What are the Common Causes for Georgia Car Accidents?
Because of a landmark case called Donoghue v. Stevenson, Georgia drivers have a duty of reasonable care. In this case, which pitted a woman who found a dead snail in the bottom of her beer bottle against the local bottler, the court declared that “You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbor.” Uber drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, and other commercial operators in Georgia have an even higher duty of care when it comes to Georgia car accidents because they are common carriers. In fact, common carriers are bound to use extraordinary care and diligence for the safety of their passengers. So, it is even easier to prove negligence in these cases.
Among both commercial and noncommercial drivers, there are a few common car crash causes which are easy for the jury to understand.
Driving Under the Influence Leads to Georgia Car Accidents
Even though the law enforcement crackdown against drunk drivers began in the 1980s, alcohol is still responsible for about a third fatal car accidents in Georgia. Driving under the influence of drugs, be they prescription painkillers, illegal “street drugs,” or even over-the-counter cold medicines, cause many such crashes, as well.
Alcohol and most drugs are depressants that slow the central nervous system, and that means slower physical reactions when behind the wheel. Moreover, most of these substances impair judgment, because they give people an abnormal sense of euphoria. They believe that all is well, even when that is not the case. These substances affect the brain, as well. They impair concentration and make it difficult to multitask. Therefore, drivers cannot watch the road and check their mirrors at the same time.
Similar to most cases involving Georgia car accidents, the victim of a car wreck has two ways to prove liability in alcohol-related crashes:
- Negligence: If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violates a legal duty (the duty of reasonable care or the duty of extraordinary care) and causes injury, the tortfeasor must pay damages.
- Negligence Per Se: If the tortfeasor violated a safety law, such as DUI, the victim need only prove cause to establish liability for damages.
In both of these cases, the car accident victim has the burden of proof and must establish either negligence or negligence per se by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Fatigue Leads to Georgia Car Accidents
Alcohol and drowsiness affect the brain in much the same way. In fact, driving after eighteen hours without sleep, which is like driving home after a long day at work and a quick dinner, is just as dangerous as driving with a .08 BAC, which is above the legal alcohol limit in Georgia and all other states.
Disturbingly, people who would never dream of drinking and driving have no problem whatsoever driving while fatigued. Yet over a third of people admit that they have fallen asleep at least once while behind the wheel.
Fatigued driving is an issue among commercial drivers, as well. Many tour bus operators drive either very early in the morning or very late at night, and regardless of how much they slept or did not sleep the night before, most people are naturally drowsy during these times. Many truck drivers are paid by the load, which gives them the incentive to drive as long as possible.
Drowsy driving is not against the law, so the negligence per se shortcut may not be available in some noncommercial operator fatigued driving cases. However, it is against federal and state safety regulations for large vehicle operators to drive while they are drowsy.
Distraction Can Cause Georgia Car Accidents
In 2015, distracted drivers seriously injured over 391,000 people. Hand-held cellphone use causes many of these injuries because these devices combine all three forms of distracted driving:
- Cognitive (taking one’s mind off the road),
- Manual (taking at least one hand off the wheel), and
- Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road).
The hands-free cellphones in many cars and trucks are not any safer, because their use involves two of the three kinds of distraction and because they give drivers a false sense of security.
Moreover, the problem is much greater than cellphones. Eating while driving, obsessively adjusting the stereo, animated conversations with passengers, and other such activities are just as distracting. Georgia has a very broad distracted driving law which technically prohibits all such activities, so in the Peachtree State, the negligence per se shortcut is available in almost all distracted driving cases.
Those who have been in Georgia car accidents may also establish liability in distracted driving cases through a traditional negligence case.
Excessive Speeding Causes Georgia Car Accidents
Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the fatal Georgia car accidents because it increases the risk of a collision and also increases the force of the resulting impact.
Higher speeds exponentially increase stopping distance, which is the distance that vehicles travel between the moment that their drivers see oncoming hazards and safely stop their vehicles. Stopping distance is six car lengths at 30mph and eighteen car lengths at 60mph. The actual distance could be much larger, depending on factors like the size of the vehicle and environmental conditions (such as a wet road).
Furthermore, according to Newton's second physical law, speed multiplies the force in a collision between two objects, so a "fender bender" without injuries at low speeds is a serious injury crash, or more probably a fatal crash, at high speeds. There are two impacts in car crashes, the primary impact when a car hits another car and the secondary impact when loose objects inside the car, such as cellphones, strike solid objects, such as a passenger's head.
In Georgia, it is illegal to travel above the posted speed limit, and it is also illegal to drive too fast for the environmental conditions, such as darkness or fog.
Contact an Atlanta, Georgia Attorney to Discuss Georgia Car Accidents
There are a number of ways that negligent drivers cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorneys in Atlanta, contact Council & Associates, LLC. Our experienced car accident attorneys routinely handle matters in Fulton County and nearby jurisdictions.