Fatal Accidents on the Rise in Georgia 

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

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

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

Common Causes of Fatal Vehicle Accidents in Georgia 

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

Distracted Driving

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

Impaired Driving

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

Speeding

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

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

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

Drive Alert, Arrive Alive 

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

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

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

Williams Elleby Helps Victims Get the Compensation They Deserve 

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

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

Traffic Fatalities Spike Due to Distracted Driving

Traffic Fatalities Continue to Spike Due to Distracted Driving

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

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

Distractions Take Focus Away from the Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Williams Elleby Named Best Local Attorney for Fourth Year in a Row

For the fourth consecutive year, Around Acworth magazine has honored Williams Elleby with a Reader’s Choice Award for Best Attorney.

“We’re excited, proud and humbled to receive an Around Acworth 2021 Readers’ Choice Award,” said Joel Williams, founder and partner at Williams Elleby. “This award marks four years of recognition for our commitment to serving local Acworth clients. After the challenging year we have all faced, we are thankful to our clients for trusting us to handle their personal injury cases.”

The winners of the Around Acworth Readers’ Choice Awards are nominated in their respective categories and voted on by the community. This award celebrates entrepreneurial spirit and keeps readers’ focus on supporting local businesses. 

“It is a privilege to fight for justice for our clients, especially during some of the most difficult times of their lives,” said Chase Elleby, partner at Williams Elleby. “I’m proud of the accomplishments our team has achieved on behalf of our fellow Georgians over the past year, and we appreciate the opportunity to serve those in vulnerable positions following a personal injury.” 

Attorneys Joel Williams and Chase Elleby are based in Kennesaw but they litigate catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases throughout the State of Georgia. For more information about the firm, visit www.gatrialattorney.com or follow the firm on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

30 Secrets to Know After a Car Wreck

The time following a car wreck can be scary and confusing. Unfortunately, insurance companies and their lawyers often take advantage of victims during this time of pain and suffering. A bit of insider knowledge can go a long way, which is why our team has gathered 30 secrets you should know after a car wreck that will help you maximize your recovery and ensure you are treated fairly throughout the entire process of filing your case.

Secret 1:

Do NOT Accept Premature Offers from Insurance Companies 

Soon after a car wreck, insurance companies may contact you and agree to pay your medical bills up to a certain amount. They may even add additional compensation for “pain and suffering.” In most cases, we advise you to never accept this amount. Oftentimes, this offer is made too early and before you truly know the extent of your injuries. Do not sign anything or take any settlement offers until you have contacted an experienced attorney and understand the full amount of your bills.

Secret 2:

Be Careful What You Say at the Scene and to your Medical Providers

At the scene of the accident, it is important to be careful with what you say and how you say it. Your words can be used against you at trial as an admission of fault by you. While at the scene, carefully listen to what the other parties involved say and make note, especially if the other parties involved admit fault to you or the police officers.

Additionally, when speaking with your medical providers and the emergency personnel on the scene, be mindful about what you say. If you are hurt, tell them! It is important to be honest with your medical providers and make it very clear about your injuries, so they take note of it in your medical records. These medical records are important and will be admissible at trial.

Secret 3:

Insurance Companies Hire Investigators to Follow You After an Accident

Whether it’s to the gym or a walk in the park, even the most innocent actions can be used against you. Investigators are hired to take photos and videos of you as evidence for the insurance companies. They will also search your social media accounts, so be careful about what you post about online as well. 

Secret 4:

Take Photos and Videos After Your Car Wreck

Almost everyone has a cell phone on them at the time of an accident. Use your phone as a tool and make sure to take plenty of photos and videos of the damage to the vehicles, the roadway scene and your injuries. Additionally, take videos that include audio to record conversations. Audio and video recordings can help you win your case, especially if anyone says something that would be incriminating or shows that they are at fault. 

Secret 5:

Gather Witness Contact Information

If you are physically able at the time of the accident, gather any contact information from witnesses that observed the accident or stopped to help. At the very least collect their names and phone numbers. Independent witness statements and testimonies can make or break your case. Make sure you share this information with your attorney. These witnesses can help dispute any excuses made by the at fault party and help you win your case.

