Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has relaxed the truck driver drug testing requirements that trucking companies are subjected to, in the wake of the unique circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it has decided to provide companies with reasonable flexibility if they are unable to completely comply with the federal agency’s drug testing requirements during the pandemic. That flexibility comes as a result of the difficulties trucking companies are currently facing in conducting the random drug testing that they are required to under federal laws.

Companies are still required to conduct random drug testing of truck drivers based on the typical testing rate. They must test at least 50% of drivers for drugs and 10% of all their drivers for alcohol. However, in cases in which trucking companies are unable to conduct the random drug and alcohol testing required under the law, certain relaxations have been allowed.

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So far in the year 2020, Georgia law enforcement authorities believe that there have been as many as 31 boating accident related deaths in the local lakes and reservoirs.

We are in the middle of the year’s busiest boating season with several weeks of boating activity yet to go, so these numbers are very worrisome.   According to Georgia law enforcement officers, there have been a total of 31 boating accident related deaths, including those caused by crashes or by drownings this year alone, across the state.  And with the boating activity that typically takes place during the 4th of July holiday weekend, these numbers will undoubtedly rise.

The boating accident statistics were revealed during the launch of a joint campaign by the states of Georgia and Alabama, to crack down on intoxicated boating over the 4th of July weekend. Boating activity increases across Georgia during the summer months, and this is often accompanied with increased alcohol consumption as well. This deadly combination means an increased risk to boaters, who may be at risk of not just boating crashes, but also accidental drownings and other accidents that can result in serious injuries.

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Across the nation, more towns and cities, including Atlanta, are trying to provide more pedestrian-friendly areas.  This in turn means that the potential for more pedestrian accidents exists.

In 2018, more than half of all pedestrian accidents occurred at intersections. These resulted in approximately 6,700 pedestrian injuries, and 1,500 pedestrian fatalities. This indicates the seriousness of the lack of safety measures taken at intersections.  However, studies have shown that simple infrastructure enhancements in these areas can help reduce those risks.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently reported on a study which found that simple enhancements like bollards and rubber curbs can help prevent pedestrians from crossing the street diagonally at intersections, thereby helping prevent many of the pedestrian accidents that result in fatalities every year.

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With boating season upon us, the U.S. Coast Guard is recommending that all boaters take some extra steps to stay safe on the water.

The number of boaters on Georgia’s lakes is likely to increase over the next few weeks as Georgians begin to enjoy being out after several weeks of shelter-in-place measures.

Boating is a safe activity from the point of view of social distancing, when compared to other types of activities such as visits to amusement parks. Boating offers a great opportunity for smaller groups to be away from other people, thereby ensuring that social distancing is maintained. However, there are still some things you need to keep in mind before you plan boating trips with family or friends this summer.

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Red light running fatalities in the U.S. have reached a 10-year high. In 2018, 846 people were killed and 139,000 injured in red light running crashes. Half of those fatalities included pedestrians, bicyclists, and people in other vehicles. In fact, drivers running red lights kill at least two people every day.

A red light violation occurs when a vehicle enters an intersection any time after the traffic signal turns red. In Georgia, this violation is generally considered a misdemeanor, and is punishable with fines as high as $1000.  In addition to fines, penalty points can be added to the motorist’s driving record.

Although there is no typical violator profile, data from fatal red light crashes do show certain trends. Red light runners are more likely to be young or male. These drivers often have prior accidents, or they may have been convicted of alcohol-impaired driving in the past. Red light runners are also more likely to speed or be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. In addition, these drivers are less likely to have a valid driver’s license.

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Gas prices have been falling all over the country in the past few weeks.  In most places around the metro Atlanta area, a gallon of gas in now less than $2.00.

The last time gas prices were this low, there was a boom in the sport utility vehicle market.  And while sales of SUV’s dropped somewhat when gas prices were at a peak several years ago, these large vehicles have never lost their popularity among drivers.  In fact, SUV sales have risen consistently since the 2009.  In 2019, sales of SUVs made up 70% of all new vehicle sales.

Many buyers of sport utility vehicles often cite a perception of increased safety as one of the reasons for driving an SUV.  In other words, a driver behind the wheel of an SUV feels relatively safer in their larger vehicle as opposed to a regular sedan.   This may be because a driver of an SUV is seated higher than in a regular passenger vehicle and feels as though they have a greater line of sight.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on Georgia and other states to take stringent action to reduce the number of bicyclists killed in accidents every year.

The National Transportation Board recently released its first report on bicycle safety since 1972.  The Board makes note of the fact that there has been a spike in bicycle accident deaths, specifically the 857 bicycle accident deaths that occurred in 2018.  There was an increase in bicycle accident deaths in 2018, even as there was an overall drop in auto accidents that year.  Those numbers were an increase of 6.3 percent from the previous year. In fact, the bicycle accident death toll in 2018 was the highest number on record since 1990.

The record fatality numbers in 2018 is likely the reason why the National Transportation Safety Board has decided to address the issue of bicycle safety for the first time since 1972. The Board makes note of the poor infrastructure that is often the cause of bicycle accidents. Too many cities in Georgia have seen an increase in their bicycle population, but oftentimes there is no safe infrastructure in place to support it. This situation has resulted in a staggering increase in bicycle accident deaths in urban areas. Since 2009, the number of bicycle accident deaths in urban areas has increased by a whopping 48 percent.

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In the past few weeks while the country, and globe, has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers in a variety of fields have been laid-off, furloughed, or told to work from home.

However, there are still several industries and businesses that remain open during these times.  The businesses that do remain open are usually ones that have seen a surge in demand, such as grocery or other essential retain, and delivery providers.  With the sudden increase in the need for additional workers, many employers have had to forego the usual interview requirements, safety screening or training in order to meet new demands.  While having people still be able to participate in the workforce is essential during these times, will these short-cut hiring practices result on more problems, and more specifically accidents, down the road?

One of the potential problems that may result is more on-the-job injuries by employees who were not adequately trained or protected to perform their jobs.  States have laws that require most employers to have workers compensation insurance in case their employees become injured on the job.  In many states, including Georgia, filing a workers compensation claim is the exclusive remedy that an employee has against an if he or she sustains an injury at work.   The more employees are performing tasks that are unfamiliar to them, the more likelihood there is of any injury.

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There is no debate the events surrounding COVID-19 are unlike any that this country, and the globe for that matter, has experienced.  The impacts of this disease on our communities will include a once unthinkable number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Although efforts have been made to trace the source of the disease in local areas in order to notify others that may have come in contact with or been exposed to someone with the disease, many of these efforts that not been entirely successful, hence the widespread contagiousness of the disease.

One source that has been known early on in the COVID-19 outbreak are the cruise ships that had passengers with confirmed cases on board.  Recent numbers have indicated that as many as 700 people became infected with COVID-19 on cruise ships.  A number of these passengers went on to die from the illness.  As news of the outbreaks and quarantined passengers broke, some of the cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, took preemptive measures and cancelled any future cruises.

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In a disturbing trend, federal agencies are recording an increase in the number of people killed in fall accidents across the U.S. According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and based on statistics from all states, there has been an alarming spike in fall-related fatalities.  

Between 2008 and 2017, according to the data, there was a 17 percent increase in the number of deaths that occurred as a result of slip and fall accidents and other types of falls. The rate grew from 3.86 per 100,000 in 2008 to 4.52 per 100,000 people. In 2008, 12,311 fatalities were linked to fall accidents. That number spiked to 17,408 in 2017.  

Almost all demographics recorded an increase in fall-related deaths during this period of time. However, the rise was particularly significant in certain groups such as people in rural areas and senior citizens above the age of 75.  

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