Personal Injury Blog

A 15-year-old Gwinnett high school student was severely injured in bus crash on I-75 North

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GWINNETT COUNTY, GEORGIA- On Sunday, April 10, 2011, the Mill Creek High School’s Show Choir was returning from a competition in Orlando, Florida on a bus chartered by the school’s booster club. As the group traveled on I-75 north in Dooly County, Georgia the driver swerved off the road to avoid an accident ahead. The bus went up an embankment and hit the side of an overpass. A 15-year old student was ejected from the front window of the bus.

Debra Waddell, a parent-chaperone, stated, “It happened in seconds. I was in shock. The kids were screaming. I looked down and didn’t see my daughter. I heard one of the kids say she was outside.” Mrs. Waddell’s daughter had been sitting in the front of the bus. She was thrown through the windshield and lay near the embankment.

The student was airlifted to Macon Medical Center with a fractured facial bone and eye socket, a broken shoulder and many bruises. She remains hospitalized but is reported to be in stable condition. A second student was also taken to Macon Medical Center and is in stable condition. Many other students were left with broken bones and black eyes.

Georgia State Patrol officers reported that a driver traveling in front of the bus had been following another car too closely and caused an accident. The bus driver had to swerve to avoid that accident.

Bus Accidents All Too Common:

Bus Crash 1Just a few months ago, a bus carrying 31 people in New York crashed killing 15 people. The bus, traveling on I-95 near Lower Manhattan, swerved to avoid a tractor trailer, causing it to roll onto its side and strike an exit pole. The exit pole sheared off the roof of the bus.

New York City police officers called this crash the most horrific accident they have ever seen. Thirteen people died at the scene and 18 other passengers were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment- two of which later died at the hospital.

The driver of the bus, Ophadel Williams of Brooklyn, New York, is currently under a criminal investigation.

Just this past February, a Cherokee County school bus collided with a tractor trailer, sending both drivers and six students, ranging in ages between 5-12 years old, to Northside Hospital Cherokee. All were treated and released.

Investigators believe the bus was trying to make a left hand turn from Lovelace Lane onto Highway 369 when the tractor trailer struck it. The tractor trailer flipped onto its side and rolled down an embankment.

The Cooper Firm has handed many of these types of cases. If you have any questions regarding bus or tractor trailer accidents, please feel free to contact us.

Killer Keyless Ignition

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There have recently been deaths and injuries associated with keyless ignition in certain Lexus model vehicles.

Mary Rivera parked her Lexus in the ground floor garage attached to her home. She left the engine running. The next day family members went to her home and found Mary unconcious and her partner, Ernest Cordelia in bed, dead. Ms. Rivera suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and is brain damaged. An autopsy showed that Mr. Cordelia’s blood was filled with carbon monoxide.

Chastity Glisson was found dead in her townhouse and her boyfriend, Timothy Maddock injured. Ms. Glisson’s Lexus was found in the garage. The carbon monoxide levels in Ms. Glisson’s home was more than 150% of what is considered dangerous.

How did this happen? The key fob is a small transmitter that communicates with the vehicle’s computer. The driver doesn’t need to handle the fob to unlock or start the car.
The keyless ignition feature in the Lexus allows the engine to continue to run indefinitely even after the driver walks away with the key fob that communicates with the car.

If a driver is distracted, it can be easier to leave the car running without realizing it. If that occurs in an attached garage, it can be a deadly mistake. It can be difficult to hear that the vehicle is still running. Essentially, the engine can be left running as easily as the headlights can be left on.

Keyless technology was introduced less than a decade ago, but it is rapidly spreading. The number of models with them as standard or optional equipment has risen in the past five years. Automakers offer the system on 155 models this year.

What can be done? A switch could turn the ignition off if the car has been idle or unoccupied for a period of time. A warning alarm could sound similar to not wearing a seat belt.

A keyless car may be a convenience, but there is nothing to remind you to turn the vehicle off.

The Cooper Firm specializes in auto product liability cases. Please contact The Cooper Firm for additional information.

The Georgia Court of Appeals Decision on Offer of Settlement Rule Stands for Now

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The Georgia Court of Appeals just issued a significant decision for consumers. The case is Austell Healthcare, Inc. v. Scott , (A10A2346, March 11, 2011).

