Archive for category: Auto Accident Lawyer Atlanta

Atlanta Car Safety: Minicars Fail New Small Overlap Frontal Crash Test

Many people have opted to downsize their personal or family vehicles in an effort to save money on fuel bills and decrease their monthly car payments. But now, after the release of the crashworthiness evaluations, those same people are wondering if they’ve traded their safety and the safety of their families for economy. Particularly in Atlanta, where there are approximately 1700 car accidents a day.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) is an independent, nonprofit organization funded primarily by auto insurers and insurance associations and dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage as a result of vehicle crashes. In 2012, the IIHS introduced the small overlap frontal crash test. This test simulates a collision wherein a front corner of the vehicle traveling at 40 mph, strikes another vehicle or an object, such as a utility pole.

This test is more difficult than both the head-on collision testing long performed by the government and the moderate overlap test performed by the IIHS. The difficulty is created because the impact of the collision bypasses most of the vehicle’s front-end crush zone. This prevents the vehicle from absorbing the crash energy before it reaches the occupant compartment and as a result, causes the collapse of the occupant compartment.

The structure and restraints (safety belts and airbags) of a vehicle are the fundamental elements of occupant protection. Good vehicle structure translates into a) a strong occupant compartment; b) crush zones which absorb the crash energy; c) side structure that can handle the force of a striking vehicle or object; and d) a strong roof structure that doesn’t collapse in a rollover. When the structure of your vehicle collapses in a collision, the risk of injury to the occupants is high.

While eleven minicars were tested by the IIHS, only one received an acceptable rating for structure leaving the remaining ten with only marginal or poor ratings for structure. Only marginal or poor ratings were earned by all eleven vehicles for restraints and kinematics (motion). Seven of the tested vehicles allowed too much forward motion of the occupant in a collision, indicating that the seat belt was not sufficient to hold the occupant in place or the occupant’s head missed or slid off of the front airbag. In eight of the minicars the side curtain airbags, which play a vital role in small overlap frontal crashes, were not sufficient and the side curtain airbag in one vehicle failed to deploy.

Complete minicar crash worthiness evaluations and ratings can be reviewed at www.iihs.org. When you purchase any vehicle, be informed.

In the event of an accident, seek the advice of a knowledgeable attorney. At James A. Rice, Jr., PC, we are always available to assist and guide you through obtaining a reasonable settlement.

Atlanta Road Emergency

What to Do If You’e Stranded in a Road Emergency

If you become stalled or stranded in your vehicle in an Atlanta Road Emergency, the most important thing you can do for yourself, and your passengers, is to REMAIN CALM. STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE unless help is within 100 yards of your location. Your vehicle is a good shelter during any weather, but especially in inclement weather.

Attempting to reposition your vehicle by pushing it in any weather or shoveling snow and ice in storm conditions takes a great deal of effort. Avoid overexertion – cold weather puts added strain on the heart and you risk heart attack, injury or making other medical conditions worse. In cold, winter weather, wet clothing loses its insulation value, putting you at risk of hypothermia. Be safe.

If you are stuck during daylight hours, tie a brightly colored cloth to your vehicle’s antennae to alert rescuers to your situation. If you are stuck during night hours, remove the cover from your dome light and turn the light on. Road crews and rescue personnel can see a small glow from a considerable distance. To reduce the risk of draining your vehicle’s battery, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles.

If your vehicle is stuck in the snow, keep its exhaust pipe clear of any snow and ice to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Better to be cold and awake than warm and sleepy. Run your vehicle with a downwind window open slightly for ventilation. Run your vehicle only long enough to keep warm – approximately ten minutes every hour. Run the heat while the car is running.

During winter months, cover exposed skin. Watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Do minor exercises to circulation flowing. Try not to stay in one position for too long – clap your hands and occasionally move your arms and legs. For warmth, huddle together. In additional to blankets, you can use maps or newspapers or even car mats for added insulation. If more than one person is in the vehicle, keep one person on watch; don’t allow all vehicle occupants to sleep at the same time.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an automobile accident in or around Atlanta, you should contact James Rice Law as soon as possible to understand your rights; contact us or call 404-800-5940 to learn more.

Atlanta Winter Driving

Tips on Atlanta Winter Driving

Given the winter weather we have all experienced in Atlanta this week, and could still experience – it’s only late January, I thought it prudent to share some of the Atlanta winter driving tips I’ve picked up from our local law enforcement troopers and officers. Even a safe driver can benefit from the advice of people in the position to deal with the best and worst of drivers.

Before setting out in your vehicle in wintry conditions, check the roads along your planned route. There are a number of phone apps that will allow you to do this, many of which are free. Also, you can access www.511ga.org, which is a good resource on any day to find traffic conditions in Atlanta. In addition to roadway conditions, it provides locations of construction and accidents and current traveling speeds.

Next, remove snow and ice from your vehicle. Frosted windows reduce your visibility. Chunks of snow and ice flying off your vehicle are potential hazards to the drivers around you.

Turn your headlights on – make certain you can see and be seen. Winter conditions require a different kind of driving than normal weather so BE ALERT and do not utilize your vehicle’s cruise control. When placing a child in a car seat, the added thickness of outerwear can interfere with proper harness fit so instead of overdoing outerwear, place blankets around your child after the harness is safely secured.

