Who is At Fault for A Sideswipe Car Accident?

Sideswipe car accidents can be much more dangerous than you might think, especially when high speeds or large vehicles are involved. Establishing liability in a sideswipe accident can require a good deal of research and investigation. Driver responsibility is at the core of creating an auto collision insurance or legal claim, so it is one of the most important first steps to devote your attention to following a sideswipe crash.

How Do Sideswipe Accidents Happen?

A sideswipe auto accident happens when the sides of two different vehicles impact each other. Not only can it happen when they are traveling in opposite directions; it can also occur when both are traveling in the same side direction. Though the damage might be minor in many instances, it can still be quite serious. If an initially minor sideswipe leads to a loss of control by either driver, the vehicle(s) could swerve and crash into things like medians, other vehicles, light posts, and trees. In one of the worst-case scenarios, a sideswipe can lead to a rollover crash.

Sideswipes frequently occur after a vehicle begins moving into another vehicle’s lane. It can happen when drivers are speeding; changing lanes without checking their blind spots; or are intoxicated, fatigued, reckless, or distracted by their phones or GPS devices. These unfortunate events can also happen when drivers are distracted by road conditions like when the roads are slippery, there is poor visibility, or when several motorists try to merge into one lane at the same time. Sideswipe collisions also happen when moving cars hit parked vehicles.

How is Fault Determined in Sideswipe Collisions?

Georgia is an at-fault car insurance state, so negligent drivers can be legally obliged to cover the losses suffered by other drivers that they have sideswiped. After claims are made, insurance adjusters look at physical evidence, police reports, witness testimony, and other information that can help to show exactly what occurred. After everything has been analyzed, adjusters make decisions about which driver was at fault, which then factors into how much they will pay for the claim.

If there are two insurance companies involved there may be two opposing viewpoints, and an at-fault driver’s insurance provider will often attempt to claim that the other driver was liable for what happened. Georgia also has a modified comparative negligence law, so if you are held partially responsible for the accident your compensation could be lowered according to the percentage of fault. Should that amount be 50 percent or more, you will not receive any damages. You do have the right to challenge their findings, and this is one task that an experienced car accident lawyercan help you with.

What Kinds of Evidence Can Determine Fault in Sideswipe Accidents?

Photos of vehicle damage are one of the most common ways to show proof of a sideswipe accident. Investigators will look at the extent of the damage, scene of the accident, and points of impact on the vehicles involved. Though the two vehicles would have been next to one another at the time of the crash, the damage patterns may provide insight as to which driver caused the collision. Take extensive photos of both vehicles as soon as possible after the crash. It is also wise to snap pictures of skid marks, traffic signs, weather conditions, and any other extenuating factors that could have contributed to the sideswipe. Another source for evidence is traffic cameras. If you do not see one at the scene, you may be able to search for information about this online. Law firms can usually obtain this footage if you need it.

As with other kinds of automobile accidents, eyewitness statements are vital to proving driver liability. The person offering information could be a passenger in your car, a driver in a vehicle not involved in the accident, a pedestrian, bicyclist, or a law enforcement officer. In some cases, expert witnesses like accident reconstruction specialists are appointed to share their opinions about what happened.

You will also want to obtain a police report for your sideswipe crash, even if it does not seem to be that extensive. According to 2019 Georgia Code Title 40 (OCGA §40-6-273), auto crashes that result in injuries, deaths, or property damage over $500 must be reported to the police. As for that last category, even a minor fender bender can cost that much to repair and probably more! In any case, you will want to get a police report because it can provide valuable evidence for your claim. It will include the makes, years, and models of the involved vehicles, location, and date of the accident, along with information that indicates if anyone received a traffic citation or if someone was arrested. Ask the responding officer to provide contact information for getting the report while at the scene as it can take a few days or longer to get a copy.

What Kinds of Injuries and Property Damage are Caused by Sideswipe Crashes?

Sideswipe car accidents can lead to minor, medium, and severe injuries or even fatalities. Broken bones are not uncommon, and serious breaks and injuries can take months or longer to heal, meaning you may not be able to return to work or perform daily activities. Others who survive these kinds of crashes end up with painful burns, disfiguring scars, crushed or amputated limbs, spinal cord and back injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. While some are immediately apparent, others do not show up until hours or days after the impact. It is vital that you seek medical attention as soon as possible after a sideswipe accident. Document everything, including the diagnosis, treatment, and expenses.

As for property damage, this also depends on the speed and size of vehicles involved in the sideswipe collision. You will usually see dented passenger-side and driver doors, damaged or lost sideview mirrors, and damaged quarter panels. When sideswipes lead to other crashes like hitting stationary objects and rollovers, the injuries and property damage will be more substantial. Your car could be undriveable for weeks or even be totaled.

What Should I Do After a Sideswipe Accident?

As with any other kind of automobile accident, check to see if you and your passengers are injured first, then call 911. The operator will ask questions and instruct you on what to do next. If the vehicle can be driven, they may tell you to move it off the road onto a safe area and then turn on your hazard lights. If you are able, quickly snap a few photos of the other vehicle, including the license plate, as hit-and-run accidents happen more often then you might think in the state of Georgia.

While waiting for help to arrive, you may want to exchange information with the other driver if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, wait for help to arrive and let them guide you through this process. You will want the other party’s name, address, contact information, and pictures of their driver’s license and auto insurance card. Also remember to contact your insurance company in a timely manner. They will also ask a lot of questions but do your best to only provide factual information. Offering opinions can get you into hot water later; people are usually emotional after car accidents and might say the wrong things. Admitting fault for the accident right after a crash is the wrong move, so if you are feeling jittery, wait awhile before making that call.

The Springfield Car Accident Lawyers from Kicklighter Law are Experienced with Handling Sideswipe Auto Collision Cases

If you were involved in a sideswipe car accident and need trusted legal guidance, the Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law are ready to help. For a free, confidential consultation, call our Springfield, Georgia offices at 912-754-6003 or complete our online form. We proudly serve clients throughout Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian vs. automobile accidents can be serious or fatal because unlike drivers, people who are outside running or walking have no form of protection. It happens more often than you might think, too – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates than more than 70,000 pedestrians become injured and more than 4,000 lose their lives every year in these kinds of accidents. These unfortunate events are preventable in most cases and can be due to driver or pedestrian negligence or error.

What Are the Main Reasons for Pedestrian Accidents?

Distracted drivers cause a large percentage of pedestrian accidents. Many are due to texting, emailing, and talking on cellphones when behind the wheel. Other forms of distraction include adjusting the radio, using a GPS, looking at a phone, eating or drinking, personal grooming, or interacting with other passengers or pets while driving. Distracted pedestrians also cause these crashes – think about how often you see people walking and talking or texting.

Intersections are often the site of pedestrian accidents, with left-hand turns being three times as likely to cause pedestrians to get hit by cars. Even when there are crosswalks and signals, drivers who turn left focus more attention on approaching cars than walkers. They are more likely to be on the lookout for vehicles and fail to check for pedestrians who might be crossing.

The NHTSA also reports that alcohol is a contributing factor for approximately 12 percent of pedestrian accidents, whether it be the driver or person out on the street who is under the influence. Sadly, most of these lead to fatal outcomes for either or both. Alcohol is also linked to about 60 percent of all fatal auto crashes that involve young drivers and naturally, drugs also contribute to these accidents.

