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Georgia lawmakers are taking preliminary steps to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, General Assembly leaders appointed members to make recommendations on the issue of medicinal marijuana. This action took place after House Bill 885 failed to pass in the last legislative session. The bill would have permitted families in Georgia to use cannabis oil to treat seizure disorders and would have provided immunity from prosecution to those in possession of the oil. flowering-cannabis-plants---hydroponics-indoors-1431036-m

A report on medical marijuana legalization is expected by the end of the year, and could move Georgia closer to becoming one of many states that is relaxing the rules on marijuana use. Unfortunately, as states move forward towards making marijuana more accessible, the issue of stoned driving will become even more pressing. Stoned driving is dangerous, and victims of collisions with impaired drivers should consult with an Atlanta car accident lawyer for help pursuing a claim for monetary compensation.

Stoned Driving Can Put Atlanta Drivers at Risk of Collisions

The New York Times took a close look at stoned driving earlier this year, indicating that around six percent of drivers tested positive for marijuana when stopped randomly on American highways in 2007. There are likely more stoned drivers on the roads now that the rules for marijuana use have been relaxed. In fact, the Denver Post reported that more drivers in Colorado are testing positive for marijuana after fatal collisions now that recreational marijuana has become legal in the state.

Marijuana can affect a person’s ability to drive, and a motorist who has any measurable amount of THC in the blood stream has twice the risk of becoming involved in a collision as compared with someone who has not used cannabis products. People who have used marijuana are less able to multitask when stoned and they require more of their brain power to do simple tasks than people who are sober.

Unfortunately, although it is clear that a stoned driver is a danger on the roads, it is less clear how to effectively regulate the practice of driving under the influence of marijuana. The ABA Journal recently published an article about the challenges of regulating stoned driving, calling the determination of driver impairment an “imperfect science.”

Both Colorado and Washington state have set limits on the amount of THC in a person’s blood in order to keep stoned drivers off the roads. However, scientists have not established a direct link between THC and a level of driving impairment. Furthermore, a person is most impaired by cannabis 30 minutes after taking the drug, but has the highest levels of THC 10 minutes after smoking marijuana.

The difficulty in regulating stoned driving should be carefully considered by Georgia lawmakers as they decide whether to move forward with medical marijuana. People on the roads deserve to be safe, and victims of stoned driving collisions should consult with an Atlanta car accident lawyer for help.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury in a stoned driving crash. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

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School zones are supposed to be safe zones for children, with lower speed limits and plenty of warnings for drivers about the possibility that young pedestrians will be crossing the roads.  Unfortunately, a new study from Safe Kids USA reveals that far too many motorists are failing to follow safety rules in school zones. Unfortunately, drivers are traveling through school zones when they are distracted. This can endanger the lives of children as they commute to and from school each day. school-bus-910927-m

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that “As pedestrians, children are at even greater risk of injury or death from traffic crashes,” when compared with adults. When motorists are distracted when traveling through a school zone, the lives of young people are in jeopardy.  Victims of distracted driving collisions and their family members should consult with an Atlanta car accident attorney to take legal action if a driver negligently caused a distracted driving accident in a school zone. 

School Children at Risk of Atlanta Distracted Driving Accidents

Every year, an estimated 25,000 children in the United States suffer an injury while commuting to or from school.  The CDC reports that almost one in four traffic fatalities among kids under the age of 14 are pedestrian deaths, so a good number of kids are killed while walking to class. Children may also be injured or hurt while walking to or from the bus, especially if drivers are not paying careful attention.

The high rate of pedestrian accidents among children makes the data from the Safe Kids USA report even more disturbing. According to the report, as many as one driver out of every six is distracted when traveling through a school zone.  More drivers are distracted during the afternoon commute home than the morning, and drivers tend to be the most distracted in school zones with no flashing lights as well as in areas where there is a high traffic volume of 10,000 or more vehicles per day.

Both male and female drivers make the dangerous choice to drive distracted in a school zone, although women are slightly more likely than men to be focused on something other than the road. In fact, 187 out of every 1,000 female drivers going through a school zone are distracted compared with 154 out of every 1,000 male drivers.