Dan Scott was employed by Austell Healthcare in Austell Georgia when he was injured in a vehicle collision. Travelers Indemnity was Austell Healthcare’s worker’s compensation insurer. Mr. Scott sued the parties that were responsible for the collision. Travelers paid over $59,000 for workers compensation benefits to Mr. Scott. Travelers wanted to be reimbursed out any settlement that Mr. Scott entered into with the responsible parties. Mr. Scott settled his claims against the responsible parties for $76,000.00 and then filed a motion to quash Travelers lien of $59,000 against his settlement proceeds. Mr. Scott contended that he was not fully compensated and, therefore, Travelers was not entitled to be reimbursed. The trial court granted Mr. Scott’s motion and quashed Travelers’ lien. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. Specifically, the Georgia Court of Appeals found that there was sufficient evidence that Scott had not been fully compensated and was not required to reimburse Travelers out of the settlement proceeds.

This is an important decision because it reaffirms that workers who have worker’s compensation insurance can be assured under Georgia law that they must be fully compensated for any injuries they sustain as a result of the negligence of another, even when the worker’s compensation insurer pays their benefits. This is not only a correct legal result, it is the most equitable result. To allow the workers compensation insurer to take the vast majority of the settlement proceeds without proving that the employee had been fully compensated would no doubt be unfair and unjust.

Our personal injury attorneys at The Cooper Firm often represent workers who have been injured by the negligence of others. This decision will help make these workers whole.

Did you know your bedroom window was dangerous to your children?

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Approximately 4,700 children ages 14 and younger are injured from falling out a window each year. About 18 children ages 10 and under die annually from these falls.

Here are some tips on preventing these types of accidents:

  • A screen will not prevent a fall- don’t think it will.
  • Install windows that open from the top. If you need to open the window for fresh air, use the top window.
  • Safeguard your windows with window stops. You can find window stops at any hardware department.
  • Make sure that there is not any furniture placed near the window. Often children will climb the furniture and fall out the window.
  • Supervise your children if there is an open window.

The Dangers of BB Guns

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Yes, a BB gun, also known as a pellet gun, can kill a person. Actually about 4 people are killed each year by BB guns. I’m not sure why these guns are considered a “toy.” They have muzzle velocities higher than 350 feet per second. That means that the pellet leaves the gun at 350 feet per second. A common handgun has a muzzle velocity of 800 feet per second. That’s not much of a difference if you ask me.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that children under 16 years of age should not have such a gun. However, if you do, please teach your child the proper safety tips. Here are just a few:

  • Never, never, never point your BB gun at anyone, loaded or not.
  • Keep your BB gun on safety until you are ready to fire.
  • Keep your fingers off of the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  • BB’s can ricochet, be careful of your shooting targets.
  • Do not carry your BB gun into a public place as it may be mistaken for a real gun.
  • Unload the gun when not in use.

Sexual predators using modern technology resulting in victims of attacks, serious injury and death

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We live in a technology driven world, from computers and the internet, cell phones, blogging, and on-line personal journals to name a few. Time tested parenting rules no longer apply. It is important for parents to have the education, knowledge and understanding of these modern technologies so that they can be fully aware and able to deter and prevent predators from making their families victims. Many predators pretend to be what they are not. What may start out as innocent conversations and friendships often opens the door for potential face to face liaisons. Parents must teach their children to be aware, recognize questionable behavior and have open lines of communication when a child feel they are in harms way.

Virtually every technology provider has parental controls and information to help guide parents in the protection and safety of their children. The parenting challenge is to stay “one click” ahead of would be child-predators. Teach your children to be critical thinkers when using the technologies you provide to them. Be sure they understand basic technology socializing safety. Be open to discussions with your children. Listen in a way that is nonjudgmental and nondistracted.

Some of the following web sites provide families with current issues and safety measures:

NetFamilyNews.org 
BlogSafety.com 
GetNetWise.org 
StaySafe.org
SafeKids.com
Netmom.com

Senior Discount for Energy Bills

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There are senior discounts available to customers of Georgia Power and AGL. Customers of Georgia Power Company and AGL who are 65 and older and have a total household income of $14,355 or less qualify to receive the senior citizen’s discount.

Georgia Power Company customers can be eligible for a $14 monthly discount which is applied to the customer’s pre-fuel monthly bill amount. Seniors who are eligible for the discount may also receive $6 per month fuel credit to their bills. The electric service must be individually metered and in the senior’s name.

Click here for a copy of the Georgia Power Senior Discount application.

