Having questions and concerns after a traffic injury is normal. When forced to deal with severe injuries, financial setbacks, and anxiety it is only natural to have worries. However, you shouldn’t be forced to deal with these concerns on your own. Come see how David Brauns and Brauns Law, PC can not only help answer your questions, but also help you put your worries to rest.
Car Accidents FAQs
If you have decided to purchase uninsured motorist coverage as part of your automobile insurance policy, you have made a crucial decision that will make it more likely that you will receive what you deserve if you are injured in an auto accident caused by a negligent driver. Hopefully, you are also purchasing uninsured motorist coverage to compensate you if the negligent driver had no insurance. Although these insurance coverages are not required under Georgia law, they should be considered mandatory by anyone who wants sufficient insurance coverage if involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Which Is Right for You: Add-On or Reduced-By Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Underinsured motorist coverage will compensate you when the negligent driver’s insurance coverage is less than the full amount you are owed. For example, the driver could have purchased the minimum amount of liability coverage, which will only pay you a maximum of $25,000 for your injuries caused by a car accident. Once you decide to purchase this important insurance, you will need to decide whether to purchase add-on or reduced-by coverage. Here’s why you may want to pick add-on coverage:
- Reduced-by coverage only pays you the difference between what the negligent driver’s insurance policy pays and your insurance coverage. For example, if you have $100,000 in underinsured coverage and the negligent driver has $25,000 of coverage, you would have $75,000 under your own policy available to compensate you.
- Add-on insurance coverage will pay you on top of the amount the negligent driver’s company pays. This means that in the example listed above that you would have $125,000 to potentially compensate you rather than $75,000.
You should purchase a minimum of $100,000/$300,000 in both underinsured and uninsured coverage to protect yourself if you need it.
If you make the smart decision to purchase underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, do not assume that it will be simple to make a claim for compensation with your insurance company. Your claim with your own insurance company could be more challenging to settle than your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. You need an experienced car accident attorney to negotiate your settlement with both insurance companies. If you have questions about your insurance coverage or were injured in a car accident and need to file a claim, fill out our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Whether you caused a crash or were the victim of it, you want to have enough automobile insurance coverage to protect yourself. Unfortunately, Georgia’s minimum liability insurance coverage that all motorists must purchase would do little to protect you if were the negligent driver or compensate you if you suffered any injuries. However, you do have the option of purchasing additional insurance coverage. How much insurance coverage do you need if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident?
Purchase These Recommended Insurance Coverages to Protect You After a Car Accident
Under Georgia law, you are only required to purchase personal injury liability insurance of $25,000 per injured person or a maximum of $50,000 if more than one person is injured in a car accident where you are at fault. You are also required to have $25,000 in property damage liability coverage to pay for property damage you cause in a crash. This amount fails to protect you if you are the negligent driver or to compensate you if you suffer injuries.
Not having sufficient insurance coverage could cause you great financial hardship that you could avoid by paying for good coverage. To fully protect yourself, you should at a minimum purchase these insurance coverages:
- Bodily injury liability. You should increase your coverage to $100,000 per injured person and $300,000 if more than one person is injured in a single crash.
- Property damage liability. You want at least $50,000 in coverage to ensure your insurance company would pay what you owe if you cause an accident.
- MedPay. You want to add this optional insurance coverage that could pay your medical expenses, whether or not you were at fault in causing an accident. You want to purchase a minimum of $10,000 in coverage and should consider increasing this amount given the thousands of dollars you could incur in medical bills for the treatments you may need to get well.
- Uninsured motorist coverage. This insurance should really be mandatory—it is that crucial to have. This coverage protects you when the at-fault driver has no insurance. You should have at least $100,000 per individual and $300,000 per occurrence in coverage.
- Underinsured motorist coverage. This protects you when the negligent driver has automobile insurance, but it is too low of an amount to fully compensate you. The recommended insurance amount is the same as for uninsured motorist coverage.
- Collision coverage. Collision insurance would pay to repair or replace your vehicle after you pay your deductible, which should be at least $500 unless you choose a higher amount.
- Comprehensive coverage. If your vehicle is damaged in a fire or theft, this coverage would reimburse you. This coverage also comes with a deductible of at least $100.
Even when you make a claim with your own insurance company after a crash, you need an experienced car accident attorney to help you negotiate your settlement—to ensure you are not being taken advantage of. Call our office today at (404) 998-5252 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Once the insurance company agrees to pay your property damage claim, you may feel like there is nothing else to be worry about. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Have you checked to see what type of parts the insurance company authorized the repair shop to use? If not, you might find that these parts are not at all what you expected. In fact, they may not even be new parts.
What Type of Parts Can I Demand When Another Driver Causes My Auto Crash?
Hopefully, you realized that you have a right to pick the repair shop that does repairs and have done this. You want to ask the company what type of parts will be used in your car repair. Under Georgia law, the insurance company for the negligent driver is required to provide you with a vehicle in the same condition as before the crash. Since your vehicle was used, they can probably use some form of used parts, but they must be quality parts.
If you are making a claim under your collision coverage, your insurance policy language will state the type of parts your insurance company can use. Often, these policies allow them to use “Like Kind and Quality” parts, which are also known as LKQ. You should understand that different types of parts could be proposed—and you have a right to demand a safe option. These choices include the following:
- Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts (OEM): These are new parts produced by the manufacturer and are the safest, highest quality parts. You should try to insist that these parts be used in your vehicle, especially if your vehicle is a newer one.
- Economy parts. These are parts that are manufactured by companies other than the original manufacturer and can be made inferiorly. Some of the parts may be unsafe. While they may be of like quality, they are not on the same quality level as OEM parts.
- Aftermarket Crash Parts. Aftermarket crash parts are imitation sheet metal, plastic, or lamp parts that are of far inferior quality and can pose a safety hazard. These parts should not be accepted given their safety risks.
What Are Your Options If the Insurance Company Wants to Use Non-OEM Parts?
You should start out insisting on OEM parts or at a minimum used OEM parts. But what if the insurance adjuster will not budge on using economy parts? You could do one of the following:
- If the company refusing to pay for OEM parts is your own insurance company, you could pay the difference between the non-OEM and OEM parts so you can have the better-quality parts installed. Then you could pursue a claim against the negligent driver for the difference.
- If you must use the parts that the insurance company insists on, you should try to get a written warranty on these parts.
- You could hire an experienced car accident attorney who is experienced in handling the property damage portion of your claim and have him negotiate your settlement for you. You will be at a distinct disadvantage if you try to negotiate your settlement on your own.
What If There Is Hidden Damage?
Frequently, the repair shop will discover additional damage when repairing a vehicle damaged in a crash. What happens in this situation? Usually the mechanic will contact the insurance company repairing the vehicle to authorize the additional repairs. Sometimes the adjuster will send out an appraiser to inspect the damage before authorizing the additional work. Before you pick up your vehicle after repairs are completed, you will want to find out if any new damage was discovered and confirm that it was repaired.
