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In a recent criminal case in Georgia involving a hit-and-run accident, the court did not allow evidence that the car crash victim was not wearing a seat belt when he was ejected from his vehicle after impact and died.   The court stated that the victim’s failure to wear his seat belt was not relevant in determining the cause of his death.

Georgia law requires that all persons in the front seat of a passenger vehicle wear a seat belt.  The seat belt law applies to all occupants in any motor vehicle, including pickup trucks, vans, sport utility vehicles, and any vehicle designed to carry 15 or fewer passengers.

We all know that seat belts are one of the first lines of defense to protect you from injury while in a motor vehicle.  This is especially true in rear-end collisions, T-bone accidents and head-on collisions.  Wearing a seat belt is crucial in avoiding serious injury in such types of accidents.

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The North Georgia area is experiencing exponential growth in population.  And all these people moving to the area need a place to live.  In addition to the already existing number of apartments and rental properties, apartment buildings are being built all across the Atlanta area.    Many times people may feel forced or rushed to agree to live in a certain apartment because of either the lack of available apartments or the lack of affordable apartments to choose from.  Unfortunately, when a tenant is living in an apartment or complex that has been poorly maintained by the landlord or property owner, there is a high risk of injury to the tenant and their family members.  If this happens, the property owner could be held responsible.

A landlord has the duty inspect the rental property.  The landlord also has a duty to act with reasonable care to make sure the rented premises are kept in good repair.  A landlord’s failure to do so can make them liable for injuries caused as a result.  A landlord can also be held liable for injuries caused by defective construction.  A landlord of a leased apartment, house or other dwelling place cannot assign this duty to another party.  In other words, the landlord itself has the duty to maintain the property, and cannot blame anyone else for its failures to do so.

When people think of premises liability cases or claims against property owners, slip and falls, or trip and falls, usually come to mind.  However, with claims involving rental properties, a landlord can be held liable for far more.  In some recent cases, landlords and property owners have been held liable for a variety of defective conditions at their property.  Some of these include failing to repair the air-conditioning unit in an apartment building, causing the building to overheat to the point where it resulted in the death of an elderly disabled man.  Another case involved the property owner’s failure to maintain and repair the balconies of an apartment complex, which caused a balcony to collapse onto a child resulting in severe and lifelong debilitating injuries.

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The Fourth of July falls on a Thursday this year, which means most people will make it a long holiday weekend from work.  The Fourth of July is not only one of the country’s most popular holiday weekends, but it’s also one of the most deadly. The holiday accounts for hundreds of deaths every year, and this year’s July Fourth is not expected to be any different.

The National Safety Council predicts that this Fourth of July weekend will be just as deadly as previous years, with an approximate 565 people expected to be killed in motor vehicle and other accidents. It also predicts around 64,000 injuries in accidents occurring over the holiday.

These predictions were made based on previous crash data. For instance in 2017, there were a total of 601 fatalities in traffic accidents over the holiday weekend. That was a significant 23 percent increase from the previous year. At least 39 percent of those accidents involved a drunk driver.

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We all know the campaign “Click It or Ticket” to encourage all people in passenger vehicles to wear their seatbelts.

The good news is that, nationwide, seatbelt use is at commendable highs. In 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt use across the country was as high as 89.6 percent.  In 2017, Georgia’s seatbelt usage rate was an impressive 96 percent.

However, even with the high rate of seatbelt use, there were still more than 37,000 people killed in motor vehicle accidents in 201.  Of this number, as many as 47 percent of these fatalities were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.  This goes to show that there is still room for improvement in seatbelt use among car riders.

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A brain injury is one of the most devastating injuries a person can suffer in an accident.  Brain injuries are not only debilitating to the victim, but they can have a tremendous impact on the victim’s family as well.

Car accidents as well as slip, or trip, and fall accidents are two of the most common causes of brain injuries.  And as serious as brain injuries are, they are also, surprisingly, one of the most difficult and complicated injuries to diagnose and treat.   According to the International Brain Injury Association, approximately 1.5 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year.  Of these, 75% are classified as mild TBI.  Unfortunately, a mild TBI is often unnoticed or misdiagnosed because many victims do not have visible symptoms that most people associate with a brain injury.  Because of this, the mild TBI has been called a “silent epidemic.” However, the term “mild” can be misleading as these injuries can still have long-term and devastating complications on a victim’s life.

Many times a person may have been involved in a slip and fall or a car accident and, although he or she may not think they sustained serious injuries, could very well be overlooking some classic symptoms of a brain injury or mild TBI.   Symptoms of a brain injury or mild TBI include (1) any period of loss of consciousness, even if just for a few seconds, (2) any loss of memory immediately before or after the accident, (3) any altered state of mind such as confusion or disorientation at the time of the accident, (4) any neurological problems including speech, vision or hearing, (5) headache, nausea or vomiting, and (5) fatigue, sleepiness or dizziness.

