Texting and Driving – Don’t Do It !

Texting and Driving is Deadly for Personal Injury Lawsuit

Texting and Driving is Deadly

We all know people who are constantly on their phones. But how many of us know someone who is addicted to their smart phone? For some, cell phone usage has gotten completely out of hand and they are actually seeking treatment for their cell phone addiction.

Consider all the things that we can do on our phones. There are apps for everything. We can check email, play games, listen to music, surf the internet, take photos, watch movies, and even download apps that will translate our speech into different languages. Chances are that you are reading this blog from your cell phone. So how has this cell phone addition endangered the lives of motorists?

Cell Phones, Cars, and Teens are a Dangerous Combination

By now we know that cell phone usage can leads to distracted driving resulting in serious personal injuries or death. But how bad is it? The Federal Communications Commission recently reported some alarming statistics:

  • Forty Percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger!
  • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted (Imagine what the statistics would be for someone surfing the web or playing a game)
  • Eleven percent of drivers aged 18 to 20 who were involved in an automobile accident and survived admitted that were sending or receiving a text when they crashed.

https://www.fcc.gov/guides/texting-while-driving

One popular website reports that texting while driving is about six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated! Texting while driving causes 1,600,000 accidents per year, 330,000 injuries per year, and results in an average of 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY! 

Texting and Driving can Cost You Serious Money

Personal Injury Attorney Joel Williams routinely handles car wreck cases where individuals have been seriously injured in car wrecks caused by drivers who are distracted by their cell phones. If you think you are capable of safely texting and driving, think again. If you seriously injure someone while texting, you will likely be on the wrong end of a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241.2 prohibits Georgia drivers from driving while “using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data.”

Tractor-trailer drivers are not allowed to hold a cell phone while driving. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241.2(b)(2).

How do We Solve the Problem of Texting and Driving?

First, we must set a good example. This starts at home. Our children watch everything we do. This includes how we drive. If your children see you texting and driving, they will do it too. Put down the phone and show your children that safe driving is a priority for you.

If you are worried that the temptation to check your cell phone is too great, there are numerous apps available that will block incoming texts and calls while you are driving. Do a little research on your mobile carrier’s website. It just might save your life.

If you don’t want to download an app, turn your cell phone to silent and put it somewhere out of reach. The trunk of your car is a great place.

Texting and Driving Lawsuits

Until our society begins to take this deadly conduct seriously, Attorney Joel Williams will continue to vigorously pursue civil lawsuits on behalf of his clients that have been the victim of distracted drivers. Remember texting and driving is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than drunk driving. Don’t do it. As the Georgia Department of Transportation says “DriveAlert ArriveAlive.

Nathaniel Marston and Fatigued Driving

Fatigue Driving and Personal Injury Cases in Georgia

Nathaniel Marston and Fatigued Driving

CNN recently reported that former soap opera actor, Nathaniel Marston, died of injuries he sustained in a single car accident where he allegedly fell asleep at the wheel: http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/12/entertainment/nathaniel-marston-accident-obit-feat/index.html
Mr. Marston was only 40 years old at the time of his tragic passing. During his college years, Personal Injury Attorney Joel Williams, lost a dear friend after a fatigued driver ran off the road and killed his fraternity brother. Since that time, Attorney Joel Williams has dedicated a substantial portion of his practice to increasing public awareness of the dangers of fatigued driving. Discover a little more about Atlanta Injury Attorney Joel Williams’ practice here: http://gatrialattorney.com/auto-accidents/

Consider these alarming statistics reported by the National Sleep Foundation at

http://drowsydriving.org/about/facts-and-stats/:
• 168 million people say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year and more than 103 million have actually fallen asleep at the wheel!
• NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
• People who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.
• One study showed that being awake for 18 hours produced an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05, and .10 after 24 hours. In Georgia, .08 is considered legally drunk.
• Tractor-trailer and other commercial drivers with undiagnosed sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and acute insomnia are at an increased risk for crashes related to their lack of sleep.
• People tend to fall asleep more on high-speed, long, boring, rural highways. Those who live in urban areas, like Atlanta, Georgia, are more likely to doze off while driving compared to people in rural suburban areas.
• Nearly one-quarter of adults (23%) say they know someone personally who has crashed due to falling asleep at the wheel.