If you need to file a property damage claim, you may be surprised at how complicated it can be and how the insurance company will delay paying your claim. The experienced legal team at Brauns Law, PC has helped many clients with all types of insurance claims after a car accident. Start an online chat or call us to schedule your free consultation to get your questions answered and learn how we can help you.
- Your Property Damage Claim Choices After a Car Accident
- Why Not to Talk to the Negligent Driver’s Insurance Adjuster
- How the Property Damage Claim Process Works After a Car Accident
When you are shopping around for automobile insurance policies, you want to be certain that you are paying a fair price for your insurance coverage. You also want to be certain that you are purchasing enough insurance coverage to protect you both if a negligent driver causes your crash or if you are the at-fault driver. Georgia’s minimum insurance requirements of $25,000/$50,000 personal injury liability and $25,000 property damage liability coverages may not be enough to protect you. You may want to purchase increased liability coverage as well as underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, MedPay, and more to be fully protected. However, there are things you can do to reduce the cost of insurance without sacrificing the protection you need.
What Discounts Are Available That Could Reduce Automobile Insurance Premium Costs?
Comparison shopping can help you save money on your vehicle insurance premiums. You also want to explore how much you can save by increasing the deductibles on your collision and comprehensive insurance coverages. In addition, you should check with insurance agents to see if you qualify for any discounts. Some that may help you include:
- Your vehicle has seat belts—standard on almost all vehicles.
- Your vehicle has an anti-theft device.
- Your vehicle is equipped with one or more air bags.
- Your vehicle has anti-lock brakes.
- Your vehicle is a standard model rather than a sports or high performance one.
- You have an excellent credit score and insurance rating.
- Any teenager in your family who drives passed an approved driver’s education course.
- You are a safe driver with a good driving record.
- Your vehicle is a highly valued one.
- If you are 55 years or older, you have taken an approved driver improvement course.
- You own a vehicle, such as a classic car that is low mileage and used for limited purposes throughout the year.
- You own multiple vehicle policies—which can include company cars—or have multiple drivers being insured.
- You have your homeowner’s insurance policy with the same company as your automobile policy.
- You are a driver who drives 15,000 miles or less each year.
- If a family member is a student and gets good grades, you could be entitled to a discount.
- If your family member is young and a non-principal driver, such as a student who lives 100 miles or more away at college, this could entitle you to a discount.
- You belong to an association or other group that offers members discounts on auto insurance policies.
- You may qualify for a discount under your insurance company’s loyalty program if they have one.
Do you have other questions about the insurance coverage you need to protect yourself and your loved ones? Do you need to make a claim for compensation after being injured in an automobile accident? Fill out our online form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
- Optional Insurance Coverages You Should Purchase
- How Much Car Insurance Coverage Should I Have?
- Take These Steps to Protect Your Car Accident Claim
Dog bites can be disfiguring or even deadly. If a dog bit you, it is important to know the steps to take to ensure you get the medical care you need. In addition, Georgia law makes it possible to recover compensation from the dog owner’s insurance policy to cover medical bills, lost wages and other costs. Following the right procedures after a bite are key to receiving this compensation.
Should I see a doctor after a dog bites me even if I am not seriously injured?
If you did not get medical care immediately following the bite, you should schedule an appointment right away. Severe bites often require calling 911 or receiving other emergency medical attention. You should have a doctor evaluate your bite, even a minor one, because of the high risk of infection with puncture wounds from a dog.
In addition to cleaning the wound and offering the proper preventative vaccinations, the doctor will also note your visit – including details about your injury – in your medical records. This documentation may become useful if you later file for compensation from the dog owner’s insurance or file a legal claim to have your medical bills covered.
How should I document the incident and my injuries?
It is a good idea to begin a journal as soon as possible after the incident. In this journal, you can record your recollections of the incident. Also, write down important details such as the identity of the dog and its owner, the owner’s insurance company, and any records pertaining to the dog’s vaccinations and behavioral history. Do not forget to record any medical care you receive, including both doctor’s appointments and home care.
You will also want document your injuries as soon as possible after the incident. These wounds will most likely heal by the time you need evidence to support your dog bite personal injury claim. Photograph all puncture wounds, areas of torn flesh, and bruises. Taking pictures of any torn or bloodied clothing from the attack is also a good idea.
Do I need to report the bite to authorities?
It is important to report the incident to the local animal control authorities. If you or someone else called 911, officers have most likely already filed a report. However, it is a good idea to call and file a report on your own. These reports are paramount in legally documenting your case, as well as protecting others from a dog that may bite again in the future.
In Duluth Georgia, Animal Welfare and Enforcement handles dog bite reports. You can call the Duluth Georgia non-emergency police number, 770-513-5700, to file a report.
Once you or a police officer file a report, an Animal Welfare officer will contact the owner about Georgia’s required 10-day rabies quarantine and the officer may issue a citation for any ordinances that the owner violated that played a part in the incident.
How can I obtain compensation for my injuries?
In most cases, the dog owner’s insurance will pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, and other costs. The laws that outline dog bite claims, however, can be complex and these cases are often more complicated than they first seem. Be sure to contact a lawyer before speaking to the owner’s insurance company.
The Brauns Law, PC team can help you file a claim with the homeowner’s insurance company or file a lawsuit if necessary. We can help you prove the dog was dangerous, negotiate a fair settlement with the owner’s insurance company, or advocate for you in court if legal action becomes necessary.
For a free case evaluation, contact us today at 404-348-0889.
Elder Abuse & Neglect
Elder Abuse & Neglect
Nursing home abuse is more common than you may think, and it can seriously jeopardize the health and happiness of your loved one. Knowing the signs of elder abuse is key in preventing your loved one from becoming a victim.
If you suspect abuse at a Georgia nursing home, it is important to report this by calling Adult Protective Services at 1-866-55AGING. If you discover a serious abuse or neglect situation that puts seniors in immediate danger, calling 911 or contacting the local authorities could save a life.
What are the signs of physical abuse?
Noticing unexplained physical injuries on your loved one are a sign of possible physical abuse, but seeing bruises, welts, or open wounds are not the only thing that may signal this type of abuse. Other signs include:
- Untreated injuries including sprains, dislocations, and fractures
- Marks left by ropes or other restraints
- Broken eyeglasses or other personal property
- Lab tests that show medication overdose
- A sudden change in behavior, such as becoming withdrawn
- A caregiver who refuses to leave you alone with your loved one
- A senior who reports physical abuse
What are the signs of neglect?
Neglect is sometimes harder to spot than physical abuse, but it can be just as deadly. Some signs of neglect to look for include:
- Missed medication doses
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Poor hygiene, soiled bedding, or unsanitary living conditions
- Untreated bedsores
- Untreated or ignored health problems
- Unsafe conditions, such as obvious fall hazards or lack of heat
- Inadequate clothing or bedding
- A senior who reports that staff ignore or mistreat her
What are the signs of emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse may not put your loved one in immediate danger, but it can lead to a large amount of distress as well as a decrease in quality of life. Signs of emotional abuse include:
- Seniors who seem unusually upset or agitated
- A normally friendly senior who suddenly becomes withdrawn or depressed
- Sucking, rocking, or other symptoms that are out of character for the senior
- Extreme dislike of a particular caregiver
- A senior who reports being cursed out or verbally abused
- A senior who reports being emotionally abused
What are the signs of financial abuse?