The motorists who are distracted in school zones have many different things that are taking their attention away from keeping children safe.  For example:

  • 98 out of 1,000 motorists driving in a school zone are using an electronic device, such as a cellular phone.
  • 44 out of 1,000 motorists driving in a school zone are smoking, or consuming food or beverages.
  • 19 out of 1,000 motorists driving in a school zone are either reaching behind them or looking behind them.
  • Three out of 1,000 motorists driving in a school zone are reading something.

Motorists in large vehicles including minivans and SUVs were the most likely to be engaged in behavior classified as a distraction. Unfortunately, these motorists may do the most damage to young collision victims.

Whenever a driver of any vehicle makes the choice to drive distracted through a school zone, an Atlanta car accident lawyer can help. Call Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation after your distracted driving accident.

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The Insurance Research Council has released a report demonstrating that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of victims of motor vehicle collisions who get help from attorneys after accidents occur.  The number of represented collision victims has more than doubled since 1977, and has also changed significantly just between 2007 and 2012.  An increase in the number of represented victims is good news, because it means that more people who are hurt in car accidents are getting the help they need to stand up to insurance companies. law books

If you or a loved one is involved in a collision, an Atlanta car accident lawyer can provide advice and guidance, and can deal with the insurance companies on your behalf.  With more victims recognizing that they need help dealing with insurance companies, it is becoming more important than ever to have legal help after your crash.

More Victims Benefitting from Legal Representation After Atlanta Car Accidents

According to the Insurance Research Council, only 17 percent of people who suffered losses in a car accident in 1977 sought legal representation to make a personal injury protection claim.  Three decades later, in 2007, 31 percent of people making a personal injury protection claim after a collision had a lawyer.  Just a few short years later, 36 percent of victims were represented in their personal injury protection claims by 2012.

The number of people making a bodily injury claim who had a lawyer also increased between 2007 and 2012. In 2012, fully half of all victims of collisions had an attorney representing them when they made a bodily injury claim. In 2007, a slightly smaller number of people were represented, with 49 percent of victims making a personal injury claim represented by a lawyer.

Between 2007 and 2012, during the same period when the number of people seeking legal help increased, claimed losses from collisions also went up. The RMIAA reports that there was an eight percent annualized increase in average claimed economic losses among motor vehicle collision victims making a personal injury protection claim. Among victims of collisions making a bodily injury claim, the average claimed losses increased four percent between 2007 and 2012.

The Insurance Research Council describes itself as an “independent, nonprofit research organization supported by leading property and casualty insurance companies and associations.  Because it is supported by insurance companies, it should come as no surprise that the IRC took a negative view towards more people being represented by attorneys.  

The reality, however, is that victims are seeking legal representation because insurance companies are not treating claimants fairly.  The American Association for Justice published a comprehensive report detailing the anti-consumer practices of insurance companies, all of which are focused on denying people the compensation that they deserve and on delaying the payment of claims. Insurance agents were rewarded for denying claims, and insurers frequently tried to delay payouts until victims felt they had no choice but to accept a low settlement offer.  These are the types of tactics that have made it necessary for collision victims to seek help from attorneys so they can obtain fair compensation for losses.

An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help victims to deal with insurance companies and fight for the compensation they need. Contact Sammons & Carpenter. P.C. today at (404) 814-8949 or online to schedule your free consultation. 

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Our Atlanta car accident attorneys read about a collision between a car and a lawn mower which left four people dead, including three teenagers. The accident happened only a week before the school year was to start in Murray County.

The accident occurred Thursday on Old CCC Camp Road near Chatsworth. The car’s driver, River Sosebee, age 17, drove eastbound when he sped around a curve and lost control of the vehicle. The car overturned and hit a driver on a lawn mower. Sosebee aDSCN8171nd the car’s backseat passenger, Joshua Roberts, age 17, and Chelsie Hullender, age 18, were all killed in the accident. The driver of the lawn mower, Bryan Bartley, age 57, also died in the crash. The fourth passenger in the car, Alexis Pinson, age 18, was taken by Lifeforce to Erlanger Medical Center in critical condition.

Students at Murray County High School, where both Sosebee and Roberts were juniors, were shocked by the tragic accident. A fellow student, Nick Stiles, said of the two, “Sweethearts. Never hurt anybody. I don’t even think they would hurt a fly.” He continued, “I think but they will never be forgotten. You know? I think it’s going to change a little bit. It’s not going to be the same without those two.”

