Atlanta is a great place to live; however, we all know how bad traffic can be. Throw some rough winter weather into the mix and things can get even worse. Recent weather reports have indicated that there is a chance for some winter weather this upcoming weekend. Accordingly, we have prepared a list of things to keep in mind should we see some snow or ice on our roadways.
Prior to leaving, it is important to make sure that your car is in tiptop shape. Check your tire pressure to make sure that your tires are properly inflated. Make sure that you have enough gas. A general rule of thumb is that you should have at least half a tank of gas. If you are going to be in an isolated area you should bring water, snacks, a blanket, a warm jacket, and good foot wear in case of a break down.
Driving takes a lot of mental effort. Driving when you have not had enough sleep seriously diminishes your ability to respond to potential hazards. With that in mind, getting enough sleep can be critical. If you are tired, take a quick nap before your departure. Of course, there are also many celebrations and parties this time of year. If you have had any alcohol at all, then it is worth taking an Uber, Lyft, or traditional taxi to reach your destination. Alcohol consumption prior to driving creates a serious hazard for you as well as others on the road. Not to mention, Georgia has a strict zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving.
The easiest thing to do in the event of snow or ice is to stay off of the road. If you absolutely must drive, drive slowly. Give yourself more time to reach your destination so you don’t feel the rush to be somewhere quickly. Adding speed to an already hazardous condition will only make things more dangerous. To this point, do not accelerate or decelerate rapidly. If you must speed up or slow down, do so gradually.
Snow is a relatively uncommon occurrence here in Atlanta and many drivers have minimal experience with it. In addition to taking things slowly, provide the drivers around you with even more patience than normal. Tailgating closely and other forms of aggressive driving only make bad situations even more dangerous. Put simply, be considerate to those around you and you’ll decrease the odds of a winter weather mishap.
All told, there is no way to know for sure what is headed towards Atlanta this weekend. If winter weather does enter the mix, the best thing to do is stay off of the roads. If you must drive, please keep the above tips in mind. In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one is involved in a car accident due to the winter weather, don’t hesitate to give The Rhine Law Firm, LLC a call today.
By now the allegations against Bill Cosby have been widely covered by the news media. It was also often reported that many of the crimes Cosby has been accused of fall outside the statutes of limitations for criminal legal proceedings in the state of California. Just last week, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed legislation ending California’s 10-year statute of limitations for prosecution of certain rape cases. While Governor Brown did not say that the bill was inspired by the allegations against Cosby, many news outlets have reported that this is widely believed to be the case.
So what exactly are statutes of limitations? A statute of limitations, in a civil law context, is a law that prevents someone from bringing a law suit against another party if the underlying cause of action occurred more than a specified number of years prior. Put another way, it is a limitation on the amount of time that a party has to bring forth a lawsuit.
In Georgia, statutes of limitation vary based on the underlying cause of action or the occurrence that gave rise to the lawsuit in the first place. The following are two of the most important examples of statutes of limitations to keep in mind if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident:
When it comes to personal injury, the statute of limitations in Georgia that governs is O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. Under this code section, when someone has sustained a personal injury, they have two years to bring their claim. A common example of this would be injuries stemming from a motor vehicle accident. When the unfortunate happens and someone is injured following an accident, this two-year window is incredibly important to be aware of. As mentioned above, a failure to pay attention to it can result in a loss of the ability to be compensated for said injuries.
When someone has damaged your personal property under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32, you must bring suit within four years. One of the most common examples of a personal property claim would be for damages to a motor vehicle following a car accident. Of course, personal property can include a host of other things as well. Let’s say your neighbor, following an evening of partying, decides to trespass onto your property and push over your brand new Harley Davison motorcycle. The resulting damage could give rise to a personal property claim, which you now have four years to pursue. Should you wait for more than four years, you lose the right to pursue this case.