Secret 6:

Insurance Companies Will Not Pay You If You Do Not Properly Document Your Bodily Injuries

It is important to know how to properly document your injuries after an accident. Make sure to take pictures of any bruising, broken bones or anything out of place. If you are injured, go to the emergency room or an urgent care right away. After your initial medical treatment, follow up with your primary care physician or any specialists that are specific to your injury. Seeking medical treatment is important for your health and so your medical providers can accurately document the nature and extent of your injuries in the medical record. 

Secret 7:

If You Do Not Notify Your Car Insurance Company After a Car Wreck, They Will Deny Coverage

This is extremely important, especially if you were the at fault driver. Additionally, if you were hit by an uninsured/underinsured driver, the insurance company must be notified within a certain number of days to get the coverage according to your automobile policy. However, it is critical that you contact your attorney before contacting your insurance company. While you may have a few days to find an attorney, you need to reach out as soon as possible to guarantee the insurance company will agree to pay your claim.

Secret 8:

You Don’t Need to Overpay for Legal Representation

Most car accident attorneys work under a contingency fee basis and get paid a percentage of the gross recovery for you. Do not be tricked into paying 45-50% for a simple car wreck case! A good attorney will handle your lawsuit for a third of the gross recovery, if it settles without filing a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed, it may cost you more due to the increase in work and time involved. But, make sure to do your research before hiring an attorney: call around, ask around and find the best attorney for you.

Secret 9:

Use Health Insurance to Pay Your Medical Bills After a Wreck

In the state of Georgia, there is the “Collateral Source Rule” meaning the at-fault driver is not allowed to benefit from your foresight in obtaining medical coverage. Of course, not everyone has health insurance, but if you contact your attorney, they will be able to put you in contact with a medical provider who may treat you on a lien.

Secret 10:

You Do Not Have to Give a Recorded Statement to the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company

While you may need to give a recorded statement to your insurance company under your insurance contract, you are not required to give a recorded statement to the at-fault driver’s insurer. These adjustors may call you and ask what happened and try to record the conversation. You do not have be polite and agree to speak with them without hiring an attorney first. They will likely ask questions designed to hurt your case and their job is pay you as little money as possible, so be wary of answering any of their questions.

Secret 11:

Online Directories Rank Lawyers Based on How Much Money the Lawyer Pays the Directory

While online directories can be useful, it is important to do your own research. Usually, the lawyers paying the most money to be added to the directory are ranked the highest on the lists. It is better to browse through the lawyers’ websites, take advantage of their free consultations, and interview 2-3 law firms to make sure you find the right lawyer with the right experience for your case. Trust your gut and take the power into your own hands!

Secret 12:

Your Claim is Worth Less with Inconsistent Medical Treatment

If you are not consistent with your medical treatment, you will devalue your case. Insurance companies will often offer you less compensation if you wait too long to go to the doctor or if you do not consistently attend all of your appointments. Insurance companies are searching for these gaps in your treatment in order to offer you less money. If your case goes to trial in Georgia, a judge will inform a jury that you have a duty to mitigate your damages. So, it is important to go to the doctor and seek the necessary treatment.

Secret 13:

You Can Afford Medical Treatment Even If You Don’t Have Health Insurance

Many chiropractors, orthopedic doctors and neurologists are willing to treat you on a lien if you do not have access to health insurance. This means, in exchange for your agreement to pay them out of any settlement or recovery you get from the insurance companies, they will refrain from sending you any bills until you receive a recovery. It is important to go ahead and get the necessary medical treatment.

Secret 14:

Paying a Citation is Evidence of Fault in a Civil Case

If you are issued a citation after a car wreck and you pay it, in the state of Georgia that action will be used against you as evidence in any underlying civil case. While you should always take responsibility for any personal wrongdoing, you need to be aware that paying a citation is considered a guilty plea. Oftentimes, you have options other than paying the citation – how you proceed can affect any underlying civil claims. 

Secret 15:

Social Media Can Kill Your Case

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok can influence the outcome of your case. Be careful what pictures you post and never post any information about your accident or your injuries. Even innocent things like a picture holding your small child or participating in a physical activity can be used against you and have an effect on your case. Additionally, make sure you are not tagged in any photos from friends or family members. However, if you have already posted something, please do not delete it. This could be considered destroying evidence.

Secret 16:

Some Lawyers Charge Interest on Expenses They Advance in Your Case

As previously discussed, many attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis. Attorneys advance expenses and costs that are necessary in order to maximize your ultimate recovery. Some law firms charge interest on these expenses. 

