If you’re wondering whether you need a lawyer after a car accident, the answer is probably yes.
Of course, there are exceptions, because car accidents take many different forms. There are one-car accidents and ten-car pileups. There are fairly harmless fender-benders and life-ruining wrecks.
To gauge your need for a car accident lawyer, consider whether your case checks these three criteria:
- You were not at fault for the accident, or were less at fault than another driver.
- You suffered significant injuries, or lost a family member to the accident.
- You know the identity of the at-fault driver and are now faced with collecting your compensation from their insurance company.
If so, a lawyer can almost certainly improve the outcome for you. If not, it’s still worth asking a lawyer’s advice if you’re uncertain about your next steps.
Below, we’ll go over common causes of car accidents in Dunwoody, and how an injury & accident lawyer can help you if you’re harmed by another driver. If at any time you’d prefer to speak directly with a lawyer, feel free to reach out by phone or chat for a free consultation.
Traffic Accidents Can Affect Anyone, Literally Anywhere in Dunwoody
For most people in Dunwoody, and in the U.S in general, driving is an everyday activity. Those who don’t drive must still entrust their lives to drivers every time they take a bus, a rideshare, or a ride from a friend, and while walking down the street or through a parking lot.
Even in situations where most people wouldn’t think of themselves as being at risk for a traffic accident, motorized vehicles are never very far away.
Case in point, in April of 2022, a car crashed through the wall of the Winters Chapel Animal Hospital and into its lobby. Thankfully, no one inside was injured, but if anyone had been standing on the other side of that wall at the time, the accident could easily have been fatal. As it was, the owner was forced to close the hospital temporarily to address the extensive structural damage.
There’s simply nowhere in Dunwoody where the chances of being harmed in a car accident are zero, so it’s important for everyone to know how to respond, should it ever happen to them.
The I-285 Carries the Traffic Problems of Neighboring Cities and Trucking Routes
As a major interstate, the I-285 of course handles a high volume of traffic in and out of Dunwoody. It also accounts for a large share of the accidents that occur in Dunwoody and the immediately surrounding area.
Some of these accidents happen between small passenger vehicles, commuting or visiting between cities in the Metro Atlanta area.
This was true of the accident that killed a 14-year-old boy in February of 2022. According to the family, the boy’s older brother was driving them home along the I-285 in the early morning, when another vehicle moved toward theirs with its lights off. The older brother swerved to avoid a collision and struck the median instead, near exit 30. The car rolled over, killing the younger brother and causing minor injuries to the rest of the family.
Four months later, another driver was killed on the I-285 in a pileup that started as a vehicle breakdown. This scenario was even more typical for a major freeway. A driver had pulled over onto the left shoulder to deal with a mechanical failure. A second car struck the one that had broken down, and then a third car struck the second. The driver of the middle car suffered fatal injuries.
When big commercial vehicles get involved in freeway traffic incidents, the results tend to be even more destructive.
For example, just two months after that three-car pileup, there was another accident that started with a stopped car on the I-285. In this case, however, one of the vehicles was a big rig.
The driver of the big rig does not appear to be at fault for that accident — another car driver was cited for making an improper lane change while trying to get around the stopped car — but the mere presence of a big rig in an accident adds a lot of mass and energy to the potential destruction. During the crash, the big rig flipped one car onto its side and pushed another one into the median. The big rig then caught fire under the Ashford-Dunwoody bridge. As a result, the bridge had to be closed for structural inspection, and part of the I-285 itself had to undergo emergency repaving.
Large truck accidents like these are quite common on the I-285. In April of 2022, a big rig collided with not one but two dump trucks, backing up traffic throughout the Dunwoody stretch of the freeway.
Yet another incident, just before Christmas of 2021, ended in another big rig fire across three lanes near Chamblee Dunwoody Road.
Obviously, transportation in and out of Dunwoody is important, for both people and cargo, and the I-285 is often the best available option. Still, it’s important to recognize how much death and injury centers around this one stretch of highway, and that most of it is preventable.
Everyone who uses the I-285, from local commuters to companies with continent-spanning trucking routes, has a responsibility to do what they can to minimize the danger to others.
Hit-and-Run, DUI, and Other on-the-Road Crimes Are a Serious Threat to Dunwoody Residents
As if getting from point A to point B on crowded streets weren’t dangerous enough for everyone already, plenty of drivers in the Dunwoody area choose to make it worse with reckless behaviors like intoxicated driving.
In January of 2022, a driver struck a utility pole on Sumac Drive, near Arrie Way. He survived and was charged with DUI, not for the first time. Luckily, no one was harmed, but the fact that the intoxicated driver was also an off-duty police sergeant and spokesman for the Dunwoody PD speaks to how deeply ingrained this problem is.
