Traffic accidents can affect anyone, at any time. When they do, plans change on a dime, and survivors must scramble to educate themselves on how best to respond and protect their interests, all while physically and emotionally recovering from a serious trauma.
Below, we’ll go over some common causes of car accidents in Brookhaven, and what you can do if you’ve been harmed by such an accident. If at any time you would prefer to speak directly with a lawyer, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.
Many Accidents Could Be Prevented with Closer Attention to Right-of-Way
There’s a reason why potential drivers spend so much of their training learning right-of-way traffic laws. Close to half of all traffic accidents involve two or more vehicles colliding with each other. The more people are involved in an accident, the more people can be injured or killed, and the greater the danger to those who are not at fault. So, for everyone’s safety, it makes sense to emphasize the rules of who can move where, when, and how, so that multiple drivers don’t try to occupy the same space at the same time.
Unfortunately, many licensed drivers still don’t fully understand these rules, while others forget or ignore them.
One of the most famous accidents involving a right-of-way violation here in Brookhaven happened in January of 2020. A driver turned left at the intersection of North Druid Hills Road and Buford Highway, without yielding to oncoming traffic. He collided with the car of an Atlanta Hawks basketball player, Chandler Parsons, who suffered potentially career-ending injuries.
Lower profile failure-to-yield accidents are quite common too. In September of 2021, a driver failed to yield while pulling out of a commercial property, also on Buford Highway. The car collided with a school bus bound for Sequoia Middle School, carrying about 40 children. Thankfully, the children and bus driver were not harmed, and the at-fault driver was able to escape the car and receive hospital treatment.
Proving that you had the right of way, and another driver did not, is often the key factor in winning compensation after a traffic accident. If you’re uncertain about either the letter of the law or how provable the facts of your accident will be, a lawyer can help you figure out where you stand.
Brookhaven Residents Have to Contend with Some Highly Irresponsible Drivers
Of course, not every car accident can be explained by a misunderstanding or everyday carelessness. Very often, at-fault drivers make conscious choices, before and after the moment of the accident itself, that show a deeper disregard for the safety of others.
In the Chandler Parsons case, for example, the at-fault driver was cited not just for failure to yield, but also for DUI.
Short of direct violence, getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is one of the surest ways to hurt innocent people, and it’s horrifyingly common. As of this posting, the most recent local incident was from a matter of weeks ago in August of 2022, when a suspected drunk driver struck a police car while speeding on Piedmont Rd, sending two officers to the hospital.
The problem often gets worse during holidays. On Christmas Eve of 2020, another drunk driver caused an accident at the exact same intersection as the Parsons crash. Then, to make matters worse, the driver tried to run away, causing multiple other collisions and ultimately injuring a total of 12 people.
Even if that driver had not continued to cause damage while fleeing, leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging insurance information is a crime unto itself. Like DUI, hit-and-run is disturbingly common, and many Georgia residents are injured and lose loved ones without ever knowing who was responsible.
Less than a year after the Christmas Eve crash, another hit-and-run driver killed a woman at the intersection of Clairmont Road and Clairmont Way, leaving investigators with only a description of a “dark-colored mid-sized vehicle.”
Getting compensation is obviously difficult when a driver gets away unidentified. However, drivers who commit serious offenses like DUI and hit-and-run essentially forfeit any benefit of the doubt over whose fault an accident was. When these drivers are caught, survivors can often sue for larger amounts, with less argument over questions of right-of-way.
The Threats of Traffic Accidents and Criminal Violence Are Closely Linked
Road safety and violent crime are often treated as two separate issues, but they’re closely connected. For one thing, criminal activities often involve getting from place to place on public roads. To those involved in the crime, avoiding arrest usually takes precedence over the safety of others.
For example, in March of 2022, a woman was hospitalized after being involved in a shootout while in her car, just south of Brookhaven. About an hour and a half later, there was an armed carjacking at the Harrison Apartments in Sandy Springs, apparently committed by the same group of individuals who shot the woman. Police located the stolen car on Briarcliff Road, and the suspects tried to escape with it, initiating a police chase across Brookhaven, onto the I-85, and finally to Chamblee Tucker Road. The fleeing driver ultimately lost control, and the five people in the car, all teenagers, were arrested on an assortment of charges. Thankfully, no one was harmed in the chase itself, but this is never a guarantee.
Altercations that start in traffic can also escalate to criminal violence. There has been an especially dangerous trend in Georgia in recent years, of drivers shooting at each other during episodes of “road rage.”