AGL customers can be eligible for the $14 monthly credit which is applied to the Atlanta Gas Light base charges portion of the montyly bill the senior receives from his natural gas marketer of choice.

Click here for a copy of the AGL Senior Discount application.

How the Insurance Law Affects You

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Did you know that the Georgia legislature passed a law that could save you tens of thousands of dollars – and some unnecessary headaches?

It’s true. An insurance law allows Georgians to buy uninsured motorist coverage that stacks on top of liability coverage.

Here’s how it 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. You probably already knew this. But what you might not have known is that he might not have enough insurance to cover your losses. Fortunately, now there’s an easy solution – if you know what to ask for!

Here’s an example of how this works: Let’s assume that, with the accident, your medical bills and lost wages total $40,000. Suppose the at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability insurance. If you do the math, you’ll see that you’re now out $15,000! Under the old law, even if you had $25,000 in uninsured motorist insurance, you would not be permitted to stack this coverage on top of the driver’s liability coverage. So, your $25,000 would be worthless!

Under the law, however, you are permitted to stack your $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage on top of the $25,000 liability insurance for a total of $50,000 in benefits. The law gives you this “stacking” option. Therefore, it’s critical that when you next purchase or renew your automobile insurance that you tell your agent that you want the stacking option. If you do not, you will be buying uninsured motorist coverage that is essentially worthless. The insurance companies will sometimes try to sell you this lousy coverage because they earn a premium and know they have little to no chance of ever paying out dollars on your behalf.

Therefore, remember the phrase, “I WANT STACKING UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE!” Don’t let your agent talk you out of this coverage. Of course, you may have additional questions about your insurance. If so, please do not hesitate to contact our office and we will be happy to discuss this further with you.

Remember that knowledge is power, and it’s up to you to stay ahead of the game!

Warning: MYLANTA and AtlernaGEL liquid products recall

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Johnson & Johnson-Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals, Co. is recalling, twelve MYLANTA liquid products and one AlternaGEL liquid product to “update the labeling for these products.” The current labels do not include the ( < 1%) amount of alcohol in the products. It is unlikely that the use of these products will cause either alcohol absorption or alcohol sensitivity related adverse events. Therefore, no action is required by the consumers- you can continue to use the product.
The Recalled products are as follows:

  • MYLANTA Regular Strength Original- 12 oz. (NDC No 16837-162-12)
  • MYLANTA Original- 5 oz. (NDC No. 16837-162-55)
  • MYLANTA Regular Strength Mint- 12 oz. (NDC No. 16837-138-12)
  • MYLANTA Maximum Strength Cherry- 12 oz. (NDC No. 16837-136-12)
  • MYLANTA Maximum Strength Mint- 12 oz. (NDC No. 16837-137-12)
  • MYLANTA Maximum Strength Original- 12 oz. (NDC No. 16837-163-12)
  • MYLANTA Maximum Strength Original- 24 oz. (NDC No. 16837-163-24)
  • MYLANTA Ultimate Strength Mint- 12 oz. (NDC No. 16837-643-12)
  • MYLANTA Ultimate Strength Cherry- 12 oz. (NDC No. 16837-644-12)
  • MYLANTA Supreme Tasting with Calcium Cherry- 12 oz. (NDC No. 16837-825-12)
  • MYLANTA Supreme Tasting with Calcium Cherry- 24 oz. (NDC No. 16837-825-24)
  • MYLANTA Maximum Strength Original- 12 oz. (NDC No. 16837-163-12)
  • AlternaGEL- 12 oz (NDC No. 16837-860-12)

Nintendo DS/Pictochat – An All Access Feature for Child Predators?

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I’m sure that some of your children have asked for the Nintendo DS or Nintendo DSI for Christmas this year. What may be a surprise to most of you is that predators are using these gaming systems to contact your unsuspecting and vulnerable children.

Most parents buy the system so their children can play video games alone but you may not realize that the system is actually like a mini computer. It even has built-in wireless capabilities which allow your children to play fellow DS gamers, visit chat rooms, and send messages/drawings wirelessly. This feature is called PictoChat. Nintendo says that the PictoChat feature has a range of approximately 65 feet but has been proven that the range can extend as far as 250 feet.

The PictoChat feature is potentially a dangerous problem. Please monitor and/or change your child’s feature on the gaming systems to help prevent unwanted contact. You can find out how to change your child’s settings by visiting Nintendo’s website.


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