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.

Will the 5G Switchover Affect Car Safety?

Many recently and currently produced vehicles have onboard systems that automatically notify first-responders with an accident occurs. Most of those systems used 3G networks to connect to cloud-based communications.

With the recent switch to 5G, systems that used 3G no longer will work when 3G systems are replaced by 5G systems. They cannot communicate over 5G and would require hardware and software upgrades to become compatible.

Or you simply have to go without the potentially life-saving service that could notify emergency personnel if you are in an accident and incapable of calling for help. Many who no longer subscribe

Some overseas airlines grounded their aircraft as a precaution when 5G went live. They were concerned about how the new cloud communications technology would affect aircraft safety. Turns out, there is no real issue with its impact on airplanes.

Your vehicle may be another matter. Newer car models have safety equipment that uses 3G communications technology. The switchover to 5G has many motorists understandably concerned about the possible impact on their safety, which is a legitimate concern. Odds are your vehicle will run and drive just fine. But you could lose your emergency notification system and other features.  

An Updated Telematics Control Unit Solves the Problem

Most emergency notification services use a telematics control unit (TCU). Prior TCUs relied on 3G to enable them to communicate outside of the vehicle. But with 5G, that has changed.

So many automakers have offered an upgrade to their TCUs prior to the launch of the 5G system. The upgrades mostly were free and generally were available through February 2022.

But with 5G now in use, the upgrades no longer are free. The cost for a new TCU is about $900. And that cost is stopping many car owners from updating their onboard systems.

Going without the new TCU means your vehicle’s crash-notification system might not work. But if you carry a cellphone, that might not be a concern.  

Popular Telematics Systems

Virtually all major automakers include telematics systems in their vehicles. General Motors uses OnStar, which is among the first and most popular telematics systems. Toyota provides its T-Connect system. Mercedes-Benz includes the Tele Aid system in its luxury cars.

There also are commercial versions, like Ford Telematics, that enable commercial operators to track and communicate with their commercial fleets of vehicles. The Ford 911 Assist goes into private passenger vehicles to automatically report accidents when they happen.

Telematics systems have grown as technology has improved. But like all technologies, they eventually become obsolete. And the 5G rollout is putting an end to the 3G-based systems.

Potential Impact of 5G Changeover on Crash-Notification Systems

The systems that mostly are at-risk are those that provide crash notifications and contact emergency services via E911. Whether or not your system is at-risk depends on which brand of vehicle you are driving.

Honda recently provided owners of its models with free upgrades for their systems through Feb. 22, 2022. With that date now passed, it will cost about $900 to upgrade the hardware needed to communicate with 5G systems.

Those who do not upgrade their systems could lose some safety features. But their vehicles will run and drive normally.

You might find yourself in an accident with your car’s emergency notification system no longer working due to the 5G system change. You would need to use your cellphone to call for help.

The 5G Switch Will Not Affect Several Automakers

Owners of Mazda, Ford, and Mitsubishi models are unaffected. The emergency notification systems used in Ford and Mazda models connect to the driver’s cellular phone to send emergency notifications.

Mitsubishi never used a 3G system and instead designed its systems to run without it. That is because Mitsubishi engineers foresaw the potential for changes in cloud-based communications changing rapidly and rendering the systems useless. Mitsubishi vehicles do not use 3G or 5G for emergency communications.

Other automakers certainly have the same technologies in place that make the change to 5G a non-issue for owners of their respective vehicles. But many of the biggest automakers produced vehicles that will be affected.

The world’s largest automaker, Toyota, and its subsidiary Lexus are good examples. Toyota’s Safety Connection emergency notification system and Lexus’ Enform Safety Connect will cease working on Nov. 1, 2022.

Owners of those vehicles will lose all automatic crash-notification services and other features. Toyota officials said circumstances that are beyond the automaker’s control created the problem and they are sorry for any inconvenience.

Safety Systems Remain Unaffected

It is important to emphasize that vehicle safety systems will continue to operate as designed. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, and other popular and effective safety technologies will continue to work properly.

Those systems do not rely on 3G or other cloud communications to function. As long as your vehicle is running, it will work. It always is possible some other factor could cause them to fail, but it will not be the switch to 5G that causes it to happen.

Unless a sensor goes bad or the equipment is damaged, you should retain all of your active and passive safety features. You might want to carry a cellphone in your vehicle to call for help if you are in a bad accident, though. The loss of the emergency notification systems might make that necessary.

It is safe to say a majority of motorists keep their cellphones with them. So having it in an easily accessible location while driving could provide you with the emergency communications needed to obtain help after a bad accident. Your car just will not do it for you: that only is the case if the automaker has no plans to upgrade your system or if you decide that you do not want to pay nearly $1,000 to ensure the emergency crash notifications continue to work as intended.

Many Carmakers Intend to Upgrade Systems

Some automakers already initiated technology upgrades for their customers that included new hardware and programming. Others are still planning to make the change before November 2022, when 5G systems should have fully replaced the 3G systems that previously handled the majority of cloud-based communications.

You might be determined to keep your crash and emergency notification apps working. You can, with an about $900 investment in new hardware and programming, which will upgrade the current 3G system to regain cloud connectivity.

Some carmakers included the ability to upgrade their emergency communications systems as needed. Those systems will not need the new hardware but should need to upgrade the apps that handle the communications. That helps to keep them compatible with ever-changing communications technologies.

A free upgrade might be available if you have a vehicle that is incompatible with 5G technology. Check with your local dealership to learn more.