Parents at the school were also shaken up. One mother, Ginger Garrison, told reporters, “I just never realized how important they are and how they could be gone so quickly, any of them. That could have been my son. That’s what I believe was most parent’s reaction.” At a football game the weekend after the accident, spectators observed a moment of silence. Murray County High School principal Gina Linder said, Sosebee and Roberts were “well known” and “well liked” students, and “Both were energetic and smiling, just great kids. They were both big tall and strong kids. You could see them down the hall smiling.”

Atlanta Car AccidentLawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can explain to you your legal options and help you choose a course of action. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta tractor trailer accident attorneys saw a news report about a tractor trailer crash on I-20 this week that injured two people. A FedEx tandem-trailer truck rear ended a converted school bus while the bus drove slowly in the right lane. A Georgia State Patrol spokeswoman wrote, “After impact, both vehicles traveled off the right shoulder of the roadway and overturned.file481287608833 (1) At some point after the crash, both vehicles caught on fire.” The truck driver, who sustained critical injuries, was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he was taken to the burn unit upon arrival. The bus driver was taken to Tanner Medical Center in Villa Rica. Police closed the westbound lanes of I-20 for about three hours due to the crash and resulting fire.

This week’s crash was just one example of many dangerous accidents involving large trucks on the road. Earlier this month, a tractor trailer rear-ended a mail truck while the mail truck made deliveries in a residential area. The mail truck overturned before stopping upside down in a resident’s front yard. The impact caused mail to scatter across the yard. The driver of the mail truck became stuck underneath her vehicle, and Gordon County firefighters were forced to remove her from the car. According to a Georgia State Patrol Trooper, she was in stable condition when a Gordon County EMS ambulance took her to Floyd Medical Center. A gas leak also occurred as a result of the crash. The tractor trailer driver faces a charge of following too closely.

Luckily, neither crash caused any fatalities, but the fire and gas leaks still caused real damage. These accidents have the potential to be enormously dangerous or even fatal. Extra caution must be taken when driving, or when driving near, large vehicles such as tractor trailers.

Atlanta Tractor Trailer AccidentLawyers

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a tractor trailer or other large commercial vehicle, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and advise you on how to proceed. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta car accident lawyers saw the news about a fatal car crash from a couple weeks ago. At around 11pm on a Sunday night, a car tire burst on I-75 near Valdosta in Lowndes County. The car, a Honda Accord, spun out of control and hit a retaining wall, with the rear of the car still blocking the left lane. A Toyota 4Runner traveling down the highway strucfile2811244091888k the Accord. One of the the 4Runner’s occupants had to be air-lifted to Tallahassee for medical treatment. The driver of the Accord was taken to South Georgia Medical Center for treatment.

About 20 minutes after the initial accident, while traffic was still moving slowly, another crash occurred along the same stretch of I-75. Sergeant Carl Taylor of the Georgia State Patrol said, “Traffic had stopped due to the first crash on the interstate, and for whatever reason, a tractor trailer Southbound struck the stopped vehicles in the road way. It made contact with a total of, I believe, seven other vehicles, which would be a total of eight vehicles in this crash.” Corporal Peter Lukas of the Georgia State Patrol said, “There was three semis involved, one U-Haul, one F-250 with a camper and three other vehicles.”The second accident severely damaged two cars and caused four deaths. 13 others were taken to the hospital with injuries.

According to Sergeant Taylor, an initial investigation indicates the accident might be to due distracted driving by the tractor trailer’s driver. Police took blood samples, but neither alcohol nor other intoxicants were found to have factored into the crash. SGMC treated the tractor trailer’s driver for non-life threatening injuries, and he could face multiple charges related to the crash. An investigation by the Georgia State Patrol’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is ongoing. It is estimated the investigation could take more than a month to complete.

Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Distracted driving is a real danger. Drivers, particularly those of large and potentially dangerous vehicles such as tractor trailers, need to be focused on the road. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and advise you on how to proceed. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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file0001847431097Our Atlanta car accident attorneys see too many cases of drunk driving costing the lives of Georgians. A recent news story about Philip Lutzenkirchen, a former football star at Auburn University, and the accident that caused his death, highlight this problem once again.

