Left Turn Accidents: Who is Liable

In countries where motorists drive on the right side of the road, making a left turn is among the more dangerous maneuvers. You are essentially going against the grain of the traffic, and this opens up drivers to a number of potential hazards.

Drivers for UPS almost never take left turns – even if they have to take a longer route to avoid doing so. The company started this practice in the 1970s, and today, they use a sophisticated routing software to avoid left turns whenever possible in the US and other right-side driving countries.

As you might guess, the primary motivation for the world’s largest private ground courier to avoid left turns (when possible) is to save money – UPS says that this policy results in 6 to 8 fewer miles driven per route, saving the company 10 million gallons of fuel per year. But the company also says that not making unnecessary left turns reduces the number of accidents, which keeps their drivers safer and also saves them money.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has studied the correlation between left turns and vehicle accidents. Their report found that turning left is a contributing factor in 61% of all collisions that happen while a vehicle is turning or going through an intersection. By comparison, right turns are a factor in only 3.1% of these types of collisions. When you look at overall accidents, left turns are a factor in 22% of the cases, while right turns are a factor in only 1% of them.

If making a left turn is this dangerous, it stands to reason that the driver that is turning left is assumed to be the one responsible for causing the crash. In a lot of cases, this is true. Someone turning left is turning through oncoming traffic, and a lot of things can go wrong in that scenario.

For one thing, the increased vehicle acceleration required to make the turn can cause the driver to misjudge the speed of an approaching vehicle. Or the car could have an acceleration problem that would make it unable to get through the intersection without avoiding a collision.

Another potential problem is the obstructed view that drivers of larger vehicles have when they turn left. This could cause them to miss smaller vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles that may be crossing the intersection. A driver might also forget to turn their left blinker on, making much more difficult for oncoming traffic to realize that they are intending to turn.

Liability in a Left Turn Accident

Just because left turn drivers have inherent disadvantages that make it more difficult for them to safely complete the turn, this does not necessarily mean they are the ones at fault if an accident occurs. Each individual case is unique, and there are always specific factors that need to be looked at in determining liability for a crash.

For example, if a left turn driver is crossing an intersection while they have a green arrow, then the traffic that is crossing from the other side is required to stop. If another vehicle were to run a red light and crash into the vehicle turning left, then this would clearly be the fault of the other vehicle driver.

Here are a few other cases when a driver other than the one turning left might share at least some of the blame for a left turn accident:

  • The other driver was sending a text message while crossing the intersection, which is a violation of Georgia law.
  • The other driver was going over the speed limit while crossing the intersection.
  • The other driver was legally intoxicated.

A thorough investigation is required to get to determine the exact cause of a left turn accident. This may include a review of any traffic camera or dashboard camera footage that may be available, cell phone records that may show the exact time a driver sent or opened a text, and the testimony of eyewitnesses.

If you have been involved in a left turn accident, do not admit fault for the accident – leave that to the experts to sort out. And after receiving prompt medical attention for any injuries you may have sustained, get in touch with a skilled and knowledgeable auto accident attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

Injured in a Left Turn Accident in Atlanta? Contact Ross Moore Law for Legal Help

If you or someone close to you got hurt in a vehicle accident in Georgia, Ross Moore Law is ready to go to work for you. Call our office today at (404) 905-3146 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with our attorney.

How Distracted Driving Contributes to Motorcycle Accidents

Summertime in Georgia means warmer weather and a lot more motorcycles on the road. For avid bikers, there are few activities that are more refreshing and exhilarating than riding on the open roads while enjoying the beautiful scenery the Peach State has to offer. Motorcycle riding is also a socially distanced activity, which is especially helpful as our country continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riding a motorcycle is a very enjoyable activity, but it can also be very dangerous. Unlike motor vehicle occupants, bikers do not have a steel cage to protect them, and when there is a motorcycle accident, there is very little that separates the rider from hitting the pavement. With that in mind, it is no surprise to learn that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to be killed in a collision (per hundred thousand miles traveled) than vehicle occupants.

In recent years, motorcycle accident fatalities have been rapidly increasing. Back in the 1990s, things looked to be improving for bikers as the number of fatalities had been reduced to a consistent rate of under 3,000 per year. But around the turn of the 21st Century, things began to turn back in the wrong direction.

In 2001, motorcycle accident fatalities went above 3,000 for the first time since 1990. In 2004, fatalities broke the 4,000 mark for the first time since 1986. And in 2007, they went above 5,000 for the first time ever. Since 2007, the fatality rate has consistently stayed well above 4,000, and it has broken 5,000 several times during the past 13 years.

2007 just happens to be the year that Apple released its first version of the iPhone. By the time the first iPhone came out, texting was already a popular means of communication in the US, especially among younger people. But once smartphones became mainstream, Americans started to get addicted to the idea of “staying connected”.

Today, most Americans have some type of smartphone, and while carrying around a pocket-sized computer gives us access to a world of information at our fingertips, it is also become a major distraction. It comes as little surprise then that texting while driving has reached epidemic proportions.

Distracted Driving and Motorcycle Accidents

Vehicle drivers have always had distractions to deal with, but none have been as dangerous as texting and other types of electronic messaging using a smartphone. Texting while driving distracts motorists in three different ways; manually, visually, and cognitively. The end result is that a driver’s focus is directed entirely on their phone, rather than on the road where it should be.

