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Tips to Avoid Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Approximately every 16 minutes a tractor trailer accident occurs in the United States.  What may seem unusual is when and where most of these accidents take place.  The majority of these accidents happen on weekdays, 66 percent of them happen during daylight hours and 68 percent occur in rural areas.   Passenger cars and smaller vehicles are the most vulnerable in these types of crashes.  Ninety-eight percent of the time those killed are in the smaller vehicles rather than the truck driver. tractortrailergmhays

Tractor-trailers, also known as semi trucks, 18 wheelers or “big rigs,” are an important part of our economy.  The purpose of tractor-trailer trucks is to carry goods and materials from one place to another.  There are two main components of a tractor trailer – the engine and the trailer.  The engine will tow the trailer on which the cargo or freight is carried.  Even without passengers and cargo, the truck itself weighs more than 10,000 pounds.  Depending on the kinds of goods being carried, the truck can weigh anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 pounds.  Accidents involving these mammoth machines often have tragic results.

Many rules and regulations have been designed for truck drivers and trucking companies to keep people safe while on the road.  Though in place, these safety rules set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are sometimes neglected.  This leaves the door open for an increase in accidents and fatalities.  Unsafe driving, exceeding speed limits, driver fatigue (driving too many hours without a break) and other negligent acts raise the risk of tractor-trailer accidents.  It is against the law for any truck driver to be on the road for more than 11 hours.

Tips For Passenger Vehicles

In an effort to reduce the risk of a collision with a tractor trailer, smaller vehicles should:

  1.   Avoid areas of limited visibility to the driver of the truck.  These areas include the “No Zones” – the areas behind and beside the tractor trailer.
  2.   Refrain from unsafe passing of a tractor trailer.
  3.   Do not drive between large trucks.
  4.   Do not merge inappropriately or execute quick lane changes in busy conditions.

Tractor-trailer accidents are in a separate category from other types of vehicle accidents because of the number of injuries and fatalities involved.  Because sometimes many parties are involved, there can also be several different insurance companies handling the claims.

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a tractor trailer, the best advice is to immediately consult with an attorney.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule a free consultation.

Teen Drunk Driving Endangers Atlanta Motorists

More teenagers die in motor vehicle accidents than because of any other cause. As the fall football season approaches and kids head out to games, followed by holiday parties and dances, there is a significant risk that young people will make a dangerous choice and get behind the wheel drunk. If this occurs, they endanger themselves and others. Victims of any collisions caused by impaired teens in Atlanta, Savannah, Duluth and across Georgia need to take legal action with the help of a personal injury lawyer. breathalyzer-465392-m

Preventing accidents before they happen is always the best option, and parents can make a big difference in reducing the chance of a collision if they know who their children are spending time with. This is because peer pressure is one of the major determining factors in how safe a young motorist is and whether he or she will take the risk of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

Teen Drunk Driving a Serious Risk

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) aims to use positive peer pressure to help discourage young people from consuming alcohol and driving. MADD has organized a Power of You(th) program that gives kids the facts that they need to know about impaired driving. For example, just 30 percent of teenagers have consumed alcohol in the prior month according to surveys, while only 20 percent of teenagers binge drink alcohol. This is a smaller percentage of young drinkers than many people would think, and kids who know this information may feel less alone if they decide to turn down alcohol.

MADD also selects a group of National Teen Influencers who can help promote safe driving and prevent drunk driving in their local areas. The influencers are young people who are community leaders and who have taken initiative to join clubs or become part of organizations or events dedicated to the fight against drunk driving. Some of the influencers are people whose lives have been affected by alcoholic beverages. These young people can attend victim events and help MADD to illustrate the real-world effects of intoxicated driving.

Using positive peer pressure may work, because studies have shown that a teen is heavily influenced by his peer group. As a recent study published by the National Institute of Health indicated, a young person who has friends in the car is significantly more likely to become involved in a traffic collision as compared with a teen who does not drive with his peers in the vehicle. There is no similar corresponding increase in traffic accident fatalities among adults when they have friends or people from their peer group in their vehicle.