As you search for the right lawyer for your case, ask ahead of time if you will be expected to pay interest on these advances. This could affect your net overall recovery and is important to understand ahead of time. At Williams Elleby, we do not charge interest on these expenses for our clients. We simply charge dollar for dollar for the expenses we incur. 

Secret 17:

Medical Records Are Cheaper if You Order Them Yourself

While your lawyer and his/her paralegal can order your medical records on your behalf, it is often more expensive for you. The medical facilities will charge the law firm more than they will charge an individual. If you work with your law firm to order the medical records yourself, you will often save money in the long run. 

Secret 18:

You Have the Right to Fire a Bad Attorney

If you are dissatisfied with your lawyer’s service, call and sit down with your attorney and express your concerns. Oftentimes clients are able to work through issues and resolve any miscommunication or concerns. However, if you are still not satisfied with the efforts of your attorney, you have the right to fire them. Be aware: you may have to pay any expenses they have advanced on your behalf and additional fees.

Secret 19:

Some Lawyers May Try to Settle Your Case Without Your Express Permission

This may sound unbelievable, but it is true! It is the lawyer’s job to use their experience and research to advise you on a reasonable settlement amount for your case. However, the decision to settle should be left up to you. When you are hiring a lawyer, make sure you are on the same page that you will make all final decisions about actual settlements and numbers for your case. 

Secret 20:

Go Over the Complaint or Lawsuit with Your Lawyer Prior to Filing

It is important to understand the content of your complaint because you may be cross examined about the allegations in your lawsuit later at a deposition or trial. In complaints there may be a lot of legal jargon and allegations, but they also include basic facts that you need to be familiar with. Your lawyer should assist you with understanding and verifying the information included in the complaint prior to filing. 

Secret 21:

How You Respond to Interrogatory Questions Can Make or Break Your Case

Interrogatories are formal written questions that you must answer in writing under oath as part of the general discovery process. It is important to work with your lawyers to make sure your answers are true and accurate because you can be questioned about them later. If your testimony is inconsistent with your answers to interrogatory questions, your case may suffer. These questions may discuss anything from preexisting conditions to how the wreck happened, so make sure you take the time to answer these questions accurately.

Secret 22:

Calling the Court to Complain is a Bad Idea

While you may disagree with the ruling in your case, it is best to call your attorney and let them properly handle addressing any issues while following the appropriate rules and procedures. Your attorney should be intimately familiar with these rules, so let him or her handle the situation.

Secret 23:

If You Lie, You Will Get Caught

Many people are tempted to be dishonest about the details of their accident. Whether they lie about texting while driving or withhold information about preexisting conditions, the truth always comes out. Don’t let yourself be embarrassed when you are cross examined. Choose to be honest and your case will ultimately be better for it.

Secret 24:

Extensive Deposition Preparation with Your Lawyer is Vital to Winning Your Case

A deposition is an out of court testimony where lawyers and a court reporter is present for you to answer a series of questions under oath. Unlike a trial, there are no jury members or a judge present. Preparing for you deposition with your lawyer is one of the most important things you can do to help win you case. Depositions allow other lawyers to ask you a wider variety of questions than what they are allowed to ask while you are on the witness stand at trial. It is important to sit down with your lawyer beforehand to discuss potential questions to make sure you are prepared. 

Secret 25:

You Can Attend All Depositions that Occur in Your Case

We believe it is important for clients to consider attending all the depositions in their case. It will help you understand the full picture and hear what others are saying about the facts and critical issues in your case. Additionally, it is our opinion that if your lawyer knows you will be watching and listening during depositions, they will be even more motivated to prepare and perform at their best. 

Secret 26:

You Have All the Power at Mediation

Mediation is a formal settlement conference where a neutral third party (mediator) helps the two parties try and reach a formal settlement agreement. During these meetings, don’t forget that you have all the power! You have the ability to accept or reject any settlement offer that is made. While decisions should always be informed by the advice and guidance of your attorney, ultimately it is your decision to settle your case.

Secret 27:

A Defective Product, Not the At Fault Driver, May Be the Cause of Your Injuries

While the at-fault driver may have caused the wreck, your injuries may have been caused by a defective part or product within the vehicle itself. Sometimes seatbelts, airbags and tires fail because of negligence during the design or manufacturing process. If you are in a wreck and the injuries seem much worse than they should be, contact a products liability attorney, like Williams Elleby, to find out if a defective product caused your injuries.