Just to provide some perspective, the NHTSA points out that when a driver who is traveling at 55 mph takes their eyes off of the road for just five seconds to send, receive, or read a text, it is similar to driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.

So, what does all of this mean for motorcyclists?

Even before texting came on the scene, there were well-funded national public awareness campaigns admonishing drivers to “start seeing motorcycles”. There has always been an issue with vehicle drivers not giving motorcycles proper space on the road, and because motorcycles have a smaller profile, they are more difficult to see even under ideal conditions.

When you add the element of texting while driving to the equation, it puts motorcyclists in even greater danger. This is why many experts believe that distracted driving is one of the major contributors to the spike in motorcycle accident fatalities in recent years.

According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report from 2017, nearly 40% of all motorcycle accidents involve a distracted or inattentive driver. These types of accidents can happen for a number of reasons; such as when a driver does not see a motorcycle that enters their blind spot, a driver weaves out of their lane or straddles the center line in the road, or a driver fails to notice a motorcycle slowing down in front of them.

Georgia and most other states have made texting while driving illegal, but the penalties for violating this law are not very severe. For example, for a first distracted driving violation, the penalty is a maximum fine of $50 and one demerit point on their driving record. A second offense doubles the fine to $100 and adds two demerit points to the driving record. And a third offense triples the fine to $150 and adds three demerit points to the driving record.

So far, it does not appear that these penalties are doing all that much to curb the problem of distracted driving. Hopefully, behaviors will change in the future as more people become aware of the dangers of this type of activity. In the meantime, motorcyclists need to continue driving defensively and watch closely for signs that a motorist might be distracted so they can keep their distance.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Crash in Atlanta? Contact Ross Moore Law for Assistance

Even if you do all you can to avoid an accident, you cannot control the actions of others. If you or a loved one got hurt in a distracted driving accident in Georgia, Ross Moore Law is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (404) 905-3146 for a free consultation with our attorney. We look forward to serving you!

Can a Personal Injury Case be Reopened?

When someone is injured because of the negligent or reckless actions of another party, medical bills tend to pile up and all the time missed from work can make finances pretty tight. Under these circumstances, it is understandable that you would want to settle the case and get your compensation check fairly quickly.

The problem is that the defendant’s initial settlement offer is usually pretty low, and oftentimes, an injured person finds that their injuries are significantly worse than they originally thought. This causes many plaintiffs to wonder whether it is possible to reopen a personal injury case once it has already been settled or closed.

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is generally “no”.

Once you accept a settlement offer, you are usually required to sign a “release of liability”, which releases the defendant from any additional damages that they may be liable for resulting from your injury. So, if the defendant has already paid you a settlement check, this most likely means that the case is closed.

All of that said, there are some limited circumstances in which you might still be able to reopen your personal injury case. These include:

  • You Have not Yet Signed the Settlement Agreement: Maybe you are at the point where you have agreed to a settlement, but you have not yet signed the paperwork. If this is true in your case, there might still be time to back out of the agreement. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes even a verbal settlement agreement can be interpreted as legally valid, so you might still be bound by whatever you agreed to.
  • The Settlement Document has Clerical Errors: The settlement document might have drafting errors that are significant, such as listing the amount as $13,000 rather than $30,000. When there is a technical error, you can get the mistake corrected or it might be possible to reopen the claim.
  • You Settled the Case based on Poor Legal Advice: If you agreed to an insufficient settlement amount because of bad legal advice, you might have grounds for a professional malpractice claim against the attorney that represented you.
  • There are Other Defendants you Could Go After: With some personal injuries, there are multiple parties that could be held responsible. For example, if you were injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you might be able to file a claim against the trucking company and the cargo/shipping company in addition to the driver. If there are other defendants you could go after that were not part of the original settlement you received, then you might be able to open up a case against them.

Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations
Even if one of the above-mentioned instances applies to you or you have another avenue toward reopening your personal injury claim, the statute of limitations could be an additional barrier. In Georgia for example, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years. If the two-year time limit has passed in your case, then it will most likely be thrown out of court. So, if you are thinking of trying to reopen a personal injury claim, be mindful of how close you are to your state’s statute of limitations.

Avoiding Personal Injury Settlement Regret

It is questions like whether or not a personal injury case can be reopened that underscore the importance of speaking with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney before accepting any type of settlement offer. Insurance companies will often imply that you do not need a lawyer, and that you will get paid the same amount of compensation whether you retain legal counsel or not.

The truth is that in a large number of cases, there is no way of knowing how much compensation you are entitled to early on in the claims process. Additional symptoms may emerge, and you might need to see the doctor several more times, go in for tests, etc. before you know for sure how bad your injuries are.

So, if you have been injured in an accident that someone else was responsible for, it is in your best interest to at least talk with an attorney to have them review your case and inform you of your legal rights and options. This way, you can make the most informed decision on whether it is in your interests to accept any kind of settlement offer, and whichever path you choose, you can do so without regret.

Speak with an Experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

As we have discussed, most of the time a personal injury case cannot be reopened after the claim has already been settled or closed, but there are a few possible exceptions. If you have any questions about your Georgia personal injury case, Ross Moore Law is here to help. We can examine your case and help you determine if there is a way to reopen it and what steps would be involved.

For your free personal injury consultation and case assessment, message us online or call our office today at (404) 905-3146. We look forward to serving you!