Further, the study also showed that less popular teens were susceptible to peer pressure in many realms of life, but that more popular teenagers were the most likely to face peer pressure when it comes to alcohol. Teens who are more popular are more likely to drink during adolescence. However, if teenagers are part of a peer group that disapproves of drunk driving, they are less likely to drive while impaired.

Parents should be aware of the impact of peer pressure and should be sure they know who their kids are attending football games, dances and other fall or holiday events with.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule a free consultation.

Distracted Drivers Increase the Risk of Atlanta Collisions

Many people who have embraced the use of electronic devices in their vehicle have instituted the use of hands-free devices. While some motorists have started using hands-free tools to interact with electronics as a result of laws limiting phone use, others are motivated by safety concerns. There are lots of drivers who believe that it is really dangerous to use a handheld cell phone but who think they are perfectly fine if they talk to their telephone or other electronic devices in their vehicle. mobile-phone-in-hand-1438231-1-m

Unfortunately, drivers in Atlanta, Duluth, Savannah and across Georgia who believe hands-free is safer have been significantly misled and misinformed. A personal injury lawyer knows that using a hands-free phone or other device is just as dangerous. Several recent new studies underscore the danger to your health and safety of multitasking while driving. This risk can exist not just at the time when you are actually multitasking but can actually have a long-term impact on cognitive abilities.

Multitasking While Driving Can Hurt Your Health

Multitasking while driving is undoubtedly dangerous and Yahoo News reports on several new studies confirming that motorists who are distracted take their life into their hands. The studies were conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah.

One of the two studies examined infotainment systems that are now found in a huge variety of vehicles including Chevrolets, Mercedes, Fords, Hyundais, and Chrysler vehicles. Another study looked at the use of the virtual assistant Siri that is found on Apple devices. Both studies were intended to measure how distracted a driver was when using these systems, which do not require hands to operate.

Unfortunately, the research found drivers very distracted even without actually physically picking up a phone or entering data into an infotainment system. Systems were graded on a scale of one to five, with one representing the least distraction and five representing the most distraction. It turned out that using Apple was the most distracting of all. In driving simulators, in fact, drivers ended up rear-ending other vehicles twice. The Apple Siri phone service received a distraction rating of 4.14. This was the worst of all of the systems involved in the study.

The infotainment systems did not do much better. The MyLink, found in Chevrolet vehicles, received the worst rating at 3.7. Other systems did slightly better, but were still found to be more complicated than simply using a cell phone would have been in the first place.

While a car accident is the most obvious concern when it comes to risks of multitasking behind the wheel, Forbes recently published an article suggesting that multitasking has a long-term impact on the brain. Stanford researches found that “people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.” Furthermore, those who multitask frequently turned out to have a more difficult time organizing thoughts, were slower at filtering out unnecessary information and were slower at switching tasks. This means people who drive distracted all the time are likely to be the worst of all at this dangerous behavior.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule a free consultation.

Atlanta Collision Victims Getting More Legal Help

Between 2007 and 2012, average claimed economic losses for motor vehicle collision victims making a personal injury protection (PIP) claim increased eight percent annualized. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association also reports that average claimed losses among motor vehicle collision victims making a bodily injury claim has increased four percent from 2007 to 2012. law books

At the same time as claimed losses have increased, there has also been a rise in the number of motor vehicle accident claimants who are represented by a personal injury lawyer. A report from the Insurance Research Council shows just how many more people are hiring an attorney, although the report tries to paint this phenomenon as a negative.

More Claimants are Represented After a Motor Vehicle Accident

In 1977, 17 percent of motor vehicle collision victims were represented by a lawyer when they made a personal injury protection (PIP) claim after being hurt in a collision. There has been a dramatic shift in the number represented. By 2007, 31 percent of PIP claimants had an attorney and 36 percent were represented by 2012.

