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How to Know You have Enough Auto Insurance

May 23, 2011

In order to drive in Georgia, you need to meet minimum requirements under state law, or face legal consequences if you cannot produce a valid insurance card to law enforcement.  And to truly protect yourself from out-of-pocket losses, you need to consider purchasing additional insurance based on your individual situation.

Start by meeting Georgia requirements

Everyone is required by Georgia state law to carry certain amounts of liability insurance, as follows:

  • At least $25,000 per person for bodily injury
  • At least $50,000 per accident for bodily injury to two or more people
  • At least $25,000 for property damage

Your insurance agent should automatically ensure you carry this basic coverage. If you have not chosen an insurance company, the state of Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner provides automobile insurance rate comparisons to help.

Additional insurance coverage may be helpful

It is unfortunately common to be involved in an accident caused by another motorist who is not sufficiently covered to pay for your losses.  While uninsured/underinsured motorist and personal injury protection coverage are not required, both are recommended to ensure you are protected after an auto accident.

You should also consider carrying comprehensive coverage to protect against other losses associated with your vehicle, such as fire, theft, vandalism, and many other risks.  And car rental reimbursement—which helps pay for renting a car while you car is being repaired—is typically available at a nominal cost.

Your insurance agent can recommend the amount of coverage based on the value of your vehicle and many other important considerations.  He or she can help weigh your needs with what you can afford to develop the best policy for your individual circumstances.

Auto insurance is critical for all drivers

As an Atlanta car accident lawyer and founder of Kenneth S. Nugent, P.C., I know how financially devastating it can be when clients fail to carry the right coverage for their needs.  If you experience issues collecting for a claim against your policy or the policy of the party who caused your accident, I can intervene to help pursue the best possible results for your claim.

Posted in: Auto Insurance

Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Atlanta Truck Accidents

May 16, 2011

According to, recent U.S. studies by the National Transportation Safety Bureau indicated that nearly 18 percent of single-vehicle heavy truck accidents are fatigue-related.  Additional research indicates driver fatigue to be a significant cause of about 20 percent of commercial truck accidents, and more than 50 percent of long-haul drivers have succumbed to sleep while driving.

Current regulations require truck drivers to cumulatively drive no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period, followed by ten consecutive hours of rest.  In fact, many trucks are equipped with electronic on-board recorders that track the time a vehicle is stopped.  However, the logs cannot specifically track whether a driver was sleeping during that time.

How to avoid exhaustion on the road

Even with recommended rest, driving long distances can have a hypnotic effect on the most experienced truck drivers.  The following tips can help Atlanta truck drivers avoid an accident and remain alert on the road:

  • Take numerous breaks. Even ten minutes walking around at a rest stop can clear your head during a long haul.  Using this time to drink a caffeinated beverage can help as well, but never count on it to counteract the full effects of exhaustion.
  • Keep your eyes moving. Keeping your eyes on the road is not limited to just looking at the road in front of you.  You need to be aware of conditions all around your truck, and shifting focus can help keep you stay mentally alert.
  • Avoid intoxicants. Even if you remain under the legal blood alcohol content limit, any alcohol can make you drowsy.  If you are going to drive, do not drink alcohol at all.

Following legal regulations can help you avoid accidents caused by sleep deprivation. But always be aware that the tedium of truck driving—especially at night or when traffic is light—can easily lead to exhaustion.  Only you alone can judge your own mental condition.  If you need additional sleep or a break to remain alert, pay attention to those needs.

Your safety is important

As an Atlanta truck accident attorney and founder of Kenneth S. Nugent, P.C., I have seen the devastating results of a trucking accident.  No matter how tight your delivery schedule may be, always remember that your cargo cannot get to its destination on time if you have an accident.  Stay alert, and stay safe.

Posted in: Truck Accidents

Awareness of Common Causes of Georgia Motorcycle Accidents Can Help Avoid Them

May 10, 2011

There is seldom just one cause for a motorcycle accident.  However, loss of control accounted for about 25 percent of Georgia motorcycle crashes and 28 percent of motorcycle crash fatalities in 2003, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health.  It is vital for anyone driving motorcycles to understand the special risks, ensuring each ride is a safe and enjoyable experience.

Avoiding common hazards

Car drivers cause over two-thirds of crashes between cars and motorcycles.  But this fact does not eliminate motorcycle drivers from the safety equation.  Rather, it illustrates the importance of extreme awareness every time you start out on a ride.  By knowing why these collisions occur, you can often avoid serious injury—or death.