Secret 28:

You Have to File the Lawsuit Where the Defendant Resides

To have proper venue, you must file your lawsuit in the county where the at-fault driver resides. If you and the at-fault driver live in different states and your case is worth more than $75,000, your case will end up in federal court because that is where jurisdiction is proper. This is important to understand before filing your car accident case.

Secret 29:

Your Medical Providers are the Most Important Witnesses to Prove Your Damages

If you have to go to trial, your doctors, nurses and therapists will be the ones to prove your injuries with the most credibility. While you can testify about your own injuries, these medical professionals carry more credibility because they do not have a stake in the litigation. This gives you even more reason to follow your doctor’s orders and to be kind to them during your treatment because you will likely need them later at trial.

Secret 30:

You Won’t Pay Taxes on Most Personal Injury Recoveries

As of April 2021, you do not have to pay taxes on money that you receive for personal physical injuries, medical bills or pain and suffering. While there are certain types of damages you may have to pay taxes on (i.e. interest, punitive damages, lost wages, etc.), your lawyer should structure your case so you do not have to pay taxes for bodily injuries.

We hope these secrets help you proceed with confidence after an accident. Do not let yourself become a victim of insurance companies after a car wreck. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Georgia, contact Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident attorneys. We are committed to fighting for our clients and protecting them from the manipulation of insurance companies after an injury.

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney: A Client’s Roadmap to the Legal Process

The time following an accident that results in injury or death can be scary, isolating, traumatic and overwhelming. If the injury or death was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may consider getting legal help, which is why it’s important to know what to expect when hiring a personal injury attorney. 

The client experience from injury through settlement or trial can be compared to a road with a standard mile markers and a few turns along the way. Though each case is unique, our team has developed a roadmap that outlines the typical steps a client can expect to take when seeking justice after a personal injury. 

If You’re Injured Due to Negligence, Time is of the Essence

Research, Reach Out, Consult

After you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, always seek medical treatment first. Then, it’s important to consider taking legal action relatively quickly as you begin to receive medical treatment. 

Start by researching attorneys and their specializations online. Look for personal injury attorneys local to your area, and read reviews and testimonials from former clients. If you are in the hospital or unable to research on your own, a loved one can help compile a list of potential attorneys and contact them on your behalf. 

Trustworthy personal injury attorneys should offer a free consultation for new clients. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of lawyers, schedule a free consultation with a few of them – either in person or virtually. You can ask questions and get to know the attorney and his or her firm. Read our Q&A for tips on which questions to ask your potential attorney, and hire the person or team who you feel will keep your best interests in mind.

Attorneys Will Get to Work While You Recover

After making your decision to hire a personal injury attorney, he or she will begin gathering evidence from the accident. During this time, you may still be receiving medical treatment and working through the extent of your injuries.

Remember to keep documentation of your medical records and bills after your injury. As your attorney gathers evidence, medical records and bills become a key factor for the value of your case.   

Next, a demand letter will be sent before a lawsuit is filed. This is a written demand to the at-fault driver or their insurance company. Georgia law requires the plaintiff to give the other side 30 days to consider the offer in the demand letter.

Forks in the Road: Settling, Lawsuits and Trial

The Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

After the insurance company or at fault driver receives the demand letter, a plaintiff can initiate the lawsuit by filing a document known as the complaint. The complaint lays out your allegations in broad terms. It identifies each defendant and the damage claims you have against them. Once the defendants are formally notified of the claim, they have a set amount of time to file a formal response. This response must address each aspect of your claim and either admit or deny its accuracy.

This leads to the question, “will we settle?”

  • If the answer is yes, disbursement of funds will take place
  • If the answer is no, a lawsuit is initiated

Remember to carefully consider whether to settle. Your attorney can help you navigate this decision.

Phases of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Discovery

If you do not settle, a lawsuit will be initiated. The discovery process will take place first, which allows both sides to sift through and evaluate the evidence in the case.

Mediation

Next, mediation will occur. The plaintiff and defendant will attempt to settle the case without going to trial by way of mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party facilitates an agreement between the parties. It is a shorter and cheaper way to settle a dispute than litigation, and can give the parties full control of the outcome. It requires both parties to compromise.