The number of people with a lawyer to help them make a bodily injury claim has always been higher than the number of people getting help with a PIP case. Even in 1977, 47 percent of bodily injury claimants had an attorney. In 2007, 49 percent of motor vehicle collision victims with a bodily injury case hired a lawyer and the number getting legal help had reached 50 percent by 2012.

The Insurance Research Council suggests that more people getting a lawyer is bad for them because being represented by an attorney makes claims take longer to resolve. This is ironic, when the insurance industry is dedicated to delaying as much as possible to prevent people from getting the money they deserve. The American Association for Justice describes the 10 worst insurance companies and the “three D’s,” the companies practiced: denying claims, delaying payouts and defending the denials.

Insurance companies may delay to try to make you desperate enough to give up or to accept a lower amount of money. Insurers may also deny your claim even though it should be covered, in the hopes you won’t know how to follow through and fight for coverage.

The dishonest tactics of insurance companies may help to explain why private insurance ends up covering only around 50 percent of motor vehicle crash costs, leaving victims with 26 percent of costs; doctors, charities and healthcare providers with 14 percent of costs; and state or federal revenues with nine percent of the costs.

The insurance companies stalling tactics may not be the only reason for delays. When you don’t have a lawyer, the insurer may pressure you to quickly accept a low settlement, signing a liability release in exchange for a small sum of money. The problem is, while your case may settle fast, you can’t change your mind later if it turns out your settlement was way too low. If you have a lawyer, your attorney can advise you on whether to sign the settlement and can take time to negotiate a better deal on your behalf. While it may take you a little longer to resolve your claim, it is often better to fight a little longer for full compensation than to walk away with far less than you deserve.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule a free consultation with an Atlanta, GA personal injury lawyer.

Preventing Atlanta Child Injuries During Fall Sports Season

For many kids, the most exciting part of starting a new school year is that they can resume participation in athletic events. While school athletics has many positive benefits for children, including both social benefits and health benefits, a personal injury lawyer knows that kids who play sports also face significant risks. sports

Head injuries are among the most serious dangers of school athletics but kids could also face overexertion injuries, heat injuries and even heart attacks depending upon their physical shape and whether school athletic programs do enough to keep them safe.

Preventing Sports Injuries This Fall

Action News 19 provided some basic safety tips that should be followed when students resume playing sports this school year. Tips include:

  • Having kids start exercising before the actual athletic season. About four to six weeks before a school sport starts, kids should get back into shape and begin exercising again.
  • Acclimatizing kids to hot weather over time. When fall practice season starts, the weather may still be warm. To prevent heat injury, slowly increase the amount of time kids spend practicing outdoors in the hot sun. For the first 10 to 14 days of the practice season, kids should slowly work up to spending more time each day practicing outside.
  • Give kids regular breaks. Around every 10 to 15 minutes, kids should be given a chance to rest and have some water or fluids to replenish their bodies.
  • Ensure kids have protective gear that is in good repair, that fits them appropriately and that they actually use both during games and during practice.

Following these safety tips can help to reduce some common injuries, but doctors still caution that head injuries are one of the biggest risks associated with playing school sports. Unfortunately, as one neurosurgeon warns, it is impossible to ever undo the damage that a brain injury can cause once a child has sustained a blow to the head. The damage can cause long-term health problems such as increasing the risk of suicide, depression and dementia.

School athletic departments must know the signs associated with concussion, which include sensitivity to light, memory problems, disorientation or confusion, and dizziness. If it is suspected that a child athlete may have sustained a concussion, a thorough medical evaluation is necessary and the child should not continue to participate in athletic events unless or until he has been cleared to do so by a medical professional.

While many people think of football when they think of injuries resulting from athletics, WCYB warns that football is not the only high-risk sport. Kids can also sustain head injuries when playing games like soccer or basketball or when participating in cheerleading. Repeated head injuries in any sports event are more likely to do more long-term damage and cause complications.

Athletic departments need to be aware of the dangers of head injuries and should have a protocol in place for meeting the medical needs of a child who has sustained a blow to the head.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule a free consultation with an Atlanta personal injury lawyer.