Other Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Right-of-way situations when drivers fail to yield for pedestrians can also cause serious injuries and fatalities. Even if a pedestrian ignores a sign or traffic signal, they are still vulnerable to getting hurt, therefore, drivers should allow them to cross when they have started moving. If the person realizes their mistake and starts moving back, wait until they are back on the sidewalk before proceeding to drive forward. Jaywalking can be very dangerous in this respect, and people frequently attempt to cross right at the last minute before a light change. It is best to keep a vigilant eye out for pedestrians on streets with sidewalks, as they have no defense, even if they don’t have the right of way by crossing away from the designated crosswalk.

It can also be hard for motorists to avoid crashes when pedestrians are standing or idling in roadways. It could be a few people talking in the street, kids playing, a whole team of construction workers on the job, or any other kind of hazardous situations.

It is important for drivers to adhere to lower posted speed limits in neighborhood and school zones, and to slow down accordingly in construction zones. Still, a pedestrian who was standing, playing, or lying down in a road could be held liable for an accident if they are not using the designated crosswalks. Pedestrians can also stay safer on shoulders and sidewalks by moving in the same direction as traffic, rather than going toward it.

Low visibility also causes pedestrian accidents, so it is important for pedestrians to wear light-colored clothing when they are out at dusk or night. Most crosswalks and intersections have streetlamps or flashing lights, but it can still be hard for drivers to see those who are walking or running outside in the dark. Reflective clothing and accessories can help with this, and many people rely on them for visibility.

Other Dangerous Situations to Be Aware Of

Poor weather conditions are another contributing factor for these accidents, making it harder for pedestrians and drivers to see at times. Rain, snow, and ice make the ground treacherous, and can cause vehicles to skid and people to fall.

Driving classes teach students to give pedestrians the right of way, but real-life scenarios are different than learning the basics. While there may be some actual encounters during on-the-road lessons, knowing what to do when a pedestrian jumps out in front of you at an intersection can be difficult the first time it happens.

Reckless Drivers and Pedestrian Accidents

It can be hard for drivers to remain patient around pedestrians, but in most states walkers and runners have the right of way even when they do not follow the rules. Drivers who neglect to give pedestrians the right of way, make illegal turns, speed, do not come to complete stops at intersections and fail to slow down are breaking laws and could injure or kill others.

Defective traffic lights and unmarked crosswalks can also create dangerous situations for pedestrians and motorists, and when drivers are speeding or otherwise behaving irresponsibly, the risk of an accident skyrockets. Not using turn signals is another problem, because people out on the street (and other motorists) will have no indication as to a vehicle’s next move and will not realize that they should move out of the way. As the person on the road with the least protection, pedestrians must always keep safety in mind. If a driver’s or pedestrian’s temper flares at a perceived offense, the best thing to do is to ignore it and move on, as no one wants to get involved with a road rage situation.

Driver and Pedestrians Have Responsibilities

Drivers have a duty to exercise care when they are behind the wheel, and this depends on considering variables like traffic, lighting conditions, weather, and the pedestrians on the road. Failing to maintain that duty of care could lead to a charge of negligence when a pedestrian is hurt. When that happens, the driver might be held legally responsible, and be ordered to pay out financial compensation for the pedestrian’s injuries and associated losses.

Pedestrians should be aware that distracted walking, jaywalking and not following traffic signs and signals puts them at risk of getting into accidents. Staying alert is always important, but even more so when there is traffic and approaching intersections. Remember, even if the driver is negligent and held liable for the damages, serious injuries could result that put people out of commission for long periods of time. In the worst-case scenario, a fatality could occur.

These guidelines also apply to others who share the roads, including cyclists. They can be even more vulnerable than pedestrians; even though they can wear helmets, they can be traveling at faster speeds. Drivers need to give them the right of way as well and always maintain the proper distances. Cyclists can also be negligent, but it is important to allow them the right of way and not drive recklessly around them even when they are being aggressive.

Contact a Springfield Car Accident Lawyer from Kicklighter Law if You Were Involved in a Pedestrian vs. Automobile Accident

Even the most safety-conscious motorist and pedestrians end up in serious automobile crashes, and both parties can experience life-threatening injuries, property damages or worse. Reach out to a skilled Springfield car accident lawyer at Kicklighter Law if you or someone you care about was impacted in a crash like this. For a free initial consultation, call us at 912-754-6003 or complete our online form. From our offices in Springfield, Georgia we serve clients throughout Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

How Can I Avoid a Car Accident Over Labor Day Weekend?

According to the calendar, summer officially ends on Thursday, September 22nd, but most Americans consider Labor Day to be the unofficial end of the summer season. Kids go back to school, the leaves start to change color and the temperatures slowly start to fall, although it will continue to stay warm in Georgia for quite some time. Many travelers may be heading out on the road for one last getaway before summer’s unofficial end.

The increase of travelers on the road increases risk of car accidents for everyone making that last trip of the season. You can reduce the risk of being injured in a car accident by making safety a priority and keeping some important safety tips in mind. If you are involved in a car accident, a skilled car accident lawyer can address all your questions and concerns and assist you with every step of the claims process.

How Common Are Car Accidents Over Labor Day?

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), close to 400 people suffered fatal injuries in car accidents over the Labor Day holiday weekend in 2020. In addition to the tragic fatalities, serious car accidents also cause injuries that require immediate medical attention and hospitalization. Significantly more people are traveling to their end-of-summer holiday destinations this year compared to 2020 now that COVID restrictions are far less strict than they were two years ago. With more cars on the roads during the busy holiday weekend, the number of serious, and fatal accidents could increase this year if motorists engage in unsafe driving behavior, or fail to follow the rules of the road.

What Steps Can I Take to Prevent a Car Accident?

While safety should always be a priority, all motorists should use extra caution when driving over the busy Labor Day weekend. The following are examples of proactive steps you can take to avoid a serious car accident:

  • Wear a seatbelt. While seatbelts do not prevent accidents from happening, they are one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent serious, potentially fatal injuries if you are involved in an accident. All passengers, including those sitting in the back seat, should always wear a seat belt. Children should be safely secured in a car seat that is appropriate for their height, weight, and age.
  • Do not drink and drive. Drunk driving is one of the most common, yet preventable causes of serious, often fatal car accidents. Too often people drive home from a Labor Day party after consuming too much alcohol. Even a relatively small amount of alcohol can cause decreased coordination, slower reflexes, impaired vision, and slower reaction times. If you plan to consume alcohol, either pick a designated driver who agrees to stay sober or arrange for a ride home from a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft.
  • Avoid distractions. When you are driving, put the phone somewhere out of reach so that you are not tempted to make a phone call, send a text, or check your social media accounts. Other common distractions that you should avoid include eating, reaching for something in the back seat, setting up the GPS, or interacting with other passengers in the vehicle. Keep in mind that it takes approximately five seconds to send or read a text message. If you are driving at a speed of 55 mph, having your eyes off the road for that amount of time is comparable to driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. A single moment of distraction can have devastating consequences if you hit another vehicle, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian.
  • Avoid drowsy driving. Drowsy driving is another common cause of car accidents that can be prevented. Recognize the signs of drowsiness: excessive blinking and yawning, drifting out of your lane, hitting a rumble strip, or missing your exit. If you start to exhibit any of these symptoms, pull over to a safe spot and get some fresh air or grab a cup of coffee. If you are extremely fatigued, take a short nap while parked somewhere safe  before getting back on the road.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is in good working order. Before taking a long road trip, make an appointment with your local mechanic to ensure that your vehicle’s tires are properly aligned, and that they have the correct tire pressure. A mechanic should also check your vehicle’s brakes, transmission, and engine, and ensure that all necessary fluids are topped off, including wiper fluid, engine oil, power steering fluid, coolants, and transmission fluid.
  • Plan your route. Even if you have a GPS system or rely on navigation apps for directions, familiarize yourself with your route before you hit the road. Too often, motorists who are unfamiliar with their route make sudden, unexpected lane changes where they end up cutting off other drivers and causing serious car accidents.
  • Use caution when driving near large trucks. Large commercial trucks have blind spots, including at least 20 feet in front of the truck, approximately 30 feet behind the truck, and on both sides of the truck. The passenger side of the truck has a larger blind spot. Motorists are responsible for being aware of a truck’s blind spots and making sure that they avoid them. One tip to keep in mind is that if you cannot see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you. Never cut in front of a large truck as they require significantly more road space to slow down or come to a complete stop.
  • Avoid driving when traffic is heaviest. If possible, travel during off hours when fewer people are on the roads to avoid traffic and accidents. That may mean leaving very early in the morning, or at night when the peak traffic has slowed down. Check for traffic updates so that you are aware of any accidents, road closures, or other delays that could cause heavier traffic and increase the risk of an accident during the holiday weekend. 
  • Avoid driving late at night. Most fatal car accidents that occur over Labor Day happen at night, so you should avoid driving from sunset to sunrise if possible. In addition to the fact that you are more likely to be drowsy when driving at night, there are also more drunk drivers on the roads at night, particularly during a holiday weekend.
  • Do not tailgate. Tailgating increases the risk of rear-end accidents, as well as multi-vehicle car accidents if you are tailgating on a busy highway. Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the car or truck in front of you and increase the following distance during inclement weather.
  • Be a defensive driver. Take reasonable, proactive steps to prevent a car accident: check the weather before you even start your trip. Plan your route in advance. Check your side and rearview mirrors regularly, scan the road ahead for possible hazards and adjust your speed and following distance, especially when traffic is heavy.
  • Obey the rules of the road. Obey the posted speed limit, yield to the right of way, use your signals properly and check your blind spots before changing lanes.
  • Keep an emergency safety kit in your vehicle. Like wearing a seat belt, this will not prevent a car accident, but it will ensure that you have immediate access to some important items while you wait for help to arrive. An emergency kit should include bottled water, non-perishable snacks, a flashlight, extra batteries, blankets, dry clothes, jumper cables, and a first-aid kit.

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Victims of Labor Day Car Accidents

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a car accident over the Labor Day holiday weekend, it is in your best interest to contact our Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-205-6248 or contact us online. With our offices located in Springfield, Georgia, we proudly serve all clients of Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.

Does Back-to-School Traffic Cause an Increase In Car Accidents?

Drivers in Georgia complain about the increase in tourist and vacationer traffic during the summer months, but late summer and early autumn brings another traffic surge as children go back to school and normal commuting habits start back up.

The result of more cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, and school buses on the road is a higher likelihood of crashes. Many cities across the nation have noted a rise in car accidents during the weeks when kids return to the classroom. Car accidents can be devastating and costly. You can help reduce the chances of being in a back-to-school car accident by understanding more about this annual phenomenon and taking precautionary measures when you are behind the wheel.

 What Causes the Increase in Back-to-School Car Wrecks?

As mentioned above, more vehicles use common roadways in the morning and late afternoon hours when schools are in session. This naturally increases traffic, slows down traffic patterns, and increases time-to-commute. Yet a rise in the number of vehicles is hardly the only reason that back-to-school time often correlates with a bump up in crashes.

The next few paragraphs will address other contributing factors that can make late summer and early fall traffic more hazardous for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Contributor #1: Buses

Plenty of children and their families take advantage of public transportation for their kids’ commutes to school. Unless kids are traveling on city buses, they are usually taking yellow buses to school.

Yellow school buses may stop several times in a one-mile stretch to pick up students, affecting traffic patterns for all cars behind them. They also stop at railway crossings. Despite the fact that school buses have the right of way, drivers may become impatient and try to pass them. Or, distracted drivers may forget to use caution and end up running into stopped school buses. It is always best to give school buses the room they need to maneuver and safely transport their young passengers. It is illegal to pass a school bus when the stop sign arm is extended and the red lights are flashing.

Contributor #2: New Drivers

Many teens take advantage of the long summer to finally get their driver’s license. A teen with a driver’s license is technically able to drive, of course, but they are inexperienced. That inexperience can lead them to use poor judgment or make bad choices. For example, teenagers are statistically more likely to allow distractions like the alert of a text message to interrupt their concentration levels. Even looking briefly at a phone while driving can set the stage for a catastrophic crash.

Contributor #3: Construction

It would be wonderful if all highway and street construction were finished by the time kids came back to school. Unfortunately, road construction projects can be delayed or extended. By the time back-to-school arrives, construction crews are still working hard to maintain and upgrade roadway surfaces.

The law is clear about driving conscientiously and slowly in construction zones. When faced with increased traffic and perhaps the worry of getting to school or work late, some drivers go too fast. Speeding in a construction zone can lead to a driver being fined. Additionally, it can be the cause of a crash.

Contributor #4: Sleep Deprivation

Summer affords many teenagers and even some parents the opportunity to sleep in, at least a little. Most schools start fairly early, though, which means that kids and parents may have to be ready earlier than normal. The result? They can feel a little weary and drowsy in the morning.

Younger teen drivers are especially at risk of not getting enough recuperative sleep before getting on the road. Teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep, but tend to get less than seven hours per night according to research. Mixed with their inexperience navigating in potentially heavy traffic, sleepy teen drivers may make more mistakes than their well-rested counterparts.

Contributor #5: Pedestrians and Cyclists

Not all children rely on motorized vehicles to get them to and from school. Some walk and others ride their bikes. These activities afford them the opportunity to get lots of exercise and maybe spend time with friends and siblings.

An increase in pedestrians and cyclists means that drivers need to be more cautious. Children should look both ways before crossing streets. They also should stay within crosswalks. However, they may forget or neglect these rules. It is up to drivers to make sure that they anticipate sharing the road with walkers and bikers.

How to Avoid Getting into a Back-to-School Accident?

You cannot change the fact that traffic might be harder to navigate at the end of August and beginning of September. You can change the way you prepare yourself as a driver, though. Taking just a few proactive measures can mean the difference between getting into an accident or arriving where you want to go without any problems.

Below are some of the top ways to handle driving during one of the busiest times of the year in Georgia:

  • Prioritize your time management. Are you someone who usually leaves the house far later than intended? This behavior pattern can make you more likely to rush to work or be impatient with other drivers. Use the first few back-to-school weeks as excuses to get on top of your time management. Wake up a bit earlier, drink your morning coffee faster, and give yourself enough time to get where you need to go.
  • Take teen drivers on the roads more often. If you have a teen driver in your household, take a few practice runs to and from the places your teen will most commonly go. These locations could include school, a friend’s house, soccer fields, the park, the mall, or the child’s job. Getting a feel for the roads will help your teen’s driving confidence and ability.
  • Expect the unexpected. Other drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists can be unpredictable. Drive defensively and expect anything to happen. Stay within speed limits and avoid any distractions, including eating breakfast on the way to work.
  • Give school buses the room they expect. You can probably guess when and where you will be most likely to encounter school buses and vans. Stay attuned to them and put their drivers’ needs first.
  • Make sure everyone in your household gets enough sleep. Though it may be hard to move to a more stringent sleep schedule, you can do everyone in your home a favor by insisting on earlier bedtimes. This is especially critical for you and your driver teens. Drowsy driving is a real problem that winds up causing accidents and crash-related injuries.
  • Be careful in school zones. School zones are places where you need to slow down during specific times of the day. Either avoid school zones if you are in a hurry or plan for your drive time to be longer because of them.
  • Use apps to find out about construction. Wondering if you are going to encounter construction during your daily commute? Many apps show active construction sites, allowing you to bypass them by taking less-traveled roads.