Details of the Crash

The accident happened in the early hours of the morning near LaGrange on June 29. According to a friend, they were going to get food at the time. Both Lutzenkirchen, a tight end who helped Auburn to a national championship in 2010, and the car’s driver were drunk. The car, a 2006 Chevy Tahoe, was driving southbound on Upper Big Springs Road. The driver didn’t stop or slow down at a stop sign at the intersection of Lower Big Springs Road. The Chevy crossed the intersection and smashed into the ditch. According to the police report, it kept going for another 89 feet and hit a fence which caused the car to go airborne. Ith then ran into another ditch along the driveway of the Big Springs Methodist Church before flipping over three times. Police suspected the involvement of alcohol in the crash from the outset.

Joseph Ian Davis, the 22 year old driver of the car, had a blood alcohol level of 0.17, twice the legal limit of 0.08 in Georgia. Lutzenkirchen himself had a blood alcohol level of 0.377, more than four times the legal limit. The 23 year old was in the backseat and was thrown from the car as it flipped. Both he and David died from their injuries at the scene. Two other passengers in the car were also injured, but their blood alcohol level was not tested. One backseat passenger, 22 year old Elizabeth Craig, was also ejected from the car. She was taken to West Georgia Medical Center. The front seat passenger, 20 year old Christian Case, suffered from a possible concussion and was also treated at West Georgia Medical Center. Of the four people in the car, only Case was wearing a seat belt.

Two lives were cut short and many people affected by this unnecessary accident. Lutzenkirchen’s friend Kolton Houston said, “It was hard. For about two weeks I really could not sleep. I’d wake up from dreams where I was actually in the car. I’d wake up from dreams were I was getting in the car and getting back out of the car, and then I’d have these other dreams where I was living moments from the weekend. So for about two and a half or three weeks it was kind of hard.”

Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a vehicle accident with a negligent or reckless driver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you how to proceed, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta wrongful death and defective product attorneys have followed closely the story of GM’s malfunctioning cars that have killed numerous people, the scope of which we may not even know yet. Of particular notice is a case that happened in Georgia, when 29-year-old nurse Brooke Melton died near Atlanta in a 2010 car crash (this blog has talked about her case earlier this year; you can read it here). The crash was, according to her parents, due to a faulty ignition switch in her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, which shut off the engine while she was driving and because of that she lost control of the car.

Chevy Steering Wheel

Brooke’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against GM in a Georgia court, but GM had it moved to a federal court. According to recent news reports, that federal court in Atlanta ordered Brooke’s case to be transferred back to Cobb County court. Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. at the Atlanta district court sent it back. But now the Meltons still have to convince Cobb County Judge Kathryn Tanksley to reopen the case, which isn’t easy. The Meltons settled with GM for $5 million last year, but they want to give the money back and reopen the trial. To do that, the Meltons have to prove that GM fraudulently concealed evidence. That may be possible given the spotlight on how GM knew about faulty ignition switches, like the one in Brooke’s car, for more than a decade and never issued a recall to fit it. Already this year, GM has issued 54 recalls affecting 29 million vehicles. And there has been a deluge of cover-up allegations, similar to Brooke’s case. On the ignition switch issue, there are claims that the design was changed after it went into production, even though the engineers denied this claim before. The federal government regulators fined GM $35 million because of delays in reporting on these kinds of safety problems.

Lawyers working on the Meltons’ case are hopeful that this move back to state court will speed up the questioning of GM executives and employees. The Meltons’ team wants to depose Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, GM’s Corporate Counsel Michael Millikin, the engineer who designed the ignition switch, Ray DeGiorgio, and also the 15 GM employees who were dismissed because of the ignition issue. Also, a local jury is more likely to award punitive damages to punish GM if the Meltons succeed with proving their case.

After the transfer, GM filed a motion in Cobb County court to dismiss the Meltons’ case due to the settlement over the same injury claims. Their motion stated, “That case was settled and bars the plaintiffs’ current alleged claims.” GM also denies liability in Brooke’s case, saying the ignition switch was not why she lost control of her car.

Atlanta Wrongful Death and Defective Product Lawyers

If a loved one has died due to the negligence of another, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you how to proceed, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta car accident attorneys read about a multi vehicle accident hat happened in Macedonia in Cherokee County last week. The accident happened on Ga. 20 near Beavers Road and Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services and Canton Fire spent more than three hours clearing the wreckage.