Financial abuse occurs when a caregiver exploits the senior for financial gain. Signs may include:
- Changing banks or accounts suddenly and without explanation
- Withdrawal of a large amount of money without explanation
- Adding a caregiver’s name to the senior’s account without consulting family members
- Unauthorized use of the senior’s ATM card by a caregiver
- Sudden and unexpected changes in a will to include a specific caregiver
- Money or valuables that go missing
- Unpaid bills, despite having the financial resources to pay them
- Forged signatures on financial documents
- A senior who mentions loaning money to a caregiver, or paying for a personal item for a caregiver
- A senior who reports being the victim of financial abuse
Contact Brauns Law, PC to Learn More
Elder abuse attorney David Brauns represents the victims of nursing home abuse in Duluth Georgia, ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve. If you believe caregivers have abused or neglected your loved one, contact us today at 404-348-0889 to schedule a no-obligation consultation about your options.
When most people think of pedestrian accidents, they assume that the driver of the vehicle was at fault. This is often the case, and motorists cause these accidents in many ways, such as running a red light, talking on a cell phone, texting, or driving while intoxicated. However, is the driver always at fault in causing these tragic accidents?
When the Pedestrian Could Be at Fault in a Pedestrian-Car Crash
Unfortunately, pedestrians can be partially or fully at fault in causing these accidents. Not only do drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care when driving, but pedestrians also have this same duty when they are walking. Some of the ways pedestrians cause or contribute to these accidents include:
- Jaywalking or walking in the middle of the street. Pedestrians often jaywalk instead of obeying traffic signals or cross in the middle of the street instead of walking to the corner. While this is a common practice, it is illegal and dangerous—especially when the pedestrian is making a quick run for it across the roadway.
- Crossing against a traffic signal. Like jaywalking and crossing in the middle of the street, crossing when the traffic signal says “Do not walk” is dangerous and plays a part in many pedestrian accidents.
- Intoxication. Pedestrians who are intoxicated on drugs or alcohol have slower reaction times and impaired decision-making abilities—just like impaired drivers. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 36 percent of pedestrians aged 16 and older who died in one of these accidents had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams or higher—over the legal limit for a DUI.
- Walking where prohibited. Pedestrians are prohibited from walking in certain areas such as bridges and highways where the danger of being hit is greater and the injuries deadlier. It can be a recipe for disaster when a pedestrian disobeys these traffic laws.
The Special Dangers of Distracted Walking and Pokémon Go
There are two dangerous practices pedestrians engage in that cause or contribute to pedestrian-vehicle accidents. Not surprisingly, they both often involve using cell phones. The first is distracted walking and can involve the following:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Reading emails, texts, or videos or surfing the net
- Checking a GPS
- Eating and drinking
- Talking with other pedestrians while walking
According to a CBS News investigative report, approximately 10 percent of pedestrian injuries that require a visit to the emergency room—sometimes with fatal injuries—are caused by distracted walking. In addition, the problem of cell phone usage is so serious that the National Safety Council has decided to add statistics on injuries and fatalities caused by cell phone distracted walking in its annual report.
A recent danger for both drivers and pedestrians is the newly released Pokémon Go game that people play on their cell phones. Since the game is new, there are no statistics on how many accidents playing the game causes. However, both drivers and pedestrians are engaging in unsafe practices when playing the game. Pedestrians are not aware of their surroundings and can jaywalk and dart in front of vehicles in their quest to catch the Pokémon character. Equally or more dangerous, drivers are being caught playing the game while they are driving.
You Still Could Be Entitled to Compensation If You Were Partially at Fault in Causing a Pedestrian Accident
In most pedestrian-vehicle accidents, the pedestrian is not completely at fault, and the driver could be partially liable for compensating the pedestrian for his injuries. If you believe you were partially at fault in causing your pedestrian accident, do not let this stop you from obtaining the compensation you deserve. While your negligence could result in a smaller settlement, you still could be entitled to a substantial sum under Georgia’s comparative negligence laws. Start an online chat today or call us toll free at 877-401-6689 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with David Brauns to learn about your legal options.
What’s my personal injury case worth? This is by far the most common question I get as a personal injury attorney. I am going to walk you through all the components and variables that make up a personal injury accident case’s value in Atlanta and the rest of Georgia. At the risk of sounding a little condescending, most small personal injury cases in Atlanta are not the lottery. My goal on this page is to teach you how to talk about and evaluate your personal injury case’s damages in hopes that you will walk away with two things:
- You will develop realistic expectations on what your personal injury case is worth in Atlanta (Fulton County) and elsewhere in Georgia.
- You will know how to intelligently talk to me (or whoever you end up hiring) about your case’s value damage-type by damage-type.
Types of Personal Injury Damages Allowed in Georgia
The types of money you are entitled to under Georgia law are called “damages.” You normally have access to multiple types of damages. Add them together and you have your personal injury case’s value.
Personal Injury Damages – Special vs. General Damages
Damages are usually broken up into 2 big categories: Special and General damages. Special damages are damages capable of an exact value. It is easiest to think of these as all the things for which you have bills or receipts. In most personal injury cases, special damages consist of medical expenses and lost wages.
Special damages usually also have a past, present and future amount. For example, you could have medical expenses currently totaling $100,00. That is your past and present medical expenses. But, say your doctor has indicated you will need a hip replacement in 15 years because of the probability of arthritis down the road. The cost of that surgery and recover is a future medical expense. I need to bring in economists and billing experts to figure out what the present value of those future procedures is so that you get the money now to fund the future treatment. This is probably one of the best examples of how the personal injury system helps people in Georgia. In this example, I can help get funds for a future surgery for someone who could not otherwise afford it. Future lost wages are also available as part of your damages.
General damages on the other hand aren’t capable of being calculated. They are left up to a Georgia jury to come up with a number. The biggest general damage we have all heard of is Pain and Suffering. We can argue for a dollar amount, and present testimony to give a reason for that number, but at the end of the day a jury comes up with a number. In Georgia you will often hear the phrase “the enlightened conscious of the jury,” meaning it is up to the jury. Pain and suffering includes the past, present, and future. So the personal injury system will provide you compensation for future suffering provided we have expert evidence that you will suffer pain in the future.
Personal Injury Accident Medical Expenses
Medical expenses deserve further conversation. Your medical treatment and its associated expenses are the center of your personal injury claim in many ways. In addition to receiving past, present, and future medical expenses, you are usually entitled to the full face value of any bill.
This means that if you have health insurance or some other third party paying your medical bills, you still get the full face value of the bill. This is called the Collateral Source Rule in Georgia. It says that a Georgia jury cannot hear evidence of other people paying for your medical treatment. The rationale is that the wrong doer should not have the benefit of having his/her/its damages reduced because someone else helped pay. The wrongdoer is on the hook for the full amount as if no one paid part of your accident injury expenses.
