Pedestrian Accidents

Share the Road: Don’t get distracted

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Cobb Personal Injury Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Share the Road: Don’t get distracted

Both drivers and cyclists need to practice good safety habits in order to save lives. Bicyclist fatalities have increased 19 percent from 2010 to 2013. In fact, in 2013 there were 743 bicyclist killed and additional 48,000 injured in car crashes.

Due to the fact drivers are more distracted than ever with new technology in vehicles and their cell phones, bicyclists are in more danger than ever. Sharing the road is ultimately part of defensive driving, but many do not know good safety practices. Here are a few ways that drivers and cyclist can help keep the road safe.

Drivers

  • Respect bicycle lanes and always maintain your lane. Never use bicycle lanes for parking, passing or turning.
  • If you must pass a bicyclist, always leave at least three feet clearance.
  • Pay extra attention when making turns for bicyclist not just vehicles.
  • Yield to bicyclist at intersections the same way you would a vehicle.
  • Never drive distracted.
  • Never drive impaired or distracted.

Bicyclist

  • Always wear a helmet that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission standards.
  • Make a habit of checking your bike equipment before riding. Always test brakes before getting on the road.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Obey traffic signs and traffic laws as you would in a vehicle.
  • Ride in a straight line and use signals when turning.
  • Do not get distracted and pay attention to potential obstacles in your path.
  • Wear bright clothing or reflective material. If riding at night, make sure you have lights on your bicycle and are wearing reflectors.
  • Do not use electronic devices or headphones while riding.
  • Do not drink and ride.

For more information on bicycle safety, you can visit our blog here.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a bicycle crash or car crash, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Source: NHTSA

Uber Under Scrutiny For Failure to Screen Drivers Properly

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Judge - Marietta Attorney

Uber Under Scrutiny For Failure to Screen Drivers Properly

San Francisco and Los Angeles have recently filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Uber for failure to perform proper background checks on its drivers and misleading consumers about the safety of Uber’s services.

Although the company does drug and alcohol testing, it does not do fingerprint testing. Uber also relies heavily on publicly available information and a company called Hirease which has an average turnaround time less than 36-hours.

“You are not using an ‘industry-leading’ background check process if you not fingerprinting your drivers,” George Grascon the attorney of San Francisco shared in a news conference. Uber shares on its website that its background checks are “often more rigorous” than traditional taxi services, but all over the country Uber has fought against legislation that would require background checks as strong as those of taxi drivers to apply to their drivers.

In California, Uber and similar companies helped to kill a law that would require drivers to undergo a background check by the state’s Justice Department. In Colorado, Uber helped persuade lawmakers to ease the strength of background checks in a bill that legalized ride-sharing companies. The five year old company, valued at over $40 billion, views the company like it is in a political campaign. The founder and chief executive of Uber, Travis C. Kalanick, hired David Plouffe, who helped President Obama win the presidency, because Kalanick said, “we are in the middle of a political campaign and it turns out the candidate is Uber.” Uber spent over $650,000 lobbying on the California transportation issues and $60,000 on lobbyists to support the legislation in Colorado to make ride-sharing companies legal.

After Illinois legislators passed two bills, supported by the taxi industry, that heavily regulated ride-sharing companies, Uber hired lobbyist Jack Lavin, the former chief of staff of Governor Quinn. That August, Quinn vetoed the bills, saying that the industry is “best regulated at the local level,” according to the New York Times.  A new version of the bill was passed in Illinois House and Senate. It will require fewer restrictions on Uber drivers more similarly to Colorado’s law.

The ride-sharing company has had its share of setbacks this year. This December, an Uber driver was arrested for manslaughter in San Francisco after the death of a 6-year-old girl. The driver was previously convicted in Florida for reckless driving. Last year, an Uber driver was accused of assaulting a passenger in San Francisco. He was previously convicted of a felony drug charge, which should have disqualified him from working with Uber according to their website. The problems do not stop there.  In New Dehli, Uber was recently banned after a driver was accused of raping a customer. The driver was previously accused of raping another female passenger in 2011, but was not fired from Uber.

