No matter how good you are at controlling your own vehicle, you can’t control everything that might happen out on the roads in Smyrna. Every time you go out, you have no choice but to rely on others to behave as responsibly as you would, which doesn’t always happen.
It can be a terribly helpless feeling, being on the receiving end of someone else’s negligence on the road. That feeling often lingers long after the crash itself is over, as you scramble to cover your expenses so that you can heal, both physically and mentally.
While the aftermath of an accident is never pleasant, you don’t have to resign yourself to crossing your fingers and hoping for an insurance company to be uncharacteristically generous. A qualified car accident lawyer can clarify your rights and help you take control of the recovery process.
Below, we’ll go over some of the main causes of car accidents in Smyrna, and what a car accident lawyer can do for you. If you’d prefer to speak directly with our personal injury lawyer in the Smyrna area, please feel free to reach out by phone or chat at any time.
Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Motorcyclists Face the Steepest Risks
Wherever road safety isn’t what it should be, the danger is worst for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and anyone else who isn’t receiving physical protection from their vehicle. Sadly, the forms of transportation that provide the least protection also tend to be the most economical, environmentally friendly, and, in the case of walking, just plain unavoidable.
In Smyrna, one of these accidents happened right at the end of 2021. It had been a fairly wet holiday season, and a car and a bicycle collided on Windy Hill Road, possibly due to the slippery driving conditions. As is so often the case, the person with the lighter vehicle, the bicyclist, was killed at the scene.
The same happened to a man who was crossing Cooper Lake Road a few months later in his electric wheelchair, and also to someone who tried to cross South Cobb Drive on foot back in January of 2020. Both were killed, while the drivers of the larger vehicles survived.
Of course, this phenomenon doesn’t mean that pedestrians and users of light vehicles are always blameless or harmless in accidents. Initial investigation of the pedestrian death on South Cobb Drive, for example, indicated that the pedestrian did not have the right of way, and the surviving driver was severely injured, requiring hospital treatment.
In many cases, lawbreaking pedestrians can be held liable for the harm they cause, just like anyone else who breaks a rule and puts others at risk. But there’s a big caveat to this concept.
The act of driving a heavy, potentially deadly vehicle comes with an inherent responsibility to avoid hurting others whenever possible. This means watching out for more vulnerable individuals on the road.
So, if a driver has a chance to swerve safely around a pedestrian but strikes the pedestrian instead, the driver may be liable for the pedestrian’s death, regardless of right-of-way laws.
If you’re uncertain about where the legal fault lies in your accident, speaking with a lawyer can help you figure out where you stand.
Races, Chases, Intoxication, and Recklessness Are a Threat to Innocent Smyrna Drivers
The most dangerous drivers on the road are those who willingly disregard the safety of others. This includes those who participate in street races, flee from police, drive while intoxicated, drive much faster than the speed limit, or take other obvious and unnecessary risks.
All of these behaviors are serious problems in Georgia, and in Smyrna specifically.
In February of 2022, a 19-year-old lost control of his vehicle while turning left from South Cobb Drive onto Cobb Parkway, spun out, and struck another vehicle. Police believe that he was involved in a street race at the time of the failed turn. The suspected racer later died of his injuries, and the driver he struck was also injured.
That same month, police attempted to pull a man over for speeding, only to discover later that he was already wanted for attempted murder. The suspect refused to pull over and tried to escape along the East-West Connector. Luckily, police were able to stop him with a PIT maneuver, and no bystanders were harmed, but fleeing suspects do often hit other cars. The chase reached 120 miles per hour, meaning that if an accident had occurred, it would almost certainly have been fatal.
Back in March of 2019, another speeding driver t-boned an SUV at the intersection of South Cobb Drive and Cooper Lake Road. The at-fault driver was trying to overtake another vehicle and traveling at nearly double the posted speed limit at the time. The victim suffered permanent injuries, including neurological damage.
Just over a year later, also on South Cobb Drive, another driver crashed into a police car in front of the BP gas station, near the I-285. The officer inside was killed, and the at-fault driver was charged with, among other things, DUI.
If a driver is being obviously reckless at the time of an accident, or causes the accident as part of a longer crime spree, there’s often less debate over fault. It’s a minor comfort compared with the harm reckless drivers cause, but victims in these kinds of accidents often receive more complete settlements.