Changeover Should Not Increase Driving Risks

The rollover to 5G and the potential loss of emergency communication technology should not make it more dangerous to drive. Many people drive vehicles that do not use telematics (a technology only widely implemented during the past 20 years.) Many new models do not include telematics, and lots of drivers decline the telematic services if they have to pay a subscription fee.

The changeover should be relatively painless and will not affect anyone’s ability to drive. But it still is good to have automatic emergency notifications sent if an accident occurs and you or your passengers are seriously injured. In such cases, the technology literally might be a lifesaver.

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Help to Hold Bad Drivers Accountable For Causing Accidents.

The experienced Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law can help you to file well-supported claims for damages or injuries that you might suffer during a car accident. Call 912-754-6003 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Springfield, Georgia. We represent clients in Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.

How Can I Keep My Children Safe When Riding in the Car?

Car accidents are the leading cause of death in children over the age of four. While today’s motor vehicles are safer than ever thanks to the latest advances in safety technology, and car seats are effective at protecting children in the event of an accident, accidents can and do occur. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of car accidents, and to ensure that your child is safe and protected. From choosing the right car seat and always wearing a seat belt to obeying the rules of the road and making safety a top priority at all times, establishing safe habits will protect your entire family whenever you are in the car.

How Do I Choose the Right Car Seat?

Car seats have come a long way when it comes to protecting children from serious, even life-threatening injuries if they are in the car when an accident occurs. Choosing the right car seat can be an overwhelming process, but the following tips can help make the right choice based on their child’s age, height and weight:

  • Infants and toddlers: Children should be secured in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat until they are at least two years old, or until they outgrow the height and weight limits. It is recommended that children remain in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible, because the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord are supported and protected by the car seat. Examples of rear-facing car seats include infant seats, which are only rear-facing and are designed for newborns and small babies, and convertible seats, which are full-sized car seats that can be used in the rear-facing and front-facing position, some of which may fit a newborn.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers: Children should use forward-facing car seats from the time they outgrow the rear-facing seat until they weigh at least 65 pounds, their shoulders are above the seat’s top harness slots and the child’s ears reach the top of the car seat. This usually occurs when the child reaches the age of five or six. These car seats generally have a 5-point harness, which contacts more points of the body and distributes the force of the impact. Examples of front-facing car seats include convertible seats, all-in-one seats and combination seats with a harness, which go from a forward-facing seat to a belt positioning booster.
  • School-aged children: Children who have outgrown the forward-facing car seat should be secured in a booster seat, which uses the adult lap and shoulder belt in the back seat. The booster seat lifts the child up so that the adult seat belt will contact the strongest point of the child’s body and provide the best protection. Generally, children should use a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.
  • Older children: When a child has outgrown the booster seat, they should wear the lap and shoulder belt every time they ride in the car. In addition, all children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat at all times. If the airbag deploys, and a young child is riding in the front seat, it can cause serious, even fatal injuries.

What Hot Weather Safety Tips Should I Keep in Mind?

Summer is approaching, which means that the temperatures are slowly but surely starting to climb. On hot days, the temperature inside the car can climb almost 20 degrees in only ten minutes. Cracking the window open a few inches does not prevent the temperature from continuing to climb. Unfortunately, every ten days, a child dies from heatstroke after being in a hot vehicle. In more than half of these tragic fatalities, the caretaker forgot that the child was in the car. Parents can prevent these devastating deaths by keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Never leave a child alone in the car. Even if you are making a quick stop or just dropping something off, do not leave a small child in the car, as the car can get very hot very quickly.
  • Create reminders. Oftentimes, these tragic accidents occur because the parent or caregiver forgot that the child was in the back seat. You can prevent this from happening by keeping a stuffed animal or some other memento in the front seat as a reminder that your child is in the car. You could also keep your purse, phone, or left shoe in the back seat when you are driving with your child. That way, you will have to reach for it when you get out of the car, which will remind you that your child is in the back seat.
  • Take immediate action. If you happen to notice a child in the back seat of a car, and there is no adult in the vehicle, call 911 immediately so that police or emergency personnel can respond quickly and remove the child from the vehicle.

What Else Can I Do to Keep My Child Safe in and Around Cars?

In addition to choosing the appropriate car seat and making sure that your child is not left in a hot car, the following tips will help keep your children safe while they are in the car, or in the vicinity of other cars:

  • Avoid letting your child eat certain foods in the car. Having snacks on hand is always a good idea, particularly when the children start to get hungry and cranky. However, certain foods can be a choking hazard, which can turn deadly if the child is in a rear-facing car seat and you do not notice that he or she is choking. Most safety organizations urge parents to avoid giving children any food while they are in the car. However, if snacks are a must-have, applesauce pouches or yogurt tubes would be a safer option.
  • Always hold hands in the parking lot. Young children do not always understand the dangers of parking lots, including motorists who back out of their spot without looking or people who drive too fast through parking lots. Parents should hold their children’s hands, even if they have a toddler who is going through an independent phase who wants to do everything without any help. Teach them that holding hands in parking lots is non-negotiable.
  • Secure any loose articles. If there are any sharp objects in the vehicle, put them in the glove compartment or in the trunk. In the event of an accident, these can become a dangerous projectile and cause serious injuries. Even unrestrained pets can be projected with extreme force if you or another vehicle were traveling at a high speed at the time of the accident.
  • Do not let children play near parked cars. This may seem harmless, but if the car owner gets in and starts to back up, he or she may not see the children if they are in his or her blind spot. This can have tragic consequences.
  • Put your phone away. Distracted driving is one of the top causes of car accidents, and talking and texting on the phone is one of the main culprits.
  • Teach children to look both ways before crossing the street. Too often, small children will run into the street if they are chasing a ball, or running home from another house. If they do not look both ways before crossing, and a car is driving by, they could get hit by a car and suffer very serious injuries. Even if the car is traveling at a relatively low speed, the injuries could be fatal.
  • Keep the windows on child lock when the children are in the car. According to KidsandCars.org, it only takes 22 pounds of force to suffocate or seriously injure an infant. Power winders can exert anywhere between 30 and 80 pounds of force. Despite the fact that newer car models are equipped with power winders that have improved safety features, it is highly recommended that parents and caregivers keep the child lock feature in use when the children are in the car, whether the vehicle is moving or parked.