Watchful motorcycle drivers can avoid the following common causes of accidents:

  • Lack of visibility. Even though most motorcycle crashes occur during daylight hours, motorcycles are difficult to see, particularly in heavy traffic conditions.  In fact, this lack of visibility is the leading cause of motorcycle accidents.  You can reduce the risk by practicing defensive driving. Make sure you can be seen by riding in the center of the lane, wearing bright clothing, and staying out of the blind spots of other drivers.
  • Impaired driving. Another leading cause of motorcycle accidents involves the use of alcohol or drugs.  You are virtually unprotected when driving a motorcycle, so it is best to remain alert by avoiding any use of intoxicants.
  • Aggressive driving and speeding. Naturally, the faster you drive, the less time you have to react to hazards.  It is also important to understand that speed affects motorcycle alignment and causes the front end to wobble. This can cause you to lose control, potentially hitting other vehicles or even stationary objects.
  • Poor road surfaces. Motorcyclists need to remain aware of everything happening on the road—and of the road itself.  It is easy to lose control during encounters with uneven surfaces, railroad tracks, potholes, or even seemingly minor trash on the road.  Avoid these hazards if possible, and slow down before attempting to navigate them.

Your safety is our primary concern

By all means, enjoy your motorcycle time as the weather continues to improve, but be aware of what causes accidents and how to avoid the hazards.  Many Georgia motorcycle accidents can be avoided if you keep your motorcycle well-maintained, follow the state-recommended safety procedures, and remain vigilant.

Posted in: Motorcycle safety

Assembling a Bicycle Safety Kit

May 6, 2011

Bicycling is a healthy and fun sport.   More and more people are taking to the roadways with their bikes, and it is important that they adopt a few basic safety precautionary measures to minimize the chance of having an accident.

The Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has officially declared May as Bicycle Safety Month.

Many state and local groups join in the bike safety effort. The NHTSA reported there were 630 cyclist deaths in 2009. These deaths accounted for two percent of all traffic fatalities. One of the ways that responsible bike riders can promote safety and prevent serious Atlanta bicycle accidents is to assemble a well-stocked bike safety kit.

Some of the items that a biker should include in a bicycle safety kit include the following:

  • A helmet. No matter your age, you should wear a helmet. One out of every three people admitted to the emergency room for a bike accident is there for head trauma, according to the Georgia Bicycle Law Enforcement Pocket Guide. In Georgia, you are required to wear a helmet if you are under 16 years of age, whether you are the driver or the passenger on a bike. Be wise and wear a helmet regardless of your age.
  • Water. Biking is strenuous exercise and it is easy to become dehydrated on a hot day. The best way to keep hydrated is to bring sufficient water along with you and drink it throughout the day.
  • Tools. Bicycles have parts that can easily break down and disrupt a ride or cause an accident. A puncture repair kit and pocket maintenance and mini-repair kit are necessities of the road. These tools are sold in kits that are small enough to fit into a pocket or a saddlebag. They include tools such as spoke wrenches and screwdrivers as well as chain tools. Before you set out on a ride, check your bike and use your tools to perform any maintenance tasks.
  • Reflectors. Bicycles must have a reflector on the front for use at night. A second reflector, while not required, should be placed on the rear for safety.

I hope the tips help keep bicyclist riders safe.  Go out and enjoy the beautiful Georgia weather this spring and go for a bicycle ride.

Posted in: Bicycle Riding

Atlanta Attorney Explains Physician Liability for Malpractice

April 25, 2011

When we seek out care from a physician, we do so with the belief that we are putting ourselves in the steady hands of a professional. Unfortunately, not all of our encounters with the medical profession live up to the proper standard of care and patients may find themselves worse off after an operation or procedure than before. Death of a loved one can also be a result of a botched medical procedure.

To prove negligence on the part of a physician, the following must be shown:

  • The doctor owed a duty to the patient
  • The doctor breached that duty
  • The patient suffered an injury
  • The injury was a result of the breach by the doctor

Consent and physician liability

Before a medical procedure, you are generally asked to sign a consent form. The possible side effects and results of the operation are read to you. When something goes wrong in a procedure, a patient is sometimes hesitant to act because of the signed consent form. However, it is important to note that signing a consent form does not give a doctor the right to incorrectly perform your operation. Regardless of the consent form, your doctor is still held to a professional standard of care and if he or she fails to meet that standard of care and you are injured as a result, a medical malpractice claim can be brought for negligence.

Your doctor is not liable for situations that are beyond his or her control. For example, if your elderly relative insists on undergoing a high-risk operation despite warnings from the doctor and dies shortly afterwards, the doctor would not be found liable for the death so long as the operation was performed in accordance with standard medical procedures.

