, covered by Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Law. For instance, if a pedestrian strolling past a construction site is struck by a falling object, they are free to bring a negligence claim against the party or parties responsible. In cases where debris falls from a building, a premises liability claim could be brought as well. Premises liability claims can be brought when property owners are at fault for failing to ensure that their property is free from unreasonable hazards.

Damages in a Personal Injury Suit

Georgia personal injury law is intended to fully compensate victims for their harm. Compensation from a personal injury lawsuit, also called damages, is intended to pay for things like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In cases where a defendant exhibited intentional or reckless conduct, punitive damages may also be possible. However, it must be remembered that personal injury victims covered by the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law will be strictly limited to the compensation permitted under that law.

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC

Worksite accidents can be devastating, particularly when caused by falling objects. Victims need the support of qualified and experienced legal counsel on their side. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, work hard to get accident victims the compensation they deserve.

Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, serves clients throughout the State of Georgia. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury at a work site due to a falling object, the attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, can help you understand what possible claims you may have and work to get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call (404) 389-1035 today.

Icy Walkways & Trip and Falls

icy walkway trip fall

It has been a cold winter this year. Even in many areas throughout in the South, snow and ice have been very present this historically cold winter. Due to snow and frigid temperatures, Georgia Governor issued a state of emergency on Monday, January 15. “To ensure people’s safety and to allow GDOT to do its job, I urge people to remain home and off the roads,” Governor Deal stated.

Wherever snow and ice are present, not only are roadways more dangerous, but there is also an increased risk of falling. It is important for everyone venturing outside in wintry weather to take steps to stay safe. When falls do occur, it is important for fall victims to be aware of their legal rights and options.

Injury Liability for Falls on Icy Surfaces

Under Georgia’s premises liability law, property owners that invite others onto their property have a duty to “exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.” Walkways in front of or alongside businesses would be considered approaches of those businesses. Therefore, businesses that are inviting people to come inside have a duty to ensure that the walkway leading to their business is safe to use.

When icy conditions are present, this means that business owners need to take reasonable steps to remove the ice and to warn people about the danger. However, a business is not necessarily liable for every trip and fall that occurs on an icy walkway leading into the business. Businesses do not actually need to remove all ice or ensure that walkways are completely safe. They only need to exercise “ordinary care.” Whether ordinary care has been exercised is a question of fact that depends on the circumstances.

Fall victims should understand that they may not be able to win a claim if a court determines that they assumed the risk. In premises liability cases, this principle is expressed by something known as the “superior knowledge” doctrine. This doctrine holds that a landowner must have had superior knowledge of the dangerous condition in order to be liable. Therefore, if icy conditions were obviously apparent, superior knowledge would not exist, and a business owner may not be liable.

Compensation in Icy Walkway Fall Cases

Plaintiffs that win slip and fall cases can expect to receive compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some cases, additional damages may also be possible.

What to Do if You Fall

If you slip and fall on an icy walkway and suffer an injury, it is important to take steps to protect your potential right to compensation. Document the conditions at the time of the accident. Take photos of the walkway with your cell phone if you can. Most importantly, contact an experienced premises liability attorney as soon as possible to investigate your case.

Safety Tips

If you do need to go outside during wintry weather, there are steps you can take to avoid falling. You should take your time, wear shoes with good traction, and if at all possible avoid walkways that look icy. If you can’t avoid walking on an icy walkway, take shorter steps. And if you do fall, try to relax your body and make contact with the ground with your hip and shoulder together to spread out the impact. When people reach out with their arms to break their fall on an icy surface, they often only exacerbate their injury.

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC

Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to helping injury victim get the compensation they deserve. If you have suffered a fall on an icy walkway and think you might be entitled to compensation, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, can help you understand your case. They work hard to maximize compensation for every client they accept.

Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, serves clients throughout the state. The attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, offer free case evaluations and accept cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning clients don’t pay a dime in attorney fees unless and until they’ve won their case. If you would like to discuss your case, call Joel Williams Law, LLC, today at (404) 389-1035.

Hotel Premises Liability Cases

hotel liability case

Georgia is a unique state in terms of its geography, history and culture. Key industries such as Arts, Commerce, Film, Music, and Tourism shape the economy and its people. We, as a state, integrate and support them collectively to create and sustain a diversified economy. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, more than 100 million people visited Georgia in 2015. Millions of these people stayed in Georgia hotels, and hotel stays have only been rising in Georgia over the past two years.

The hotel industry profits enormously from tourism and travel in Georgia, and in return hotels that do business in Georgia have a duty to keep their hotels safe. 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 many cases, a hotel is at fault for failing to maintain the safety of the hotel premise.

Joel Williams Law, LLC, aggressively fights to get personal injury victims the compensation they deserve when they are harmed by hotel premises defects or other negligence. If you or a loved one has been harmed while staying in a Georgia hotel, it is important to be aware of your legal rights and options. The experienced premises liability attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, can help. Call (404) 389-1035 today to schedule a free consultation.

Georgia Premises Liability Claims Against Hotels

Premise 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, for instance 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 that hotel rooms and other hotel spaces must be free from conditions that could cause harm. It also means that hotels must take reasonable precautions to maintain hotel security and to ensure that areas such as workout rooms and swimming pools are safe.

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 whether a hotel is liable is whether they failed to “exercise ordinary care.” There are several important factors that go into determining this, 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; and
3. The dangerous condition must have caused the harm.

These elements may seem simple, but hotel premises liability cases are often highly complex and hotly contested. Hotels will very often 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 can often require 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.

But it is not enough to simply prove that a dangerous condition existed and caused the harm. A hotel must have negligently failed to fix the problem. This means that it must be proved that a hotel knew or should have known about the condition, and failed to fix it or warn patrons of 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, even if a hotel knew or should have known about a dangerous condition, if a plaintiff was aware of the danger but ignored the risk, the business may not be liable. 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 Joel Williams Law, LLC, Today to Discuss Your Case

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Georgia hotel, the legal team at Joel Williams Law, LLC, can help you get the compensation you deserve. Joel Williams Law, LLC, offers free consultations and accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, represents clients in all areas of the State of Georgia. To discuss your case, call (404) 389-1035 today.