Who is More Dangerous on Atlanta Roads: Men or Women?

Driving is a skill that comes naturally to some people, but not to others. There are many debates regarding whether men or women tend to be more skilled at operating a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, a recent report from Yahoo News suggests that men and women are both terrible drivers but in different ways. gender

Both male and female drivers need to obey the rules of the road and exercise reasonable care behind the wheel. If a driver is involved in a motor vehicle collision and injures someone, the victim or surviving family members should consult with a personal injury lawyer for help making a damage claim.

Are Men or Women Worse Drivers?

According to Yahoo, insurance companies charge men a lot more to buy auto insurance. For a 25-year-old man who lives in Oakland, California and who has never gotten an accident or a ticket, his insurance costs will be around $385 higher than a woman who has the same driving profile. As the man and woman get older, the gap between the insurance premiums narrows but does not disappear. Over the course of his life, the male driver ends up paying thousands of dollars more in auto insurance premium costs.

Men do not necessarily pay more because they get into more collisions. In fact, evidence suggests that women actually tend to get into more crashes than men do, especially when factoring in that men drive more than women. A University of Michigan study reported on by Yahoo found that for every age group above 25, women had higher-rates of becoming involved in non-injury collisions than men. A study of more than 6.5 million collisions between 1998 and 2007 that the Daily Mail reported on also found that there was a higher-than-anticipated number of collisions involving two women drivers.

Women, in particular, are more likely to become involved in collisions that occur at intersections. Yet, despite this, women still pay less for insurance than men. The reason is because these crashes are routinely minor collisions and involve only property damage or minor injuries.

Men, on the other hand, generally tend to take more risks. According to a Reader’s Digest report, men may actually be better at many different kinds of driving skills than women are, but they often make unsafe and high-risk choices. When they are involved in collisions, the accident is more likely to have been caused by aggressive driving or dangerous behavior. As Yahoo indicates, this means that men are more likely to total their car or to get into a very serious collision. Men account for 71 percent of the drivers killed in car wrecks, and they also drive drunk and speed at higher rates then women.

One area where female drivers are actually much worse than men: texting and driving. Female teenage drivers are around twice as likely to talk on the phone or text when they operate their vehicles as compared with their male counterparts. This technological shift may necessitate a change in insurance premiums in the future if more young women start to become involved in distracted driving crashes.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS to schedule a free consultation.

Drivers Make Dangerous Choices That Lead to Atlanta Collisions

Drivers are expected to obey the rules of the road and behave with reasonable care. Unfortunately, many motorists drive even when they know that there is something preventing them from being safe behind the wheel. Some motorists choose to operate their vehicles despite serious mechanical problems with the car while others have a physical or mental impairment and decide to drive anyway. car accident 2

If a driver operates his vehicle when it is unsafe, he can be considered negligent and held responsible for any accidents he causes. A personal injury lawyer can represent victims of motor vehicle collisions caused by negligent drivers.

Motorists Who Drive When They Shouldn’t recently surveyed 2,000 drivers. Of these motorists, 46 percent admitted to driving at least once or twice despite knowing that it was not a good idea to get behind the wheel. Eleven percent admitted they’d driven when it wasn’t necessarily safe somewhere between three and ten times and three percent said they had gotten behind the wheel despite safety concerns more than 10 separate times.

There were a lot of potential reasons drivers cited for being concerned about their ability to drive safely. The motorists who were concerned about driving said that the problem that caused their concern included:

  • Drowsy driving, which was the problem faced by 68 percent of drivers.
  • Having a headache, which was the problem faced by 53 percent of drivers.
  • Being sick enough that they should stay in bed, which was the problem of 35 percent of drivers.
  • Consuming alcohol, which was the problem of 23 percent of motorists who said they drove because they were not as drunk as a friend.
  • Driving without glasses or contacts, which was the problem of 16 percent of drivers who said they needed vision correction.
  • Having their arm in a cast, which was the problem of eight percent of respondents.