Savannah Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Help Victims of Car Accidents

If your child was injured in a car accident, you are urged to contact our Savannah car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. With our office located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

Are Parents Liable for Their Teens’ Driving Behavior?

Getting a driver’s license is a major rite of passage for teen drivers. However, while many parents may appreciate that they no longer have to shuttle their teen to every sporting event or after school activity, handing over the car keys to a newly-licensed teen driver can be terrifying. It is one of the first major steps towards adulthood and independence, and it can be difficult for parents to come to terms with that, especially when statistics show that teen drivers are three times more likely to be fatally injured in a car accident compared to more experienced drivers. In addition to the obvious safety concerns associated with their child being seriously injured in a car accident, parents could face significant legal and financial issues if their child was responsible for causing an accident. If your teen driver was involved in a car accident, and you have questions about liability, do not hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer.

Why Are Teen Drivers at an Increased Risk for Car Accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more than 13 million teen drivers on the road on any given day. There are a number of risk factors that put teen drivers at an increased risk for car accidents, including the following:

  • Inexperience: The more experience drivers have, the better they are able to recognize potentially-dangerous situations and take the necessary steps to avoid them. Because they do not have the experience behind the wheel, they do not readily recognize dangerous situations or react as quickly to those situations.
  • Nighttime and weekend driving: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, roughly 40 percent of fatal car accidents involving teens between the ages of 13 and 19 occurred between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am, and over half of those accidents occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
  • Not using seat belts: Teen drivers have the lowest rate of seat belt use compared to other age groups. Close to half of the teen drivers and passengers who were fatally injured in car accidents in 2019 were not restrained by a seat belt at the time of the crash.
  • Distracted driving: This continues to be a serious problem among all drivers, but teen drivers are particularly susceptible to distracted driving behaviors, including talking and texting on the phone, and checking social media.
  • Speeding: Teen drivers are also more likely to drive over the posting speed limit, and follow too close to the vehicle in front of them, which increases the risk of a rear-end accident.
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol: Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident than older, more experienced drivers, even if they both have the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or have the same amount of drugs or substances in their system. The impairment, coupled with inexperience behind the wheel can have devastating consequences.

What Liability Issues Do I Need to Know About as a Parent of a Teen Driver?

When determining fault in an accident, the alleged victim will have to prove that the at-fault driver was negligent in some way. According to the theory of negligence, all drivers have a duty to obey the rules of the road and drive in a reasonably safe way, and if a driver breaches that duty causing injury to another motorist, they may be legally liable for the resulting injuries and property damage. This concept applies to all drivers, including inexperienced, newly licensed teen drivers. Regardless of skill level or experience behind the wheel, teen drivers are expected to make safety a priority and avoid any dangerous or irresponsible driving behavior.

There are situations where a teen driver’s parents may be held legally liable if a car accident was caused by their teen’s negligence. The following are examples of civil statutes that can be used to hold parents liable for a teen driver’s negligent or reckless behavior:

  • Theory of Negligent Entrustment. This states that a parent may be held liable for their teenage driver’s car accident if it can be proven that the parents knew, or should have known, that the teen posed a danger to other motorists. For example, if a teen driver had multiple accidents, and was issued multiple tickets for speeding or reckless driving, and the parents continued to give their teen driver permission to use the car, they could be held liable for any damages in the event of an accident.
  • Theory of Vicarious Liability. Also referred to as the “family purpose doctrine,” this states that the parents of a teen driver may be held liable for a car accident that occurred while their teen driver was behind the wheel. For example, if the parents ask the teen motorist to drive to the grocery store to pick up a few items for dinner, and the teen is involved in an accident on the way home, the parent may be held liable for the injuries or property damage caused by the accident.

Can My Teen Driver Get Car Insurance?

In Georgia, a provisional driver’s license is granted to drivers who are at least 16 years old, who have held an Instructional Permit for one year and one day, and who pass their driving test. However, when it comes to purchasing car insurance, a 17-year-old is still considered a minor, so a parent or guardian would be required to co-sign the policy until he or she turns 18. That means that the parent will be financially responsible for the policy. It is also important for parents to consider the potential costs of purchasing a separate insurance policy for a teen driver once they turn 18. While some parents may think that a separate policy will save money, insurance companies consider teen drivers to be high-risk drivers, so a separate policy is going to be much more expensive than adding him or her to an existing policy.

Circumstances become much more complicated if a teenager caused a car accident while driving a vehicle that belonged to someone else. If the teen driver had permission from the owner of the vehicle to use the car, the auto insurance on the car will likely apply. However, if the owner of the vehicle did not give permission, or told the teen not to use the car, the liability insurance on the vehicle may not apply. There are some situations where insurance policies may have exclusions for certain actions. For example, if a teen driver’s willful or malicious actions were intentional, it is unlikely that the insurance on the vehicle will apply. In order to obtain financial compensation, the injured victim will need to file a lawsuit.

What Can Parents Do to Protect Their Teen Drivers?