Source: New York Times, Bloomberg

Bike Accidents – What you should know

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Cobb Personal Injury Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Bike Accidents – What you should know

Bike accidents can be very destructive, especially when cars and other vehicles are involved. While riding your bike is a very healthy alternative to driving, it can be very dangerous if bikers do not know safety expectations. Nearly 700 cyclists were killed and 48,000 were injured in 2011 according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

Here are a few things bicyclist should know:

As a cyclist, you must maintain and know the rules of the road. Georgia law states that a bike is a “vehicle” and general traffic rules still apply to cyclists as they do drivers. The majority of bike accidents happen at intersections. Typically parties fail to observe the right away or the driver does not see the cyclist. Make sure you know the rules of the road, especially for cyclists, before you ride.

If you are injured in an accident, negligence will have to be determined. It is important to realize that many people could be at fault for an accident: the driver, cyclist, or the city for failure to maintain road. There can even be a combination of negligence from different parties. In Georgia, you can only recover damages if you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. A court will determine the percentage of fault between parties. Damages are then awarded and reduced based on the percentage of fault.

Know what your insurance covers. If a vehicle hits you and the driver is uninsured it is important to have under-insured or uninsured motorist coverage. Even if it costs you more, it is worth considering if you ride your bicycle frequently.

Be sure to talk to an attorney after you have been injured. An attorney can help you protect your rights and can get you the help you need.

Atlanta and Marietta listed in top 10 deadliest cities for pedestrians

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Cobb Personal Injury Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Atlanta and Marietta listed in top 10 deadliest cities for pedestrians

If you lived in one of the deadliest cities for pedestrians, would you take a chance by walking to your destination?

A recent study by the National Complete Streets Coalition (NCSC), released the Top 10 Deadliest Cities for Pedestrians. The study compared total pedestrian deaths, annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents, and percentage of pedestrian commuter to obtain the results. Overall, the majority of the deadliest cities are in the south.

The 10 deadliest metro areas for pedestrians:

  1. Orlando – Kissimmee, Florida
  2. Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater, Florida
  3. Jacksonville, Florida
  4. Miami – Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach, Florida
  5. Memphis, Tennessee – Arkansas – Mississippi
  6. Birmingham – Hoover, Alabama
  7. Houston – Sugar Land – Baytown, Texas
  8. Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta, Georgia
  9. Phoenix – Mesa – Scottsdale, Arizona
  10. Charlotte – Gastonia – Concord, North Carolina – South Carolina

Living in one of these cities should not put you in fear to walk. As long as you are staying on the sidewalk and following the rules for pedestrians such as not jaywalking, you will be safe. Always be aware of what cars are doing around you. For more safety tips for pedestrians you can visit our blog here.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to a pedestrian accident, contact a personal injury attorney today to protect your rights.

Source: FindLaw and Buzzfeed

Combating Technology with Technology

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Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

5 Apps to help you stop texting while driving

It is extremely important to drive safe considering your life and the lives of others are at stake. As much as drivers do not intend to drive distracted, the alert saying you received a new message or call can spur a habitual action of reading the text or answering the phone call.  With drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds, there is plenty of time for an accident to occur.

No text or call is worth putting someone’s life at risk. With the way our smartphones are glued to our hips, it may be best to use technology to combat technology. There are several new apps that will help you drive without distractions as well as encourage safety while you are behind the wheel.

  1. DriveSafe Mode – (Free)  DriveSafe Mode sends an alert through email if your phone is being used while driving. Although it doesn’t block any incoming calls or text, nor does it block the user from using their phone, it does help parents to keep track of whether their child has been using their phone while driving.
  2. AT&T Drive Mode – (For Android and Blackberry Phones) – (Free) AT&T created an application that locks your phone when you are moving more than 25 mph. It will then send an auto response message of your choice to the caller or texter. When you speed is below 25 mph for more than five minutes the app will then show you your missed calls or messages.
  3. DriveSafe.ly – (For Blackberry and Android) – (Free) This app combats texting while driving by reading your text message, phone call, or email aloud. This prevents the driver from reaching from their phone. It also automatically responds to the recipients automatically or by voice using hands free.
  4. tXtblocker – ($6.99 monthly) This app will block text messages while you are driving and at certain locations, such as school, work, or home. It is a great application for parents who want to control phone usage or need GPS tracking.
  5. Textecution – (For Androids) – ($29.99) When your GPS detects that you are going a certain speed it will disable the phone and sent an automated text reply. You can override this function if you are a passenger or riding a bus through the account administrator who can override the app.

