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16 year old Columbus, GA girl killed in tragic drunk driving accident

COLUMBUS, GA - Northside High student, 16-year-old Hannah Gilmer was killed in a car accident on County Line Road back on June 15, 2012. According to police records, Hannah's 17-year-old boyfriend, Clayton Qualls, was driving her 2006 Toyota Scion under the influence of alcohol when he lost control of the car before spinning out, flipping the car several times and eventually striking a tree.

The accident occurred at a little after 11 o'clock on Friday night, June 15, 2012.

Ms. Gilmer was ejected from the car during the accident and, according to the accident report, neither of the teens were wearing their seat belts.

Qualls survived the accident but Ms. Gilmer was pronounced dead just after 1AM on June 16, 2012.

Clayton has been charged with numerous traffic charges, which include 1st degree vehicular homicide, DUI, and improper lane change.  The underage drinking charges are not the first Qualls has faced. On June 4, 2012, he was arrested on charges of DUI under 21 and minor in possession of alcohol.

"My heart goes out to this young woman's family. This is such an awful tragedy. I know the family is suffering a tremendous loss," said attorney Gary Martin Hays.

This wreck really points out some important lessons for parents and their teenagers.  "People should never get behind the wheel and drive a vehicle after they have been drinking, and in the case of this 17-year-old boy, he should never have been drinking at all." Hays stresses how important it is to talk with your children about the dangers of under age drinking.

It is also extremely important to remind people to always wear their seatbelts. According to the CDC, "Seat belt use is on the rise. Laws, education, and technology have increased seat belt use from 11% in 1981 to nearly 85% in 2010, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Yet, about 1 in 7 people still don't buckle up."

Gary Martin Hays is a very active supporter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D) and has served on the state advisory council in Georgia. He has also sponsored a fundraiser for M.A.D.D , Strides for Change, in support of their mission.

If a drunk driver is negligent in causing an accident, their insurance company is responsible for compensating the victims of the accident. In a case such as this, the family may pursue a claim for wrongful death and seek punitive damages since the defendant was allegedly driving under the influence. Other parties that may be responsible for compensating victims could include an establishment that served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual or a homeowner who hosts a private party where the drinks/drugs were served.

Fatal accidents such as this can cause extreme emotional and financial stress. The unexpected loss and sudden grief can be devastating to the victim's loved ones. It is very important that families of the victims know that they have every right to seek legal advice and they may be eligible for financial compensation.

Here at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays, we have an expertly trained staff of professionals ready to assist you in your wrongful death claim. We have recently expanded our offices from Atlanta to Savannah, making our services available to all Georgia residents. Call us today for your FREE legal consultation: 1-800-898-HAYS.

Are Your Sleeping Pills Increasing Your Risk of Drowsy Driving?

According to the New York Times, each year in the United States around 60 million prescriptions for sleep aids are filled. Sleep aids are taken by men and women of all ages and are intended to help people suffering from insomnia and other sleep problems to get a good night's rest.

Recently, however, the FDA has expressed concerns about some of the most popular prescription sleep aids. Our Atlanta, GA personal injury lawyers want to make sure that everyone who takes a prescription sleeping pill is aware of the FDA's new recommendations so they can stay safe.

The FDA's Recommendations on Prescription Sleep Aids

The FDA specifically targeted one of the most popular sleep aids on the market: Ambien. Other versions of the drug also include Zolpimist, Edluar and generic versions. The FDA issued a release on January 10th warning that these popular medications might be staying in the body longer than anticipated.

The problem is specific to women, according to the FDA's release. The issue is that women's bodies are not processing and removing the Ambien as quickly as expected. As a result, women may be very groggy the next morning. This can interfere with their ability to drive safely on their commute to work and, in some cases, could interfere with their ability to perform their job safely.

To address this problem, the FDA has mandated lower doses of the drug in all prescriptions to women. For those women who were previously prescribed 10 milligram doses of Ambien or related drugs, the new recommendation is that they be prescribed only 5 milligram doses. Women who were previously prescribed the extended release doses, which contained 12.5 mg, will be prescribed extended release pills that contain only 6.25 mg.

By lowering the active dose of sleep medication, the hope is that women will be able to safely excrete the drug from their body before morning. This will allow them to get the good night's sleep that Ambien is supposed to provide but without putting them at risk of becoming involved in an auto accident the next morning due to still being drowsy from the drugs.

The FDA did not change the mandated dosage of Ambien for men, who process the drug differently. However, in the news release, the government did urge everyone to take the lowest possible dose of sleeping pills that is necessary to be effective. The FDA further reiterated that Ambien and related sleep medications do contain warnings that they can cause fatigue.

Anyone who is taking Ambien or other sleep medications should be aware of the risk that can come from driving while groggy or impaired by a sleeping pill. As the Huffington Post points out, several recent high profile accidents have occurred when people were on prescription sleep medications, including a crash involving Tom Brokaw and one involving Kerry Kennedy. Anyone is at risk of becoming involved in a crash while they are affected by sleep medications and drivers who are too tired or impaired to drive safely put themselves and everyone else on the road with them in danger.

If you have been injured in an Atlanta car accident, contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates at 1-800-898-HAYS.