Car accidents are the number one cause of death in teenagers, which is a sobering fact for parents of newly licensed teen drivers to consider. Graduated licensing programs help ease some of the worry by imposing certain restrictions on new drivers. For example, newly licensed drivers may not operate a motor vehicle between midnight and 6 a.m. Another restriction in graduated licensing restricts the number of passengers teen drivers can have. In addition to the laws that are meant to protect teen drivers, there are a number of steps that parents can take to prevent their child from being involved in a serious car accident, including the following:

  • Set a good example. If you expect your teen driver to always wear a seatbelt, obey the speed limit, and avoid distracted driving behavior, model the behavior you want them to follow.
  • Put the phone away. Distracted driving is a major problem among teen drivers, so make sure your teen driver understands the consequences of texting and talking on the phone. Always leave your phone in your purse or in the glove compartment while you are driving and set a good example to your teen driver.
  • Make sure the vehicle is properly maintained. Have the vehicle inspected on a regular basis by an experienced mechanic and make any necessary repairs as soon as possible to ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive.
  • Create a driving contract. This should include a set of rules that your teen must follow, including when he or she is allowed to use the car, how many passengers are allowed in the car, and what time your teen driver is expected home. The contract should also make it very clear what the consequences are if any of the rules are broken.

Savannah Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Victims of Car Accidents Involving Teen Drivers

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident involving a newly licensed teen driver, you are urged to contact our Savannah car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law as soon as possible. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with every step of the claims process, and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Georgia?

Car accidents frequently happen, despite the fact that today’s vehicles are equipped with a wide range of safety features, like collision warning technology, emergency brake assist, and adaptive cruise control. While you may walk away from a minor fender-bender without a scratch and little to no damage to your vehicle, more serious accidents can cause extensive property damage and serious injuries.

The costs associated with a serious car accident can accumulate very quickly, particularly if your injuries require ongoing medical care. You may be eligible for financial compensation for the costs associated with the accident by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the motorist who caused the accident. However, Georgia has a strict statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits, which means that you must take legal action within the specified period of time or your claim will be denied.

In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. However, it is highly recommended that you initiate the claims process as soon as possible for a number of reasons. First, if you suffered a serious injury, your medical expenses are going to start accumulating very quickly, including hospital bills, follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy, and prescription medications. In addition, the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit takes time, from obtaining copies of medical records and police reports to contacting witnesses who were at the scene of the accident. If you wait until the last minute to file your claim and you are unable to collect all of the evidence by the deadline, your claim may be denied, or you may receive a smaller settlement offer than you expected. Also, if you wait to file a claim, the other party may argue that your injuries must not have been very serious if you did not take immediate steps to file a claim.

How Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Oftentimes, motorists become stressed and overwhelmed immediately following a car accident. However, if you take a moment to relax and keep the following tips in mind, you will be prepared if you need to pursue a personal injury lawsuit:

  • Collect evidence: In order to avoid a situation where it is your word against the other driver’s, you are urged to collect as much evidence as possible. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, so if you are lacking evidence, , they will try to use that against you so that they can pay you a lower settlement. You can avoid this problem by collecting photographs of the damage, witness testimony, a police report, and other forms of evidence.
  • Seek medical attention. Seek immediate medical attention. Even if your injuries seem minor, you could have an underlying injury, or an injury that is masked by the adrenaline that is coursing through your body. If you do not seek medical attention, the other party or the insurance company may argue that your injuries must not be very serious if you did not feel it was necessary to be examined by a health care professional.
  • Exchange information. When interacting with the other driver, keep the conversation to a minimum and focus on exchanging information with each other, including name, address, phone number, insurance information, driver’s license number, and license plate number. Never apologize for anything, even if you are just trying to be nice. This can be interpreted as you admitting fault and can be used against you during the claims process.
  • Contact a car accident lawyer. It is in your best interest to have a dedicated car accident lawyer on your side, particularly if you intend to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. A lawyer will assist you with every step of the claims process and review all settlement offers. Oftentimes, the insurance company will make an initial settlement offer that may seem like a lot of money. However, in the vast majority of cases, an initial settlement offer rarely comes close to the total expenses associated with the accident, particularly if you suffered serious injuries and will require ongoing medical care.

What if I File a Lawsuit After the Statute of Limitations Expires?

In most cases, if you miss the deadline, your claim will be denied and you will no longer be able to pursue a personal injury claim. If you file a claim two years plus one day after the date of the accident, you may file the lawsuit, but the lawyers representing the other motorist will have the opportunity to respond to the claim. Once they see that you filed the claim after the statute of limitations has expired, they will most certainly ask the court to dismiss the case and you may even be ordered to pay the other party’s court costs and attorney fees.

On rare occasions, there are exceptions to the rule and the statute of limitations may be extended. Exceptions include the following:

  • The injured party is a minor, in which case the statute of limitations does not begin until they turn 18 years old.
  • The injured motorist was driving for work and wants to file a Workers’ Compensation claim instead of a personal injury claim.
  • If the accident causes a fatality, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years from the date of the person’s death.
  • If the injured party is in a coma or otherwise incompetent after the accident, the statute of limitations is paused until they regain consciousness and become competent again.

Is it Always Necessary to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

There may be circumstances where it is not necessary to hire a car accident lawyer. For example, if the accident was a minor fender-bender and you suffered minimal injuries, you may be able to resolve the issue with your insurance company and move on. However, keep in mind that insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests. Their goal is to settle the matter by paying you as little money as possible. If you are considering whether or not you should hire a car accident lawyer, consider whether the following factors apply to you and your case:

  • You and/or the other passengers in your vehicle were seriously injured in the accident.
  • A family member was killed in the accident.
  • You suffered injuries that prevent you from being able to return to work.
  • The injuries affect your quality of life.
  • The accident was caused by another person’s negligence.