What Should You Do If You Are in a Back-to-School Accident?

An accident can be jarring and feel overwhelming. If you get into an accident:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Try to move your car to a safer location if you can
  • Assess the damages and make sure not to move anyone who has been seriously hurt
  • While waiting for police and first responders to arrive, take snapshots of the scene. These may be helpful if you need to work with a car accident lawyer to compel insurance companies to cover any property damage or personal injury you experience.
  • Above all else, get medical care to address any new symptoms that happen after your crash. These could include anything from headaches and blurry vision to back pain and bruises. Many accident injuries take time to show up rather than appear right away.

A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help you understand how to move through the process of recovering damages if you have trouble getting fairly compensated after your crash.

Contact a Savannah Car Accident Lawyer at Kicklighter Law to Talk about Your Georgia Back-to-School Car Wreck

Did a back-to-school accident leave you overwhelmed with bills? Speak with a Savannah car accident lawyer at Kicklighter Law. Call our firm at 912-461-6309 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation at our office in Springfield, Georgia. Our firm serves clients throughout Effingham County.

Can I Be Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of a Prescription Drug?

It is common knowledge that getting behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol can increase the risk of a car accident. Alcohol affects coordination, judgment, and the ability to react quickly to emergency driving situations. However, alcohol and illegal drugs are not the only substances that can cause motorists to become impaired. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness, nausea, and other side effects that can affect a motorist’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. What may come as a surprise is the fact that you can receive a DUI for driving while under the influence of a prescription medication. If you are facing a DUI charge, contact a skilled DUI lawyer at your earliest convenience.

What Are Georgia’s DUI Laws?

Georgia has strict laws against driving under the influence of drugs, or any substance that can cause impairments. According to Georgia DUI laws, motorists are prohibited from driving, or being in control of a vehicle if they meet any of the following circumstances:

  • They are under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree that makes it less safe for them to be operating a motor vehicle.
  • They are under the influence of an aerosol, glue, or other toxic vapor to an extent that they are impaired, making it less safe for them to drive.
  • They are under the influence of two or more controlled substances, including opiates, stimulants, or depressants, to an extent that it is less safe for the person to operate a motor vehicle.
  • The driver’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 BAC or more within three hours of getting behind the wheel.
  • There is a detectable amount of marijuana or controlled substance present in the person’s blood, urine, or both.

How Can Prescription Drugs Impact My Ability to Drive Safely?

Prescription medications are used to treat a wide range of health conditions from depression and anxiety to hypertension and diabetes. However, many of these drugs also have side effects that can impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, even when you take the medication as prescribed. When combined with even a small amount of alcohol, impairments are often more extreme, although this is not always the case. The following are examples of how certain prescription medications can affect your driving:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Inability to focus
  • Delayed reactions

How Do Georgia’s DUI Laws Apply to Prescription Medications?

If you are taking a prescription medication that impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, you could be charged with a DUI. In addition, if you combine your prescription medication with even a small amount of alcohol, this can make you less safe as a driver.

Unfortunately, people do not always realize how their medications could impact their ability to drive, particularly if they are taking a combination of medications that could cause a range of side effects. In addition, motorists often assume that if they have a valid prescription for the prescription drugs they are taking, they will not face any legal consequences if they are facing a possible DUI charge, but that is not the case. If the prescription medication makes you a more dangerous driver, you could be charged with a DUI and face the same consequences as if you were under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

What Are the Penalties for a DUI Charge?

If you have been charged with a DUI, the penalties are severe, even if the DUI charge involves a prescription drug. For example, Georgia DUI laws call for mandatory jail time, even if it is your first offense. If convicted, you may also face the following:

  • Alcohol and drug testing
  • Fees and costs
  • License restrictions
  • Mandatory DUI classes
  • Probation

When Can Prescription Medication Be Used as a Defense Strategy?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 50 percent of all Americans take at least one prescription medication, and over 23 percent take three or more. Too often, drivers have no idea that they could face DUI charges for taking a prescription medication. However, if a law enforcement officer believes that your driving is impaired, they may first ask whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Next, they will ask whether you are taking any prescription medications. If the officer feels it is warranted, they may arrest you and request that you submit to a blood test. If it comes back positive for medication, the state may proceed with a DUI prosecution against you.

While simply stating that you have a valid prescription from a doctor is not a viable defense, it is important to understand that when the police officer charged you with a DUI, they had to make a judgment call regarding your level of impairment and if it meets the “less safe” requirement. Oftentimes, officers are wrong, or are too quick to charge a driver with a DUI when the driver is not actually impaired. When testifying in court, police officers are often unable to provide specific evidence about what effect the drug had on your ability to drive. In addition, when police conduct DUI stops, they often use the same sobriety tests for prescription medications as they do for alcohol. However, you may have an underlying condition that causes some of the same cues as being intoxicated, even if it has no impact on your ability to drive safely. Field sobriety tests are not approved by the courts to support a prescription drug DUI charge.

If a police officer orders you to provide a blood or urine sample for drug testing, keep in mind that prescription drugs are often detected even when you are no longer under the influence of that medication. For example, if you took an Ambien pill to help you sleep, and you get pulled over the next day, the medication will still be in your system even though you are no longer under the influence, or unsafe to drive. An experienced DUI lawyer will review your case, determine whether prosecutors are relying on inaccurate information, and develop an effective defense strategy aimed at reducing the charges or getting your case dismissed.

What Other Defense Strategies Are Used in DUI Cases?

Every DUI case is unique, and there is no single strategy that will be effective for every case, particularly when the case involves prescription medication. However, the following are examples of some of the best defenses the DUI lawyers often use:

  • The officer did not have a valid reason to initiate a DUI stop.
  • The field sobriety test was not issued according to procedure.
  • The driver was not properly advised about their implied consent rights about chemical testing.
  • The drug levels in a blood or urine test were within the therapeutic range.
  • The officer did not advise you of your Miranda rights prior to questioning.
  • Your blood sample was mixed up with another person’s sample.
  • The officer was not properly trained to make prescription drug DUI arrests.

How Can I Avoid a Prescription Drug DUI Charge?

If you are taking any type of medication, whether it is prescription or over the counter, it is important that you understand the effects that the drug can have on your body.

  • Read the label to see whether it should be taken with or without food, if it causes drowsiness or other side effects, and if it warns against driving or operating any type of machinery while taking the drug.
  • Speak to your doctor about your prescription, including possible side effects, and whether it will interact with any other drug you are taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and even vitamins and supplements.
  • Any time your physician starts you on a new course of treatment or increases the dose of a drug you are taking, ask them whether it is safe to drive while taking this drug.