Some motorists also reported mechanical problems that had them questioning the safety of the drives they took. Of the drivers who had mechanical issues:

  • 61 percent drove with a check engine light on.
  • 32 percent drove when their windshield was blocked by snow and ice.
  • 26 percent drove with windshield wipers that were not working.
  • 21 percent drove with a broken speedometer.
  • 19 percent drove with a horn that did not work.
  • 18 percent drove with headlights that did not work.
  • 17 percent drove with a flat tire.
  • 10 percent drove despite having a door that had to be held closed.
  • Seven percent drove with a child and no required child seat.
  • Six percent drove despite their car being filled with exhaust fumes.
  • Five percent drove without a driver’s seat or with a seat that was broken.

These motorists endanger themselves and others. Most said that they drove despite the risks because they had to go home; get to work; pick up their kids or go to a doctor. The bottom line, however, is that there is no excuse for driving when faced with safety concerns.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS to schedule a free consultation.

Are Atlanta Bike Riders Disregarding Driver Rights?

Many people ride bikes for their commute because they want to get exercise or because they believe it is better for the environment. Bikers have been vocal about encouraging local municipalities to improve conditions for riders and have largely been successful in getting bicycle lanes installed and ensuring that lawmakers consider the needs of riders. In fact, just recently, Atlanta was chosen for a bike lane project that WABE reports will result in the construction of safer bike lanes in the

Some drivers, however, are questioning whether bike riders may have gone too far. In several recent articles in the Washington Post, bikers have been described as “bullies” and as trying to “rule the road.” If bikers do indeed behave in an aggressive way and fail to follow the rules, this could affect their right to recover compensation after a collision. A personal injury lawyer can help those involved in a bike accident to determine who is to blame.

Criticisms of Bicycle Riders

According to the Washington Post, bike riders have pushed to have bicycle lanes installed in places where parking previously was located, causing shortages of convenient parking in some areas. Bicycle riders are also accused of traveling too slowly on busy streets during rush hour and not respecting motorists who want the bikers to get out of the way. The columnist even suggests that “bikers routinely worm their way to the front of a line of cars waiting at a red light” and then poke along at a “snail’s pace” and hold up traffic when the light turns green.

In a separate article also picking on bike riders in the same newspaper, a columnist lamented that bicycle riders frequently ride on sidewalks where pedestrians travel.

Yet another columnist complained about “bicycle ninjas” who ride without lights at night or when visibility is low. This makes the bicycle riders difficult to see and puts pedestrians at risk as well as increases the chances of a bike accident occurring. Some of these bikers may also go the wrong way in bike lanes and ride on sidewalks even when they are difficult to see.

These criticisms seem to suggest that some bicycle riders have a sense of entitlement and it is disrupting the orderly operations of the road. The reality, however, is that bicycle riders still face significant dangers even though bike lanes have become more common.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 726 bicycle riders killed in 2012 and another 49,000 got hurt in motor vehicle collisions. While bike riders made up just two percent of people killed and two percent of people injured in traffic accidents, the number of fatalities is on the rise. In 2012, for example, there were six percent more bicycle riders killed in collisions as compared with the prior year. Urban areas are the most dangerous for riders, with 69 percent of all deaths occurring in urban areas.

Both bicycle riders and drivers need to be respectful of each other and need to obey the rules of the road. The risk of accidents can be reduced only if everyone is careful.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule a free consultation.

Atlanta Accident Risks – Driving With Pets

Driving with your pet in the car may seem harmless, but the reality is that you put yourself, your animal and other motorists at risk. If you have your pet in the vehicle with you, your dog needs to be restrained for his own safety as well as to avoid increasing the risk of a dangerous accident. dog-1442782-m

Pets can turn into projectiles if a collision occurs, and pets can also be a major distraction and increase the risk of an accident happening. If you are involved in a collision with someone who was distracted by a pet in the car, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer for information about making a car accident claim.