If one or more of the above statements apply to you, it is in your best interest to contact a skilled lawyer.

What Damages May I Be Eligible to Receive if I am Injured in a Car Accident?

If you are able to prove that your injuries were caused by another person’s negligence, you may be eligible for the following damages:

  • All medical costs associated with the injury.
  • Lost wages.
  • Loss of future earning capacity.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

However, Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that the damages you can recover will be reduced if you are partially responsible for causing the accident. For example, if you were driving five miles per hour above the speed limit and another vehicle hit your car after the driver failed to stop at a red light, a jury may find the other driver to be 80 percent at fault and you at 20 percent at fault. Therefore, if you were otherwise entitled to a $10,000 settlement, it would be reduced by 20 percent, which would be $8,000. If your share of the fault exceeds 50 percent, you will be ineligible to collect any damages.

Savannah Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Can Assist With the Claims Process if You Have Been Injured in a Collision

If you were injured in a car accident and you wish to pursue your legal options, you are urged to contact one of our Savannah car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and ensure that your claim is filed well before the statute of limitations expires. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

What Are Common Causes of Wrong-Way Car Accidents?

Wrong-way car accidents occur when motorists end up in the wrong lane and are driving against the flow of traffic. If the driver is able to correct their mistake quickly and return to their lane, a potentially accident can be avoided. However, if the motorist is driving on a busy highway or they are intoxicated, a wrong-way accident can result.

Wrong-way accidents often result in severe injuries and fatalities.In most cases, when you make safety a priority, keep your attention focused on the road, and avoid any distractions, it is unlikely that you will end up driving in the wrong direction. In fact, the majority of wrong-way accidents are the result of some type of negligent behavior, such as distracted driving and drunk driving. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), over half of all wrong-way accidents are caused by drunk drivers. In many cases, their blood alcohol level shows that they consumed twice the legal limit or more before getting behind the wheel of their car.

The following are examples of other common causes of wrong-way car accidents:

  • Advanced age: A significant percentage of wrong-way accidents are caused by elderly drivers due to vision problems, dementia, or other health complications.
  • Distractions: When a driver’s attention is not focused on the road, there is an increased risk of a serious car accident. For example, if you are reading or sending a text and your eyes are off the road for a matter of seconds, you may start to veer into the wrong lane or turn onto the wrong highway ramp.
  • Unfamiliar roadways: Motorists who are unfamiliar with an area may not understand how to navigate a traffic circle or may be more likely to turn onto a one-way street going in the wrong direction.
  • Detours: If traffic is re-routed due to construction or some other emergency, it can cause confusion, particularly if the driver is not familiar with the area. If the proper signage is missing or the lane-shifting techniques are not clearly marked, motorists could end up driving in the wrong direction.
  • Poor road design: Traffic circles, highway interchanges, and jug handles can be very confusing, particularly if entrance and exit ramps are parallel. This can increase the risk of a wrong-way accident if driver who is turning left accidentally turns too shallowly, plunging them in the path of traffic.
  • Badly marked road signs: Lack of Do Not Enter signs, ramps that have overgrown foliage that block traffic signs, or inadequate lighting increase the risk of a wrong-way accident. Proper signage is extremely important, as it can help prevent a motorist who is unfamiliar with the area from entering an empty stretch of highway going in the wrong direction.
  • Defective auto equipment: If defective tires, brakes, steering system, or other equipment causes the motorist to veer into the wrong lane, causing a wrong-way car accident, the product designer or manufacturer may be held liable for the accident.
  • Drowsy driving: Drowsy drivers have slower reaction times and are more likely to become distracted or start to doze off while driving. This increases the risk of a wrong-way accident if they drift into the wrong lane, enter a ramp going in the wrong direction, or turn onto a one-way street.
  • Other unsafe driving behavior: Other driving behaviors that can cause a wrong-way accident include speeding and unsafe passing, particularly when a motorist tries to pass another car in a no-passing zone.

What Injuries Are Caused by Wrong-Way Car Accidents?

Since wrong-way accidents often cause head-on collisions with other vehicles, the resulting injuries can be devastating or even fatal. The following are common injuries seen in wrong-way accidents:

  • Broken bones, including facial bones, arms, hands, collarbone, legs, pelvis, and ribs.
  • Cuts and lacerations.
  • Chest and thoracic trauma.
  • Neck, back, and spine trauma.
  • Head trauma, including concussions and brain injuries.
  • Internal injuries to the organs in the chest or abdomen.
  • Wrongful death.

What Damages Are Available in Wrong-Way Accident Cases?

If you are injured in a wrong-way car accident that was caused by the negligence of another driver, you may be eligible for financial compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. In order to reach a successful settlement outcome, you must be able to prove that the other driver failed to exercise the duty of care to the other motorists on the road by driving in the wrong direction, which caused the accident and resulted in your injuries. A car accident lawyer will assist you with the claims process and determine if you are eligible for the following damages:

  • All medical costs associated with the injury.
  • Lost wages.
  • Loss of future earning capacity.
  • Property damage.
  • Pain and suffering.

How Can I Avoid a Wrong-Way Accident?