Settlement

From mediation will come another crossroads – to settle, or go to trial. If an agreement is reached during mediation, a disbursement of funds will take place. If neither party can agree to a compromise to settle the case, it will move forward to the trial phase. 

Trial

Most personal injury cases do not go to trial, but in the case of an unfair settlement offer, taking a case to trial is often your best chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve.

During the trial, both sides will have a say in picking the jury. Each side will also put on evidence, including any witnesses who can help establish liability or prove the amount of damages. In the end, the judge or jury will make the determination on whether you will obtain a judgment.

Trustworthy Personal Injury Attorneys in Georgia

Though the legal process can seem daunting, trustworthy personal injury attorneys like those at Williams Elleby are committed to transparency and service to each client. You don’t have to face a lawsuit alone – we’ll help you get the compensation you deserve. To learn more, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

If a Truck Strikes Two Vehicles in Succession, Will the Insurance Company Treat It as Two Accidents?

Tractor Trailer Wreck Two Vehicles Personal Injury Georgia

Most of the time, there is no dispute between an insurance company and its insured motorists on whether an accident occurred. However, a recent decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit answered the question on whether a truck hitting two vehicles in succession was one or two accidents.

This is an important question for insurance purposes given the way insurance policy limits work. Typically, insurance companies are only required to cover the cost of an accident up to the limits prescribed by the policy. However, these policy limits are typically per accident. In other words, if striking two vehicles in succession qualifies as two accidents, the insurance company is potentially on the hook for twice as much money.

Grange Mutual v. Slaughter, et al.

The case that answered this question in the 11th Circuit arose out of the Northern District of Georgia. The court decided Grange Mutual Casualty Company v. Terri Slaughter, et al. on May 1, 2020. This case is an appeal of a lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Georgia in 2016.

In October of 2015, a truck driver crossed over the center line of a highway in Georgia and struck two vehicles in quick succession. The facts of the case established that there was no corrective action taken after the first collision but prior to the second.

Grange Mutual was the insurer of the truck in question. In 2016, they filed a lawsuit in federal court in an effort to determine their obligations under the insurance policy. The primary question was whether or not the two collisions constituted one or two accidents under the language of the policy.

Decision at the Trial Level

In its decision, the trial court held that the collisions only constituted one accident. This decision was made after the Georgia Supreme Court adopted the so-called “cause theory.” Under this theory, the court found that a single accident involves “continuous or repeated exposure to the same conditions resulting in bodily injury or property damage.”

The defendants in Grange v. Slaughter appealed the trial courts order. They argued that the terms of the insurance policy defined an accident differently. The defense pointed to language in the policy that suggested two collisions constituted two accidents, even if they only happened a second apart.

The court was not swayed and found the language of the policy was unclear, requiring the court to ultimately define the phrase “accident.” Additionally, the court pointed out that the policy mentioned that multiple vehicles could be involved in the same accident. The court reasoned that following the defendant’s definition of accident would conflict with this language.

The Appellate Decision

Ultimately, the appellate court sided with the trial court. They agreed that the language of the insurance policy was unclear, requiring the court to define what constitutes an accident. The 11th Circuit also relied on the “cause theory” as prescribed by Georgia law. It found that because the truck driver did not regain control of the vehicle between the first and second collision, both crashes were part of one uninterrupted and extended cause.

Let Williams Elleby Handle Your Claim

It is important to note that this disagreement ultimately boiled down to the language of the insurance policy. The Georgia personal injury lawyers at Williams Elleby will work tirelessly to ensure your insurer holds up their end of the deal following an accident. Contact us online to schedule a free consultation or call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to discuss your case right away.

Wrong-Way Accident Kills Two in Atlanta

Wrong Way Accident Kills Two in Atlanta Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys

On May 31, 2020, a vehicle collision involving a driver traveling the wrong way down a heavily used Atlanta highway resulted in multiple fatalities. According to law enforcement, the crash occurred when a red Dodge Charger began traveling south on the northbound lanes of I-75 in Atlanta.

The accident occurred at approximately 2 a.m. on May 31, 2020. According to the police report, the Dodge Charger illegally entered an off-ramp for the northbound highway. As the driver of the Dodge approached University Avenue, the vehicle collided head-on with a gray Ford F-150 pickup truck traveling northbound.

The drivers of both vehicles died at the scene of the crash. The third person involved in the accident — a passenger of the Ford F-150 — was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition. The wreck had a dramatic impact on traffic in the area, as the highway was closed until roughly 11 a.m. the same day.

