Firm News

Understanding Flood Coverage: Are You Covered by Your Insurance Policy?

flooded caution sign

If you’re like most of us, you tuck your home insurance policy into your household papers folder when it arrives and promptly forget about it. For many, our interest in our insurance coverage doesn’t range far from how much the monthly premium is going to cost us. Our homeowner’s insurance policy is simply not the reading material we reach for when we’re ready to curl up at night and relax with a good read.

How to Stay Safe in a Construction Zone

construction worker shoveling dirt

The one sight guaranteed to strike irritation into the heart of every driver in the country is a vision of the dreaded orange cones that signify road construction. We should all feel fortunate that we live in a country where roadways are maintained. We the People are given the opportunity to see our tax dollars at work, up close and personal, as we creep through the construction zone.

Tips & Advice About Carrying a Passenger on a Motorcycle

Few things are as enjoyable as exploring the open road on a motorcycle. With the sun on your face and a passenger behind you, it’s a great way to spend the day.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving: How to Avoid Dangerous Drivers

Distracted driving is a serious problem that jeopardizes the safety of everyone on the road. Drivers and passengers alike can fall victim to the dangers of texting and driving and, yet, while the solution is as simple as putting your phone away while you’re driving, countless people still choose to risk their lives and the lives of others by texting while behind the wheel.

Insurance 101: What Is Diminished Value?

stacked quarters depreciation concept

As someone who has an auto insurance policy, you have probably glanced through it and found more than a few terms that you were not quite familiar with. One term commonly heard–but not always understood–in the insurance world is “diminished value.” Obviously, it refers to something that has less value than it once had, but what is diminished value in terms of car insurance?

A Guide to Getting Your Georgia Motorcycle License

rear view motorcyclist

Georgia is a great place for motorcycle enthusiasts. With plenty of scenic roadways and the opportunity for year-round riding, the state is a paradise for anyone who loves hitting the open road on a motorcycle. Like most states, though, Georgia does require its residents to obtain a motorcycle license prior to operating a bike on the road. Getting your Class M license is a pretty straightforward process, though. Let’s take a closer look at how to get your Georgia motorcycle license.

Georgia Car Seat Laws: A Guide to Driving Safely with Children

As a parent, the safety of your children should always be your primary concern. This is especially true when traveling in a car or another vehicle. Car accidents are the leading cause of injuries and death among children between the ages of 1 and 12 in Georgia, and national statistics indicate that more than 1,300 children died in crashes in 2009 while 179,000 more were injured.

father newborn daughter car seat

Motorcycle Safety: All You Need to Know about the Georgia Helmet Law

When motorcyclists are involved in accidents, they lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. This lack of protection greatly increases their risk of injury and death. In fact, the number of deaths on motorcycles per mile traveled is nearly 29 times higher than the number in other vehicles. Head injuries are a leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents, so helmet use is crucial. While no helmet completely eliminates this risk for motorcycle riders, they are about 67 percent effective in the prevention of brain injuries and reduce the risk of death by about 37 percent.

Bikers are not required by law to wear helmets in all states, but Georgia has fairly strict regulations to help prevent injuries and death. What does the Georgia motorcycle law mean for bikers in the state? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

Georgia Motorcycle Helmet Law: The Basics

 

motorcyclist gearing up

4 Things to Know About Toxic Contamination of Water Sources

Clean water

Toxic Contamination

We would like to believe that our water supplies are safe and reliable, but that’s not always the case.  In fact, water supplies can become contaminated with various types of chemicals and toxins due to being dumped or accidentally spilled into the groundwater or emptied into the sanitary sewer system where it cannot be effectively removed at treatment plants. The contamination often occurs through the negligence or criminal actions of others, especially those that run manufacturing plants, landfills, dry cleaning businesses and gas stations.

Determining Fault:

If you suspect that your drinking water has been contaminated, you should first contact your county or city health department, the environmental protection division of your State government and the Federal Environmental Protection Division (EPA). Next contact a law firm that practices environmental law to determine if there are other steps you need to take. The State and Federal environmental agencies will conduct at an investigation at some level to determine if contamination has occurred and the source.

Water Faucet

Determining Health Risks:

The governmental agencies and attorneys will provide you with any information on any health risk associated with the contamination and any steps you can take to safeguard you and your family’s health. Ultimately, it is medical professionals who can best weigh the risks. The law firm that you contact may be able to point you to various state and federal health resources that can assist you in finding the appropriate health providers to advise you.