The Department of Transportation is installing larger Do Not Enter and Wrong-Way signs to alert drivers that it is a one-way street and motorists should not enter. However, these signs do not always prevent wrong-way accidents that occur on a busy highway at night when visibility is low. They also do not prevent a motorist from getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

To reduce the risk of being involved in a devastating wrong-way car accident, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • If you see another motorist driving in the wrong direction, put as much space between you and the other driver, and call 911 to report the vehicle.
  • Stay awake and alert while driving and avoid any distractions. Pay attention to your surroundings and the other vehicles in the vicinity.
  • Stay in the furthest lane to the right when driving at night. Most wrong-way accidents occur at night when a motorist drifts out of their lane and into oncoming traffic.
  • Keep your headlights on when driving at night. If a motorist is driving in the wrong lane, this will alert the driver that they are going in the wrong direction.
  • Do not talk or text on the phone or engage in any other distracting behavior while driving.
  • Do not drink and drive.

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

Due to the severity of a wrong-way accident and the fact that they often result in a head-on collision, the injuries tend to be quite severe. A skilled car accident lawyer will help you navigate the claims process. A car accident lawyer will provide the following services:

  • Connect you to rental car providers and auto repair shops.
  • Secure the best possible settlement.
  • Recovery for the loss of your vehicle.
  • Connect you with a health care provider.
  • Provide access to pre-settlement loans.

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Clients Who Have Been Injured in Wrong-Way Car Accidents

If you have been seriously injured in a wrong-way car accident, it is in your best interest to contact one of our Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

How Can I Avoid a Car Accident on St. Patrick’s Day?

On St. Patrick’s Day, people demonstrate their appreciation of all things Irish by wearing green, decorating their homes, and preparing a feast. It is also known as one of the most popular drinking holidays in the United States. Unfortunately, this leads to many motorists making irresponsible decisions, including drunk driving.

It should come as no surprise that there is an uptick in drunk driving car accidents on St. Patrick’s Day. According to data from WalletHub, over half of Americans celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in 2020. Over 60 percent of fatal St. Patrick’s Day accidents involve a drunk driver, and close to 70 percent of fatal St. Patrick’s Day car accidents occur between midnight and 6:00 a.m.

Like New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day, St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday where copious amounts of alcohol is readily available. People have a tendency to overdo it and then get behind the wheel of their car. While you cannot control how other people celebrate the holiday or the choices they make after they have had too many drinks, you can take proactive steps to make safety a priority and avoid a serious car accident. The following safety tips will help keep you safe on St. Patrick’s Day.

Contact a Rideshare Service

If you plan on going to a restaurant or bar on St. Patrick’s Day, it is highly recommended that you leave your car and your keys at home and get a ride with a rideshare service, like Uber or Lyft. That way, even if you do have a bit too much to drink, you will not need to worry about driving home drunk. In addition, the Uber or Lyft driver will be better able to minimize the risk of a car accident because they are sober and will have the coordination and reflexes necessary to avoid a car accident.

Use Public Transportation

If you live in a city, consider taking public transportation home after a night of celebratory drinking. This is often a much cheaper option than calling a rideshare service or taxi cab. In addition, it may be safer than Uber or Lyft, considering the increased number of drunk drivers on the roads.

Assign a Designated Driver

If you are going out with a group of friends, see if anyone in the group would be willing to stay sober and drive everyone home at the end of the night.

Go Out Early

Consider going to an early dinner or a happy hour instead of staying out until well past midnight, which is when the majority of drunk driving car accidents occur on St. Patrick’s Day. In addition to avoiding many of the intoxicated drivers, driving while it is still light outside also reduces the risk of getting into an accident.

Host a Party

Instead of going out to a crowded bar, consider hosting a party at your house. You can control the number of people who are invited and the amount of alcohol that is served. As the host, it is highly recommended that you hold on to the guests’ car keys. If anyone has had too much to drink, do not give them their keys. Encourage any guests who have had too much to drink to stay the night or help them arrange for a safe ride home by calling a rideshare service.

What Are Examples of Common Drunk Driving Injuries?

Car accidents that are caused by drunk driving often result in very serious, often fatal injuries for a number of reasons. When a motorist is drunk, they are more likely to speed, veer in and out of the lane, tailgate, or engage in other unsafe driving behaviors. This can cause very serious injuries, particularly if the motorist is traveling at a high speed at the time of the accident. The following are examples of the types of injuries that drunk driving car accidents can cause:

  • Broken bones, including wrists, arms, legs, and ribs.
  • Cuts, bruises, and lacerations.
  • Whiplash.
  • Chest and torso injuries.
  • Back and neck injuries.
  • Loss of limb.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

What Should I Do if I am in a Car Accident on St. Patrick’s Day?

Like any other car accident, it is crucial that you call 911 and report the accident, particularly if there are injuries involved. If you are physically able to do so, it is also very important that you collect as much evidence as possible, including pictures of the accident scene, the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and any debris on the road. Exchange information with the other motorist and contact your insurance company. Keep in mind, however, that insurance companies are in the business of making money so they will try to avoid a costly settlement. Finally, you are urged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can walk you through the claims process. In addition, a car accident lawyer will make sure that your claim is filed within the state’s statute of limitations.

In the state of Georgia, there is a two-year deadline for filing a personal injury claim after a car accident, and a four-year deadline for property damage claims. If a claim is filed two years and one day after the date of the accident, the claim will most likely be denied. The process of filing a claim and collecting all of the necessary evidence can take time. Even if an initial settlement offer is made shortly after you file a claim, it may be a lowball offer, in which case your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company to obtain the best possible offer.

It is also important to keep in mind that Georgia is a comparative negligence state. When it comes to collecting damages, the amount you will be able to collect will be reduced by the percentage that corresponds to your share of liability. For example, if you are hit by a drunk driver who had too much to drink after celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends but you were driving 40 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone at the time of the accident, you may be liable for a percentage of the damages. In other words, if the damages totaled $10,000 and you are liable for 20 percent, you would be eligible for $8,000 in damages. However, if you share 50 percent or more of the fault, Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule states that you will not be able to recover any damages.