The Risks of Driving with Pets

AAA Pet Spot provides some important information about driving with a pet in the car. According to a survey of pet owners, 65 percent of pet owners who took their dog in their vehicle had engaged in at least one distracting behavior while their pet was in the car, although only 29 percent admitted they were distracted by the animal.

Distracting behaviors included petting their dog while driving, which 52 percent of respondents said they did. A total of 17 percent of drivers said they let their pet sit in their lap while operating their vehicle, and 13 percent said that they had given food or treats to their dog as they drove. Finally, four percent of drivers said that they had played with their dog as they were operating their vehicle.

When dogs go in the car, many of them are not restrained. A full 84 percent of survey respondents said that they had taken their dog on a variety of different car trips including running errands and going on leisure trips. Despite this, only 16 percent had any kind of pet restraint system that they used in their vehicle.

As Esurance points out, an unrestrained dog could not only be killed in a collision but could also seriously injure or kill others in the car at the time. A 10-pound dog that is not restrained could generate as much as 500 pounds of force if he is in a vehicle that crashes while the car is traveling at 50 miles-per-hour. If the dog weighs 80 pounds, the animal can generate 2,400 pounds of force even in a slow-moving crash where the vehicle is traveling only 30 miles per hour.

Drivers with pets need to be aware of these dangers. Keeping their animal restrained can both prevent distractions and ensure that a dog doesn’t fly around a car when a crash happens. There are different types of pet restraints that can be used in the car including a pet crate and special pet seat belts. Human seat belts should not be used to try to restrain pets as this can be dangerous and ineffective.

Drivers who plan to travel with their pets need to be aware of the risks and should ensure they are taking precautions to keep their animals, and themselves, safe.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule a free consultation.

Measuring the Losses from Motor Vehicle Accidents

Measuring the losses and damage that motor vehicle accidents cause illustrates the scope of the issue in the United States. In 2010, there were 32,999 deaths due to accidents as well as an additional 3.9 million non-fatal injuries and 24 million damaged vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), the total combined cost of these collisions was around $871 billion. This includes both economic costs as well as societal impact on citizens in the United States. grungy-money-4-1361620-m

Individual car accident victims may experience significant financial harm resulting from accidents. They may be faced with medical bills and lost wages, as well as a decreased quality of life and ongoing pain. Family members of those who are killed also experience great injustice. The driver responsible for causing the motor vehicle collision needs to be held accountable, and accident attorneys in Atlanta from the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. can help those who have been injured.

Measuring the Scale of Loss

The $871 billion in losses that the NHTSA calculated included $277 billion in actual economic expenditures like medical treatment. These costs average out to around $900 per U.S. citizen. The total also included $594 billion in harm resulting from the loss of life, the decreased quality of life from those seriously injured, and the pain that the injured endure.

There are three specific types of collisions that are responsible for the majority of these costs and losses: drunk driving accidents, speeding accidents and collisions caused by distracted drivers.

Crashes caused by drunk drivers accounted for a total of 18 percent of all of the economic losses and 23 percent of the overall societal harm that resulted from motor vehicle collisions in 2010. In total, there were $49 billion in economic losses and another $199 billion in losses to society that occurred because of drivers who were impaired by alcohol. The economic losses alone averaged out to $158 for every single person in the country.

Crashes caused by speeding drivers accounted for 21 percent of all of the economic losses and 24 percent of the overall societal harm that occurred due to motor vehicle accidents in 2010. In total, the economic losses from speeding drivers equaled $59 billion or an average of $191 per person in the United States. The costs of overall societal harm from speeding drivers totaled around $210 billion.

Finally, crashes caused by distracted drivers accounted for 17 percent of total economic loss and 15 percent of overall societal harm. The economic losses totaled $46 billion and the societal losses totaled $129 billion. Again, just the economic costs averaged out to around $148 for every single individual in the United States.

Because of the high costs of collisions, those who are injured or who lose loved ones must take legal action to protect their finances and get the compensation they deserve. An experienced attorney can help in pursuing a damage claim after a motor vehicle accident.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule a free consultation.