Fatigued driving compared to drunk driving:

If fatigued driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, why isn’t there more public education concerning this life threatening activity? Perhaps it is because there is no test to determine sleepiness as there is for drunk driving. Maybe it is because there is very little law enforcement training for identifying drowsiness as a contributing factor to automobile accidents.
Regardless of the reason, we should all understand that drowsy driving is as dangerous as driving after a few beers or driving while texting. This is especially true for tractor-trailer drivers. To its credit, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration regulates the maximum hours a tractor-trailer driver may drive.
For example, a tractor-trailer driver:
• May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty;
• May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off duty does not extend the 14 hour period;
• May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days
Drowsy driving is dangerous and deadly. It doesn’t matter whether the drowsy driver is driving a tractor-trailer or a passenger car, the risks posed to the driver and others are tremendous and potentially deadly.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a crash caused by a drowsy or sleepy driver, call Personal Injury Attorney Joel Williams today. He offers free consultations and will help you understand your legal options.

Who Pays for Hit and Run

who pays hit run

Car wrecks happen but it is especially tragic when the person who causes the wreck flees the scene. We have seen multiple examples of celebrities that are accused of fleeing the scene of an accident. A few examples include Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Heather Locklear, Halle Berry, January Jones, and Brittany Spears.
Recently, David Cassidy was charged in a hit and run incident in Florida.

What happens in Georgia when a driver flees the scene of a wreck that causes personal injury or death?

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270 is Georgia’s hit and run statute. It requires the driver of any vehicle to stop when they are involved in a wreck that causes injury or death to a person or damage to a vehicle driven by someone else. If the wreck causes serious injury or death to another person, failure of the driver to stop is a felony. If the wreck only results in property damages or a non-serious injury, the fleeing driver is guilty of a misdemeanor.

So how does this affect civil claims for personal injury?

In other words, who pays for the damages? It depends on whether the fleeing driver is found. If the fleeing driver is found, a civil claim can be made against the at-fault driver. Evidence of the hit and run is admissible in a civil action as proof that the hit and run driver caused the wreck. The jury may also consider this evidence in deciding whether punitive damages are appropriate because the failure to stop and render aid shows “conscious indifference to the consequences.” Langlois v. Wolford, 246 Ga. App. 209 (2000).
Regardless of whether the at-fault driver can be found, it is vitally important for the victim to notify his or her uninsured motorist carrier as soon as possible. Many uninsured motorist policies require the injured person to notify their insurance carrier 30 days of the hit and run wreck. If the uninsured motorist carrier is not notified of the hit and run wreck within the time limitations imposed by the insurance contract, the insurer will probably deny coverage. This notice provision is enforceable in Georgia. See Adams v. Doe, 182 Ga. App. 269 (1987).

The lesson here is simple:

Immediately notify your own automobile insurance company every time you are involved in a wreck. Timely notification is essential to preserve your ability to recover uninsured motorist benefits if the at-fault driver flees the scene of the wreck. If you are involved in a hit and run accident, don’t hesitate to contact Attorney Joel Williams at 833-LEGALGA.

Top 10 Mistakes Attorneys Make in Car Wreck Cases

car wreck attorney mistakes

Top 10 Mistakes Attorneys Make in Car Wreck Cases

Many attorneys handle car wreck cases but too many do it poorly. If you are an attorney, please don’t make these mistakes. If you are a car wreck victim, make sure your attorney is not making any of these mistakes. The most common mistakes I see are:

1. Failing to Notify All UM Carriers About the Wreck:

In Georgia, car wreck victims must promptly notify their own insurance company about the wreck to preserve their right to bring an underinsured motorist claim. Many attorneys fail to do this which can lead to the denial of benefits to their clients.

