Are Drivers Liable for Emergency Response Costs?

ambulance crew loading an injured person

Cobb County Accident Requires Emergency Personnel to Remove Passengers from Wreck

Five people are in the hospital after an auto collision in Cobb County last weekend, according to WSB-TV 2 Atlanta. Near Cobb Parkway and Barrett Parkway at about 3 am, a car and a pickup truck crashed into each other. The passengers were trapped in their vehicles, and emergency first responders closed lanes of traffic while they worked to remove the passengers. Emergency personnel transported five of the passengers to Kennestone Wellstar Hospital in Marietta, three of them in critical condition.

Accident Caused Serious Injuries but No Fatalities

ABC 9 Atlanta reports that the car accident did not result in any fatalities. Police reports indicate that the driver of one of the vehicles may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Video footage of the accident scene shows that the accident mangled both vehicles, caving in the sides of the bodies of the minivan and showering the roadway with shattered glass. There are currently no reports on the present status of the passengers who suffered injuries during the accident.

Georgia Law Bans Accident Response Fees

When a driver causes an accident and that accident requires emergency response personnel to respond to the scene, the municipality or local government who operates the emergency response agency may incur large expenses. It is more and more common for these municipalities and local governments nationwide to charge the person responsible for the accident a fee to cover the costs of their emergency first response, as The Insurance Journal explains. However, the Georgia Code specifically bans local governments from charging accident response fees to insurance companies for emergency response to a car accident. There are exceptions for services fee for which the driver has explicit coverage.

Driver Probably Won’t Have to Pay for Emergency Response

Could the driver responsible for the accident at Cobb Parkway and Barrett Parkway have to pay municipal accident response fees? It appears that the county probably incurred significant costs in responding to the accident, including firefighters and emergency medical personnel. Services by fire departments are the ones that municipalities are most likely to try and bill for.

If the driver was in fact under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, it is likely that the driver is liable for negligence and that their insurance company is on the hook to cover the expenses of the accident. It’s possible then that the county will attempt to charge the driver’s insurance company for the costs of emergency response. However, they will probably not be able to hold the insurance company responsible for paying such a fee, since the Georgia Code bans this kind of billing. The only exception might be if the driver is already insured for the payment of municipal accident response fees, in which case the insurance company will have to pay out.

Get Legal Help

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, you need legal assistance. Get in touch with a car accident lawyer at Joel Williams Law in Marietta to get the compensation you deserve.

Employer Liability in Car Accidents

business man sitting at scene of Car Accident personal injury Kennesaw Georgia

Deadly Five-Car Pileup this Holiday Weekend

According to Fox News 5 Atlanta, there was a deadly five-car auto accident this holiday weekend in unincorporated Decatur. The accident involved a U.S. Postal Service delivery truck.

Reports indicate that a 23-year-old man named Jamon Freeman sideswiped another vehicle and then collided with three others, including the mail vehicle. One man was killed and several others injured. One of the surviving accident victims is in critical condition, NBC 11 Alive reports.

Imputable Negligence in Car Accidents

Although the facts so far are unclear, it’s conceivable that one of the victims in the accident might file a lawsuit alleging that the postal driver was at least partly at fault. If that were to happen, one important question would be whether the U.S. Postal Service would be liable for the injuries to the victims.

The legal doctrine of respondeat superior or imputable negligence in Georgia means that, in general, employers are responsible for the actions of their employees if those actions are within the scope of their employment. This law appears in Section 51-2-2 of the Georgia Code. There’s no definition in the statute for “scope of employment,” so the boundaries of this phrase are often disputed. Generally, if the employee’s activity is related to their work duties, it’s within the scope of their employment. This means that typically, if an employee is on-duty, then the court can find the employer liable for the employee’s negligence, but if the employee is off-duty, they usually cannot. For example, if an employee is driving a work vehicle during work hours and causes an accident, a court will usually find that their employer is liable for any negligence on the part of the employee. But if the employee is commuting to or from work and an accident occurs, the employer is generally not liable.

Negligent Hiring of Drivers

But even if the employer is not liable under imputable negligence, they may be liable under another rule: negligent hiring. In Georgia, negligent hiring requires the plaintiff to show that the employer knew or reasonably should have known of the employee’s tendency to engage in the type of behavior that caused the plaintiff’s injury. There is also a requirement of foreseeability. This means that the defendant must have been able to expect the injury caused by hiring the employee by exercising reasonable care. This is most often seen in cases involving tractor-trailer crashes.  Sometimes tractor-trailer companies will hire a driver despite knowing of his or her bad driving history.  If the truck driver has a history of speeding and causes a wreck due to excessive speeds, the employer may be liable for negligent hiring if the driver’s prior speeding violations were known to the company.

In order to show negligent hiring, there must also be a causal connection between the known incompetence and the injury in the case. In other words, It’s not enough that, just by hiring the employee, the employer puts the employee in a position where they could cause the harm. They have to know that the employee is in some way incompetent, and in a way that led to the injury to the plaintiff.

Need Help?

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you need legal help. Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer  Joel Williams today.

An Explanation of Wrongful Death Claims

An Explanation of Wrongful Death Claims

Have you recently lost a loved one in a car accident where the other driver was at fault? Was your loved one taken from you early because of injuries caused by malfunctioning machinery or because they were prescribed the incorrect medication? Losing a loved one is devastating under normal circumstances, but when death is unexpected and the result of another person’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. In Georgia, filing a wrongful death claim comes with specific rules that can be challenging for survivors of the deceased to process. It is important to seek the help of an attorney who can get you the compensation and closure you deserve.