Property Values:

In addition to potential health risks, contaminated soil and groundwater can severely depress your home’s fair market value. When you go to sell your home, you will most likely be required to reveal that such contamination exists, especially where the chemicals or toxic contaminants have caused noxious vapors to intrude into your home.

Just ask yourself if you would be willing to purchase a home where such contamination exists. Even if you would, don’t you believe a substantial discount would be warranted? In some severe situations, you may even be forced to move from your home by a governmental health agency and prohibited from selling your home.

Clean Water in the Home

Damages:

Obviously, the costs of medical care and the loss of your property’s fair market value can be substantial and devastating. Both Federal and State laws exist that allow you to seek recovery of those expenses.

You also entitled to seek compensation for the mental duress, and physical pain and suffering, caused by the contamination.  Finally, in a number of situations, you can even recover the contingency fees and litigation expenses incurred in having to retain a law firm.

Even if you feel that getting your case to trial and winning will be difficult, do not be discouraged. An experienced attorney can provide you with the knowledge and advice that can help you decide whether to pursue legal action.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

 Why driving and smartphones don’t mix

Technology has revolutionized the way that we live our lives. We now have the world at our fingertips, thanks to technological advances that led us to the smartphone. It’s a cell phone, a camera, and a computer all at once. Smartphones allow us to stay connected to our friends and family at all times. And they aren’t rare. Almost everyone you know has a cell phone. Even elementary school kids have cell phones these days. While the smartphone has improved a lot of our everyday functions, they also endanger us on a daily basis.

Every day, almost one million people use their cell phones while driving. Why is this alarming? Well, we know that any mobile communication that happens while operating a motor vehicle is linked to a highly significant increase in distracting driving, which can result in not only injury but the loss of life. Checking your text messages, phone calls, emails or any other mobile applications puts not only yourself but everyone around you at a serious risk.

A driver can only glance away from the road for 2 seconds and still safely maintain the vehicle. However, the average text message consumes 5 seconds of a driver’s attention.  While that might not sound like much, that is all it takes for something to go seriously wrong. If your car is going 60 miles per hour, and you take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, you will travel for 440 feet without seeing what is ahead of you. There are a ton of things that could happen in 440 feet that could cause serious damage.

smartphones and cars

Initiatives to stop texting while driving

In 2013, there were 341,000 motor vehicle crashes that involved texting. It is suggested that there is a one in four chance that a motor vehicle crash will involve a cell phone. Even though using a cell phone increases the likelihood of a crash by four times, it is still a commonplace. 33% of drivers from the United States, ages 18-64, reported reading or writing text messages while driving. Why is that? Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. Even though 9 Americans are killed every single day from motor vehicle accidents that involved a distracted driver, we still don’t do much to stop it.

Currently, there is no federal law in the United States that bans texting while driving. However, while there is no federal law, 46 states, plus Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have banned texting for all drivers, regardless of their age. Georgia is one of those states to have established such laws. 14 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have taken it a step further and prohibited drivers from using hand-held devices at all while they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

Because the popularity of smartphones and instant communication has risen to an unprecedented level, eradicating using cell phones while driving is going to be a hard fight, but just because it is a hard fight doesn’t mean that it isn’t a worthwhile fight. 18% of all fatal crashes are because the driver was distracted. That doesn’t have to continue. There are things that we can do to help save lives.

Teens and smartphones

Teens and young adults are the most likely age group to participate in texting while driving. According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, the easiest way to give teens instructions to not use their cell phone while driving is to say: “On the road, off the phone.” Even before your teen gets their driver’s license, discuss with them the dangers of texting while driving, and that it could cost someone their life.

In addition to talking with teens, it is important that you lead by example. People, especially children, learn from the behavior of others and their parents. Be an example. If you need to talk to someone, pull off the road to call them or text them.

Another way that we can help stop texting and driving is to get involved in the fight to stop it. There are several community outreach programs that aim to help stop the dangerous practice. AT&T’s It Can Wait Pledge is a great tool to help show others that texting and driving is dangerous. Since its creation, over 4 million people have pledged to never text and drive. One of the most effective ways to share this tool is word of mouth. Take the pledge, and then tell your friends, family, coworkers—anyone—about it.

Texting and driving doesn’t have to be a common killer among us. Make sure you do your part to make the roads a safer place for everyone. If you happen to be injured in a motor vehicle crash, seek assistance from a reputable law firm like Kopelman Sitton for advice and quality representation.

Motor Vehicle Crash