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We have all seen it too often in the Atlanta area – delivery drivers and other commercial vehicles driving too fast or recklessly for the traffic conditions in an attempt to get to where they need to be.  Recently, there have been a few cases in the news where a driver of a commercial vehicle was involved in a car accident while on the job.  In one case, a delivery driver of a very well-known sandwich company rear-ended another vehicle causing injuries to both people in the car that was hit.  In other cases, a tractor trailer driver crossed a median and caused a head-on collision resulting in catastrophic injuries.  And earlier this year, a limousine driver was driving too fast for the conditions causing the limo to swerve off the road and killing all eighteen of its passengers.

In all of these cases, the offending driver of the commercial vehicle was on the job when the accident occurred.  In such situations, the employer of the negligent driver can be held liable for their employee’s actions.  Under Georgia law, if an employee causes a car accident while driving a vehicle owned by his employer, it is presumed that the employee was acting in the scope of his employment.  In order to avoid being held liable for the accident, the employer must show that the employee was not acting in the scope of his employment at the time the accident occurred.  This doctrine is known as vicarious liability.

An employer can also be liable for their employee’s negligence under the theory of negligent entrustment.   In order to recover compensation against an employer for their employee’s negligence, you must be able to show that the employer had actual knowledge of the employee’s negligent behavior.  In other words, if the employer knew that their employee had a pattern of, or caused, other prior accidents, while on the job, the employer could be held liable if they did not take any action to prevent their employee from causing any further accidents.

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Despite laws in Georgia and throughout the country, it may be surprising to know that many American parents fail to require their children to wear protective helmets while riding a bicycle or scooter, or skateboarding.

Those were the findings of a new poll that surveyed 1,300 parents across the country. According to the poll, as many as 18 percent of the parents admitted that their children never wore bicycle helmets while riding a bike. More than 58 percent admitted that their children didn’t wear helmets while skateboarding, and 61 percent admitted that their children never wore helmets while riding scooters.

Bicycling, skateboarding, and riding scooters are becoming more and more popular in Atlanta, not just as a form of recreation, but also as a form of transportation.  These activities, however, also have a high potential for causing serious, or even fatal, injuries to a child.  When a parent allows a child to ride without wearing a safety helmet, this only contributes to the risk of the child incurring serious injuries which can have devastating and often life-long impacts.

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Car designs of the recent past have focused greatly on improving the safety of front seat occupants.  Such safety improvements have led to better restraint systems, seat-belts, and airbags.  Advanced seat belt systems and airbags now make it easier for front seat passengers and drivers to escape serious injuries or death in the event of an accident.

However, rear seat passengers have not been as lucky.  Protections for passengers in the back seat have not kept up with the pace of other car safety improvements.  For instance, side airbags are present to protect back seat passengers in a side crash, but there are no front airbags for these passengers as there are for front seat riders.  Similarly, seat belts in the back seat usually do not have the same tension capacity as front seat belts. The result is that rear-seat passengers continue to be at risk of serious injuries in accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently analyzed more than 100 crashes where rear seat occupants were seriously injured or killed. They found that the most common injuries to back seat passengers were injuries to the chest. This was the most common cause of serious injury or fatality to back seat passengers, regardless of whether they were adults or children.

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Boating season will soon be in full swing in all over Georgia.  Being on the water is one the greatest pleasures of life for avid boaters.  As with any activity, however, it is important that you follow all safety precautions to avoid any accidents or injuries.

The National Safe Boating Council has its own general safe boating tips.   The pre-departure boating checklist below will also help you be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.

First of all, make sure that the weather conditions are not only pleasant, but also safe where you plan to go boating. Check weather forecasts as well as tide and current reports.

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Few things feel more like summer than a trip to the amusement park. As schools let out all over the state of Georgia in a few weeks, thousands will flock to Six Flags, White Water or other amusement parks throughout the state, or country, for some summertime fun. And while accidents on rides at amusement parks are rare, they are not unheard of. The safety of the rides at amusement parks around the country was called into question recently when two crash test dummies flew off their seats on a roller coaster and landed several feet away.

The two dummies were being tested to check the safety of the GaleForce roller coaster at Playland’s Castaway Cove in New Jersey. The ride was putting the dummies though a routine safety check, when the dummies, that were supposed to be securely restrained in their seats, flew off the ride midway and crashed into the roof of a nearby hotel. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported to the people at the hotel, although there was significant damage to the roof of the building.

According to amusement park officials, the fact that the crash test dummies flew off the ride is no cause for alarm. They insist that the ride is safe, and has been safe ever since it was launched. They say that there was no failure of operation or machinery, and that this incident was a result of the dummies not being used properly on the ride.