It is important to note that in Georgia there is a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice. If you do not feel you are getting straight answers, or if your condition does not improve, it is in your best interests to seek out legal help so that you do not run afoul of this time limitation.

Posted in: Medical Malpractice,Physician Liability

Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Discusses Alcohol Awareness Month

April 21, 2011

April is designated as Alcohol Awareness Month across the country, providing an opportunity for everyone to become better educated on alcohol abuse—and to learn to make healthy and safe choices.  The National Health Information Center offers a free online toolkit containing useful tips and links to the information needed to help any organization spread the word.

Georgia personal injury attorney Ken Nugent views Alcohol Awareness Month as an excellent opportunity to remind everyone about the dangers of drinking and driving and the many available options for protecting lives.

Everyone can help save lives

In a recent survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, between 12 and 13 percent of Georgia drivers age 18 and older reported driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol during the years 2004 through 2006.  The good news is that these results indicate Georgia DUI is relatively low compared to other states.  The bad news is that every impaired driver represents a risk for a Georgia car accident, resulting in potentially severe injury or death.

Taking responsibility

You need to take responsibility for anyone you determine is in no condition to get behind the wheel.  The following tips can help you keep Georgia roads safer:

  • Be a designated driver.  The best time to ensure drinkers do not drive is by planning ahead—before anyone takes the first drink.
  • Take the keys.  Intoxicated people may not appreciate being relieved of their vehicles, but they remain alive to thank you later.
  • Be prepared for overnight guests.  If you host a party, make sure you have comfortable places for unexpected houseguests.  It may be easier to convince them to attend a sleepover party than to reprimand them for their intoxication.

Most important, do not assume a cup of coffee can create instant sobriety.  Only time can do that.

Your safety is our primary concern

As an Atlanta car accident lawyer and founder of Kenneth S. Nugent, P.C., I often see the results when a celebration turns into a severe Georgia car accident due to DUI.  I encourage all drivers to avoid any form of impaired driving—and do whatever it takes to ensure your friends and family stay safe.

Posted in: Alcohol Awareness Month

What Do My Warning Lights Mean?—Advice from a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer

April 15, 2011

Federal Motor Safety Standards require automobile controls and displays to be easily noticeable and accessible.  The purpose of this is to warn drivers of any problems with their vehicles and to allow them to correct these problems and avoid an auto accident.  In this fourth blog in a series of five on car maintenance, a Georgia car accidents lawyer will help you understand the significance of the warning lights in your car and how they can help you avoid an accident.

Types of warning lights

If a warning light illuminates in your car, the first step is to look in your owner’s manual. Each car is different and any potential problems and solutions are explained in this manual.

According to the Automobile Association (AA), these are some of the most common warning lights you may see:

  • Oil pressure. This light signals that your oil level may be low.  If the oil level is not low, but the light is on, it is dangerous to start your car.
  • Battery. If the battery warning light comes on while driving, there may be a problem caused by slack starters, a broken or loose alternator drive belt, or alternator failure.  These must be fixed before driving or you may seriously damage your engine.
  • Brake system. If this light comes on and your emergency brake is not set, your car may be dangerously low on brake fluid. 
  • Engine. If the check engine light comes on or flashes while driving, there is a problem with your engine. If the light does not come back on after restarting your car, it may be safe to drive, but Consumer Reports recommends consulting with a mechanic to pinpoint the problem.
  • ABS. This warning light signifies that there is a problem with your anti-lock brakes that should be checked immediately.
  • Tire pressure. A tire pressure gauge or warning light warns you that your tire pressure is dangerously low.  If tire pressure is too low it can cause blowouts, hydroplaning, and roadside collisions. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the recent installation of a tire pressure sensor in the tires of every new car will prevent 10,635 injuries and 79 deaths throughout the United States.

It is always an excellent idea to keep a close eye on the warning indicators in your vehicle.  Doing so can help you protect your vehicle, your passengers, and yourself.  This is the 5th and final blog post on auto maintenance.  I hope you find the 5 part series  informative and that it can help prevent a Georgia car accident.

Posted in: Auto Maintenance

Tylenol and Acetaminophen – Liver Damage

April 14, 2011

Tylenol’s popularity, as an over the counter and Physician prescribed pain reliever, makes it one of the most popular pain/fever relief medicines in the United States.  It’s estimated that billions of these pills are sold and taken every year.

Tylenol is the generic name for Acetaminophen, which has been linked to serious liver damage, liver failure, liver transplant, kidney damage and death in some cases.

The typical user taking the recommended dosage of Acetaminophen or Tylenol for pain relief is considered safe and not at risk.  But if you take too much or other health conditions exist you could be at risk.