The Hazards of Wrong-Way Accidents

According to the Federal Highway Administration, wrong-way accidents occur when a driver traveling opposite from the legal flow of traffic collides with another vehicle traveling the right way on the same divided road or highway. Wrong-way collisions often have devastating consequences. For a variety of reasons, head-on crashes can turn deadly. First and foremost, two vehicles traveling in opposite directions are far more likely to cause a tremendous impact compared to other circumstances. In cases like the one described above that occur on a highway, these collisions frequently happen at high speed. Although modern vehicle design focuses on providing more cushion for front-end collisions, it is impossible to dissipate the full force of these crashes. Additionally, the innocent driver in a wrong-way accident is often unprepared for oncoming traffic, which decreases the likelihood that they could avoid the other car. Given these factors, these accidents often result in severe or even fatal injuries.

Compared to other types of crashes, wrong-way collisions are uncommon. A study presented at the 2016 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting shows that roughly 350 people are killed in wrong-way collisions nationwide each year. However, the number of individuals suffering from serious injuries in these crashes is higher. While less common than other types of accidents, these crashes are far more likely to result in fatal consequences. According to the study, each fatal wrong-way driver accident results in an average of 1.34 fatalities. This is higher than the national average of 1.1 for all types of fatal accidents. In other words, fatal wrong-way accidents result in a higher rate of death for those involved in a crash compared to other types of accidents.

How Williams Elleby Can Help After Your Accident

If you were injured in a wrong-way crash, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While the party responsible for your accident might be immediately clear, some wrong-way crashes occur due to the negligence of multiple parties. At Williams Elleby, we can carefully evaluate your claim and advise you on how to move forward. We are prepared to pursue legal action against every person or individual responsible for your injuries.

We understand if you have questions about your rights after a crash. To discuss your situation in detail, contact Williams Elleby online or call us at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to schedule your initial consultation.

Protecting Yourself After A Car Accident During The COVID-19 Outbreak

COVID 19 Personal Injuries Car Accident Georgia

During the current COVID-19 outbreak, we want everyone to know that there are additional steps that you can take to protect yourself after a car accident. Obviously, the safest thing to do for yourself and your community is to stay at home until the CDC, state, and local authorities give everyone the go ahead to resume normal day to day operations. We understand, however, that this is not always possible especially for essential workers and individuals that must travel to gather household essentials. The Williams Elleby team encourages everyone who must travel to protect themselves by adhering to the following suggestions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE DRIVING TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM COVID-19

Most people take reasonable steps to maintain their vehicles under normal circumstances but now is the time to go the extra mile. The last thing anyone needs during this time is to find themselves broken down on the side of the road without proper safety equipment.

Before leaving your house, make sure to have these items in your vehicle:

  1. Plastic disposable gloves
  2. Face mask
  3. Hand Sanitizer
  4. Fix-a-flat or similar product
  5. Cell phone
  6. Plastic bags

Also, we strongly recommend taking the time do give your vehicle some extra attention. A few steps to minimize the risk of a break down are:

  1. Check the air pressure in your tires
  2. Change your oil and filter
  3. Change your air filter
  4. Check your spark plugs and battery
  5. Make sure your tire iron, jack, and spare tire are readily accessible
  6. Top off your windshield wiper fluid
  7. Check your vehicle’s power steering, brake fluid, and coolant

CRITICAL STEPS AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Even if we take all the proper precautions, we cannot control the actions of other drivers. If you are involved in a car accident during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are some precautions you can take to protect your legal rights and keep your family safe. After an accident, immediately put on your gloves and face mask if you are physically able. If you get out of your car, remember to stay at least 6 feet away from the other driver(s).

Some post-accident rules are the same as those you should follow under normal circumstances like:

  1. Do not leave the scene of the accident
  2. Call 911
  3. Take pictures of the property damage with your cell phone
  4. Notify your automobile insurance company
  5. Do not admit fault

Other post-accident rules must be amended due to COVID-19 concerns. For example, you still need to exchange information with the other driver(s), but you should do so from a safe distance. For example, you can exchange cell phone numbers and text each other your contact information and insurance information. When the police arrive, politely explain that you would like to maintain a safe social distance while cooperating with the officer’s investigation. If you need to go to the hospital, consider calling an in-home family member to take you to the emergency room instead of riding in an ambulance (of course this only applies to injuries that are not life-threatening).