Now sometimes you will have to re-pay your health insurer when you recover an award. This issue can fill a whole book and a personal injury accident attorney can really help you negotiate down or sometimes dispute repayment outright. But even if you have to pay your health insurer back, you still get a margin. The health insurer will pay a reduced rate to doctors and hospitals based on a payment contract they have between each other. You get the full value of the medical bill. So if the bill is for $1,000 and the health insurance company only paid the doctor $750, that means you keep the $250 difference.
Now I have been saying the “full face value” of the bills. But, this assumes the charges were fair, reasonable, and medically necessary. A defendant in litigation can dispute the charges and/or whether they were medically necessary, but they will need an expert to do it. Where you usually see this come up is with the high-volume, personal injury attorneys who advertise on TV – who send their clients to doctors that are in cahoots with the attorney. Together, they run up treatment that may not be necessary. This is called “bill building.” Some personal injury attorneys do this to increase your medical expenses because they know it is a large chunk of your damages that adjusters, insurance companies, and sometimes juries use as a multiplier to figure out your personal injury claim’s pain and suffering award.
In addition to general and special damages, there are lots of intangibles that can affect your personal injury case’s value. This is really where my experience comes in. I can factor a lot of these intangibles because of prior cases and trials, as well as the time I spend constantly talking to fellow personal injury attorneys about all this stuff.
Credibility is one of the biggest intangibles in a personal injury case. I am talking about the credibility of you as a witness on your own behalf as well as the defendant’s witnesses. If you lose credibility with the jury, the case is done. You deposition, and how we work through written discovery, allows the defense attorney the opportunity to size you up. In fact, as a former defense attorney, I can tell you one of the things we always reported back to the insurance company was how a plaintiff presented at his/her deposition. This is why you will repeatedly hear me tell you to not overstate your story or injuries and to always tell the truth, even if not favorable. We must own the good and bad of your personal injury claim and let the system work.
Likewise, if the defendant loses credibility the jury can punish him/her for it. That is why I always investigate the defendant’s criminal record, prior litigation history, employment, and anything else that may reflect on his/her character.
Other intangibles include who the judge is assigned to your case, who the defense firm is and the county in which the case has to be filed in (called venue) to name a few.
David Brauns established Brauns Law, PC to provide comprehensive service to people in Duluth Georgia who were hurt in an accident. This goes beyond answering legal questions during a consultation (which we provide free of charge). We also help our clients address the many other problems and nuisances that arise after a car accident.
What We Do For Our Clients
- Car Assistance: We help you get your car repaired or replaced after a personal injury accident. We can help you get extra money for your car’s loss in re-sale value after the repairs. We can even help you get a rental car after your wreck.
- Bill Protection: We can help you stop or negotiate with debt collectors. We make sure you utilize all available types of insurance to minimize bills and maximize your personal injury claim recovery.
- Medical Care: We help you get access to quality medical care with or without health insurance after your accident. We help you coordinate appointments and referrals.
- Manage Adjuster: We hold insurance adjusters accountable and help you get everything you are due under Georgia personal injury law.
We Do More to Get You More
We are confident that our commitment to our clients will help them achieve a satisfying result. We do whatever we can to make the process simpler and the outcome successful.
- We Return Calls & Keep You Updated: The biggest complaint about injury lawyers is that they do not communicate with clients and do not return phone calls. You should not feel alone or in the dark during the claims process. When you hire us, you will get updates on your claim’s progress at least once a week.
- We Are an Innovative Law Office: Our office uses cutting edge technology to raise the efficiency of how we handle cases. Our paperless office technology, combined with measurable systems and process, means we close cases faster. Our system eliminates guesswork, reduces wait time for records (the single biggest delay in settling your case), and digitizes all claim information to make your case information readily available.
- We Use Our Experience: You get the best chance at a maximum recovery when you have a lawyer who understands how the insurance companies evaluate cases. David worked for numerous national insurance companies prior to starting this firm. He routinely studied adjusters’ claims files where he learned to document claim evidence in such a way that adjusters easily see all the value in your claim. When you choose David Brauns, you are getting an injury lawyer in Duluth Georgia who knows the system better than someone who does a little bit of everything.
- You Have Access to Your Attorney: Ask any of your friends or family who have used a personal injury lawyer before and chances are they spoke mostly to a paralegal, not a lawyer. We are different. When you choose us, you are getting access to your lawyer. David takes your calls and also provides you with your case updates.
Contact us at 404-348-0889 to schedule your FREE, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case in person with David himself.
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident, you may assume your case is similar to a one involving two passenger vehicles. While the laws that apply to motorcycle accidents are the same as those in car crash cases, these accidents can be different in many ways. Failing to understand these differences and to not hire an attorney who also recognizes them could result in you receiving less compensation that you deserve from the negligent driver who caused your injuries.
How Do Motorcycle Crashes Differ From Car Accidents?
Motorcycles are much smaller and lighter than passenger vehicles, and riders lack the protection of a vehicle surrounding them. As a result, they are much more likely to be killed in a crash. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the number of deaths in motorcycle accidents was 23 times greater than in car accidents in 2013, and 4,295 motorcyclists died in 2014—13 percent of all crashes that year. Some of the unique risks motorcycle riders face include:
- Less visibility. Because motorcycles are smaller than passenger vehicles, they are not easily seen by other drivers and can be hidden by other larger objects. Visibility is especially reduced at intersections.
- Road hazards. While debris on the road, uneven roadways, small objects, and wet pavement can have little effect on cars, these conditions can cause an unsuspecting motorcyclist to crash.
- Less protection. Besides lacking the protection of a car surrounding them, motorcycle riders do not have seat belts and most lack airbags. Wearing a good motorcycle helmet and protective clothing can help, but motorcyclists remain much less protected than other motorists, causing them to suffer serious injuries or death in a crash. If riders violate Georgia’s law on wearing a helmet, they can suffer even more catastrophic injuries.
- Driver skills. Driving a motorcycle requires more skill than driving a car. Inexperienced riders are much more likely to be involved in an accident.
- High–risk driving. When motorcycle riders have sport and super-sport bikes, they are more tempted to speed, accelerate too quickly, and engage in other unsafe driving practices due to the power of their motorcycles.
- Right–of-way violations. Motorists often cause accidents by failing to give the right-of-way to the motorcyclist.
- Shorter stopping distances. Motorcycles stop more quickly than passenger vehicles. When a motorist is not maintaining a safe distance behind a motorcycle, he can easily rear-end the bike when the motorcyclist stops.
- Perceptions of riders. Many people—and jurors—perceive motorcycle riders as risky or daredevils. This may cause them to incorrectly believe the motorcyclist engaged in unsafe driving practices such as speeding or weaving between lanes. In addition, jurors who do not ride motorcycles may not understand the unique aspects of driving a motorcycle, such as speeding to maintain the bike’s balance.