Ask whether it will cause any of the following impairments:

  • Impaired coordination or balance
  • Slower reflexes
  • Drowsiness
  • Cognitive and decision-making impairments
  • Heightened anxiety or other mood-related issues
  • Medication makes it easier to become intoxicated

Savannah DUI Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Help Motorists Who Have Been Charged with a DUI

If you have been charged with a prescription drug DUI, you are strongly urged to contact the Savannah DUI lawyers at Kicklighter Law as soon as possible. We have a proven track record of developing effective defense strategies that protect our clients’ legal rights and avoid steep fines, license suspensions and jail time. Our skilled legal team will thoroughly review your case, address your questions and concerns, and recommend the best legal course of action. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. From our offices located in Springfield, Georgia, we proudly serve all clients of Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.

How to Travel Safely with a Pet?

If you are like most families, your dog or cat or other pet is treated like a member of the family. Pets give us love and comfort and fun. Families with children often have dogs and cats to teach their children compassion and responsibility. The children love their pets and experience unconditional love from them. They learn to be responsible for them by walking their pets, feeding them, and taking care of them.

That is why it is so important to consider our pets’ safety when traveling with them. Because car accidents happen all the time, you never know when it is going to happen to you. No matter how safe we are and no matter how much of a defensive driver we are, there is still a chance of a negligent driver causing a crash. That is why we must do things to protect our pets when we travel with them. After all, you would not put your child in the car without a car seat, right? In the same manner, it is also prudent to secure your pets when travelling – for your safety and theirs.  

10 Tips to Keep Our Pets Safe When They Ride with Us in the Car

Many of these tips can be used for any kind of pet, but it is geared mostly for dogs and cats. Most people will not take their beloved family goldfish to run errands with them. So, these tips are not geared to family pets like that. Here are 7 tips that you can consider using to keep your pet safe when they travel for you in a vehicle:

1. Dogs and Cats Should Not Roam In The Vehicle

One way to keep your pets safe while in the car with you is to not let them roam around the vehicle. They should be confined somehow, ideally in a crate that’s fastened. The point is that if they are roaming around the inside of the vehicle and you are hit by another driver in an accident, your pet could be seriously injured. The crash will throw them around inside the car, but if they are secured inside a crate which is itself tied down somehow, this will not happen.

2. Pets Should Not Be in The Front Seat

The back seat is generally thought of as the safest place in the vehicle. If a dog or cat is contained in a carrier, use the back seat seatbelts to fasten them in. It will provide the most protection from either a front-end collision or a rear end collision. Also, if they are in the front passenger seat during a crash, your pet may be seriously injured or even killed by the airbag engaging. Those airbags are designed to protect humans, not pets.

3. Keep Dogs’ Heads Inside the Car

This is going to be a tough one to follow, given dogs’ joy of sticking their heads out the car window and enjoying the breezes in the face, but there is risk of injury if you allow your dog to do this. If your dog’s head is sticking out of the car window then there is a risk that they might be hit by something, either debris being kicked up by your tires or even another car that accidentally drove too close to you. This also goes for a related issue of allowing your dogs to travel in the back of a truck, in the truck bed. This is extremely dangerous for your dog if you get into an accident. There is nothing that can protect your dog who is riding in the truck bed. If you get into an accident, your dog could easily be thrown out of the truck and land dozens of feet away.

4. Make Several Stops on Long Trips

Do not forget to make several pit stops for your pet during long trips. This will help you, the driver, continue to stay alert and awake and to stretch your legs, but your dog as well. Make their ride more comfortable by giving them bathroom breaks and let them stretch their legs. Make sure that your pet is always on a leash, has a collar with a tag on it with contact information, just in case your dog gets loose.

5. Do Not Leave Your Pet Alone in the Car

There are news stories all the time of people leaving their pets in their vehicles on hot days. Usually, it is on the news because someone smashed out a window to save the pet. On days when it is hot out, just leave your pet at home if you cannot take them inside the store with you. The problem is that on merely mildly hot days, even with the windows partially rolled down, it can become too hot for pets. Even on a mild, 75-degree day, it can take only 10 minutes for the inside of a car to get to 104 degrees, putting your pet at risk. Dogs can only regulate their internal heat by mostly panting. If it gets too hot inside the vehicle too quickly, it could kill your pet.

6. Pets Can Get Car Sick

Dogs can get car sick just like humans do. One way to help them go through long trips in the car is to feed them a few hours before you begin the trip. Having a full belly will help prevent car sickness and having an accident inside your vehicle.

7. Take Test Trips Before a Long Trip

If your pet is not used to traveling long distances in a vehicle, take them on several shorter trips with you. This will allow them to associate your vehicle with something positive and they will be more comfortable spending long periods of time in the car. Ultimately, you want your pet to be relaxed enough that they can nap just like they do most of the day while at home.

8. Bring Enough Water for Your Pet to Drink

Pet owners often forget about bringing water for their pet to drink during a long trip. Not only is the water important remember but also remember to pack a bowl or something for them to drink out of. This brings up a related topic of packing a travel bag specifically for your pet. When you go on a trip, you will pack some luggage for yourself. You pack a bag for your pet as well. Your pet’s travel bag should include food, toys, extra leash, pick-up bags for their bathroom trips, grooming supplies, medication, water, and bowls to drink and eat out of. When your pet has the things that they are used to, they will feel more comfortable and relaxed with familiar items around them.

9. Microchip Your Pet

If you have not done so already, make sure to have your pet microchipped. This will help significantly if your pet gets loose in an area that they are not used to. It will help you recover your lost loved one and family member.

10. Bring Your Pet’s Vaccination Records

If you are traveling across state lines, it might be a good idea to bring your pet’s vaccination records just in case you need to prove that they are currently vaccinated.

The Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Can Answer Your Car Accident Questions

If you or a family member has been seriously injured in a car crash, you may have a lot of questions about what should be done and what to do first. The Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law have decades of experience in helping those seriously injured by other driver’s negligence. Call us at 912-754-6003 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County.

Do Drunk Driving Accidents Increase in the Summer Months?

The summer is fully underway, with many of us spending time with families and friends enjoying vacations, travelling to the beach, graduation parties, or other fun celebrations. With all the free time and excitement, it is not uncommon for people to relax with drink, but there are those that are irresponsible and partake in drunk driving, making the summer season the most dangerous time of year with driving under the influence (DUI) car accidents.

The summer has some of the most celebrated and popular holidays: Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day. With millions of travelers packing the roads during these holidays and the weeks leading up, the chances of getting into a car accident is already increased. Combining that with alcohol consumption, it is no wonder that the summer season is so dangerous with drunk drivers. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes during the months of May, June, and July than any other time of the year. Additionally:

  • The NHTSA found that the number of drunk driving accidents double during the summer months compared to all other months combined.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that there is an average of 29 deaths in drunk driving accidents per day, or one death every 50 minutes.
  • The three of the five most dangerous holidays involving DUI fatalities are in the summer. The five holidays are: New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, and Memorial Day. On Independence Day, you have a 78 percent higher-than-average risk to be killed in a drunk driving accident. For Labor Day and Memorial Day, you have a 54 percent and 50 percent higher-than-average risk, respectively.
  • The deadliest days of the week for DUI-related accidents occur on Saturday and Sunday, with Tuesday being the least dangerous. Almost 25 percent of weekly DUI accidents occur on Saturday, while Sunday sees 21.5 percent of DUI accidents. Sunday is second to Saturday, mainly because DUI accidents happen more frequently between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.
  • The projected most dangerous week of 2022 is Independence Day week, where DUI accidents are expected to increase. The second most dangerous week of 2022 is projected to start on August 8th, with the third being the week before starting August 1st. This is because these are the weeks when summer travel is expected to be at its highest.
  • The NHTSA found that about 27 percent of drunk drivers are between the ages of 21 and 24, while males are more likely to drive drunk compared to females.
  • The months of June, July and August are also considered the most dangerous for teenage drivers, not only because of their inexperience behind the wheel, but because they also engage in underage drinking.