There are a variety of other statutes of limitations in the state of Georgia including but not limited to: medical malpractice, product liability, libel, fraud, trespass, collection of rent, breach of contract, collection of a debt, amongst others. Statutes of limitations can vary greatly and can also be impacted by other laws that can extend them. Accordingly, if you have a lawsuit, it is important to consult a lawyer familiar with the different statutes of limitations in Georgia. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another, call The Rhine Law Firm today.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts tests for vehicle safety each year. They release information for consumers about which new cars are the safest in terms of both avoiding accidents and protecting occupants in the event of a crash. With driving being a daily necessity for the vast majority of Georgians, vehicle safety should be on everyone’s mind. In this post we will highlight a few of the 2016’s safest vehicles that the IIHS recommends to keep you and your family safe. All of the vehicles mentioned below have been awarded the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, meaning that they did well in five different crashworthiness tests and have front crash prevention systems that IIHS deemed either advanced or superior.
Top Safety Picks+ with Front End Prevention Systems
Many vehicles qualified for Top Safety Pick+ recognition only when equipped with optional front-end crash prevention systems. These features come standard on a few vehicles, however. Ten of those vehicles were on this year’s list of Top Safety Pick+ Winners without any qualification, meaning a consumer won’t have to purchase any optional upgrades to drive with the IIHS’s top rating. Impressively Volvo made five of these. In the luxury car category, Volvo’s midsize S60 and V60 as well as the larger S80 all won top honors. The XC60 and XC 90, two luxury SUVs, round out Volvo’s five vehicles that come standard with the IIHS’s safest rating.
The other five Top Safety Pick+ vehicles that come standard with front end prevention are the small Scion iA, the large luxury Acura RLX and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the midsize luxury SUV Mercedez-Benz GLE Class, and the large SUV Audi Q7. All of other Top Safety Picks+ attained top honors only when equipped with optional front end prevention systems purchased as upgrades.
2016’s Most Awarded Manufacturers
Six Honda models made the list. The Civic 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan both got top honors in the small car category. The Accord 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan represent the midsize category, and the CR-V and Pilot were among the awarded SUVs.
Subaru also had six vehicles among the Top Safety Picks+. These include the Crosstrek, the Impreza, and the WRX, three small cars. The Legacy and the Outback were awarded in the midsize category, and the Forester was among the honored Small SUVs.
Toyota was the final manufacturer with six models awarded as IIHS Top Safety Picks+. They were the Prius in the small car category, the midsize Camry and Prius v, the larger Avalon, the RAV4 small SUV and the Highlander midsize SUV.
If you’re in the market for a new or used car, be sure to do your research on the safety ratings of potential vehicles. Check out the full list of Top Safety Picks and Top Safety Picks+ on the IIHS website. You can search for ratings on any vehicle here. A few minutes of research could help keep you and your loved ones safe in the event of an accident. Once you’ve found the right vehicle, be sure to drive safely and attentively. If you are in a collision, follow these four steps and give The Rhine Law Firm, LLC a call for help protecting your interests.
Pedestrian safety is a serious issue in Georgia. Almost 200 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in the state last year. In the decade between 2003 and 2013 there were 86 pedestrian accidents on the University of Georgia campus alone, according to the University of Georgia Traffic Safety Research and Evaluation Group. Nationwide, an astounding 4,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2013.
According to an Ohio State study, distracted walking is a dangerous and increasingly prevalent activity. Texting and walking may be even more dangerous than texting while driving. The new Pokémon Go craze has been problematic in terms of pedestrian safety. Despite the application’s loading screen’s warning for users to remain aware of their surroundings, accidents have been reported. A Pennsylvania teenager recently wandered into the highway while playing and was hit by a car. Two California men fell off a cliff while focused on finding Pokémon. Luckily, both survived. Believe it or not, a wanted criminal in Michigan unwittingly wandered up to a police station and was arrested while attempting to battle at the Pokémon gym located at the building. Marietta Police have reportedly had to increase patrols in response to the popular game. The Pokémon Go situation has garnered enough attention that the National Safety Council issued a statement urging drivers and pedestrians to remain distraction free.