All of these applications are good resources to combat technology with technology. Although it can be beneficial, technology can also be very dangerous. Make choices based on safety, and always remember that “It can wait.”

The Danger of Escalators

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Safety First - The Cooper Firm

The Danger of Escalators

Although the number of escalators is significantly less than the number of elevators, there are still about 33,000 operating in the United States. While injuries can occur on both, they happen about 15 times more frequently on escalators. The most common types of injures are due to entrapment and falls.

Falls on and over escalators account for three-quarters of all escalator injuries. Many people fall on escalators due to contact with another passenger, inappropriate footwear, and/or balance and coordination issues. Falling over the handrails is often tied to misuse or attempting to ride by sitting on the handrail, passengers leaning over too far, or even accidentally dropping a child who was being carried.

Escalators are manufactured under a set of voluntary standards developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Many believe that the standards should be made mandatory. Parents Scott and Diana Anderson petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to develop mandatory standards in 1997 after their four-year-old son suffered serious injuries to his foot when his shoe got caught between an escalator sidewall and the moving steps. It resulted in the young boy’s toes being amputated.

The Andersons wanted a mandatory standard aimed at reducing the gap between the moving stairwell and the wall. The petition was eventually rejected in 2000 because it would cause ASME and the industry to pass amendments to the existing standard that would resolve the entrapment issue.

There have still been no mandatory standards set, but the design and inspection amendment has been adjusted periodically.

To avoid an accident from happening there are safety guidelines that you can follow when entering, riding, and exiting escalators. When entering an escalator it is important to watch the direction of the moving stair and step on carefully. If you have a child with you be sure to hold their arm or hand to help them board. Do not try and go in the opposite direction of the escalator. Also, leave one hand available to hold the guardrail if you are carrying packages.

When riding the escalator keep loose clothing clear of the steps and sides. It is important that you are also wearing close toed shoes. Do not lean on the handrails and make sure to face forward so that you know when you need to get off.

Don’t hesitate when stepping off an escalator, and do not let your feet slide off the end over the combs. Once you are off immediately clear the area.

Do You Have Full Uninsured Motorist Insurance Protection?

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Cobb Personal Injury Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Protection

Many insurance companies are not offering you full uninsured motorist insurance protection, even under the existing law.  Here is how uninsured motorist coverage works. If you are injured in an accident which is not your fault, the driver who caused the accident is responsible for all harm caused.  The driver who caused the accident, however, may not have enough insurance.  This is where uninsured motorist coverage comes into play.  If the driver does not have enough insurance coverage, you may be able to use your uninsured motorist coverage to pay for the losses you have suffered as a result of the accident.

Unfortunately, most Georgians do not know how uninsured motorist coverage works and their agents do not adequately inform them of the need to purchase full uninsured motorist coverage.  Insurance companies and their agents tend to offer full liability insurance coverage and, at the same time, minimum uninsured motorist coverage. For example, when a consumer sits down and talks with an agent about buying “full” insurance coverage the agent will often times recommend that the consumer purchase $100,000.00 in liability insurance coverage and, as an afterthought, $25,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage.  Under this scenario, the consumer is insuring himself in the amount of $100,000.00 in the event he causes an accident (as an aside, $100,000.00 is really not enough liability insurance coverage).  If the consumer agrees to purchase the policy with $100,000.00 in liability coverage, the consumer also has the option to buy $100,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage. Georgia law allows consumers to purchase uninsured motorist coverage up to the amount of their liability coverage. This is what every consumer should do, but most do not do.

Insurance companies and their agents do not make nearly as much money on uninsured motorist coverage because the coverage is so cheap.  Because it is cheap, consumers should purchase this coverage, but because most do not know how uninsured motorist coverage works, they simply reply upon their agent to sell them the minimum uninsured motorist coverage.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had clients come in who have been seriously injured and that they have “full” coverage, only to find out they were fully covered in the event they caused an accident, but were not fully covered when the uninsured driver caused an accident which injured them.

Therefore, it is very important that you review your insurance policy to make sure that your uninsured motorist coverage is equal to your liability coverage.  If it is then you, in fact, have full uninsured motorist coverage.  If it is not, we recommend that you contact your insurance agent and let your agent know that you want to increase your uninsured motorist coverage to the amount of your liability limits.

