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Marietta Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Is whiplash a real injury?

If you are like many people in Georgia, you may well have been in a group where someone has made a joke about whiplash. This is one of those injuries that somehow many people fail to take seriously yet it can be a real problem and definitely requires medical attention. It is one reason why close observation of someone after even a seemingly minor fender bender accident may be important.

As explained by WebMD, a person who has been in an accident in which their head is suddently jolted in a to and fro motion may not exhibit any symptoms of whiplash immediately after the crash. Onsent of symptoms may be delayed even though the injury has already taken place. Being hit from behind in a vehicle is a classic situation that may result in a whiplash injury.

Richmond Hill accident leaves one dead, others injured

Thanks to their massive size, the semi-trucks and tractor-trailers seen traveling on the roads in and around Marietta can cause extensive devastation if and when they are involved in accidents. For this reason, truck drivers are well-trained in the control of their vehicles. On top of that, they are versed in safe and defensive driving techniques, essentially assuming the added responsibility of protecting others from the risks their vehicles cause. A failure to fulfill that responsibility might result in tragedy, as well as added criminal and civil culpability being assigned to the responsible truck driver. 

A recent multi-car crash in Richmond Hill may serve as a sad reminder of what might happen when a trucker's apparent negligence affects others on the road. The vehicle in question was reportedly forced into the center lane of I-95 into order to avoid colliding with the slower-moving traffic ahead of it. This resulted in a collision with another semi-truck, which ultimately triggered a chain reaction that saw a nearby SUV pushed over a concrete barrier onto the adjacent railroad tracks, another SUV being rear-ended, and still a third being pinned against the concrete barrier and ultimately bursting into flames. Sadly, the woman driving the burning vehicle was unable to make it out. Her male passenger was (though he did sustain burns in the process), as did the driver of the vehicle thrown onto the train tracks. 

Holding truck companies liable for accidents

The damages that result from an accident with a semi-truck or tractor-trailer in Marietta can be massive. Often, accident victims are left with little choice but to seek compensation from those responsible due to auto insurance payouts not covering all of their expenses. Liability can certainly be placed on truckers who cause accidents, yet what about the companies they work for? Given that truckers are acting as the agents of motor carriers, then one might assume that those companies should share in the liability

The legal principle of respondeat superior allows for this. Per the Cornell Law School, "respondeat superior" is defined as a form of vicarious liability assigned to employers for accidents caused by employees while those employees are in the course of fulfilling their job responsibilities. In the case of a truck driver, if he or she causes an accident while completing a delivery or route, it can certainly be argued that such actions are within the course of his or her employment. This would (in theory) allow accident victims to also seek compensation from the motor carriers that the truckers work for. 

How distracting is eating while driving?

Imagine the following scenario: you are driving along when suddenly, another car plows into you. While you are able to avoid injury, the damage to your vehicle is extensive enough that you know it will be costly. As you walk up to speak with the driver that hit, you notice food wrappers strewn about his or her front seat, and fresh grease and condiment stains on his or her shirt, no doubt indicating that he or she had been eating something when the accident occurred. 

If you do not need to imagine this situation due to it already having happened to you, then one question likely remains fixed in your mind: was the person who hit you being negligent by eating while driving? With all of added attention being placed on distracted driving recently, it seems surprising that eating while driving has been overlooked in this argument. Perhaps it is because of the assumption that eating is such a natural act that it hardly seems distracting. 

Detailing truck driver hours-of-service regulations

A truck accident in Marietta can leave you and your family devastated and demoralized, with a mountain of medical and repair bills waiting for you once you are able to get over the shock the so often accompanies such incidents. Several of the clients that we here at Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli, LLP have worked with in the past have faced this same situation. Like you, they also wanted to know what may have caused their accidents. Like them, you might be even more perturbed than you currently are if you find out that your accident could have easily been avoided.

While truck drivers undergo rigorous training before they are allowed to get behind it wheel, it should be remembered that they are still subject to the same stresses and issues that you and other motorists must endure. One of those is fatigue. Indeed, drowsy driving has been a problem that has plagued the trucking industry. Federal regulations have been created to stop truckers from stretching themselves too thin. These include hours-of-service regulations, which (according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) include:

  •         Limiting diving shifts to 11 hours after having spent 10 hours off duty
  •         Limiting overall driving periods to 14 consecutive hours (again, after having spent 10 hours off duty)
  •         Only allowing drivers to drive between 60-70 hours over a period of 7-8 days
  •         Prohibiting drivers from driving more than 8 consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute break

How many crashes are caused by vehicle problems?

Traffic collisions have many different causes, such as distracted driving, drowsiness, intoxication, and carelessness, to name a few. However, some accidents are the result of vehicle problems, such as faulty brakes or a blown-out tire. Unfortunately, many people drive around in vehicles that are not safe and should not be on the road, putting innocent lives at risk and threatening their own well-being also. As a result, it is crucial for drivers to understand just how many accidents happen because of problems related to vehicles.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration states that 15,000 motor vehicle crashes were estimated to have been caused by problems with tires between 2005 and 2007, according to data they collected. During this same time frame, an estimated 10,000 accidents involved brake problems, while an estimated 17,000 involved unknown or other vehicle problems. It is clear that problems with a vehicle play a major role in the number of motor vehicle crashes that happen every year.

The problem of texting and driving continues

With today's impressive technologies, the constant use of cell phones has become second nature for most Georgia residents. Although these devices have clear benefits, those benefits do not add up when put behind the wheel of a car. A short text or call may seem harmless, but changes in Georgia laws remind drivers that just a few seconds of distraction could alter one's life forever.

Earlier this month, WSB-TV announced that Georgia's governor had taken steps to reduce distracted driving in the state. Governor Nathan Deal signed a distracted driving bill at Georgia Southern University that would make it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving. The university marked the location of a horrific texting and driving accident that resulted in the deaths of five nursing students in 2016. Rather than allowing residents to see the changes as an act of oppression, the governor reminded locals that the efforts aimed to keep Georgia's drivers as safe as possible. 

The outlook of america's trucking industry

As with most industries, the world of trucking has seen a myriad of changes over recent years. While a more diverse demographic now nearly dominates the industry, there are aspects of truck driving that do not change. Even with these changes, Georgia trucking employees know the typical challenges of the job all too well.

One aspect of trucking that has seen some major modifications involves the workers themselves. FleetOwner magazine shared last September that shifting demographics are changing truck driver management as a whole. How does this affect the average employee? FleetOwner goes on to state that, with an aging trucker population, the industry currently aims to attract younger employees, as well as women and minority groups. Possible approaches include offering higher pay, prolonged time with loved ones and extended personal outreach. At the time of the article's release, roughly 40 percent of employees were minorities and about 6 percent were women.

How Can I Prevent Accidents From Occurring?

As a driver in Marietta, you’re no doubt concerned with safety when out on the road. While you can’t always prevent accidents from occurring, there are steps you can take to decrease the chance of serious injury or damage to vehicles. Edmunds.com offers the following tips to ensure you and other drivers remain safe and secure when on the road.

1. Don’t Ignore Your Blind Spots

What is a traffic reconstruction expert?

When a serious accident occurs in Georgia, it is likely to be investigated with the help of a traffic reconstruction expert. The law enforcement entity in charge of the investigation may have a specialist or team of specialists on staff or on contract to help when needed. The at-fault driver may also have an independent expert on his legal team, or the insurer may hire one to help determine fault.

According to crashforensics.com, police are looking for help determining whether a criminal act was involved in the crash, such as speeding, alcohol use, or maybe a driver fell asleep at the wheel. Both police and independent inspectors are looking for the cause of the accident.

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