After you exchange information with the other driver and cooperate with law enforcement, remove your plastic gloves and place them in a plastic bag. Immediately sanitize your hands with hand sanitizer and do not touch your face. If anyone else is in your vehicle, resist the urge to touch them until after you are home, and have thoroughly cleaned yourself.

One of the most difficult challenges facing car accident victims in the COVID-19 era is finding medical care. Obviously, the emergency room is not ideal except in the direst of circumstances. Also, many doctor offices are closed or not accepting new patients. However, some medical facilities are offering telehealth options. If you are in the Cobb County area, medical facilities like Benchmark Physical Therapy and Resurgens Orthopaedics offer virtual visits that can be completed using a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. If your injuries are back or neck related, chiropractic offices may be a good option. Cobb County providers that you may consider are Lake Pointe Wellness Center and Lake City Chiropractic.

Most importantly, listen to your body and take the necessary steps to get the care you need so that your injuries do not get worse.

CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER

In order to properly protect your legal rights, it is very important to contact a reputable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident. Williams Elleby partners, Joel Williams and Chase Elleby, are available for free phone consultations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Simply call 833-LEGALGA  (833-534-2542) to speak with us today.

If you prefer a more personal touch, we can arrange for a ZOOM meeting at a time that is convenient for you. We are here for you in your time of need.

Daylight Savings In Kennesaw Begins Sunday, March 8, 2020

Daylight Saving 2020 Clock

Prepare to “Spring Forward” because daylight savings time begins in Kennesaw at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, 2020. After a long, cold, and wet winter, most Georgia residents will gladly sacrifice an hour of sleep for the longer warm days of spring. But you may be asking, “Why in the world does a personal injury law firm care about daylight savings time?”

At Williams Elleby, we are client centered and family orientated. This means we are always looking for helpful hints that may benefit our clients as well as our Kennesaw and Acworth friends and family. Lets start with a few ideas for fun outdoor activities in and around Kennesaw during the longer daylight hours and we will end with a few tips to keep you out of legal trouble.

5 Fun Daylight Activities in Kennesaw and Acworth

  1. Swift-Cantrell Park: Swift-Cantrell Park is a world class recreation park located in the heart of Kennesaw. It is spread over 42 acres and offers several outdoor activities for Cobb County residents and visitors including a dog park, two running trails, picnic pavilions, age appropriate playgrounds, a skate park, fitness station, and a splash pad for summer months.
  2. Acworth Beach: A beach in north Georgia? Yes!!! Acworth Beach is located on the north shore of Lake Acworth. It is the perfect place for a family to soak up some sunshine and for children to burn off energy on the playground. Other features include a walking trail, fishing, and a picnic area. After leaving the beach, visitors can grab a great evening meal at some local Acworth hotspots like Henry’s Louisiana Grill or Center Street Tavern.
  3. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park: Kennesaw Mountain is a national park in Kennesaw that spreads over 2,965 acres. In addition to the educational opportunities available at the park’s visitor center, there are several miles of hiking trails that will accommodate all fitness levels. A map of the parks hiking trails can be found here.
  4. Noonday Creek Trail: Noonday Creek Trail is 8.5 miles long beginning at Market & Elm Streets in Woodstock and ending at Kennesaw Mountain. Due to its asphalt surface and flat terrain, the trail is perfect for long distance running, interval running, biking, roller skating, and walking.
  5. Cobblestone Golf Course: Cobblestone is public golf course nestled along the banks of beautiful Lake Acworth. Golf enthusiasts will love its Bermuda greens, white sand bunkers, and views of Lake Acworth.

Dangers Associated with Daylight Savings Time

            Daylight savings time and longer days are great but losing an extra hour of sleep can cause problems associated with drowsiness. One of those dangerous problems is fatigued driving which can lead to serious injuries and death.

Have you ever been driving down the road when you began to yawn and your vision got cloudy only to be jolted into reality by the sound of rumble strips passing beneath your tires? If so, you are not alone. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 60% of adult drivers, or 168 million people, reported driving a vehicle while feeling drowsy. According to the study, 103 million of those people actually fell asleep at the wheel!

Most Georgia citizens lead stressful lives filled with work, community events, and family obligations. These factors combined with losing an extra hour of sleep can be a recipe for disaster. Prepare for daylight savings time by going to bed an hour early on March 7, 2020. It could save your or someone else’s life.