Talking, texting, listening to music, and playing electronic games all impair a pedestrian’s ability to safely cross roads and to avoid potential dangers. Always stay aware of your surroundings while you walk, especially while you cross the street. Drivers are often distracted, and you should never count on them to see you. Act under the assumption that you are the only person looking out for your own safety. Simply prioritizing the task at hand over what’s happening on your phone could prevent a horrible tragedy.
Driving isn’t the only thing that’s significantly more dangerous if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In 2011, about 35% of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit for driving. According to Jonathan Adkins, a Governors Highway Safety Association spokesman, “nationally we’ve done a good job of educating people about the dangers of drunk driving, but we haven’t done such a good job of reminding them that other drunk behavior, including walking, can be just as dangerous.”
Distracted pedestrians give drivers another reason to stay vigilant and alert. When you’re on the road, anticipate the movements of pedestrians. Drive cautiously around intersections in case pedestrians dart into the road. Being aware of your surroundings is important for the safety of others as well as yourself. For more information about driving safely, see our Tips for Safe Summer Driving.
What to Do
In the event of an accident, whether you are a driver or a pedestrian, follow our Four Steps to protect yourself. If you are struck by a motor vehicle while you are walking, contact The Rhine Law Firm, LLC for an attorney who will advocate for your rights.
Motorcycles are fuel efficient and fun, but they are also inherently dangerous. They can be more dangerous than cars and trucks because they lack the structural safety of automobiles and because they are not as easily visible as larger vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are over 26 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than people in cars. In light of this danger, there are precautions that motorcyclists can take to protect themselves.
1. In Georgia and 18 other states, all motorcyclists are required to wear helmets. That said, no matter where you ride a helmet makes a huge difference. NHTSA reports that motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1700 lives in 2012 alone. That year, over 700 more lives could have been saved by helmet use.
2. As is the case with cars, don’t get on your motorcycle if you are intoxicated. NHTSA reports that alcohol is a factor in a higher percentage of fatal motorcycle accidents than fatal car accidents. That percentage has increased over the last decade. According to the CDC, alcohol can have an impairing impact on a person’s ability to drive safely even before the legal limit is reached. In fact, a second drink can diminish a driver’s ability to visually track moving objects. Plan ahead to avoid riding under the influence by arranging a ride. Services like Uber and Lyft can provide safe rides home at affordable prices.
3. Drive defensively. No matter how safely you operate your own vehicle, you have to be careful of other drivers. You never know who may be intoxicated or distracted. In order to anticipate and avoid danger, look as far ahead as possible. For example, noticing brake lights in the distance can save you from having to slam on your brakes when the driver directly in front of you stops. Seeing kids playing in a driveway down the road can help you be ready to react if a ball comes out into the road. Being proactive about potential hazards could save your life. See our Tips for Safe Summer Driving for more information.
4. Carry good insurance. It can be tempting to opt for the cheapest available coverage, but solid insurance can save you money and hassle in the event of an accident. Consider carrying uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This insurance will kick in if you are involved in an accident with a driver without insurance (or with inadequate insurance) who is at fault. According to the Insurance Research Council, one in every seven drivers does not have insurance. Their study showed that another 20% of drivers carry only the minimum insurance required by law. By closing this possible insurance gap, uninsured motorist coverage can provide peace of mind and potentially save you from financial disaster. MedPay coverage can help make sure your medical expenses are taken care of right away after an accident regardless of fault. Talk to your insurance company to make sure you are fully protected.
If you are in a motorcycle accident, follow our four steps to protect yourself. Contact The Rhine Law Firm, LLC for help protecting your rights, recovering money you may be entitled to, and navigating the stressful insurance process.
Film is Big Business for Georgia
In the last few years, filmmaking has become a hugely important part of Georgia’s economy. Governor Deal announced that in the fiscal year 2015, film generated a $6 billion impact in the state. Georgia has a few advantages that make it a natural place for filmmaking. Our diverse geography allows for shots of skylines, mountains, farms, and beaches. Having the world’s busiest airport means that Atlanta is just one flight away from New York, Los Angeles, and almost every other major city. In fact, there are flights to New York and L.A. about every hour! Cast and crew have an easy time getting to Atlanta and find an impressive array of backdrops when they get here.
Georgia has used its tax code to turn its filmmaking potential into a reality. The state legislature has instituted tax credits that encourage film production in Georgia, and they have proven incredibly successful. According to a local film producer who has decades of experience in the industry, 284 movies and television shows were filmed in Georgia in 2015. Broderick Johnson, the producer of The Blind Side, which was filmed in Georgia, said that the tax break in Georgia is “one of the best, if not the best in the country.” One measure of the success of the tax incentives is job creation. According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, Ant-Man alone employed about 3,500 Georgians. In total, the Georgia Department of Economic Development estimates that the film industry directly employs over 22,000 Georgians and indirectly employs over 77,000 more. It’s clear the tax credit is working as intended. So how exactly do these highly beneficial tax credits actually work?
How the Tax Credits Work
For starters, Georgia’s production incentives can significantly decrease the cost of filmmaking. Productions that spend at least $500,000 in the state are eligible for a 20% tax credit against Georgia taxes. Basically, that $500,000 can be met by the costs of production and post-production that take place within Georgia, travel and insurance provided by Georgia companies, and wages paid for work done in Georgia. Films that include a state logo in their credits qualify for an additional 10% credit, making for a total credit amounting to 30%!
Not all companies that are eligible for the production tax incentive have enough tax liability in Georgia to take full advantage of it. Georgia allows these companies to sell these credits to other taxpayers, so all qualifying productions have the opportunity to monetize the credits to their advantage. Since the credits can be carried forward into future tax years, there should be no shortage of potential buyers. In effect, the ability to sell these incentives increases the production budgets of films made in Georgia. The process of selling tax credits can be complicated. The state recommends that filmmakers go through the State Tax Credit Exchange or other experienced brokers so that the sales are handled appropriately.
Navigating this process can be complicated. For help with the legal issues that arise in filmmaking, including the use of these tax credits, contact The Rhine Law Firm, LLC. We can walk you through the finer points of which costs count toward the $500,000 expenditure minimums and how to be sure you qualify.
If you’re an experienced driver, you’ve likely dealt with car insurance companies before. Here’s an aspect of auto insurance that many people aren’t familiar with that can come into play after a collision. If you own a vehicle, you’ll want to know about diminished value claims in case you’re ever in an accident.
What is a diminished value claim?
An accident can reduce the value of an automobile even if the vehicle is fully repaired. In fact, services like CarFax may make it difficult to sell a car that has been in a collision. The CarFax website advises buyers not to waste their time on vehicles with “less than desirable history.” People simply aren’t willing to pay full price for a car that has been in a crash. This can be problematic for car owners who are in accidents but have their vehicles fully repaired. For that reason, if someone hits your car, their insurance company may compensate you for your vehicle’s diminished value.
For example, say that you own a 2009 Ford F-150 with resale value of $8,000. If your truck was hit by another vehicle, and you spent $1,000 getting it fully repaired, its resale value may nonetheless be permanently reduced. Say its new market value was $6,000 because of the accident. You’ve then suffered a lost in terms of the wealth you hold in the property. In that case, you could be entitled to recover not just the cost of the repairs but also $2,000 in diminished value, the difference between the prior and current market prices. The purpose of insurance is to reimburse your losses and make you whole, at least in theory.
Insurance companies may underestimate diminished value
In practice, insurance companies are notorious for underestimating diminished value in order to protect their bottom line. They often use arbitrary formulas without basis in the law just because they wish to keep claims low. In the Ford F-150 example above, an insurance company may have considered diminished value very differently from the true economic loss. Many insurance companies cap diminished value to 10% of the value of the automobile in their initial quotes, so the insurer may tell you your diminished value claim is worth $800 or even less. They often further reduce that number based upon the mileage and condition of the vehicle, often ending up with estimates that don’t come near the true loss. These companies can be very convincing to people who don’t deal with them on a regular basis. That’s why it’s so important to talk to a lawyer.
Remember that insurance companies seek first and foremost to protect their bottom line. If you’re in an accident, first follow our four steps to protect yourself. Then, when you have to negotiate with insurance companies and make sure your rights are taken care of, don’t go through it alone. Contact The Rhine Law Firm, LLC for an attorney who has experience dealing with insurers and who will protect your rights and interests throughout the process.
According to esurance, the summer is amongst the most dangerous times to drive. Several factors can increase congestion and the rate of collisions in the summer months. Teens on break from high school and college will add to the usual traffic and are disproportionately involved in accidents because of their inexperience. Vacationers on road trips can be dangerous because they’re unfamiliar with their surroundings. The heat can lead to agitated drivers, who also tend to be unsafe. Summer road construction can lead to atypical conditions like lane changes and abrupt decreases in traffic speed. Heat can add to wear and tear on automobiles. Expanding tires may be more likely to blow out. Take some time to be proactive about safe summer driving now to protect yourself, your family, and others on the road.
What You Can Do Ahead of Time
Keeping your car properly maintained can make all the difference in the world. As noted above, the heat can impact your tire pressure, so be sure to check your tires regularly. Keep at least four quarters in your car so you can fill your tires if necessary. Make sure you have a spare tire in your car and you know how to change a tire correctly and safely. Double check that you have a working jack and wrench in the car as well.
Other regular maintenance like oil changes can help your engine handle the summer heat. Don’t forget to check other essential fluids, too. Your mechanic would likely be happy to check these when you go in for your oil change. Test your lights, including your brake lights and turn signals, once a week. This is essential for safe driving and can be done in just a few seconds if you have a passenger with you. Checking regularly will also keep you from finding out the hard way as an officer writes you a citation.
Keep your car stocked with some essential items. Have an extra bottle of water in the car. If you’re stuck in traffic because of construction or an accident, you don’t want to be without water while you wait. A pair of sunglasses will also come in handy. Drivers with the sun in their eyes are less able to avoid collisions, and glare can be unpredictable. Sunglasses remove this danger while also keeping your eyes healthy. Finally, store a set of jumper cables in your vehicle. They don’t take up much space and can save you a big headache if your car doesn’t start. Plus, you can be the hero if you come across another driver with a dead battery. Jump-starting a vehicle can be tricky, so make sure you know how to use jumper cables safely.
While You Drive
Watch your temperature gauge. An overheating engine can be a serious problem. If you see the gauge indicate overheating, pull over as quickly as possible. If you are unable to get to the shoulder because of road conditions, turn your heater on high. This will pull heat away from your engine and can help minimize damage.
Wear your seat belt every single time. According to the CDC, seat belts reduce deaths and serious injuries in car accidents by half. This is one of the easiest, most important things you can do to stay safe. Stay focused on the road. Don’t let food, beverages, passengers, GPS, or your phone become a distraction. Give driving your full attention so you can safely navigate any unexpected obstacles.
Don’t drive intoxicated. Keep in mind that rideshare services like Uber and Lyft can be a great way to get home safely after consuming alcohol. Also be aware that other drivers may be intoxicated, especially after dark and especially around major holidays. Drive alertly and defensively.
If you are in an accident this summer, take our four steps to protect yourself. Then contact The Rhine Law Firm, LLC for help protecting your rights and interests.
Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft have revolutionized transportation in car-dominated cities like Atlanta. In fact, these companies and their competitors are becoming ubiquitous throughout many American cities. These rideshare services offer the communities they serve a terrific resource; however, they are not impervious to the accidents and other traffic-related issues that other Georgia drivers also face.
The success of these rideshare companies has gotten plenty of media attention, but did you know that some sources, including CNN Money, are saying that Uber is now more valuable than Ford, Honda, and GM? Outside of the auto industry, CNN Money is also saying that Uber has surpassed the values of Costco, Lockheed Martin, Lowes, and Morgan Stanley. While ridesharing companies are highly valued on the open market, their relative newness has left legislators throughout the country struggling with how exactly to address many of the new issues presently faced by the users of these services. Recently new Georgia legislation was passed with the aim of doing exactly that.
Georgia Lawmakers Address Rideshare Companies
It’s clear that rideshare companies are more than a passing craze. In 2015, Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia State Assembly enacted legislation governing the way these companies do business in the state of Georgia. Most importantly for customers, these new laws expanded the insurance requirements for rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft.
Prior to the enactment of the new legislation, an insurance gap existed during the time in which drivers had their rideshare apps open but did not have passengers in their vehicles. Coinciding with this, the drivers’ personal insurance often did not apply when they were involved in for profit activity. Meanwhile, the transportation network companies were only providing coverage when the drivers had passengers. As a result, when a driver was looking for fares or driving to a customer’s pick-up location it was possible that no insurance coverage was in place in the event of an accident.
Closing the Insurance Gap
Since House Bill 190 took effect on January 1st, 2016, transportation network companies in Georgia became required to provide coverage beginning the moment a rideshare driver opens an app for the purpose of finding fares. When a driver is between fares they must cover a minimum of $100,000 for personal injury and $50,000 for property damage. Once a driver accepts a ride request, the minimum coverage increases significantly. Companies must provide coverage of at least $1,000,000.00 for injuries and $1,000,000.00 for property damage for the time between acceptance of a ride request and the end of the ride. Functionally, the new laws close the insurance gap and help ensure adequate protection for passengers.
Ramifications for Passengers and the Public
If you ride with Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare company in Georgia, you can now do so with confidence that the driver is adequately insured. It’s not just passengers that benefit either. Any driver on Georgia roads stands to benefit from rideshare drivers being adequately insured. If you are involved in an accident with a rideshare vehicle, take our four steps to protect yourself. It’s important that you consult an attorney to help you navigate this recently emerging area of the law. Contact The Rhine Law Firm, LLC for help protecting your rights, including the recovery of any money you may be entitled to following an accident.
You may have heard that Braves infielder Chase d’Arnaud recently missed a game because of a minor car accident. Almost everyone is involved in an auto accident at some point. There are some things you can do now to prepare yourself well in case it happens to you.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you should focus on getting yourself healthy. Unfortunately, people often worry about mounting medical bills during the period of uncertainty between an accident and the insurance company cutting a check. Talking to your car insurance provider about medical payments coverage (MedPay) could save you money and hassle in the event of an accident.
How MedPay Works
After an accident, MedPay covers the medical expenses of all occupants of your car up to a specified limit. Note that MedPay is purchased by the vehicle. Regardless of your other insurance, your MedPay covers only the vehicles you have MedPay for. The key feature of MedPay is that it covers you and your passengers regardless of fault, meaning that your expenses will be paid for despite any possible disputes about who caused the accident.
Advantages of MedPay
MedPay kicking in regardless of liability bring several important benefits. It provides peace of mind after the accident since you’ll know your medical expenses are taken care of even if the insurance companies are quarreling about fault. This also means that MedPay is available immediately, since liability questions don’t have to be addressed.
MedPay is worthwhile even if you have excellent health insurance for a few reasons. First, it generally does not require a deductible, meaning that you would pay nothing out of pocket. Second, it sometimes covers accident expenses more broadly than health insurance by including things like chiropractic treatment. Finally, it covers everyone in your vehicle. MedPay can be reassuring since you know your friends and family will have coverage when they are riding with you. Furthermore, if you cause an accident, these payments could help cover your obligations to your passengers.
MedPay is often very affordable. Talk to your own insurance company for specifics, but it is not uncommon for up to six figures of MedPay coverage to be relatively inexpensive compared to the benefits derrived.
Every driver should carry MedPay coverage. For as little as a few extra dollars a month, you could save yourself a huge amount of worry in the event of an accident. MedPay keeps you and your passengers from having to stress about money in the immediate aftermath of a crash while the details are examined by the insurance companies. Instead of focusing on the details, you can do what you need to do to get healthy.
MedPay is something you can take care of today. See this blog entry for the steps you should take after a car accident occurs. Call The Rhine Law Firm, LLC for guidance throughout the process and to make sure your rights are protected.