Hit-and-Run Drivers Can Make It Harder, or Easier, to Collect Compensation
After a traffic accident, the drivers involved are legally obligated to stop and share their insurance information with any other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who may have been harmed. They must also help anyone who needs medical care to reach it.
Failure to follow these steps is called hit-and-run. Hit-and-run may not technically increase accident rates — the choice to run away comes after the accident has already occurred — but it does cause serious harm to its victims. An injured crash survivor who does not receive immediate assistance, or who cannot get coverage for medical expenses from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, has a greater risk of dying or suffering long-lasting damage.
Just like street racing and other reckless driving behaviors, hit-and-run is a crime. Also like street racing, hit-and-run is a serious problem here in Georgia. Our average annual total of fatal hit-and-run incidents is the fourth highest in the country.
One of these incidents happened on the I-285 in February of 2022. It started as a different sort of accident. A woman had crashed into the median while traveling northbound past South Cobb Road, and another driver ran into the back of her vehicle. When she got out to exchange information, she was struck by multiple other passing vehicles. Although some of the drivers stopped, police believe that the first one to hit her got away. She died at the scene.
Many hit-and-run drivers are never caught, but those who are caught have very little legal defense against their victims’ claims. Sometimes, survivors who sue hit-and-run drivers can even collect punitive damages, an additional sum on top of the value of the actual damage.
Many Crashes Are Still Caused by Smaller Errors and Traffic Law Violations
So far, we’ve talked a lot about the harm that serious, intentional, criminal behavior can cause on the road. Even if these behaviors stopped completely, however, there would still be occasional traffic accidents, in Smyrna and around the world.
It only takes a split second of distraction or exhaustion to turn a usually competent driver into an at-fault driver. Factor in the chance of encountering a vehicle malfunction, a faulty road design, or a medical emergency, and no one who drives can ever be 100% certain they’ll never accidentally hurt another innocent driver.
Honest accidents can be even more difficult for victims to heal from than those caused by criminal recklessness, because victims in these accidents are often deeply concerned about the effect on the at-fault driver’s life, as well as their own.
Such concern is admirable, but it can lead the victim to accept less compensation than they really need, in the hope of minimizing the burden on the at-fault driver. This generosity rarely has the intended effect. Instead, the at-fault driver’s insurance company gets to pocket the extra money, at the expense of the victim who needs it.
Car insurance will almost never pay out the full amount an accident victim is owed, unless prompted by legal action. It’s the sad reality of the industry. That’s why it’s so important to work with a car accident lawyer to make sure you get a fair settlement, no matter how amicable your feelings toward the at-fault driver may be. The lawsuit isn’t really about them; it’s about you and the insurance company.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Smyrna
Immediately after a car accident in Smyrna, be sure to follow these steps, to protect your health, safety, and legal rights.
- Stop in the nearest safe place and exchange contact and insurance information with any other drivers. Do not discuss the details of what happened or speculate on fault at this point. You may also want to collect the contact information of witnesses to the accident.
- Call for emergency medical services, if anyone needs them. If you yourself do not feel in need of emergency care, schedule an exam with your doctor at your earliest convenience to check for internal injuries.
- Call for a towing service, if necessary.
- Get in touch with a car accident lawyer who’s familiar with the Smyrna area. Do not make any statements to any insurance company until you have a qualified lawyer to advise you. Many companies will try to trick you into verbally damaging your own case.
Location may not be the first factor that comes to mind when selecting legal counsel, but it can make a huge difference in a lawyer’s ability to represent you effectively. At The Stoddard Firm, our familiarity with Smyrna roads and traffic patterns allows us to speak with authority on the details of our clients’ accidents.
Interacting regularly with local companies and organizations also puts us in an ideal position to collect as much evidence as possible while it still exists. For example, if the cars were removed from the crash site by a Smyrna-based towing company like Epic Towing or Howard’s Wrecker Service, we’ll speak directly with them to learn about the exact damage that occurred.
To establish the severity of your injuries, we can do the same with Wellstar Urgent Care or Wellstar Smyrna Primary Care Center.
If you lost a loved one to the accident, we can coordinate with local mortuaries, like Sims or Carmichael Funeral Homes, to make sure everything is taken care of for both your case and your memorial plans, without one interfering with the other.
To get started with a free consultation today, just reach out by phone at 678-RESULTS, or through our online chat function.