2. Failing to Identify All Sources of Insurance:

Many attorneys fail to identify all sources of insurance that may cover their client’s damages. For example, UM coverage may be available if the injured party lives with a “resident relative” who has UM coverage under a separate policy of insurance. Many attorneys do not know about this and fail to access this coverage. In cases where the at-fault party does not have enough insurance to cover the damages, this can be a catastrophic error. All “umbrella” or “excess” coverage must also be identified. In serious injury cases, it is vitally important to verify whether the at-fault party has “umbrella” or “excess” coverage over and beyond what may be available on the primary policy.

3. Failing to Settle a Case Pursuant to a Limited Liability Release:

O.C.G.A. § 33-24-41.1 allows a claimant to release the at-fault party from personal liability in exchange for payment of his or her insurance limits, except to the extent there is other liability coverage or underinsured motorist coverage available. If the claimant signs a general release (as opposed to a limited liability release), the claim is finished and the claimant will not be able to recover from any other available liability coverage or from his or her own underinsured motorist carrier.

4. Failing to Visit the Scene of a Wreck:

Many attorneys blindly rely on the diagram that is included with most police reports to visualize the scene of a wreck. This is usually due to the attorney either being too lazy to visit the scene or being overworked. Scene visits can often reveal information about a wreck that is not obtainable from a police report. For example, lighting conditions and other variables that could obstruct a driver’s vision may not be recorded by the investigating police officer. Roadway evidence such as skid marks or gouges in the pavement may be found which can become critical evidence in cases where liability is disputed.

5. Failing to Send Evidence Preservation Letters:

In every case, the claimant’s attorney should send letters to any potentially liable party and their insurer demanding that all evidence be preserved for inspection. The attorney should then inspect and document all evidence that may otherwise be destroyed. For example, in car wreck cases, insurance companies routinely sell “totaled” cars for salvage after their adjusters have inspected and documented the vehicle damage. If the injured party, or their attorney, hasn’t been afforded the opportunity to inspect and document the vehicles, they will be forced to rely the insurance company’s inspection. Obviously, this is a bad idea and should be avoided at all cost.

6. Failing to Prepare the Case for Trial:

After a car or tractor-trailer wreck, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will immediately begin its investigation with one goal in mind: to minimize any payout to you. Insurance companies know which attorneys will take a case to trial and which attorneys will simply settle cases for whatever they can get. Attorneys that prepare cases for trial consistently obtain larger settlements for their clients than those who simply accept the insurance company’s “take it or leave it” settlement offer.

7. Settling Cases without Knowing the Full Extent of Damages:

Unfortunately, many attorneys settle cases before their clients are finished with their medical treatment. I have never understood this. Many times, car wreck victims must undergo several different kinds of conservative procedures like physical therapy or injections before they know whether they are a candidate for surgery. If the case is settled without accounting for the tremendous costs associated with a surgery, the injured client is left to pay the surgical bills on their own. Do not let your attorney settle your case until you have a firm grasp on your diagnosis, prognosis, and future treatment plan.

8. Failing to Gather All Data Available from Public Agencies:

Many times there is much more information and documentation available from public agencies than the police report. For example, in wrecks resulting in death or serious injury the Georgia State Patrol will often dispatch its Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team “SCRT” to thoroughly investigate and reconstruct the wreck. Other items such as 911 calls, dash cam videos, body cam videos, and CAD reports are available. Attorneys should always obtain every piece of publicly available information related to every car wreck case.

9. Failing to Interview Every Witness:

Some cases seem so clear cut that attorneys fail to interview all potential witnesses. Imagine a collision where the claimant is rear ended by another driver at a stop light. Seems pretty straight forward right? What if a witness spoke to the at-fault driver and smelled alcohol on his breath but the attorney never spoke to this witness? What if the at-fault driver got out of his car and told a witness that he was messing with his phone and didn’t see the car he hit? Make sure your attorney is contacting all witnesses! You can be sure the insurance companies will.