Fatigued Driving is Deadly

Kennesaw and Acworth are cities filled with outdoor enthusiasts ranging from runners, bikers, and casual walkers. Although these cities have gone to great lengths to provide crosswalks and sidewalks for their citizens, fatigued drivers still pose a hazard. It is time for all of us to consider whether we may be one of the fatigued drivers that are endangering our friends and neighbors.

The National Sleep Foundation has identified groups of people who may be at an increased risk for sleep related automobile crashes. These groups include shift workers, commercial drivers, males under the age of 26, and business travelers who spend many hours driving. Additionally, individuals who get less than 6 hours of sleep, suffer from insomnia, or work more than 60 hours per week may face an increased risk of causing a fatigued driving crash.

If we are honest, many of us are at an increased risk of causing a fatigued driving crash. When we combine other risk factors with the loss of an additional hour of sleep during the daylight savings time transition, we endanger ourselves as well as others.

Lawyers for Victims of Fatigued Driving Car Accidents 

Our lawyers encourage everyone to do everything possible to avoid sleepy or fatigued driving. As the Georgia Department of Transportation likes to say “Drive Alert Arrive Alive.”

Crashes caused by fatigued drivers often lead to serious personal injuries as well as civil lawsuits for monetary damages. The Williams Elleby team has handled numerous personal injury cases involving car accidents caused by fatigued drivers. Some of these cases caused serious and catastrophic injuries to our clients and resulted in significant monetary settlements.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a sleepy or fatigued driver, we may be able to help you obtain financial compensation from the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company. We offer free initial consultations. Simply call 833-LEGALGA or 833-534-2542 to speak with one of our Kennesaw based car accident lawyers.

Mixed Results for Macon-Bibb’s Pedestrian Safety Review Board

Pedestrian Safety Personal Injury Williams Elleby

Pedestrian accidents are an unfortunate reality in Bibb County and throughout Georgia. While these accidents are somewhat rare compared to collisions between two vehicles, the outcome is often far more devastating. To combat the growing trend, the County developed a Pedestrian Safety Review Board. But has this attempt been successful?

Pedestrian Accidents Nationally

In 2006 alone, nearly 6,000 pedestrians died after being struck by a motor vehicle according to the Center for Disease Control. However, these fatal accidents pale in comparison to the number of severe non-fatal injuries that occurred during the same period. Nearly 129,000 Americans sustained injuries that required a trip to the emergency room.

These numbers do not cut evenly across all demographics. Pedestrian accidents disproportionally impact children and the elderly. Older Americans make up 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths, while one out of every five children that die in a traffic crash are pedestrians.

Intoxication also plays a major role in these accidents. Drunk drivers are less likely to notice a pedestrian or react in time to prevent a crash. The result: nearly half of all fatal pedestrian accidents involve alcohol use by one or more parties.

The Review Board

Born from the idea of one county commissioner, the purpose of the Board is to reduce and eventually eliminate the currently-growing threat of pedestrian accidents. The high number of fatal accidents led the county to move forward with creating the Pedestrian Safety Review Board. The Board pulls members from a variety of departments within the county, including the sheriff’s office, zoning board, and health department.

The Review Board is not without resources. Thanks to federal grants, they have spent approximately $40,000 on their “On The Move” campaign. In addition to awareness events, these funds also paid for lighted armbands free to anyone that walks at night. In addition to those funds, the board also received roughly $10,000 from the county Sheriff and the health department. This money has gone to additional awareness campaigns including signs and billboards. The Board does more than awareness and giveaways, however. They advise the county on how to spend money that could impact pedestrian safety, like sidewalk improvements.

Are their efforts working? The jury is still out. Since the formation of the board, the number of pedestrian accidents each year has fallen slowly but steadily. However, the number of pedestrian deaths in 2018 equaled the number of fatalities in 2016 and 2017 combined. Still, this is an improvement compared to other counties in the state who have not made similar efforts.

Contact a Georgia Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today

While the Review Board’s goal is noble, it is important to note that eliminating serious pedestrian accidents is years away at best. In the meantime, pedestrian accidents will remain a sad reality. If you have suffered an injury after being hit by a vehicle, you could have a claim for monetary damages. To learn more, reach out to the attorneys at Williams Elleby by calling 833-LEGALGA.