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Drivers Injured in St. Patrick’s Day Car Accidents

Make sure to take safety precautions this St. Patrick’s Day, especially if you plan to go out for the night. Remember, other drivers may not be as responsible as you. If you have been seriously injured in a drunk driving car accident, do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of the accident and ensure that the negligent party is held liable for their actions. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

How Do I Spot a Distracted Driver?

Despite the ongoing efforts to discourage drivers from engaging in distracted driving, far too many motorists do not think twice before making a phone call, reading a text, reaching for something in the back seat, or programming the navigation system while driving. Even if you make every effort to avoid distractions while driving, you cannot control other motorists’ behaviors. On any given day, you may see other drivers talking on the phone or sending texts when they should be paying attention to the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, there were 3,142 fatal distracted driving car accidents. If you know how to spot a distracted driver, you can take proactive steps to prevent a serious accident.

Certain types of unsafe driving behaviors are easy to spot. For example, you know a driver is speeding if the car whizzes past you and you are driving the speed limit. Tailgating is also easy to spot. Distracted driving is not always obvious at first. However, if you know some of the common signs to look for, you can take steps to avoid an accident. The following are behaviors that may indicate distracted driving:

  • Driving too fast or slow: Motorists who are distracted by a phone may not be paying enough attention to their speed and whether they are staying within the flow of traffic.
  • Unexpected speed changes: Slowing down or speeding up intermittently are also signs of distracted driving.
  • Weaving in and out of lanes: When a motorist is distracted, they are more likely to drift out of the lane.
  • Longer stops: When stopped at a red light, a distracted driver may not react promptly when the light turns green.
  • Running a red light or stop sign: Drivers who are particularly distracted may not notice that a traffic light has turned red or that they drove right through a stop sign. If another vehicle is coming from the other direction when the distracted driver runs a red light, this can cause a very serious car accident.
  • Seeing the driver’s eyes focused on something other than the road: If a motorist is looking down at their phone, this is an obvious example of distracted driving.

What Should I Do if I See a Distracted Driver?

If another motorist is showing any of the common signs of distracted driving, you are strongly urged to keep your distance and assume that the other driver does not see you. While you may be tempted to get their attention by pulling up next to the distracted driver’s car, it is not a good idea to engage with the other motorist.

If it appears that the driver’s behavior is particularly erratic or is endangering the lives of other motorists on the road, pull over to a safe spot and call 911 to report the driver. Take note of the license plate number, or if there is another passenger in your car, have them take a picture of the license plate or write it down on a piece of paper so that you can provide that information to dispatch.

How Serious Is Distracted Driving in Georgia?

Each year, there are approximately 344,000 car accidents in Georgia, most of which are distracted driving accidents that could have been prevented if the motorists were focusing on the road. The following statistics highlight how serious this problem is in Georgia:

  • Within the first three months after instituting the hand-free cell phone requirement, police officers wrote over 8,000 citations for using handheld devices and over 7,000 more citations in the three months that followed.
  • According to a study by TrueMotion, prior to Georgia’s hands-free law, motorists texted or used apps close to 20 percent of the time that they were driving.
  • Shortly after the law was passed, the incidence of talking on the phone while driving dropped by over 20 percent to 15.4 percent of total driving time.
  • A Constitution survey found that 45 percent of respondents said that they always obey the distracted driving law, and 40 percent said that they obeyed the law most of the time.

What Are the Three Categories of Distracted Driving?

The NHTSA defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a motor’s attention away from the road. There are three categories of distracted driving:

  • Manual distractions: These are distractions that cause you to take one or both hands off the steering wheel. Examples of this type of distraction include eating, adjusting the radio or the temperature in the car, or reaching for something in your purse or in the back seat.
  • Visual distractions: These are distractions that cause you to look away from the road. Common examples include reading or sending a text message, making a phone call, or programming the vehicle’s navigation system.
  • Cognitive distractions: While these distractions do not involve taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road, they do cause your attention to drift off of the task of driving. Using a hands-free device, listening to the radio, or daydreaming are all examples of cognitive distractions.

What If I am Injured in a Distracted Driving Car Accident?

All motorists have a responsibility to make safety a top priority when they are behind the wheel. If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim.

In order to reach a successful outcome, you will need to prove that the other driver was distracted. Unlike drunk driving, distracted driving is more difficult to prove because there is no test to determine whether the motorist was distracted at the time of the accident. However, a skilled car accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation, including obtaining copies of police reports, witness testimonies, and hiring an accident reconstructionist if necessary to demonstrate the other motorist’s unsafe driving behavior at the time of the crash. If you are able to take a picture of the accident scene, this also provides valuable evidence that can be used to help your case.

What Can I Do to Prevent Distracted Driving?

While you cannot control how other people drive, you can take proactive steps to avoid common distractions and keep your attention focused on the road. The following tips can help you avoid a distracted driving accident:

  • Put the phone away. If your phone is within reach, you may be tempted to answer a call or read a text message while you are driving. Your phone should only be used for emergencies, so it should be put away either in your purse or in the glove compartment. If you must make or accept a call, pull over to a safe spot. Even hands-free devices can be distracting.
  • Limit the number of passengers in the car. This is particularly true for newly licensed drivers who are more easily distracted when there are more people in the car.
  • Do not eat while driving. Oftentimes, people do not realize how distracting it is to eat while driving. However, since you are holding your food with one hand, eating is a manual distraction, and if you are looking down at your food before taking a bite, this is a visual distraction.
  • Avoid multitasking while driving. Even if you spend a significant amount of time in your car, you should not use that as an excuse to make phone calls, send or read text messages, or check social media. Take care of important business before you start driving and keep your attention focused on the road and the other motorists in the vicinity.