Taking too much Tylenol/Acetaminophen can result in an overdose causing “acute” sudden liver failure.  It is estimated that over 50,000 people a year are treated in emergency rooms for unintentional or accidental Acetaminophen overdose.  Roughly half of these patients are admitted into the hospital for further treatment.

Acetaminophen can be found in a large variety of prescription pain relievers – Vicodin, Lortab, Percocet and other medication ending in “CET” are few of the more popular products.

Some of the damages due to Acetaminophen overdose include:

  1. Liver damage
  2. Liver failure
  3. Liver transplant
  4. Coma from liver damage
  5. Death from liver failure

Seek medical attention right away if you think you have Acetaminophen overdose.

Posted in: Prescription Drug

Tips from an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer on Changing a Tire

April 7, 2011

Changing a tire on the side of the road can be dangerous.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 70 percent of fatal crashes are run-off-road crashes where a moving vehicle leaves the road and strikes the shoulder, median, person, or vehicle on the roadside.  This final installment in a series of five blogs about car maintenance explains how to efficiently change a tire and get safely back on the road.

How to change a tire in 10 easy steps

Once you have a blowout or flat tire, pull as far off the road and out of the way of traffic as you can. Try to find a flat spot where you will be visible to passing cars

  1. Safety first. Turn on your hazard lights and apply your parking brake.  If you have flares, light and place them a safe distance behind your vehicle.
  2. Locate your tools.  You will need a jack, a lug wrench, and your spare tire.
  3. Use the jack. Place the jack under the metal frame of the car near the flat tire.  Your owner’s manual will tell you exactly where.  Raise the jack until it is supporting your car but not completely lifting it off the ground.
  4. Loosen the hubcap. With your wheel on the ground, loosen the lug nuts on the hubcap, but do not fully remove them.
  5. Lift your car off the ground. Use the jack to lift the tire about 6 inches off the ground.  If the car seems even a little unstable, stop immediately and fix the problem.
  6. Replace the flat tire. Completely remove the lug nuts and then the flat tire. Carefully place the spare tire on the hub.
  7. Align the tire. Align the rim of the spare tire with the wheel bolts.  Carefully replace the lug nuts one opposite nut at a time, but do not tighten them completely.
  8. Lower your car. Lower the car slowly until it is fully on the ground.
  9. Replace your hubcap. Carefully remove the jack, tighten the nuts completely, and replace the hubcap.

10.  Store your tools. Once you have finished changing your tire, place the flat in your trunk and store your tools in case of the next flat.

Be sure to use extra caution when merging back on to the road to avoid a Georgia car accident with other vehicles.

Posted in: Auto Maintenance

Car Stuck in the Mud? Tips from a Georgia Auto Accident Lawyer

April 6, 2011

This is the third blog in a series of five dedicated to car maintenance and avoiding auto accidents.  Improperly maintained vehicles are likely to cause auto accidents because of mechanical issues, such as tire blowouts from dangerously worn tire treads.  To minimize your chances of being involved in a Georgia car accident, plan ahead for the possibility of roadside emergencies and accidents by properly maintaining your car.

Knowing what to do in case of an emergency—such as driving on ice or getting stuck in the mud—can also help you and your family stay safe.

What to do if your car gets stuck in the mud

If your car becomes stuck in the mud, you can take certain steps to help avoid being struck by other vehicles while safely freeing your car:

  • Call the police. Call the highway patrol as soon as you verify that your car is actually stuck in the mud, especially if you are stuck in a dangerous position on a muddy road or shoulder off a busy highway.  
  • Invest in roadside assistance. In addition to maintaining your car, you can plan ahead for emergencies by investing in a roadside assistance from a company like AAA, your insurer, or GM’s OnStar.
  • Rock out slowly.  Once you are sure your car is stuck, you can try to rock it out of the mud.  According to Consumer Reports, you should keep the wheels straight while very carefully switching between drive and reverse.  Try to avoid spinning your tires because this can easily dig you deeper into the mud.  If the car begins to move in either direction, continue in that direction until you are freed.
  • Traction.  If you cannot rock your car out, you can try to dig a path of firmer soil for each wheel.  You can also create traction by spreading sand near your wheels, or by using your floor mats, trunk liner, or wood scraps. You may need to use a firmly placed jack to jack up the car and fill in tire depressions with hard wood, rocks, gravel, or car mats.  Consider keeping a small shovel or commercial traction aid in an emergency kit in your car for this kind of emergency.

Remember to turn on your flashers or use flares to signal other drivers that you are stuck.  In addition, never stand behind your car and attempt to physically push it out of the mud because your vehicle can easily slide backward and cause injury or even death.

Posted in: Auto Maintenance

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