10. Failing to Identify any Defective Products:

Automobile manufacturers are routinely issuing recalls for defects in their automobiles. These dangerous automobiles may have defective seat belts, airbags, brakes, seatbacks, roofs, gas tanks, sudden acceleration, steering mechanisms and many other dangerous components. If these defects are not investigated or recognized in catastrophic personal injury cases, the automaker will not be held accountable for putting lives at risk. Make sure your attorney has looked into whether any defective vehicle component contributed to or exacerbated the injuries you sustained in any catastrophic car wreck case.

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Why Have Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance Coverage? Personal Injury Cases Georgia Attorney

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage? Uninsured motorist coverage is sometimes referred to as “insurance against lack of insurance.” For example, imagine you are injured in a wreck and your damages are $100,000. What if the at-fault driver only has $25,000 of liability coverage? What about the other $75,000? If you purchased enough uninsured motorist coverage from your automobile insurer, you can look to your own insurance company to make up the difference.

So how does this work in Georgia? For automobile insurance policies issued, delivered or renewed on or after January 1, 2009, the insurer must offer the insured “added on” or “reduced” underinsured motorist coverage. Georgia law does not require an owner of a vehicle to purchase uninsured motorist coverage but it does require the insurance company to offer the coverage. What is the difference in “added on” or “reduced” coverage?

“Added on” coverage provides coverage over and beyond the at-fault driver’s coverage. For example, suppose you are injured by a negligent driver who only has $25,000 of liability coverage. Further assume that you purchased “added on” uninsured motorist coverage with limits of $25,000 and your damages are $50,000? In this situation, there is enough available insurance to cover your damages! The at-fault driver’s insurance would pay the $25,000 of liability limits for the at-fault driver and your own insurance company would pay the remaining $25,000 for a total of $50,000.

What about “reduced” uninsured motorist coverage? Consider the same situation discussed in the preceding paragraph but assume you purchased “reduced” uninsured motorist coverage with limits of $25,000. Here, your UM coverage is worthless. Your insurance company, the uninsured motorist insurance company, would pay nothing because the amount of coverage available under your uninsured motorist policy would be reduced by the amount of coverage available from the at-fault driver’s liability policy. In other words, your $25,000 UM limits is reduced by the $25,000 available from the at-fault driver’s liability policy. Therefore, you would recover $25,000 from the at-fault party’s liability carrier and $0 from your insurance carrier.

The lesson here is simple: Always purchase “added on” uninsured motorist coverage.

Seth Gilliam – Dangers of Drunk Driving

Seth Gilliam drunk driving

Seth Gilliam – Dangers of Drunk Driving

In May of 2015, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Walking Dead star, Seth Gilliam, was arrested in Peachtree City and charged with DUI, possession of marijuana, reckless driving, and speeding. With the Labor Day holiday fast approaching, drivers should keep in mind the tragic consequences that can result from drinking and driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, there were 10,076 fatalities in 2013 in crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. On average, one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 52 minutes in 2013. 200 of those killed were innocent children. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812102.pdf

Through its Drive Alert Arrive Alive initiative, the Georgia Department of Transportation reported that 840 traffic fatalities occurred in Georgia between January 1, 2015 and August 31, 2015. On average, that is more than 100 deaths per month!

Georgia recognizes the dire consequences that can result from drinking and driving. When someone in injured at the hands of a drunk driver, they can certainly file a lawsuit for personal injuries but they can also bring a claim for punitive damages.

Punitive damages are awarded, not as compensation to a plaintiff, but solely to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant from engaging in the behavior that caused injury. Normally these damages are “capped” at $250,000.00. However, that is not the case if the defendant caused the injury while under the influence of alcohol or drugs that are not legally prescribed. O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1. In other words, Georgia law does not limit the amount the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in personal injury cases arising from the negligence of a drunk driver.

Statement on Savannah accident on May 19

Tractor Trailer Wrongful Death Crash Savannah Georgia Attorney

Statement on Savannah accident on May 19

On May 19, 2015, I was driving south on I-16 just north of Savannah when I saw the aftermath of a horrific tractor-trailer crash that killed 5 innocent people. As I passed the scene of the wreck, it was obvious that a tractor trailer was on fire and that it had rear-ended another vehicle. Life flight helicopters were on the scene and I saw what appeared to be body bags being loaded into an ambulance. It was a horrible scene.

My prayers go out to the friends and families of 72-year-old Glenda Adams of Cohutta, 71-year-old Jerry Earnest of Varnell, 39-year-old Wendy Melton of Reidsville, 19-year-old Virgil Moody of Hagan, and 16- year-old Brittanie Altman of Claxton all who died in this wreck according to the Georgia State Patrol.

Many news reports covering this crash indicated that law enforcement officials suspect that the at-fault tractor-trailer driver may have fallen asleep. Those reports remind me of how vitally important it is that tractor-trailer drivers do not exceed their hours of service.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets hours of service regulations for commercial motor vehicles that transport property and people. For example, tractor-trailer drivers that are transporting property may not drive more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They must also take rest breaks and may only drive if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper birth period of at least 30 minutes.

There are more regulations but the point is that drivers who exceed their hours of service put others at risk of death or serious personal injury. Tractor-trailers provide a valuable economic service to our country but when they are operated by careless, distracted, or tired drivers they are extremely dangerous.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of those individuals who lost their lives in this crash. I pray that this tragedy will be a reminder to tractor-trailer drivers of just how dangerous and deadly a tractor- trailer can be when a tired driver is behind the wheel.

Spinal Cord Injuries – Cam Newton

Spinal Cord Injuries From Georgia Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney

Recently, former Auburn Tiger and current Carolina Panther quarterback, Cam Newton, was involved in a serious car wreck. According to ESPN.com, Cam Newton suffered two transverse fractures in his lower back following a two car collision on December 9, 2014. Thankfully, Newton is recovering from his injuries and remains in stable condition according to most major news outlets.

Unfortunately, many who are in similar car wrecks are not as fortunate. Atlanta is surrounded by several major interstates such as I-85, I-75, I-20, and I-285 as well as other many other major highways like GA 400. Wrecks occur on these roadways on a daily basis and often result in serious injures or death.

Some of the most common injuries sustained in these wrecks are neck, back, and spine injuries which can sometimes be permanent and have a profound impact on the lives of the injured person. Examples of neck and back injuries that may result from car wrecks include:

  • Paralysis
  • Herniated, bulging, and extruded discs
  • Neck fractures
  • Cervical dislocations
  • “Whiplash” or a neck injuries caused by hyperextension followed by sudden hyperflexion

Symptoms that are sometimes associated with a neck or back after a car or truck wreck include:

  • Neck or Back Pain
  • Reduced Range of movement or tenderness
  • Numbness in the shoulders, arms, or legs (depending on the location of the injury)
  • Tenderness
  • Headaches, Dizziness, Vertigo, or Blurring of Vision
  • Arm or Leg weakness
  • Paralysis

If you experience any of these symptoms after a car wreck, it is extremely important for you to seek immediate medical help. Doctors will likely perform a series of physical tests and film studies to determine the severity of your injury. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, treatment options may include physical therapy, injections, or surgery.

Treatment for neck, back, and spinal injuries can be very expensive. If you were hurt in a car or tractor-trailer wreck due to the fault of someone else and have experienced any of the neck, back, or spinal injuries mentioned in this blog, call Joel for your free legal consultation.

Many times car wreck victims settle their case for nothing more than their past medical bills without realizing that Georgia law allows them to recover for other damages such as diminished earning capacity, future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Do not let the insurance company for the at-fault driver convince you to settle your case for less than you deserve. Call Joel today and he will protect you from the insurance companies and help get you the justice you deserve.