What Qualifies As A Wrongful Death

According to Georgia legal codes, a “wrongful death” is defined as the death of a person due to the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” acts of another entity (person, business, etc.). Examples of when a wrongful death might occur include instances of medical malpractice, motor vehicle collisions, defective products, premises liability, violence, and work injuries. In these instances, certain survivors of the deceased may be able to bring a successful wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death case may be initiated by survivors of the deceased. This typically is the surviving spouse or parent. However, if there is no surviving spouse, children may file a wrongful death claim. In addition, a personal representative of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim, in which case damages recovered are held by the estate for the benefit of the deceased’s next of kin.

Compensation Available For Wrongful Death

There are two different types of wrongful death claims in Georgia. The first type of wrongful death claim seeks to establish the “full value of the life of the deceased.” In such cases surviving family members can recover monetary damages for both the monetary and intangible value of the deceased person, including: ● Any lost wages and benefits the deceased may reasonably have earned if they had not passed; and ● Pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other non-monetary damages felt by loved ones of the deceased. The second type of wrongful death claim, the “estate claim”, seeks compensation for financial losses that occurred because of the deceased person’s death. Here it is the deceased person’s estate seeking damages such as: ● Medical expenses for injuries or illness that caused the death; ● Funeral and burial expenses for the deceased; and ● Any pain and suffering the deceased endured before death.

Statute Of Limitations

A wrongful death claim must be filed within the time specified by the Georgia statute of limitations. Under most circumstances, the survivors have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim in court. Depending on your case, however, the time may be lengthened or shortened and it is extremely important you file a case before the clock runs out. Exceptions, for example, exist if there are criminal proceedings in court for the same wrongful death. The two year statute freezes and begins running after the criminal case is completed. There may also be an additional five year toll for cases where the person’s estate is not probated.

Why You Need An Attorney

In Georgia, a wrongful death attorney will usually work on a contingency fee basis, meaning the attorney isn’t paid until the case is successfully settled. Call wrongful death lawyer Joel Williams to speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney about your options.

78,518 Vehicles Illegally Pass School Buses On Any Given Day

As a Georgia driver, do you know your duty as a driver of a vehicle that is meeting or overtaking a school bus?

Besides creating a dangerous situation and possibly injuring or killing innocent children, you could receive a citation, be fined up to $1,000.00, have 6 points placed on your driver’s license record, and risk having your license suspended if you are under 21 years of age.

Do you know the law for passing a school bus?

Follow this link to find out how Operation Stop Arm has been educating drivers to exercise caution when school buses are stopped and loading or unloading children. This pamphlet gives a great description of the law for passing a school bus based on the different types of roads being traveled. Under state law, drivers in all lanes must stop including drivers that are on multi-lane highways with a center turn lane. The only exception is if a driver is on the other side of a median that has a physical barrier such as grass or a concrete barricade. At one time, school bus drivers were responsible for getting the violators tag number and information in order to report the violation. As of July 1, 2011, Georgia law allows the use of cameras mounted on school buses to keep record of violators. Approximately two dozen school systems in Georgia have added school bus cameras to their safety program. Cobb County School System has equipped 122 of their school buses with digital video cameras that can capture tag information of drivers that fail to stop when school buses are loading or unloading children. This particular school system estimates that approximately 1,000 violations occur per day. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services produced a 2015 survey estimating that 78,518 vehicles pass school buses illegally on any given day in 26 states including Georgia, which was reported to have 8,790 incidents of illegal passing observed April 22. Click here to see the 2015 Survey on Illegal Passing of School Buses. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), 21 children under the age of 19 die every year as pedestrians getting on and off buses.

Georgia’s “Move Over” Law

Georgia Law Personal Injury Attorney

Georgia’s “Move Over” Law

Georgia wisely passed a “Move Over” law in an effort to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities to police officers, paramedics, firefighters, tow truck operators and highway maintenance workers. The law was passed in response to an increased number of police officers and emergency personnel being killed or seriously injured by passing motorists.

In its most basic terms, the law requires drivers to move-over one lane, when possible, if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder of the highway. If the driver is unable to move over, the law requires the driver to slow down below the speed limit and to be prepared to stop.

This entire statutory text of the law, codified as O.C.G.A. § 40-6-16 is as follows:

(a) This Code section shall be known and may be cited as the “Spencer Pass Law.”

(b) The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red, or blue lights shall approach the authorized emergency vehicle with due caution and shall, absent any other direction by a peace officer, proceed as follows:

(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 under paragraph (1) of this subsection would be impossible, prohibited by law, 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.

(c) The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary towing or recovery vehicle or a stationary highway maintenance vehicle that is displaying flashing yellow, amber, or red lights shall approach the vehicle with due caution and shall, absent any other direction by a peace officer, proceed as follows:

(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the towing, recovery, or highway maintenance vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or

(2) If a lane change under paragraph (1) of this subsection would be impossible, prohibited by law, 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.

(d) Violation of subsection (b) or (c) of this Code section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500.00.

The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, citing FBI statistics, noted that traffic crashes claim the lives of more police personnel than any other cause of death in the line of duty, including shootings. As you travel Georgia roads, please adhere to this law and protect the lives of those who keep us safe.