- More severe injuries and fatalities. Because of the lack of protection a motorcycle offers the rider, he is much more likely to suffer serious injuries—such as fractures, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, or death—than people involved in car accidents. He could require additional compensation for his medical bills and time off work—if he is not permanently disabled—than a victim of a car crash.
- Insurance companies. Insurance companies are more likely to aggressively fight a claim for compensation by a motorcycle rider because his claim could be for more money than other types of accidents. In addition, adjusters understand the bias of jurors against motorcyclists that could make it harder for them to receive a fair verdict and will fight to pay less as a consequence.
Let Brauns Law, PC Assist You With Your Motorcycle Wreck Case
The Brauns Law, PC team represents victims of all types of accident cases in the Atlanta area. In addition, attorney David Brauns used to represent insurance companies in these cases. He understands the tactics insurance companies employ to deny or reduce valid claims and uses this knowledge to help defeat their arguments. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, call us at 404-348-0889 to schedule a free consultation with David Brauns.
- Motorcycle Riding Safety Tips
- Road Rash From a Motorcycle Accident
- Tips for Choosing a Motorcycle Helmet That Is Right for You
What is the minimum motorcycle insurance required under Georgia law and does this protect me enough in a crash?
Under Georgia law, you are required to purchase motorcycle insurance if you own or operate a motorcycle. Having motorcycle insurance could be crucial if you are hurt in a motorcycle accident. You may need it even if the negligent driver has an insurance policy that may provide you with compensation. But is Georgia’s minimum motorcycle insurance policy amounts sufficient to protect you—whether you are the victim or the cause of a crash?
Georgia Laws on Motorcycle Insurance
In Georgia, you are required to purchase liability insurance for your motorcycle to pay for your legal defense and the cost of compensating the victim of a crash for his injuries or property damage if you are the negligent party. The minimum requirements are as follows:
- $25,000 liability insurance for injuries or death of one person in a single accident
- $50,000 liability insurance for injuries or death of all persons in a single accident
- $25,000 liability insurance for property damage in a single accident
Unfortunately, these minimum requirements do not provide you with sufficient insurance coverage. Even in a minor accident, the medical bills for an injured victim could exceed $25,000, and you might also be responsible for paying for his lost wages and pain and suffering—which could be a substantial portion of his claim. If at all possible, you want to purchase additional liability insurance coverage.
Other Types of Motorcycle Insurance You May Need If You Are Hurt in a Wreck
While the negligent driver who caused your injuries would be responsible for fully compensating you, unfortunately that may not happen in reality. You could be hit by a hit and run driver who the police or you are never able to locate. The other driver could also have minimum automobile insurance coverage, which only makes a small dent in fully compensating you for your losses. In these situations, you may need to make a claim with your own motorcycle insurance company—if you bought additional coverage. Other types of insurance you should consider purchasing to protect yourself include:
- Collision coverage. Collision coverage protects your bike. It could reimburse you for the cost of repairing your motorcycle—after you pay your deductible.
- Comprehensive coverage. This would cover the damage to your bike caused by hazards other than a vehicle crash. These could include a fire, theft, or vandalism. You want to keep in mind that some policies only cover standard parts. If you have customized your bike, you may need additional insurance coverage.
- Uninsured coverage. This would provide you with compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress damages if the other driver had no insurance or was a hit and run driver. Sadly, many negligent motorists drive without having the minimum liability insurance coverage required under Georgia law.
- Underinsured coverage. If you are able to purchase this type of insurance, you want to do so. Motorcycle riders tend to suffer more catastrophic injuries than victims in passenger vehicles due to the lack of protection the motorcycle gives a motorcycle rider. You could need much more in insurance coverage than the negligent driver has—even if he purchased more than the basic coverage.
Tips for Saving Money on Your Policy
A number of factors could determine the amount of your insurance premiums—like your age, driving record, address, and type of motorcycle. You may be able to save money by doing the following:
- Shop around and compare prices. However, do not sacrifice a substandard insurance company for a cheaper price.
- Take a driving safety course. These can be especially helpful for motorcycle riders under 25 years old who are considered high-risk drivers in general. You will need to check with your insurance company to see if this would help reduce your insurance costs.
- Ask your insurance agent for any discounts you qualify for.
- Keep a clean driving record. This will have a huge impact on keeping your insurance rates low.
Attorney David Brauns is here to help you make a claim for compensation—whether you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s or your insurance company or both. Start an online chat or call our firm at (404) 998-5252 to schedule a free case evaluation.
T-bone accidents—also known as side impact and broadside accidents—occur when one vehicle slams into the side of another one. T-bone wrecks can be dangerous when two passenger vehicles are involved because only a door and vehicle window protects the victim from the vehicle smashing into him. This danger is magnified when an automobile or truck hits a motorcycle in a side-impact crash. The damage can be catastrophic due to the smaller size and weight of the motorcycle and the lack of any protection between the motorcyclist and the vehicle hitting him.
Common Causes of T-Bone Motorcycle Wrecks
Side impact motorcycle accidents most commonly occur at Atlanta area intersections, in parking lots, or near driveways. They are often caused when motorists fail to exercise ordinary care in their driving and in obeying safety traffic rules. Common reasons motorists negligently cause these crashes include:
- Failing to yield. When a driver fails to yield at a stoplight or stop sign, he can easily broadside a motorcyclist who has the right of way. These crashes can also happen when the driver rolls through a four-way stop or fails to follow the rules of who has the right of way to proceed through this type of intersection.
- Low visibility. Motorcycles are so much smaller than other vehicles—especially SUVs, vans, pick-up trucks, and big-rig trucks—that they are difficult for even attentive drivers to see. This can be especially dangerous in parking lots and driveways where shrubbery can hide the motorcyclist even more.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving always increases the risk of an accident. When drivers have their eyes and minds on their cell phone, food or drinks, or their radio or other instrument controls, they could miss a motorcyclist legally entering an intersection.
- Impaired driving. Impaired driving reduces a driver’s general driving abilities, his judgment, and his reaction time. He could misjudge that he has time to make a light or turn left, with the result being that he causes a T-bone crash with a motorcycle.
- Running a red light. A driver speeding to try to get through a light before it turns red can cause a dangerous side-impact wreck with a motorcyclist who has the right of way.
- Unsafe lane changes. When a driver makes an abrupt, unsafe lane change, he can cause a T-bone accident with an unsuspecting motorcycle rider.
- Blind spots. A driver who does not realize a motorcycle is in his blind spot can easily cause a broadside accident if he tries to move into the other lane. This can be especially dangerous if the driver is driving a truck.
Factors That Could Affect the Severity of the Crash
Many factors can influence how serious the injuries will be to the motorcycle rider. Some of these include:
- How fast were the vehicles going?
- What was the difference in size between the motorcycle and the vehicle that hit it?
- Was the driver who caused the crash braking or going at full speed?
What Types of Injuries Do Motorcycle Riders Suffer in T-Bone Collisions?
