Auto Wreck With Multiple Fatalities and Injuries between Dublin and Macon on I-16

A multiple vehicle wreck on Wednesday, February 5, 2013 on I-16 between Macon and Dublin claimed 4 lives and caused 9 injuries.   Macon Telegraph reporters Amy Leigh Womack, Liz Fabian and Joe Kovac Jr. reported on this wreck in the Telegraph.  It appears that fog and smoke were involved and that a permit had been issued by the Georgia Forestry Commission for the burning;  according to the article, smoke from the burning of 75 acres of underbrush in Montrose combined with fog to create very limited visibility on I-16 around 8 am near the Bleckley-Laurens County line , when the wrecks started.  The chain reaction came to include 27 vehicles.

This is not the first time a highway wreck has involved smoke on the highway.  Legal issues arising out of these types of wrecks can be quite complicated, and state agencies may claim that they are immune from lawsuits in these circumstances.  For example, in Georgia Forestry Commission v. Canady (280 Ga. 825, 2006), the Georgia Forestry Commission claimed immunity associated with a controlled burn that caused smoke on the highway.  In that opinion, the Georgia Supreme Court set some general limits to the breadth of the immunity granted to state government agencies involved with police and fire protection.   While the opinion goes on at some length in discussing other states’ approaches to immunity from lawsuits for government agencies, the gist of the opinion is that government agencies are immune from suit for the policy decisions they make – both the making of those policy decisions and the implementation of those policy decisions.  But they do not appear to be immune for acts that are not involved with basic policy decisions.  So, for example, Mr. Canady could argue that the decision to not notify other law enforcement agencies of the burning was not a policy-making type of decision but a simpler decision having nothing to do with making or implementing a policy.  I would expect that similar legal issues will be involved in this complicated and tragic multi-vehicle wreck.

Macon Tractor Trailer Wreck Sends 20 to Hospital

A tractor trailer driver failed to stop at a red light and struck a school bus carrying children from Wesleyan College in Macon yesterday.  Amy Leigh Womack reports on this wreck in her Macon Telegraph article.  Thankfully, the injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.  

Tractor Trailer wrecks account for a large number of serious injuries and deaths on the roadways. It is a matter of physics:  a truck weighing 80,000 pounds travelling at highway speeds that impacts a vehicle with a family inside will very likely do terrible injury to that family.  But it is also more than just physics;  it is also a matter of driver error in many cases.  This Injury Board article states that in more than 80% of tractor trailer collisions with non-commercial vehicles, the non-commercial drivers (that’s you and me and all non-professional drivers) is not at fault.  

As lawyers who represent families and individuals in cases involving trucking collisions, we too often hear terribly sad stories of people hurt or killed in truck wrecks because truck drivers are fatigued or not paying attention or are in a rush because their company puts profits ahead of safety. We want to do all we can to prevent needless injuries or deaths from truck wrecks. Please take a moment to review these tips for travelling safely on the roadway around tractor trailers.  

Distracted Driving

    Most of us have heard the dangers of driving while texting or talking on a cell phone, but we do it anyway.   That is, until we personally know someone who has been injured or killed by a distracted driver. 

      There are lots of statistics showing the number of people killed or injured by distracted drivers, but sometimes seeing a bunch of numbers can fall flat and the numbers can lose their meaning.  To have a real impact, people need to see real life situations of sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers or fathers killed or injured by a distracted driver. 

The website lets you see the faces of people whose lives have been permanently altered because of distracted drivers.  I urge everyone to go to this website, click the faces tab, and listen to each story.  Each situation is similar in that someone was killed as a result of a distracted driver, but each one is also very different.  You will not be able to watch these without believing that no one should be driving while texting or talking on the phone. 

As a lawyer who represents people injured in auto and trucking accidents in Georgia, I’ve seen firsthand how  families can be devastated by a terrible irresponsible decision by a reckless driver, or by companies allowing truck drivers to drive without regard for the rules of the road.  Having seen such tragedy and being the father of two young boys, I want to do whatever I can to try to make our roads safer for my family and for others.  Please take a moment to visit this site.

Truck Wreck on I-75

I have not been posting new entries for several months.   The summer months flew by, but I had a great time with my family, and even got to enjoy an oil-free trip to the Gulf Coast.  

I plan to keep the blog more current from now on.  The blog is devoted to safety issues and trial advocacy.  These two topics are tied together because I see what I do as a trial lawyer as furthering the goal of making all of us a little more safe.  Our court system should be used to hold wrongdoers responsible and to make everyone act in a more responsible and safe way.

Safety was definitely on my mind last week as I purchased a new vehicle.  My overriding concern was to buy a vehicle that would protect my family if we were in a severe collision.  Since we live near I-75, a major highway,  with plenty of large truck traffic, I wanted a vehicle that would protect us if we were in a wreck at highway speeds. 

Unfortunately, this weekend I read of another serious wreck involving a large truck on I-75 in Dooly County.  You can read about the wreck in the article by Linda Morris in the Macon Telegraph.   Please use this link to read about safety ratings of vehicles by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  You can read excellent articles about truck safety, and other topics on safety at the website for the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety