Tips for Safe Driving

Tips for Safe Driving

            Motor vehicle accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. In 2018, there were 1,514 traffic fatalitieson Georgia roads, and fortunately these numbers have seen a slow decrease since 2016. There is a heavy flow of traffic especially during the summer and around holidays, with students off from school and other people traveling. Safe driving practices can help continue to reduce the number of accidents and create safer Georgia roadways. 

            These 2018 statistics from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) paint a detailed picture of motor vehicle accidents in the state: 

  • 70% of fatalities in crashes are caused by unsafe driving behaviors like speeding or impairment
  • 1,514 traffic fatalities in 2018 were equivalent to an average of 4 deaths per day 
  • 59% of accident victims were identified as not wearing a seatbelt or unknown 
  • 17% of accident fatality victims were pedestrians 

            What can you, the driver, do? Many accidents that occur are preventable and taking steps toward becoming a better and more aware driver can protect you, your family, other vehicles, and pedestrians from an accident that could be fatal. The first thing that anyone should do upon entering a vehicle is to buckle up with a seatbelt. After all, 59% of accident victims were identified as not wearing a seatbelt or it was unknown, and something as simple as wearing a seatbelt could save one’s life. Another precaution to take before entering a roadway is to check and maintain your vehicle; low tire pressure and bad brakes, for example, could lead to vehicle failures on the road. 

            Laws protect and provide for our general safety, and alongside wearing a seatbelt and appropriately maintaining your vehicle, laws such as following the speed limit and “hands free” laws were designed to create safer driving conditions. Speeding is not worth the possible accident it could cause and creates a less controlled environment. Never follow a vehicle too closely; the vehicle in front might come to a stop and following too closely could result in a rear-end collision. 

            In 2018, Georgia lawmakers passed the Hands-Free Georgia Act, making it illegal to have a phone in hand while driving. Over the years, texting has especially contributed to traffic accidents, so this law should help decrease distracted driving. A general rule of thumb in terms of safe driving is to always keep your eyes on the road, being aware of your own driving and those driving around you. 

            Most importantly, never operate a vehicle while under the influence. If you choose to drink, ridesharing is a great way to arrive home safely. Even if not driving, other drivers may be intoxicated, especially during holidays or at night, so always drive alertly and defensively. 

             Following traffic laws, staying focused on the road, and routine vehicle maintenance will help make Georgia’s roadways safer. Remember, if an accident does occur, pull over to a safe place. After you’ve made sure that you’re okay, call the police. Then contact The Rhine Law Firm, LLC for help protecting your rights and interests.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this website and blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Following the access and/or review of this website and blog, nothing contained within should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon information obtained from the website or blog without seeking professional legal counsel regarding their own situation.

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Understanding the Georgia Hands-Free Law

Understanding the Georgia Hands-Free Law

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,166 lives in 2017 alone.  As a result, the State of Georgia decided to take action, with the hope of curbing distracted driving in our state.

House Bill 673 was passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal became effective on July 1, 2018.  The hands-free law effectively prohibits drivers from reading, writing, and/or sending text messages or other forms of written communication.  It is illegal for drivers to hold a cell phone or have the phone touch any part of their body while they are operating their vehicle; however, drivers are able to talk on cell phones if the phones are in a hands-free cradle, on the console or in the passenger seat andthey must use a speakerphone, an earbud or a wireless headphone in one ear only. There are a few exemptions from this law, i.e., reporting an emergency situation such as traffic collision, hazardous road condition, fire, theft, criminal activity, or first responders, emergency personnel, and/or utility company personnel responding to an emergency situation.  

The Hands-Free law is an expansion of an existing law that makes it illegal to engage in any activity that distracts a driver from the safe operation of a vehicle, for example, reading text messages, books or other written material, writing or responding to text message or e-mail received on a cell phone, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and many other activities that would divert a driver’s attention from the road.  While the DUI statute makes it illegal to operate a “moving” vehicle, the hands-free statute does not specifically define “driving” or “operation” of a vehicle.  This raises the question of whether this law applies to a non-moving vehicle while stopped in heavy traffic or for a red light, or whether the law strictly prohibits texting under any circumstance while a driver.  

Violation of the hands-free law carries strict penalties. The first conviction is a $50 fine and one point on the driver’s license; second conviction is a $100 fine and two points on the license, and the third and subsequent convictions carry a $150 fine and three points on the license.  Charges against first offenders can be dropped if the court is given proof that they have obtained a device that allows them to use the phone with hands-free technology or device.

Distracted driving can have serious consequences.  If you or someone you know has had the misfortune of being in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, contact The Rhine Law Firm for a free review of your case today.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this website and blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Following the access and/or review of this website and blog, nothing contained within should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon information obtained from the website or blog without seeking professional legal counsel regarding their own situation.

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Attorney Marlon Rhine Selected to Super Lawyers 2019 Rising Stars List for Personal Injury

Our founding attorney Marlon Rhine has been selected to the 2019 Georgia Rising Stars list for his work representing individuals as a personal injury attorney. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

Super Lawyers 2019 Rising Stars Personal Injury Attorney

Marlon Rhine Rated by Super Lawyers

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You Injured Yourself, What’s Next?

This past week, we had the chance to sit down with James Lewis of Lewis on the Law to discuss personal injury law, what to do following an accident, as well as the process that follows.

 

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Tips for Speaking with an Insurance Adjuster

Tips for Speaking with an Insurance Adjuster

Following an accident there will be a lot of things going through your mind. What do I do about my car? Where should I seek medical treatment? How will I be able to pay for it? Generally speaking, most people don’t worry too much about who will be calling them and what they will be asking; however, a phone call from an insurance adjuster following an accident can have a major impact on your case.

Most insurance adjuster’s try to reach out to the victims of a car accident pretty quickly. This sometimes means receiving a phone call the same day as the accident. The insurance adjuster’s goal is to use the information obtained to determine what happened, review fault, and most importantly: figure out how little of a settlement you may be willing to accept. Accordingly, we’ve compiled the following tips to keep in mind should you receive a phone call from an insurance adjuster following a car accident.

Answering Questions

You don’t want to provide more information than necessary. Necessary information generally includes your name, telephone number, address, and the type of work you do. It may also include when and where an accident occurred. Beyond these basics, the general rule of thumb is that you want to provide limited information. This means politely declining to discuss your injuries, your work or income, the details of the accident, or anything else beyond the aforementioned basics.

Be Polite and Remain Calm

While the insurance adjuster represents the interests of the insurance company, taking an angry tone or being rude will rarely help your case. In fact, a polite demeanor may pay dividends down the road when there’s a dispute regarding something that’s difficult to prove. Further, remaining calm will allow you to approach the situation with a clear mind.

Recorded Statements

Insurance adjusters will ask you if they can take a recorded statement. An adjuster may make this seem like it is not a big deal; however, it can have a significant impact on your case. Generally speaking, most people are uncomfortable when they are being recorded. This often leads to misspeaking or leaving out important details. The problem with this is that once you’ve provided a statement, it can be difficult to withdraw any of the facts you have provided. Accordingly, if an adjuster asks to take a recorded statement from you, politely decline and let them know that you would be glad to provide any further information in writing once you have had a chance to collect all relevant information.

Settlement Offers

Insurance adjusters will often throw out a settlement offer early on in conversation with the hope that they can settle your claim for very little. Resist the urge to settle at these early stages. Without having an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney review your case, you may accidentally resolve your claim for far less than it is worth.

If you’ve had the misfortune of being involved in a car accident and are now wondering how to handle the conversation with an insurance adjuster, contact The Rhine Law Firm to discuss your options.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this website and blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Following the access and/or review of this website and blog, nothing contained within should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon information obtained from the website or blog without seeking professional legal counsel regarding their own situation.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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Winter Weather: Tips for Driving

Winter Weather: Tips for Driving

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.

Be Prepared

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.

Be Alert

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.

Avoid Hazards

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.

Be Mindful

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.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this website and blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Following the access and/or review of this website and blog, nothing contained within should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon information obtained from the website or blog without seeking professional legal counsel regarding their own situation.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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Explaining Statutes of Limitations

Explaining Statutes of Limitations

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:

Personal Injury

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.

Personal Property

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.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this website and blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Following the access and/or review of this website and blog, nothing contained within should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon information obtained from the website or blog without seeking professional legal counsel regarding their own situation.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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Ranking 2016’s Safest Cars

Ranking 2016’s Safest Cars

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.

Resources

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.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this website and blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Following the access and/or review of this website and blog, nothing contained within should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon information obtained from the website or blog without seeking professional legal counsel regarding their own situation.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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Tips for Pedestrian Safety

Tips for Pedestrian Safety

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.

Walk Alert

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.

Walk Sober

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.”

Drive Alert

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.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this website and blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Following the access and/or review of this website and blog, nothing contained within should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon information obtained from the website or blog without seeking professional legal counsel regarding their own situation.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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Tips for Motorcycle Safety

Tips for Motorcycle Safety

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.

Riding Precautions

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.

Insurance

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.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this website and blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Following the access and/or review of this website and blog, nothing contained within should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon information obtained from the website or blog without seeking professional legal counsel regarding their own situation.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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