Protecting Yourself from Drunk Drivers

In order to protect yourself from drunk drivers, it may be helpful to understand what happens to the body when consuming alcohol, as well as recognizing who may be under the influence. Alcohol impairs judgement and can cause hazardous behavior behind the wheel. Even one drink can impair someone’s ability to drive, particularly their ability to multitask and stay focused. It can also reduce the ability to track moving objects or can lead to visual impairment. Alcohol consumption can also cause:

  • Decreased muscle control
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Slower thinking
  • Slurred speech

If you plan on travelling during the summer, here are a few tips to help protect yourself and your family from drunk drivers:

  • Wear your seat belt: Always wear your seat belt, even on short trips. Seat belts have repeatedly been proven to save lives in a crash, and is the best defense in any car accident, not just DUI-related accidents. Make sure that children are in their properly fitted car seat and that they are restrained fully. You and everyone else in your vehicle should be wearing their seatbelts no matter what.
  • Defensive driving: Defensive driving helps keep you and others safe, particularly if you suspect a driver nearby you is drunk. Keep your distance from their vehicle especially if they are swerving, and if they are driving aggressively, move to the right lane and let them pass you. If you notice a vehicle heading towards you, pull to the right and stop, honk your horn, and flash your lights to alert them.
  • Avoid driving at night: The majority of DUI-related accidents, as well as fatal crashes, happen at night, particularly between the hours of midnight and three a.m. With lower visibility, it is already difficult to drive safely at night, and with drunk drivers lurking about, the chances of an accident increase. Stay home at night whenever possible.
  • Be alert: Another aspect of defensive driving is being alert and trying to anticipate the moves of other drivers. Be extra cautious in areas where a drunk driver could make a mistake, such as at a stop sign or an intersection. Before crossing an intersection, make sure the way is clear even if you have the green, and if you do see someone approaching, be sure that they come to a stop before crossing.
  • Plan ahead: If you do decide to go out and have a few drinks, please do so responsibly and plan your way home ahead of time. Have a designated driver who is not drinking ready to go or use a taxi or a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft to get you home safely. Never assume someone who had even one drink is sober enough to drive home.
  • No distractions: Driving without distractions keeps you safe and your eyes on the road, especially at night when your attention needs to be on safety. Distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving and is a leading cause of car accidents in the country. Put your phone away and always keep your attention on the road.

Common Injuries Caused by Drunk Drivers

There is a myriad of injuries that a drunk driver can cause, some permanently disabling or even deadly. The most common DUI-related injuries include:

  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Burns
  • Crushing injuries
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Death
  • Internal organ damage
  • Neck, back, and shoulder injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries or paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)

If you have been in an accident involving a drunk driver, then it is likely that you have suffered any one of these injuries or more. You may be able to seek financial compensation by filing a lawsuit, which could cover:

  • Disability, disfigurement, or scarring
  • Lost wages and ability to earn income
  • Medical expenses, hospitalization, and treatments
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Wrongful death

DUI Penalties in Georgia

There are many penalties you would face in the state of Georgia if you were charged with a DUI-related offense. Not only are they monetarily, but they could also be lifelong, especially if a drunk driving accident severely injured someone or took a life. Some potential penalties for a first DUI charge include:

  • One year probation
  • A minimum fine of up to $300, plus court costs
  • Between one to ten days in jail
  • 40 hours of community service
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Driver’s license suspension

A second or third DUI charge in Georgia can mean up to 36 months of probation, up to five years of driver’s license suspension, up to 12 months in jail, and other substantial penalties. Four-time DUI offenders face more severe penalties, such as felony charges, 10 years of suspended license, up to five years in prison, and more.

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Help Drunk Driving Victims Receive Compensation for their Damages

If you have been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you may be entitled to further compensation. Contact our Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law today. Call us today at 912-754-6003 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With our offices located in Springfield, Georgia, we proudly serve all clients of Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.

What Are Safety Tips for Long Road Trips?

If you are planning a long road trip, whether for business or pleasure, safety is a priority. Unfortunately, few people seldom ever plan for the worst, especially vacationers. With a relaxing, fun vacation on the mind, preparing for or exercising driving safety protocols is usually last on the list of priorities for most people.

Driving is a serious business, and taking long road trips can test exactly how serious a driver handles the responsibility of safety. There are many dangers that present themselves when taking to the road during an elongated driving excursion. These dangers can range from a poorly maintained vehicle to a sleep-deprived driver.

Every year, over 30,000 people die from motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 38,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the leading cause of death for people up to 54 years old is motor vehicle accidents.  

People spend a good deal of time making plans for their vacation or business trip in order to assure a fruitful or fun time once they arrive at their destination. If the same attention and caution were paid to the trip itself, the chances of experiencing a catastrophe on the road would be reduced, and the trip might become the relaxing trip you hoped it would be.  

How Should You Prepare Your Vehicle for a Long Road Trip?

After your reservations and planned activities are squared away, get busy assuring the safety and comfortability of you and your passengers. Taking a long road trip is difficult enough in terms of boredom, the lack of comfortability, and sheer exhaustion; but not taking the right steps to prepare for a trip could turn an already difficult situation into a nightmare.

The first thing you should do is pay attention to your vehicle. Your vehicle might not actually be old, but that does not mean that it is beyond maintenance. Whether your vehicle is young or old, a long road trip has a way of finding your vehicle’s faults and near-faults, so head off any potential threats and check your vehicle thoroughly.

It is best to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic before takeoff, but if you want to do it yourself, you should check your vehicle from front to back. Make sure that the brakes feel right while you are driving your vehicle. If the brakes squeal or do not respond correctly, they are not going to improve on a long trip; take your vehicle to a mechanic and get them checked out.

Steering is sometimes overlooked. When the steering feels slightly irregular, some people simply pass it off as the way their particular vehicle drives. An experienced driver knows what good steering should feel like. If the steering is off, there could be a problem.

Tires are critically important. Old, worn tires could cause a blowout, and that could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Make sure your tires are in tiptop condition before taking off. You should also check the air pressure on each of your tires to assure that they are balanced, and that they measure up to the specified air pressure according to the manufacturer.

You should always check the fluids, oil, belts, wipers, caps, hoses, and filters. Make sure the signals and lights are in good working order as well. Basically, anything and everything you can think of, check it.  

What Intangibles Should You Address Before Your Trip?

It is important to make sure that you are familiar with the route you are taking. Relying on a GPS can bring too many surprises, and with that can be confusion, frustration, and bad decision-making. Get familiar with which highways and exits you should be taking.

Plan your rest stops. This is important because it will help you to avoid going too long without a needed stop. Knowing where the stops are along the way allows you to stay organized with your fill-ups, bathroom visits, food breaks, and much-needed rest.

Perhaps the most important way to prepare for your trip is to make sure you get sleep. With all the preparations and last-minute packing, it is easy to put off getting rest. Sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents.