Hit-and-run, while technically a separate phenomenon, is closely linked with DUI. For one thing, both DUI and hit-and-run are crimes, rather than simple traffic infractions. Drivers who are under the influence of a controlled substance are also statistically more likely to flee the scene of an accident than those who are not.
Hit-and-run traffic incidents can be especially devastating for victims, because during the crucial period when they should be focusing on their first round of emergency medical care and/or grieving, they’re stuck facing the uncertainty of whether the hit-and-run driver will ever be identified. If a serious accident happens in an isolated area, the victim may not even be able to access timely medical care without the other driver’s help.
A particularly tragic hit-and-run accident happened on Peachtree Industrial Blvd in November of 2020. A twelve-year-old girl and her dog were waiting while the girl’s mother and the mother’s partner helped a stranded family member whose car had broken down. While they were there, a Range Rover hit the stopped car, the girl, and the dog. After seeing the damage, the driver of the Range Rover attempted to drive away. When the Range Rover wouldn’t move, he stripped his identification from it and ran away on foot. Both the girl and her dog died of their injuries.
That driver was later caught, through a combination of witness identification and tracing of the vehicle. He was charged with vehicular homicide, hit-and-run, reckless driving, evidence tampering, and driving without a license or insurance.
Help from witnesses was also essential to catching a more recent hit-and-run driver, who fled a two-car accident on Winters Chapel Road in August of 2022. The bystanders were able to memorize enough of the driver’s license plate to catch him.
Many other families sadly never find out the name of the driver who hurt them.
Thankfully, courts tend to recognize the seriousness of DUI and hit-and-run, especially those that result in a wrongful death. Victims who are able to sue after these incidents often receive larger settlements and do not need to work as hard to prove their own innocence in the accident.
Victims of Honest Traffic Accidents in Dunwoody Need Legal Help Too
When discussing traffic negligence in the abstract, it’s easy to focus on the worst of what people do on the road. In reality, however, many car accident victims find themselves swapping insurance information with a perfectly nice, cooperative neighbor who made one split-second mistake.
Survivors in these situations are especially likely to wonder whether they need a lawyer. At first, it seems promising that they might be able to work out the situation without conflict, as long as everyone behaves reasonably.
The trouble is that car insurance companies are largely designed to avoid paying fair settlements without conflict. Typically, when an insurance company thinks that one of its customers may have caused an accident, the company representatives will either try to cast doubt over whose fault the accident was, or offer the victim a much smaller amount than they’re actually entitled to. The at-fault driver has no control over this process, so it makes no difference how reasonable they are.
Hiring a lawyer after a car accident rarely has much to do with the other driver, and has everything to do with getting an insurance company to take you and your claim seriously.
What to Do After a Traffic Accident in Dunwoody
Your actions after a car accident can have long-lasting effects on your health, finances, and legal situation.
As much as is practical and applicable to your situation, follow this checklist to ensure the best future for yourself and your family:
- Stop where you are. Move your vehicle out of traffic if you can, but do not move any farther away from the accident site.
- If there is significant visible damage, call 911 to report the accident.
- If anyone is visibly injured, let the 911 operator know and request an ambulance.
- Before leaving the scene, provide your insurance information to anyone involved in the accident, and collect the same from all involved drivers. If possible, collect contact info from witnesses to the accident as well.
- Accept all recommended medical care, at the scene and beyond. If you do not feel you need emergency medical services, be sure to schedule your own exam at your earliest convenience.
- Once your immediate health and safety needs are taken care of, look for a qualified Dunwoody car accident lawyer. Defer all contact with insurance companies until you have legal representation, and then redirect that contact through your lawyer’s office.
The Stoddard Firm has expert traffic accident attorneys who live and work in Dunwoody and the surrounding area. This doesn’t just mean that we’re conveniently located to meet with you and, if necessary, to represent you in DeKalb County Superior Court. It means that we know the quirks of the I-285 and Peachtree Industrial Blvd. We can describe how your accident occurred and compare it with similar examples from a place of authority.
We’re also familiar with the local companies and organizations we’ll need to work with to make sure your case goes smoothly. For example, while gathering evidence on the effects of the accident, we’ll speak directly with your care provider at Northside Atlanta or Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, and with whichever local tow company moved and examined your vehicle, from DG Towing to TSA Atlanta Towing.
To get started discussing the details of your accident with a qualified local attorney, just reach out at 678-RESULTS or through our online chat function for a free consultation.