The Rules for Riding your Bike

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Safety First - The Cooper Firm

Rules for Riding your Bike

Many people do not think that there are very many rules for riding your bike with traffic considering that motor vehicles can be much more damaging if involved in an accident, but that is not the case. A bicyclist is considered a motorist. This means that they must follow all the traffic laws. If they do not obey the laws, they can be written a ticket just like any other vehicle driver would be.

Here are some rules for riding your bike that you may not have known:

-Bikers cannot bike against the direction of traffic. Riding against traffic makes you more susceptible to blind spots of oncoming traffic.

-Signaling. Some bicycles are equipped with turning signals, but for those who aren’t, the biker is still responsible for signaling to traffic which direction they are turning in. For right turn or lane change, the biker must extend their right hand straight out. For a left turn or lane change they must extend their left arm straight out. To signal stopping, the biker must bend their right arm down 90 degrees at the elbow.

-Reflectors. In every state, it is required for a bicycle to have red lights on the back and front as well as white reflectors. It can be very difficult for a driver to see a bicyclist, so reflectors aid in making the bike more visible.

-Sidewalks. In Georgia, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk if you are over the age of twelve. It can be common for vehicle drivers to be upset that there are bicycles on the road, but unless there is a marked bike lane that is where the bicyclist should be riding.

Were you aware of these rules before now? Share with us your thoughts.

There are many other laws for bicyclist. Visit your states website orhttp://www.nhtsa.gov/Bicycles for more information.

CDC reported 1 in 24 adults fall asleep while driving

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Cobb Personal Injury Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Have you ever fallen asleep while driving?

The released study from the CDC showed that about four percent of U.S. adults nodded off or fell asleep while driving at least once in the past month. Health officials feel that the number is actually much higher because some individuals do not realize they are dozing off. It makes you a little nervous to be sharing the road with these drivers.

The study showed that the drowsy driving was seen more in men, ages 25-34, in people who got six hours of sleeping or less in a night. Dr. Gregory Belenky, director of Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center in Spokane stated, “A lot of people are getting insufficient sleep.” Some studies have shown that between 3-33% of fatal crashes are caused from drowsy driving.

Some of the warning signs of being too tired while driving include being very tired, not remembering what you had passed in the last mile, and drifting into lanes or on the side rumble strips on the road.

There are ways to protect you from nodding or dozing off while driving.

1. If feeling tired, you should pull off of the road and rest.

2. Get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

3. Do not drink before getting behind the wheel.

4. Have any sleep disorders treated.

For more related studies visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr

The App You Need Most to Drive Safe – The SaferCar App

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Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

SaferCar App

Keeping up with vehicle safety can be time consuming and overwhelming, but there is a new app to help aid consumers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an app called SaferCar which helps provide consumers with safety information for driving and vehicles. The app enables its users to see recalls and complaints on all models as well as comparing vehicles and their safety features.

“Safety is our highest priority, and we’re always working to find new and better ways for people to access SaferCar, one of the most popular programs on our website,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This app takes advantage of the latest technology to ensure that consumers have the real-time information they need to buy safe, drive safe and stay safe.”

Some of the new features include:

• 5-Star safety ratings: When a consumer is shopping for vehicles they can access crash test ratings, safety information, and compare them with similar models across the board.

• Recalls and complaints: SaferCar will have automatic updates for new recalls and consumer complaints. You can also submit your complaints through the app itself.

• Safety Headlines and Alerts: Everything safety news related will be shown on the app. whenever a safety alert is posted a “push notification” can be sent through the app about it.

• Safety Help: There are many safety features you may not be aware of or be knowledgeable about. SaferCar will feature important tips and directions on how to make sure your vehicle and its occupants are safe.

The app is a great release and it is free on Apple’s iTunes Store. Development is in process for an Android compatible version. This is not the only step that the NHTSA has taken to help consumers stay safe. They also updated the www.SaferCar.gov site to help consumers stay up-to-date with specific defect investigations, recalls, and customer complaints.

Make sure you take advantage of this great free application. Just don’t use it while you’re driving.

Source: FindLaw, “NHTSA’s SaferCar App Taps Recall, Crash Test Info,” March 28, 2013.


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