A recent study done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that drivers who miss one to two hours of required sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Sleep deprivation slows down a driver’s reaction to stimuli, having an effect similar to alcohol. This means that your reaction time when lacking sleep is poor.

It is critical that you stay alert, so getting enough sleep before getting behind the wheel is a must. Also, for those fun vacations, do not get ahead of the game: driving under the influence is deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 32 Americans die each day in a drunk driving-related motor vehicle accident. Thus, waiting till you arrive at your fun spot is best.

What Items Should You Bring with You on Your Trip?

Make sure to stay hydrated. Bring plenty of water and other fluids. Also make sure to bring healthy snacks. Store your food and beverages appropriately; some might need to be in a cooler.

Consider any medical needs that you or your passengers might need. This includes any medication or foods that someone might need along the way. Pack sunscreen, sun glasses, and brimmed hats in case you end up stuck on the side of the road and have to abandon your vehicle, or if you decide to stop somewhere along the way and take in some sun.

Keep a spare tire or even two, extra coolant, and a few cans of motor oil. Bring a first-aid kit. Having to find a place that has simple, much-need medical supplies could be extremely difficult. Think things through ahead of time. You do not want to forget to bring baby formula, for instance. Pack some personal hygiene items that you will have easy access to.

It is important to bring a flashlight, road flares, and reflectors. Be prepared for bad weather as well; bring rain gear. Do not forget to bring jumper cables. A good Samaritan might not have a set. It is also a good idea to carry a tool kit for that unexpected mechanical problem.

One of the most important items to check is your cell phone. Make sure it works, and be certain that your service allows for a good range, if not you might want to upgrade. Also bring a working phone charger, and make sure that your vehicle has a working input for the charger. For that overnight stay in your vehicle, bring blankets and pillows; you never know what will happen.

What Should You Pay Attention to While Driving? 

Maintain good posture. This will help you prevent having backaches and will keep the blood flowing. Watch for any drivers who might be driving erratically. Obey the speed limit, and watch out for all road signs. These are things that are in place for a reason and could help keep you safe.

Defensive driving is best. Do not tailgate or swerve in and out of traffic. It is better to get there late than not at all. Most importantly, get off at the nearest stop or rest area if you are tired. If you are struggling to keep your eyes open, or if you are having trouble staying in your lane, it is time to either get off the road or switch drivers.

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Those Involved in Motor Vehicle Accidents.  

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, our experienced Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law will fight hard to bring you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 912-754-6003 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients in Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.

What If I Get Into a Car Accident While on Vacation?


Summer officially starts on June 22nd, but once Memorial Day weekend hits and the warmer weather is here to stay, people start taking their much-needed summer vacations. Over 80 percent of Americans are planning to travel this summer, with road trips being the most popular form of transportation. Whether you are traveling far away or staying relatively close to home, getting into a car accident while you are on vacation can put a damper on your plans, especially if the accident caused serious injuries. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of a car accident during the busy summer months. However, if you are injured in a car accident while you are on vacation, do not hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer who will assist you with the claims process and secure the financial compensation you deserve.

What Steps Should I Take If I Am In a Car Accident?

No matter how much planning and preparing you do to get ready for your vacation, car accidents can happen when you least expect it. When you are involved in a car accident while on vacation, your trip that was supposed to be a fun and relaxing getaway suddenly becomes a high-stress situation. While you cannot turn back time, you can take steps that will make the situation as stress-free as possible, including the following:

  • Remain calm. Take a moment to assess the situation and check on the rest of the passengers in the vehicle. Panicking will only make the situation worse.
  • Call 911. Report the accident as soon as possible so that that dispatch can send a police officer to the scene of the accident. If there are injuries, notify dispatch so that he or she can send an ambulance as well. The officer who arrives at the scene will fill out a police report, which will include information about the accident. In some cases, it may include information about who is responsible for causing the accident.
  • Exchange information. It is also important that you exchange information with the other driver, including driver’s license number, license plate number, contact information and insurance information. Do not apologize for the accident, even if you are trying to be nice: this could be interpreted as an admission of fault, and may be used against you during the claims process.
  • Collect evidence. Document the scene of the accident by taking pictures of the damage to the vehicle, your injuries, debris on the road, the weather conditions and anything else that help determine the cause of the accident and who is at fault.
  • Talk to witnesses. If there were witnesses who saw the accident happen, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement and ask for their contact information.
  • Call the car rental company. If you were driving a rental car at the time of the accident, notify the rental company that you were involved in a car accident so that they can discuss your insurance options with you. They may also be able to assist you with next steps and provide you with a replacement rental vehicle for the remainder of your vacation. Make sure that you keep all rental receipts and transportation tickets. You will need to provide these documents if you file a claim or pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
  • Notify your insurance company. You will need to notify your insurance company that you were involved in a car accident. Keep in mind that insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they will look for reasons to avoid paying a costly settlement.
  • Contact an experienced car accident lawyer. You are strongly urged to contact a car accident lawyer any time you are involved in a car accident. However, when the accident occurs while you are on vacation, the situation may be more complicated if the accident occurred in a different state. Laws vary from state to state, and a skilled car accident lawyer will have a thorough understanding of the laws that apply to that state. He or she will conduct a thorough investigation and assist you with every step of the claims process.

How Do I Prove That the Other Driver was Negligent?

If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by another motorist, you may pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. In order to prove that the driver was negligent, in an injury claim, you must be able to prove the following:

  • You were owed a duty of care. All motorists have a duty to obey the rules of the road and avoid unsafe driving behaviors that could cause an accident.
  • The negligent party breached that duty of care. You must be able to prove that the accident would not have happened if the other driver had breached his or her duty of care. Examples of common breaches of care include distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving and aggressive driving.
  • The breach of care resulted in the injury. You must also be able to prove that the negligent party’s actions directly caused your injuries and property damage.
  • The injury resulted in financial damages. Finally, you must be able to prove that the financial losses are directly related to the car accident. This may include the costs associated with your injuries as well as the damage to your vehicle.
  • You were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. Georgia is a comparative negligence state, which means that you are only eligible to recover damages if you were less than 50 percent responsible for causing the accident. If you are found to be more than 50 percent liable, you will not be eligible for compensation. In addition, if you were found to be 20 percent liable, your settlement amount will be reduced by that percentage.

How Can I Avoid Getting into a Car Accident While on Vacation?

Even if you avoid unsafe driving behaviors whenever you are behind the wheel, you cannot control how other motorists drive, or the decisions that they make when they are driving. However, you can take the following proactive steps, which can help reduce the risk of a serious car accident:

  • Avoid distractions. Distracted driving continues to be a major cause of serious car accidents. During the summer, there are more inexperienced teen drivers on the roads who are more likely to talk or text on their phones while they are driving. Other examples of common distractions include reaching for items in the back seat, adjusting the GPS or the radio, eating, or interacting with other passengers in the car. According to USA Today, sending or reading a text while driving increases the risk of a car accident by 23 times.
  • Stay awake and alert. Drowsy driving is another common cause of car accidents. In fact, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, missing up to two hours of sleep can double the risk of a car accident. If you get less than four hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, you will be 11.5 times more likely to be involved in a car accident. If you start to feel drowsy, swap driving responsibilities with another licensed driver, or pull over to a safe spot and get some fresh air or take a short nap.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Before hitting the road for a summer vacation, make sure that your vehicle is inspected by a skilled mechanic who can check the brakes, the engine, tires, the steering and make sure that all of the necessary fluids are topped off.
  • Be prepared with an emergency kit. When taking a road trip, it is highly recommended that you keep a well-stocked emergency kit in the vehicle at all times. If you are in an accident, or the vehicle breaks down, you will be able to stay safe, hydrated and fed until help arrives. An emergency kit should include the following items:
  • Bottled water
  • Car jack and lug wrench
  • Emergency flares or reflective cones
  • Extra phone charger
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Jumper cables and a portable battery charger
  • Maps
  • Non-perishable food items, including granola bars, trail mix, peanut butter, dried fruit
  • Small tool kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Tire sealant

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Car Accident Victims Injured While on Vacation

If you were seriously injured in a car accident while you were on vacation, contact our Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. We will determine who is responsible for causing the accident, and whether the other motorist was negligent in some way. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Our office is located in Springfield, Georgia where we serve clients from Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.