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Motorists Injured in Distracted Driving Accidents

If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, do not hesitate to contact one of our Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. These accidents are largely preventable if motorists keep their attention focused on the road. However, too many motorists are easily distracted. Our skilled legal team will determine who is responsible for your accident. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

In Georgia, you cannot refuse a breathalyzer test without facing legal penalties. Georgia is an implied consent law state. This means that anyone driving on a Georgia road has given implied consent to follow the orders and requests of police officers if the police officer has reasonable cause to believe you have been drinking.

However, this does not mean that you have no rights. It just means that if you refuse a breathalyzer test, you will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI). If you have been charged with DUI, whether you took a breathalyzer test or not, you have rights worth protecting. To help you, speak with a lawyer right away.

What Is Implied Consent?

 If you have a Georgia driver’s license or a valid license from any other state and you are driving in Georgia, you have given the state implied consent that you will submit to a breathalyzer test if a police officer has reasonable cause to believe you have been drinking. Can you refuse? Yes, but you will face consequences. If the police officer believes they have a strong reasonable suspicion that you are above the legal limit, they can arrest you and charge you with DUI, even though you have not taken a breathalyzer test.

Under Georgia law, you also do not have a right to consult with a lawyer until after you have been arrested. Since you are not under arrest and because Georgia courts have held that the decision to take a breathalyzer test is not a critical stage of the criminal process, you do not have the right to a lawyer. Only after you have been arrested do you have the absolute right to legal counsel.

What Are the Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer Test?

If you refuse the breathalyzer test, you can be arrested and charged with DUI. This is one of the mandatory penalties under Georgia law that you will face if you do not follow the officer’s request.

You will also lose your driver’s license. You will receive a thirty-day permit allowing you to drive. During that time, you must request a hearing to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. If you do not, you will lose your license for one year. The length of this suspension grows with every subsequent DUI charge.

When you get pulled over for suspected impaired driving, the police officer may request that you take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, before arresting you and charging you with a DUI, the police officer must inform you of the penalties for refusing to take a breathalyzer. Georgia law requires officers to inform people because most are not aware of the penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test.

If the police officer does not inform you of the penalties under Georgia law, you may have a valid reason to challenge the penalties that happened after you refused a breathalyzer. This could mean that the DUI charge and arrest could be thrown out and your driver’s license could be reinstated at the hearing.

However, to ensure your rights are protected, you must have a trusted legal advocate working with you. Going through this process is not simple and requires deep knowledge of the legal system and relevant Georgia laws.

A Changing Standard

Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that a driver’s refusal to take a breathalyzer test cannot be used against them. Prior to this ruling, if you refused to take a breathalyzer test, that fact could be used against you in court to add to the evidence showing that you were driving drunk. Today, however, that can no longer happen.

This does not mean that if you refuse a breathalyzer test after a police officer pulls you over that you suddenly get to drive away. In many cases, a breathalyzer test is the final step a police officer takes before making an arrest. Prior to that, the police officer will probably ask a driver to walk a straight line, count backwards, say the alphabet, and do other field sobriety tests approved by law enforcement.

Similarly, this new standard does not remove Georgia’s implied consent law. By driving on Georgia roads, all drivers give their implied consent to being pulled over and questioned, including the use of field sobriety tests. These measures help to keep everyone on Georgia roadways safe. However, your refusal to take a breathalyzer test will not prevent you from getting arrested and charged with DUI if the police officer has reasonable cause. If you do not voluntarily consent to a breathalyzer test, you can still be arrested and charged with DUI under Georgia law.

Independent Testing

You have the right to request an independent test at your own expense, but you can only request an independent test if you did not refuse the test from the police officer. In other words, there has to be a test comparison, but the tests do not have to be identical. You can submit to a breathalyzer test at the scene but can have a blood test done at your expense.

The arresting police officer must allow you to get an independent test. Your request must be reasonable. A request for an independent test may be reasonable if:

  • You have the ability to pay for the independent test.
  • The location of the facility you selected for your test was nearby.
  • The police did not delay giving you access to an independent test.

Since alcohol runs through the body fairly quickly, time is of the essence so any blocking by the officer could give you additional support to toss out your DUI arrest. If the police officer did not allow you the ability to have an independent test done in a reasonable amount of time, your lawyer may be able to get the breathalyzer test removed from evidence.

It is critical to have a lawyer if you have been arrested for DUI. Navigating the legal process requires a keen eye for detail and an intimate understanding of Georgia’s DUI laws. This is not something to handle on your own, especially when you could lose your right to drive for a minimum of one year.

A skilled Georgia lawyer will be able to tell quickly if the laws and processes were followed. If not, that can be a quick route to reducing or eliminating the charges against you. Not only does this save you the hassle and embarrassment of a DUI charge, but it also ensures that your driver’s license remains intact, and you have the ability to drive to and from work and all your other important life events.

There are many ways the police could have violated your rights during the field sobriety test and DUI arrest. The only way to know for sure what rights have been violated and how to take action to protect yourself is by partnering with a trusted lawyer.

Effingham County DUI Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Will Protect Your Rights After a DUI Arrest

A DUI charge can lead to a possible license suspension, leaving you without a way to get to work. To make sure your rights are protected, speak with our Effingham County DUI lawyers at Kicklighter Law. To learn more about how we can help you, call us at 912-754-6003 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.

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412 North Laurel Street
Springfield, GA 31329

Telephone: 912-754-6003
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