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Specifics of the Accident

At 3:15 p.m. last Wednesday, a white Ford Super Duty F-250 pickup truck, driven by an unidentified teenager, was travelling eastbound on Ga. 20, also known as Cumming Highway. A Toyota Avalon had slowed for traffic, in an effort to avoid a collision according to Georgia State Patrol spokesperson Tracey Watson, when the Ford clipped the back end. Then the Ford went into the westbound lanes and smashed into a tractor trailer head on. The tractor trailer then hit a Chevrolet Silverado, showing how one incident can often cause a chain reaction on the road. The 15-year-old driver of the Ford was taken by helicopter to Grady Hospital in Atlanta. Tim Cavender of the Fire-ES Department said firefighters “worked hard to remove the male driver from the heavily damage truck so he could be life-flighted by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.”“The driver was conscious and alert and had multiple injuries to his lower extremities,” he said. He also said the young driver had been charged with following too closely. The teenage driver’s grandfather, a 77-year-old man, was also in the Ford pickup truck at the time, and was taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the tractor trailer, 43-year-old Wilfred D. Bernard, was also hurt and complained of back pain. He was taken to Northside Hospital-Cherokee, according to the Georgia State Patrol. And the driver of the Chevy, 81-year-old Jimmy West, complained of chest pains after the accident. He was taken to North Fulton Hospital. The driver of the Avalon, a 76-year-old woman, appeared to be fine.

The crash blocked traffic in both directions and closed lanes while emergency workers and investigators were on the scene. The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the crash. Other charges are reportedly still pending.

Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. This accident shows the danger of inexperienced young drivers and how an accident can cause multiple other accidents and injuries on the road. Per mile, teen drivers are three times more likely than adult drivers to be involved in a fatal car accident. Fortunately, the accident in Cherokee County was not fatal, but it did injure several people. This young driver was too young even to have a driver’s license, and extra care must be taken with these new inexperienced drivers. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you how to proceed, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta motorcycle accident attorneys know that motorcycle accidents are too often fatal. A recent news article discussed another fatal accident involving a motorcycle in Georgia involving someone fleeing the police, and another about a drunk driver who killed a motorcycle passenger.

Open Sky

On a Saturday night around 10:25 p.m. at the end of June, 28-year-old Michael William Lynch from Cartersville was trying to flee a Bartow County deputy. The deputy had tried to stop him for speeding. The deputy lost sight of Mr. Lynch on GA 293. He went around a sharp turn on that road, and saw debris from a crash. He turned around and found the motorcycle and Mr. Lynch off the shoulder of the road. The motorcycle had gone onto the shoulder, down the embankment and had smashed into several trees. Mr. Lynch had been ejected from the motorcycle and died from his injuries in the crash, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Bartow County Coroner Joel Guyton said, “He struck a tree. He died as a result of multiple blunt force trauma from the single-motorcycle accident.” The Georgia State Patrol said they were not involved in chasing Mr. Lynch, but did release a press release about the accident.

In the above case, the motorcyclist was trying to avoid police and was driving recklessly, but a lot to times, people on motorcycles are the victims of accidents as well, and are much more vulnerable than people in cars and other vehicles. A drunk driver killed a motorcycle passenger the same weekend in the end of June. Jessica Johnson was driving her 2012 Hyundai Sonata southbound on I-75/85, tried to merge onto I-20, and rear ended a 2013 Suzuki GSX driven by Saahir Salahuddin. His passenger, 33-year-old Ellie Norris, was knocked off the bike, and then run over by Ms. Johnson’s car. The motorcycle hit the median. Mr. Salahuddin survived, went over to where Ms. Norris was pinned down on the pavement by the car, called her name and then ran away from the scene when she didn’t answer. When police tested Ms. Johnson, she was at more than twice the legal limit for alcohol blood levels while driving. She was arrested and taken to Fulton County Jail for DUI, first degree vehicular homicide, reckless driving and following too closely. Mr. Salahuddin went to Grady Memorial Hospital to treat his injuries, and he was also arrested for first degree vehicular homicide, hit-and-run and theft by receiving a stolen auto, but it was unclear whether all the charges were related to the accident.

Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident, on a motorcycle or any other type of vehicle, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and how to move forward with any legal avenues, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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