Despite the fact that most side-impact accidents happen at lower speeds than other types of wrecks, they can still cause devastating injuries to motorcyclists. This is because the rider does not have the protection of bumpers, doors, airbags, or seat belts that other motorists have. Only clothing and a motorcycle helmet—if the rider is wearing one—gives any protection from the force of the crash or the hard pavement. Motorcycle riders may suffer these injuries:
- Leg and pelvic fractures and broken bones
- Hip dislocations
- Shoulder and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries—including paralysis
- Traumatic brain injury
- Permanent scarring
Were you injured in a motorcycle T-bone crash? Was a family member killed? David Brauns understands the emotional and financial toll these accidents can take on the victims and is here to help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Fill out our firm’s online form to schedule a free case evaluation with David.
What is the statute of limitations to sue a business or property owner that caused my premises liability accident?
Whenever you are involved in a legal dispute—whether you are the person pursuing the claim or defending against it—you want to understand the basics about your case. This includes knowing how the claim and litigation processes work, the major laws that apply to your situation, and the strengths and weaknesses of your claim or defense. One important law you want to understand if you were injured in a premises liability accident is the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against the negligent business or property owner.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Cases in Georgia?
The statute of limitations is the time period you have under Georgia law to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries. Many claims will settle without the need to sue the negligent party. However, you must know the statute of limitations in case your attorney is unable to settle your claim with the insurance adjuster for what it is worth. In that situation, you would need to file a lawsuit in court before the deadline to do so expires.
There are several different statutes of limitations that could apply in your case depending on the type of claim you are pursuing. These are the time periods that you need to follow:
- Personal injury. The time period to sue is two years from the date of your accident if your claim is for compensation for your personal injuries.
- Property damage. If your claim is for property that was damaged in a premises liability accident, such as an expensive cell phone, laptop, or piece of jewelry, the time period to sue is four years from the date of the accident.
- Wrongful death. When a person dies as a result of a premises liability accident, his dependents—usually his spouse and children—can file a wrongful death action for compensation for the loss of their loved ones. The statute of limitations in wrongful death cases is two years from the date of the death, not the date of the accident.
You should keep in mind that these time periods are for suing a business or property owner. If your claim is against a government entity, you will need to follow special rules regarding how long you have to notify them of your claim and file a lawsuit if they face liability.
Special Statute of Limitation Rules for Minor Children and Legally Incompetent Victims
Under Georgia law, there are certain exceptions to the requirement that an injured victim of a premises liability accident file his lawsuit within two years of the date of the incident. These exceptions are as follows:
- If the injured person is a minor, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of his 18th birthday.
- If the victim is considered legally incompetent under Georgia law, the statute of limitations is tolled—or stopped from running—until he becomes competent.
What Happens If You Wait Too Long to File Your Lawsuit?
If you do not file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you waive your right to do so. While you could still file a complaint in court after the deadline, the negligent party would most likely file a motion to dismiss it, which the court would grant. Even though there is no statute of limitations to file a claim with the negligent business’ or property owner’s insurance company, the adjuster is very unlikely to agree to settle your claim if he knows that you missed the deadline to file a lawsuit against its insured party.
Why You Want to Contact an Attorney Soon After Your Accident—Even If You Have Time Under the Statute of Limitations
While you may see no need to rush to contact an experienced premises liability attorney after your accident, you do not want to wait until close to the two-year deadline to contact him. Your case will be stronger if you retain an attorney right away. This gives him the opportunity to investigate the accident before steps are taken to hide or repair the dangerous condition and to interview witnesses before their memories of what happened fade. In addition, if the business had a surveillance camera, it may have recorded your accident. These tapes are recorded over frequently, so you need an attorney to contact the business right away to preserve the video recording before it is lost.
If you were hurt in a premises liability case, Brauns Law, PC is here to help you quickly investigate your claim and negotiate your settlement for you. Start an online chat to schedule your appointment with David Brauns to get your questions answered and learn about your legal rights.
When you go to the mall, a big box store, or your local grocery store, you probably do not think you are in danger. Yet, as soon as you get out of your vehicle, you are. Dangerous pedestrian accidents are all too common in parking lots.
According to an AAA Mid-Atlantic study in 2013, 30 percent of pedestrian accidents occurred in parking lots in Montgomery County, which is one of the only places in the country studying this issue. Seniors are at high risk of causing these accidents. A study by Texas A&M’s University Center for Mobility found that seniors had a much higher risk of causing an accident—including ones involving pedestrians—in a big box store parking lot. Elderly drivers were 17 times more likely to cause a crash in these parking lots than when they drove on roadways.
What Are the Causes of Pedestrian Parking Lot Accidents?
Vehicles pose a danger for unsuspecting pedestrians walking back to their own cars or into the mall or store. The majority of the time, the driver is found to be at fault in causing these accidents. Common reasons parking lot pedestrian accidents happen include:
- Engaging in distracted driving. It is always dangerous for motorists to be distracted by talking on their cell phones, texting, or adjusting instrument controls while driving. This can pose an even bigger danger when drivers are surrounded by pedestrians in busy parking lots.
- Accidentally pushing the wrong pedal. Some pedestrian accidents occur when a driver pushes down the accelerator instead of the brake. In fact, this is one of the reasons how seniors cause parking lot crashes.
- Searching for a parking space. If drivers are looking for a parking space and not paying attention to their surroundings, they are likely to hit a pedestrian who is less visible than a vehicle.
- Not looking before backing up. Some drivers do not use proper care in looking for pedestrians before backing out of a parking space. Small children are often the victims of these tragic accidents because of their small size that make them hard for even careful drivers to see.
Although much rarer, pedestrians can also cause or contribute to these accidents. Some ways they could be at fault include:
- Failing to walk within crosswalks—especially dangerous in busy parts of the parking lot
- Assuming instead of verifying by eye contact that a nearby driver sees them
- Engaging in distracted walking by talking on a cell phone, texting, or talking to the person they are with
Injuries People Suffer in Pedestrian Parking Lot Accidents
Even though the vehicles are going at a slower speed in a parking lot, pedestrians can suffer serious injuries. This is due to their smaller size and the fact that they have no protection from the vehicle hitting them. Pedestrians can suffer these types of injuries in these accidents:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken, fractured, or crushed bones
- Nerve damage
- Internal organ damage
- Neck and back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
Let Brauns Law, PC Help You Obtain the Compensation You Deserve
If you or a family member was the victim of a pedestrian accident, you could have suffered long-term injuries that could significantly impact your day-to-day life. You could be off work for months or longer—if you can return at all. David Brauns understands the financial and emotional toll this can take on you and is here to help you obtain the compensation you may be entitled to for your lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Start an online chat or call us toll free at 877-401-6689 to schedule a free consultation with David.
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An attractive nuisance is a man-made condition on a property that has the capability to attract and pose a danger to a child. A wide variety of dangerous objects and hazardous conditions can be an “attractive nuisance” under Georgia law. These can include:
- Swimming pools
- Discarded appliances, e.g. freezers, refrigerators, washing machines
- Abandoned cars
- Unsecured tractors and other industrial equipment
- Power lines
- Construction sites
- Holes in the ground
Under Georgia law, property owners must attempt to lessen the dangers any attractive nuisances pose to children. For example, if an owner has a pool, he must enclose the pool in some way, either using a fence or pool cover.
