Determining Liability After a Car Wreck in Georgia: Emerging from Alleys and Driveways OCGA 40-6-144
Posted by Wetherington Law Firm | Articles
Accidents Around Driveways and Alleys
Welcome back to our ongoing blog series on negligence per se and how it applies to Georgia’s rules of the road! Last week, we talked about accidents on and around railroad crossings, and how statutes 40-6-140 and 40-6-142 can be used to establish civil liability after an accident.
Remember, negligence per se is the idea that “reasonable behavior” includes following safety rules at all times. This means that anyone who hurts another person as a result of breaking a safety rule — including any of the rules of the road — is automatically considered to have behaved unreasonably, and is therefore liable for the damages.
This week, we’ll talk about statute 40-6-144, and how this concept applies to accidents around driveways and alleys.
Entering Public Streets
When a driver wants to enter a public street from an alley, private drive, parking lot, structure, or anywhere else outside of normally regulated traffic patterns, that driver is required to stop and yield before doing so.
The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway within a business or residential district shall stop such vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across such alley, building entrance, road, or driveway or, in the event there is no sidewalk area, shall stop at the point nearest the street to be entered where the driver has a view of approaching traffic thereon. The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk.
If the driver is planning to cross a sidewalk, or the space connecting two nearby stretches of sidewalk, then the driver must stop before entering that sidewalk or space and yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians. Otherwise, the driver should stop at the edge of the road itself.
In either case, the driver entering the public street must yield to any vehicles already there.
Use of Vehicles on Sidewalks
Crossing a sidewalk at a designated driveway is one of the few instances when it’s acceptable to operate any kind of vehicle on a sidewalk at all. Statute 40-6-144 also specifies the one other occasion when this is allowed.
Except as provided by resolution or ordinance of a local government for sidewalks within the jurisdiction of such local government authorizing the operation of bicycles on sidewalks by persons 12 years of age or younger, no person shall drive any vehicle upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized driveway.
Children 12 and under are generally permitted to ride their bikes on the sidewalk. This is because young children often don’t have the necessary experience or dexterity to ride safely on the street among larger vehicles, and bicycles built for children’s smaller proportions may be slower and harder to see than adult bicycles, increasing the likelihood of a serious accident. However, local authorities have the final say on allowing children’s bikes on the sidewalk, so it’s important to check local ordinances before sending your kids out to play.
Teen and adult bike riders are required to use the road, and follow all the same traffic laws that apply to motorists, leaving the sidewalk safe and clear for pedestrians.
What Damages Can You Recover After an Accident at a Driveway or Alley?
If you’ve been struck, whether as a pedestrian or a motorist, by a driver who failed to stop and yield before entering a sidewalk or public road, that driver is liable for the damages under negligence per se. For the purposes of determining a fair settlement, those damages will be divided into two categories: special and general. Below, we’ll discuss the differences between the two, and how the Wetherington Law Firm can help you calculate and prove both kinds of damages.
Special Damages Can Be Easily Expressed in Numbers
Any tangible expense you’ve encountered because of your accident is an example of special damages. If you paid for any medical services, if you had to repair or replace your car, or if your paycheck turned out light because of missed hours at work, that’s a concrete financial loss eligible for reimbursement. Any ongoing medical needs or work limitations that will affect your finances in the future will also qualify. To make a case for a special damages settlement, you’ll need thorough documentation of your expenses, and you’ll need to prove that the accident caused those expenses, whether directly or proximately. To learn more about how this works, click here.
General Damages Are Subjective in Value
A car accident can change your life in ways no amount of money can undo. Even once all your bills are paid, you’ve still lost time you wish you could have spent a different way. Your body and career might be permanently altered, and you’ve probably suffered physical and psychological pain you never would have agreed to at any price if you had a choice. A general damages settlement is an additional sum on top of your special damages reimbursement, intended to acknowledge these subjective losses and help make up for them as well as the law is able to. Unfortunately, the subjective nature of general damages makes the size of this kind of settlement highly variable. There’s no standard market value for a broken arm or a missed birthday party, so it will be up to the skill of your lawyer to ensure you receive fair compensation.
What If Someone Has Died in a Driveway Accident?
Fatal driveway accidents, particularly those involving children, are tragically common. If this has happened to one of your loved ones, we’re terribly sorry for your loss. The rules for wrongful death cases are a little different from those for personal injury, so if this is the situation you’re in, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics. When you’re ready, the lawyers at the Wetherington Law Firm will be here to offer a sympathetic, straightforward, and informative consultation on your case.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
When you’re the survivor of an accident caused by a negligent driver, getting compensation isn’t just a matter of explaining why you were in the right and the other driver was wrong. Your real opponent won’t be a fellow layperson who hurt you, but that layperson’s insurance company. Insurance companies stay in business, while paying their executives extravagant salaries, by collecting as much as they can in premiums and paying out as little as they can in settlements. They have entire legal departments dedicated to tearing apart legitimate cases like yours. To get a fair settlement that actually covers your losses, you need a seasoned expert on your side too. The Wetherington Law Firm has experts who’ve worked for insurance companies in the past, but have chosen to turn that experience against their former industry and fight instead for people like you.
How to Hire the Best Car Wreck Lawyers in Atlanta
At the Wetherington Law Firm, we consider it our mission to protect innocent people from losing their financial security to a stranger’s negligence or a corporation’s greed.
In order to live up to that mission and keep ourselves available to those who need us most, we take cases on a contingency basis only. That means we only accept payment after we’ve won you your settlement. When you work with us, you’ll never be charged a deposit or an hourly fee, and you’ll never, under any circumstances, end up worse off than you started.
To get started, just give us a call at 404-888-4444, or reach out through the contact form on the right, and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free, no obligation consultation on your case.
At the Wetherington Law Firm, Our Passion for Justice Goes Beyond Compensation for Our Clients
As a client of the Wetherington Law Firm, your future wellbeing is our first priority. However, if there’s something else you want to fight for, we’ll be proud to support you in your pursuit of a safer, fairer world. If, for example, your accident happened at a driveway where the other driver’s view was obstructed, we’re willing to investigate everything from public landscaping to red zone placement in search of a lasting solution that will protect others from similar accidents in the future. To learn about the changes we’ve helped our past clients make in their communities, call or email us for details any time.