One of these incidents happened here in Brookhaven in May of 2022, with one man taking multiple gunshots before escaping and ultimately being taken to a trauma center. The shooter was charged with aggravated assault.
If the at-fault driver in your accident became physically aggressive or injured you on purpose, it’s important to bring that up to your lawyer early in the process. Car insurance generally does not cover intentional violence, but you may be able to sue the driver directly. The court may also be more sympathetic to you when determining liability for the accident itself.
Insurance Will Not Cover Expenses in Full, Unless Held to the Law
It’s normal to wonder whether you need a lawyer after a car accident, especially if this will be your first time dealing with the auto insurance claims process. Legal representation can be especially helpful for individuals who:
- Were injured or lost a family member due to the accident.
- Were not at fault, or at least not primarily at fault, for the accident.
- Received valid insurance information from the at-fault driver.
Unfortunately, individuals who fit this list often try to pursue compensation without a lawyer’s help.
In theory, it makes sense — you were harmed, it was another driver’s fault, and they have liability insurance for just such an occasion. These are facts that don’t take a professional to decipher. Getting compensation should be pretty straightforward.
In practice, however, this assumption doesn’t account for the insurance company’s motivation. Insurance is a for-profit industry, and insurance companies will almost always prioritize the bottom line above all else. This means denying claims whenever possible, or paying the bare minimum they think they can.
The calculations that determine how much an insurance company will offer you generally don’t have much to do with fault, the actual cost of the damage, or the company’s legal responsibility. They have to do with how little the company thinks you will accept to resolve the claim. Channeling your interactions with the company through a lawyer sends the message that you are serious about getting the compensation you’re owed and will not settle for less.
Of course, this isn’t the only kind of help a car accident lawyer can offer. If your situation is more complicated, with debatable fault or unknown insurance coverage, it’s always worth at least checking in with a lawyer, to learn about all your options.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Brookhaven
How you respond in the moments, days, and weeks after a car accident can determine a lot about your recovery, both medically and in other ways. To set yourself up for the best possible future, try to follow these steps as closely as possible.
In the first moments:
- Stop where you are, or move the shortest possible distance to remove yourself from further danger (such as moving out of oncoming traffic).
- If you are in physical danger from another person, as in a road rage incident, call 911 immediately. This will help you avoid looking like a hit-and-run driver if you need to escape a violent altercation.
- If you or anyone else has visible injuries, or if there is extensive property damage, call 911 to report the accident and request an ambulance, if needed.
- Provide your contact and insurance information to any other drivers or pedestrians involved in the accident, and collect the same from them. If possible, collect contact information from witnesses at the scene as well.
- Write down what you can remember about the accident, while it’s fresh in your mind, and keep this information for yourself.
In the first days:
- Whether or not you received emergency medical care for specific injuries on the day of the accident, arrange a full medical exam to check for hidden damage. Keep all recommended follow-up appointments, both to protect your health and to establish a record of your condition.
- Go easy on yourself, and pay attention to your emotional state. It is very common to develop PTSD, anxiety, or depression after a serious traffic accident, especially when there is permanent physical damage. Consider whether you would welcome mental health support as part of your compensation.
- If you receive any calls from insurance companies, do NOT allow them to take a recorded statement from you.
- Preferably, arrange to have your vehicle stored in its current condition, to preserve the evidence. If it is repairable, and you need it repaired immediately, be sure to get a written record of the damage found and repairs made.
- Keep a careful record of all out-of-pocket expenses, including lost income.
In the first weeks:
- Look for a car accident lawyer who covers Brookhaven and handles accidents similar to yours. While not as urgent as your health and safety, it’s never too early to start this process.
- Once you have hired a lawyer, redirect all interactions with the insurance companies to your lawyer’s office.
The experts at The Stoddard Firm have extensive experience representing car accident victims and their families, and the kind of knowledge that only comes from being local. We can speak confidently on the recurring traffic issues on the I-85, Buford Highway, and Peachtree Road.
We’re familiar with the local companies and organizations likely to play a role in car accident lawsuits, from obvious fixtures like the Brookhaven Police Department and the DeKalb County Superior court, down to tow companies like Towing Brookhaven and Mayeday. We can discuss your condition directly with Northside Hospital, or, if necessary, coordinate with local funeral homes like H.M. Patterson & Son or Fischer Funeral Care, to make sure you can say goodbye to your loved one without fear of losing evidence in the process.
To discuss your options for justice with a lawyer today, just reach out at 678-RESULTS, or through our online chat function, for a free consultation.