Attractive nuisance laws apply to both children that the owner has invited onto the property and children who are trespassing. This is because young children may not be able to comprehend the dangers that an object may pose.
If you are able to prove that your child did not comprehend the dangers an uncontained attractive nuisance on someone else’s property posed, you may have a case.
What elements must be present in an attractive nuisance case?
Several elements must be present in order to pursue an attractive nuisance suit under Georgia law. These include:
- A dangerous or potentially dangerous condition exists in which a child is likely to sustain injury, e.g. The property owner has a pool.
- The potentially dangerous object or condition was attractive or enticing to curious children.
- The injured child was too young or otherwise unable to adequately understand the potential danger of the situation.
- The dangerous object or condition was unguarded or exposed, allowing young children access, e.g. No fence or pool cover.
- The property owner did not take reasonable steps to prevent access or otherwise reduce the risk of children sustaining injury, e.g. The property owner did not place a fence around the pool or a pool cover on the pool, when it would have been feasible to do so.
How can a lawyer help in a premises liability or attractive nuisance case?
You may be able to obtain compensation to cover medical care, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering if your child sustained injuries while exploring someone else’s property in the state of Georgia. Premises liability attorney David Brauns can evaluate your premises liability or attractive nuisance case and offer advice for pursuing a claim.
Contact our Duluth Georgia office at 404-348-0889 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.
Truck Accidents FAQs
Any accident with a truck can result in serious injuries or fatalities. However, side-impact —also referred to as T-bone—crashes can result in catastrophic injuries and deaths. If you were hurt in one of these accidents, you may have suffered life-altering injuries that could require long periods of medical treatment while not working—if you are able to return to your job at all. Fortunately, you may be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver and the trucking company he works for.
Common Reasons Trucker T-Bone Collisions Happen
Side-impact wrecks involving trucks happen for a number of reasons, with many of the reasons involving driver errors. Some causes of these accidents include:
- Failing to come to a complete stop. Because trucks are harder to stop due to their large size and braking system, truckers may choose to roll through a four-way intersection. This is an illegal violation of traffic safety rules and one of the main causes of side-impact collisions.
- Failing to yield. If the truck driver at least stops at a four-way intersection, he may not yield to the other driver who has the right to proceed first. In addition, when the truck and another vehicle enter the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left has the right to proceed first—often ignored by many truck drivers with deadly consequences.
- Running red lights. Running a red light is especially dangerous because the trucker may do what most drivers do in this situation—increase his speed to get through the light before it turns red. This is illegal and could be considered negligence when a side-impact crash results.
- Turning across traffic lanes. Even when a trucker is in a turning lane and can legally make a turn across traffic lanes, he must wait until it is safe to do so. If the driver cuts across traffic and does not make the turn in time, he most likely will be found liable if he causes a T-bone collision.
- Failing to gauge traffic. When turning right at a stop sign or traffic light, a trucker must be certain it is safe to proceed before doing so. Sometimes looking in both directions is not enough, especially at a busy intersection where a speeding vehicle could suddenly appear.
- Driving when impaired. If a trucker is driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, his reflexes, vision, and reasoning abilities may be affected.
- Brakes and steering problems. While this is a less common cause of side-impact wrecks, brake and steering failures can cause a truck to be unable to stop. Unfortunately, some trucking companies adjust or disengage some of the brakes in an effort to reduce the wear and tear on them and to save money on repairs—with accident victims paying the price.
- Weather conditions. A trucker must be extra careful when driving in adverse weather conditions, such as heavy rain, ice, fog, and snow. When he fails to do so, he may slide into an intersection or past a stop sign when he did not leave enough time to brake and come to a complete stop.
Injuries Caused by Side-Impact Accidents
In these accidents, the person on the side of the vehicle that is hit by the truck will often suffer the most devastating injuries. Common injuries victims suffer include:
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries, such as herniated discs and whiplash
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Crushed or fractured pelvis
- Soft tissue injuries—muscle, tendon, and ligament sprains and tears
- Internal organ damage
- Punctured eardrum
Were you or a loved one injured in a side-impact accident with a trucker? You need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible so he can write the trucking company a spoliation letter to prevent the destruction of important evidence in your case. Start an online chat with our firm to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
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Truck wrecks are almost always traumatic. But they can be even more heartbreaking when they are caused by truck driver errors—especially if the victims suffered devastating injuries or were killed. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 3,744 fatalities and 88,000 injuries in truck accidents in 2014. Sadly, many of these were caused by truck driver mistakes.
Common Truck Driver Errors That Could Have Caused Your Collision
Wrecks caused by truck driver error can be even more horrific for the victims because their injuries can be more severe, causing lifelong limitations in their lives, and because these accidents are so preventable. Common trucker mistakes that can cause these crashes include:
- Driver fatigue. When a trucker is drowsy, his reaction times are slowed and his decision making abilities are diminished. Even more frightening, he could fall asleep at the wheel. FMCSA hours-of-service rules limit the number of hours a trucker can drive to prevent this dangerous practice. During any day, a trucker can work a maximum of 14 hours and drive 11 hours. He must be off work 10 consecutive hours before he starts his work shift. In addition, a driver cannot drive after working 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. Unfortunately, truck drivers and their employers violate these rules routinely, with the result being accidents that could have been avoided.
- Drug and alcohol use. While truckers should know better, some continue to drive after consuming drugs or alcohol when their reaction times and general driving skills are reduced. To combat this problem, federal regulations require trucking companies to test drivers for drug and alcohol use before hiring them and conduct random drug tests while they are on duty or if they were involved in a fatal crash.
- Blind spots. Huge blind spots—also known as “no-zones”—where other drivers and their vehicles disappear from view surround trucks. When a truck driver is not extra vigilant, he can fail to realize a vehicle is in his blind spot or is entering one and can cause a tragic crash.
- Truck rollovers. Truck rollovers often occur when truckers make driving errors. Common causes of these crashes include taking a curve too quickly, speeding, fatigue, inexperience, or an improperly distributed load.
- Brake malfunctions. To save money, some truckers and trucking companies depower the front brakes or adjust the brakes to reduce their wear and tear. In addition, they may allow a truck on the road that needs a brake repair or replacement. These are very dangerous practices that can leave truckers unable to slow down or stop their trucks in the critical moments before a crash.
- Distracted driving. A trucker’s mind and eyes will not be on the road if he is talking on his cell phone, texting, eating or drinking, or fiddling with the GPS or an instrument control. Even a few seconds of lack of concentration can cause a trucker to make a mistake, such as failing to stop at a red light or improperly attempting to pass a slower vehicle.
- Speeding. Accidents involving speeding and just passenger vehicles result in serious injuries. The risk of catastrophic injuries increases greatly if a trucker is speeding, due the far greater force of the impact when an 80,000-pound vehicle is involved.