During your drive, SLOW DOWN. Driving at a lower speed will more likely allow you to maintain control of your vehicle. INCREASE YOUR FOLLOWING DISTANCE to at least three times the normal distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you, allowing you plenty of room to stop. It takes a greater distance to stop on snow and ice. AVOID ABRUPT MANEUVERS to lessen the chance of losing control of your vehicle. Heavily traveled intersections can become “polished” and slick so make your turns gradually and slowly. When accelerating, accelerate slowly and when braking, brake gently. If you have anti-lock brakes (“ABS”) press the pedal firmly and hold it. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, gently pump your brake pedal. If your vehicle starts to skid, COUNTER STEER by steering into the direction you want your vehicle to go – if the rear of your vehicle is sliding left, steer left into the skid. If it’s sliding right, steer right. Expect a second skid as your vehicle straightens out and be prepared to counter this action.

Slippery spots scattered on the surface of the roadway can cause a loss of steering control. Do not use your brake when you encounter an icy spot. Rather, take your foot off the accelerator and steer as straight as possible until the car slows to a safe speed. Brake as you approach a curve and not while you are in it. In an emergency, you can intentionally steer your vehicle into a snow bank to avoid a crash and keep you and your passengers safe. Being stuck in a snow bank is a better alternative than a collision causing injury and/or property damage.

Although we wish you safe travels as you commute our Georgia roadways, the personal injury attorneys at the Rice Firm are here for you in the event of an accident.

Should I Give The Insurance Company A Recorded Statement About My Car Accident?

Insurance Companies Move Fast in Auto Accident Cases

Unlike lawyers who represent persons who have been injured in an auto accident, insurance companies are able to begin their investigation and defense of a case immediately. It is commonplace for the insurance company for the Defendant to contact a person injured in a car accident within twenty-four hours of it occurring! Typically, their approach is to assert that they are there to “help”. They want to determine how the accident happened and what the injuries are.

Although I am certain some insurance companies have good motives, I truly believe that their real purpose is to try to lessen the value of your claim in combination with providing you significant guilt for pursuing it. It is rare, if ever, that I have heard an insurance company even let my client know that the recorded statement was optional, and sometimes, not even let them know they are being recorded.

Recorded Statements in Car Accident Cases are Your Option

It is important to know that recorded statements for the other parties’ insurance company are optional. If anything, you should certainly consult with an attorney before considering providing one. Most people know what happened in an accident and their injuries, but you need to remember that the adjuster for the insurance company knows all the “tricks” of putting words in your mouth, such as quickly having you agree that you are okay or that it was a “fender bender.”

Most of us are so polite and welcoming to speak to someone whom we think is going to help us, that we become more agreeable then the truth otherwise would allow.

A Recorded Statement Can Quickly Come Back to Haunt You

For example, most doctors will agree that it is not at all unusual for someone to begin experiencing pain for the first time two to three days after an accident. Imagine if the insurance company calls you within twenty-four hours and you are not having pain. A year or two later when you are in the middle of trial, it certainly is not a welcome sound to hear your voice telling the insurance company that you were not hurt or injured shortly after the car accident when you were in fact were. Keep these things in mind when you make a decision on whether or not to provide the insurance company with a statement.

Uninsured Motorist Auto Accident Claims may Require a Recorded Statement

Also, remember that there are some situations where you are required to provide a recorded statement. These are almost exclusively dealt with in situations where uninsured motorist coverage is involved. Your policy may require you to provide a statement.

Before agreeing to do so, I would always advise you to obtain a copy of your policy as well as speak with an experienced lawyer in this arena to discuss whether claims that you have to do so are accurate.

Why Is My DUI Case Worth More Than Others?

Many people ask this question but when the purpose behind punitive damages and jury anger and sympathy is explained, it seems much easier to understand. In Georgia, a person injured in an automobile accident can recover for their compensatory damages such as their medical bills and lost wages as well as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the person to create a strong incentive for them not to do the same thing again. A financial incentive, as we all learned at a young age, is an extremely valuable tool to encourage people not to behave badly.

Insurance companies rightly fear punitive damages involving drunk driving accidents or drug related car wrecks. Juries certainly do not look fondly upon someone who, after consuming much too much liquor, beer or drugs decides to get behind the wheel while people are going to and from work, school, Church, etc.

The best thing you can do is to explore all of your options. We recently settled a case for the policy limits even though our client had $200.00 in medical bills. Our investigation, which was extremely thorough, revealed prior DUI’s, a high speed chase, etc. We were able to obtain the dash cam of the police officer which revealed the drunken stupor of the Defendant. We were able to send the settlement package, which included the video and information regarding the prior DUI’s, to the insurance company who promptly paid the policy limits without fight or delay. Otherwise, that case had a settlement value somewhere in the range of $250.00 – $300.00.

So what should you do if you are involved in a drunk driving accident?

First, if you have any belief the other driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, let the police office know. Often, it is our experience the Defendant involved in the collision “wakes up” pretty quickly and loses the drunken side effects you may have seen earlier. The police officer may not notice them and it would be prudent for you to let him/her know.

Second, if you see the other driver do anything such as place gum in their mouth, pour out beer, throw things away, etc., let the police officer know. You should not feel guilty about trying to get someone who decided to drive drunk off the road. We have had many cases where we have seen people literally place things in their trunk, go get chewing gum while waiting on the police, etc.

Third, let the police know of any statements made by the other driver. It is not unusual for a drunk driver to offer to pay money to avoid calling the police or urge you to contact their insurance company or otherwise play to your sympathies. Let the police know what is going on. If you do not, it will not make it into the report and will have less credibility when you mention it at your deposition or at the trial.

Punitive damages may hold an extreme value in these cases. However, if the investigating officer does not know what has occurred, it makes it very difficult for him to investigate it. Once he does that investigation, a talented lawyer can use that to best punish the Defendant through punitive damages and ensure that the Plaintiff receives just compensation as paid by the insurance company. Even if the physical injuries are not egregious, Georgia law is fair as it relates to the punitive damages.

If you have any questions, it is important to explore those with a lawyer.

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