Do Teen Car Accidents Increase Over the Summer?

Summertime fun is what the vast majority of Americans look forward to each year. Vacations, family barbeques, and an increase in late-night activities are all part of the summertime landscape. Unfortunately, many teenage drivers are not equipped to handle it. For too many teenage drivers, the summer is the deadliest time of year. 

For teenage drivers, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day have become known as the ‘100 deadliest days of summer.’ The CDC reported that in 2019, almost 2,400 teenage drivers suffered fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that the rate of fatalities among teenage drivers increases by more than 25 percent during the so-called 100 days.  

The reasons for the jump in teenage motor vehicle accidents during the summer is simple: too much leisure time combined with a desire to take risks presents an ominous possibility of road-going deaths.

Why Do Teenagers Take Risks While Driving?

Statistics point out that teenage drivers suffer a greater percentage of fatalities behind the wheel of a car than any other group. The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported in 2019 that over a five-year period during the 100 deadliest days, teenager-involved motor vehicle accidents produced an average death rate 17 percent higher than any other time of the year.

More specifically, in a report by the CDC, male drivers between 16-19 years of age had a death rate more than two times higher than that of female drivers in 2019. Driving is a serious business. Immaturity, inexperience, a lack of skills, a sense of freedom, and a live-forever mindset are a bad combination and the reason for such carelessness when driving.

Teenagers taking to the road pose a great risk to themselves and other drivers. The NHTSA reported that in 2019, over 2,000 people were killed in accidents involving a teenage driver between the ages of 15-18. Teenagers do not consider the consequences of their actions the same as most adults. The majority of teenagers are not considering the concept of mortality when behind the wheel.

What Are the Causes of Teenage Motor Vehicle Accidents?

There are copious reasons why teenagers crash cars: speeding, according to AAA, accounted for 28 percent of teenage-driving fatalities over a five-year period. 50 percent of teenagers interviewed in another AAA report admitted to speeding in a residential street in their last 30 days of driving, and almost 40 percent admitted to speeding on a highway in the same time frame. 

Most young drivers have not yet developed a solid skillset behind the wheel, not to mention an awareness of when to slow down. Hazardous conditions on the road, such as bad weather and road construction, call for a slower speed, but teenagers do not always account for changes in conditions.  

Driving too fast around curves, in heavy traffic, or on residential streets are too often the norm when it comes to teenage drivers, who are simply not equipped to react due to a lack of experience and a lack of understanding.  

Driving under the influence is frequent and ubiquitous among teenage drivers, especially during the summer. A lack of school responsibilities compounded by income from part-time jobs results in new freedom without the developed risk-assessing parts of the brain. Sometimes having to work the next day bears no weight for many teenagers: they drink anyway.

An interesting account by the CDC is that teenagers who have the same blood-alcohol level as older drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash. The CDC also reported that in 2019, 24 percent of drivers between the ages of 15-20 who died in motor vehicle accidents had been drinking.

Another problem is that not many teenagers want to admit to their parents that they have been drinking. Calling for a ride or having a friend drive home, therefore, is less likely to happen compared to an older, more responsible person.  

Distracted driving is an enormous problem for teenagers. Taking driving seriously often falls to the waist side when teenagers have been driving for more than a few minutes. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving accounted for more than 31,000 fatalities in 2020. This is eye-opening when considering that teenagers are the most likely to be distracted while driving.

Texting and other cell phone usages are ubiquitous problems among all ages when driving, but a failure to consider possible consequences prevents many teenagers from keeping away from a cell phone. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can cause a serious accident.  

A huge problem for teenage drivers is driving with peers. The NHTSA analyzed a study in which teenage drivers were 250 percent more likely to execute a risky behavior when accompanied by one peer. In the same study, the NHTSA reported that the chance of a teenage driver to execute a risky behavior increased to 300 percent when accompanied by more than one peer.  

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Teenage Car Accidents?

As per a report by the CDC, graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems are in existence throughout the country. Although policies vary from state to state, the GDL systems demand longer practice time, limit driving when high-risk driving conditions exist, and require parent participation. According to the CDC, research shows that GDL systems are linked to a reduction of roughly 21 percent for driving fatalities for teenage drives 16 years of age.

  • Learn about your state’s driving laws and process for new drivers. Make sure to properly explain them to your teen, and make sure that your teen follows them to the letter.
  • The summertime is an especially difficult time because of the free time away from school that teenagers have. Therefore, begin with basic rules that will help eliminate problems when your teenager takes to the road, and do not compromise under any circumstance.
  • Remember that a law to not exceed a specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is set for drivers 21 or older, not for those under 21. It is imperative that you make your teenager understand that under no circumstance is it okay to drive when drinking alcohol. Also make sure your teenager understands that drinking under the age of 21 is not acceptable at all and is illegal.
  • Limit the times when your teenager takes the car. It could be life-saving. Driving at night requires a different skill set. Driving along dark streets and roads takes longer to get used to than any driving during the day. The same goes for bad weather conditions. Knowing that you need to keep a greater distance between you and the car in front of you in rainy or icy conditions can save a life.  
  • Be a good role model when you drive, especially as the time for your teenager to drive approaches. You should talk to your teen as you drive, making sure to turn the experience into a learned one. More importantly, make sure to give your teen plenty of practice time with you in the passenger seat.
  • Lay down rules and consequences. If you state that the car is not to be taken out after a certain time of day, you have to be willing to enforce it. Rules broken need to have consequences. A teenager cannot learn when there are no consequences to face.
  • Talk to your teen about distracted driving. Teenagers will be teenagers, but driving requires more experience and maturity than most teenagers can acquire in a limited amount of time. You should, therefore, set strict rules to eliminate cell phone usage, drinking and eating, and other behaviors that may distract your teen from keeping both eyes on the road.
  • States have specific rules for teenage drivers regarding driving with peers. Make sure you know them, but set your own rules as well. In every regard, make sure you monitor the progress of your teen. If need be, hold your teen back from enjoying more driving privileges. Moreover, if your teen is not ready to drive at all, hold back the process of obtaining a license.

Over all, having talks, making rules, and creating consequences for your new teen driver can help tremendously. Remember most of all that driving is not a right; it is a privilege. Keep your teenager driver and other drivers on the road safe from harm: be involved. 

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Those Injured in Car Accidents Caused by Teenage Drivers.

If you have been injured by a teenage driver, or you are the parent of a teenage driver involved in a car accident, our experienced Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law will fight hard to make sure you receive the best possible outcome. Call us at 912-754-6003 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County.

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