- Following too closely. All vehicles are required to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them. This is even more critical for a trucker who can cause a deadly rear-end collision also resulting in an override accident where the truck drives over and crushes the smaller passenger vehicle.
- Not driving for weather conditions. Truckers need to reduce their speed and leave more time to slow down or stop when roads are slippery due to rain, snow, or ice. When they don’t, they could lose traction with the road, with a jackknife or other crash the likely result.
Proving a truck driver’s and trucking company’s negligence in driver error accidents can be complicated given the added responsibilities and the federal regulations they must follow. Hiring an experienced truck accident attorney is an important first step you need to make before important evidence is destroyed. If you or a loved one was injured in one of these tragic crashes, start an online chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with David Brauns to learn about your legal options.
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Unfortunately, thousands of people are hurt or killed in truck accidents each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,903 people were killed and 111,000 were injured in truck wrecks in 2014. If a loved one or you was the victim of one of these crashes, you will need to prove the truck driver’s and trucking company’s negligence in order to obtain the compensation you need and deserve. One powerful piece of evidence that can help your attorney and you do this is the truck’s black box. However, you need to hurry to obtain the data it contains before it is destroyed.
What Is a Truck Black Box?
A black box is also known as an electronic control module (ECM) or event data recorder (EDR) and is similar to airplane black boxes. Truck manufacturers originally began using EDRs to defeat warranty claims, and most trucks manufactured since the 1990’s will have a black box integrated into their engine components. These devices store data about the physical properties of the truck that is involved in an “event,” which includes an accident or near accident. Many regional and national trucking companies also use satellite tracking equipment or trip recorders to monitor their fleet of trucks. The electronic data from these types of devices can be vital in proving your case.
Helpful Information the Truck’s EDR Can Provide in Your Case
A black box can be a main source of information regarding the truck, its trip, and where it was right before a crash. The data you can obtain from the EDR will vary depending on the engine manufacturer. Helpful information that could be recorded includes:
- What the truck’s speed was immediately before the crash
- Whether there was a sudden deceleration or acceleration
- Whether the brakes were applied and when
- Whether the trucker was using cruise control
- The monthly or daily truck activity
- How frequently the truck was driven above a predetermined speed limit like 65 mph
- Whether the trucker was wearing a seat belt
- Whether the air bag deployed
- Number of hard stops and the RPM between stops
- Tire pressure
- Number of times the truck was involved in a crash and the time between crash events
- GPS location information
- Communications between the trucker and trucking company, including emails that could contain a wealth of information regarding driver fatigue, mechanical problems with the truck, and other important admissions
- Usage data that can be compared to the trucker’s log to determine if the trucker was violating the hours-of-service regulations regarding the maximum amount of time he can drive without a break
Importance of Preserving Black Box Information Quickly
Most EDRs record data for 30 days before the information is recorded over, but older model trucks’ black boxes could record over this information in a much shorter time period. In addition, some trucking companies could intentionally destroy this data, and most companies will not voluntarily provide you with this data. That is why it is critical that you contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible who can write a spoliation letter to the trucking company advising them of your claim and directing them to not destroy this vital information.
Your attorney will also want to hire an expert to be present for the download of the electronic data contained in the EDR and any other electronic recording devices. This will help avoid downloading problems—intentional or inadvertent—that can result in destruction of evidence. Another option is for the attorney to enter into an agreement with the trucking company as to how, when, and where the information will be downloaded. If the trucking company refuses to turn over this information, your attorney will need to file an immediate lawsuit and request a temporary restraining order to stop the trucking company from destroying this evidence.
If you or a family member were injured in a truck crash, Brauns Law, PC may be able to help you recover the data from the truck’s black box and other important evidence to hold the negligent trucker and trucking company responsible for compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Start an online chat today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
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No vehicle should be driven without being well-maintained and having any mechanical problems repaired. This is even more vital for an 80,000 pound truck that has more complicated parts and technical components than passenger vehicles. Truck inspections, maintenance, and repairs are so important that federal regulations mandate them. Unfortunately, many truckers and trucking companies fail to follow these federal rules, with the result being tragic crashes where victims suffer devastating injuries or death.
What Truck Maintenance Is Required Under Federal Regulations?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has detailed regulations on truck inspections, maintenance, and repairs that trucking companies and drivers must follow. The first important rule is that the trucking company, truck drivers, and anyone else involved in the inspection or maintenance of trucks be knowledgeable about and follow these federal rules. They are also required to:
- Trucking companies and their equipment providers must “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained” all trucks within their control. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that all truck parts and components are in working order and safe when the truck goes out on the road.
- Trucking companies and truckers are prohibited from operating a truck if it is in a condition that is likely to cause an accident or a breakdown of the truck.
- Authorized personnel of the trucking company must mark any truck with an “out of service” sticker if it is in a condition that is likely to cause an accident or breakdown of the truck. Until all repairs on the “out of service” sticker are completed, the truck cannot be operated, and the sticker cannot be removed from the truck.
- Truck drivers are required to conduct a pre-trip inspection of the truck to ensure that it is in safe condition and that the load is secure. In addition, the trucker must review the last vehicle inspection report and sign the report verifying any needed repairs were completed.
- At the completion of every day’s work, truckers are required to complete an inspection of the truck and prepare a written report that documents any defect or deficiency they discovered. The truck cannot be driven until any defects and deficiencies that affect its safe operations are repaired.
What Components Are Truckers Required to Inspect?
The FMCSA regulations mandate what the trucker must inspect on a daily basis. The trucker must check at least the following and include them in his daily report:
- Parking and service brakes
- Steering mechanism
- Lights and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
- Rear view mirrors
- Coupling equipment
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
Common Maintenance and Repair Problems That Could Have Caused Your Accident
Many preventable accidents are the result of the lack of inspections, maintenance, and repair of the truck causing the crash. Common maintenance issues that cause or contribute to crashes include:
- Brake failure—a common problem
- Failure of the truck’s trailer hitch
- Tire blow outs caused by worn treads or poorly aligned wheels
- Suspension failure
- Steering component problems or failures
- Broken headlights, turn signals, or missing reflective surfaces
- Unsecured or improperly secured cargo
- Parts or loads falling out of the truck onto the roadway
- Increased stopping distance required due to worn, faulty, or improperly adjusted brakes
Records That Trucking Companies Must Keep That Could Help Your Case
A trucking company is required to maintain records regarding any truck it owns, leases, or operates. The reports should contain the following information
- An identification of the truck’s owner and style
- A list with the due date of inspections and maintenance tasks to be performed on the truck
- A record of the inspections, maintenance, and repairs of the truck
These records must be kept by the trucking company for a minimum of one year if the truck is in use by the trucking company or for six months after the truck leaves the company’s control. These documents could be crucial in showing that a lack of truck maintenance and repairs—in violation of federal regulations—caused your crash.
If you or a family member suffered injuries in a truck accident caused by a negligent driver, you need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney who may be able to help you obtain the trucking company records showing lack of maintenance caused your wreck—before the evidence is destroyed. Start an online chat today to schedule a free consultation with David Brauns and start learning more about your rights.
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