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U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx (DOT)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx (DOT)

The Department of Transportation has released a new work zone safety campaign, urging drivers to “expect the unexpected.”

The new campaign launches during National Work Zone Awareness week and reminds drivers that work zones may change frequently from one day to the next, posing risks for both motorists and work zone employees if drivers are distracted or not paying attention.

The Augusta Chronicle reports:

Since 1973, 57 Georgia DOT employees have died in work zones, but motorists and their passengers are actually more likely to be killed or injured in work zones, according to a news release.

Since National Work Zone Awareness Week – an annual campaign sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials – began in 1999, national work zone fatalities have decreased by 34 percent.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, in 2013 there were 579 work zone traffic-related fatalities, 29,000 work zone injuries and 105 worker fatalities. All of the categories were decreases from the previous year.

Last year the Georgia DOT had no employee work zone fatalities, but there were 20 total work zone fatalities.

“While we are pleased that we have not lost a GDOT employee in a work zone related crash this past year, the loss of 20 lives is 20 too many,” Commissioner Russell McMurray said. “I implore the public to be mindful of our workers and to pay strict attention when driving, not just today, but every day, especially in work zones.”

When going through work zones, drivers are expected to remain alert, minimize distractions, not tailgate or speed, pay attention to signs and obey road crew flaggers.

The Murray Law Firm works tirelessly for victims and families devastated by work zone accidents and we offer our legal expertise, if needed. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us at 888.842.1616. Consultations are free and confidential.

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The tragic August death of GSU freshman, Michael Gatto, has rallied many in support of Michael’s Law, a bill which would keep underage patrons and bouncers out of bars. House Bill 152 passed the Georgia House of Representatives on Friday, March 13th and now awaits review in the Georgia Senate.

Connect Statesboro Reports:

Since the death of GSU freshman Michael Gatto at Rude Rudy’s last August, Statesboro has been a hotbed of contention over underage alcohol sales and bar attendance. Police charged Grant James Spencer, then 20 — a bouncer who was at the club but reportedly off-duty at the time — with aggravated battery and felony murder. Gatto had arrived as a freshman at Georgia Southern University about two weeks earlier. Spencer, who was also a GSU student, remains in jail awaiting trial. Rude Rudy’s closed after Gatto’s death, and the club’s owner surrendered his alcohol license to the city.

In response to their son’s death, Gatto’s parents have been working to pass a bill that would keep underage people out of bars and away from alcohol. Last Friday, March 13, the Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill 152, which proposes several changes to alcohol regulation laws statewide.

WHAT IT DOES

Here are the bare bones: The Georgia House of Representatives approved legislation to define what bars are, make 21 the minimum age to enter one or work as a bouncer, and place new demands on cities, counties and businesses to report alcoholic beverage violations.

BREAKING IT DOWN

What’s a bar?

According to the new legislation, a bar is a place that derives 75 percent or more of its revenue from alcoholic beverages. The Department of Revenue will be able to look at the monthly sales tax reports of each venue to determine where its revenue is coming from.

Under this definition, Statesboro technically doesn’t have any “bars” — only restaurants that serve alcohol but derive more than 50 percent of their revenue from food sales, or “sports restaurants” required only to have a food permit. However, if any Statesboro venues were to be audited and found to derive 75 percent of their revenue from alcohol sales, they would have to change their status to “bar” and enforce the under-21 restrictions.

The 21 rule

Under HB 152, a person have to be at least 21 years old to enter a bar. That applies to employees as well as customers, although the bill doesn’t explicitly include bartenders or servers.

Bouncers—defined as “individual(s) primarily performing duties related to verifying age for admittance, security, maintaining order, or safety, or a combination thereof” — must also be 21 years old.

Required reporting

Alcohol license holders must self-report any violations of local, state or federal alcohol laws to the Georgia Department of Revenue within 45 days of the violation.Cities and counties must also report any violations within their jurisdiction to the Department of Revenue. The revenue commissioner can issue fines of up to $750 for license holders who fail to report violations

SO IS THIS A DONE DEAL?

Not exactly. The bill has been passed in the Georgia House of Representatives and still has to go through the Georgia Senate. The Senate could alter the bill or hold off on passing it, meaning it wouldn’t come up again as a potential law until next year. Also, to become an official law, it’s going to need the governor’s signature.

Read the full article at Connect Statesboro and follow House Bill 152 at the Georgia General Assembly.

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SafeKids Worldwide is promoting a new safety campaign targeting child pedestrians. They are calling on communities around the globe to support improved safety measures, such as street lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks, and crossing signals.

The Murray Law Firm is proud to join parents, teachers and other pedestrian safety advocates in making our roadways safer for children. Having represented countless families through devastating losses and injuries due to reckless, impaired, and distracted drivers, we encourage all drivers to stay alert, particularly in and around school zones and residential neighborhoods. We also call on community planners and local officials to make both rural and urban streets safer for children.

Take a moment to watch this video of children from all over the world, asking us to help make their streets safe. A simple stop sign, caution light, crosswalk or crossing guard could save thousands of lives.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwj8umCHVWA

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BikePedestrianLaneLocal News

Gwinnett County Police are reportedly calling on pedestrians to stay alert and use crosswalks after a recent surge in pedestrian fatalities.

According to WTVM 9 News, Gwinnett authorities report there have already been 11 pedestrian deaths this year, a steady increase from 7 last year and 5 in 2012. The majority of these accidents reportedly occurred after dark, between 8:00pm and 11:00pm. Several of these accidents took place along Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Singleton Road and South Norcross Tucker Road, according to Gwinnett County authorities.

Media reports allege many of these deaths may have been prevented had pedestrians used crosswalks and obeyed traffic control signals.

Our Legal Take

Advocates for cyclist and pedestrian rights at The Murray Law Firm find the media’s sole focus on pedestrian safety, rather than driver caution, a disturbing trend.

While pedestrians should always try to wear bright or reflective clothing and mind traffic laws, these fatalities should serve as an equally grave reminder to Gwinnett County drivers on the need to share our roadways with pedestrians and to city officials on the need to reevaluate pedestrian safety measures in these high-risk areas.

Why were the drivers in these incidents unable to stop, slow or swerve for the pedestrians in time? Do cellphone records, traffic surveillance footage and blood test results indicate whether distraction, speed or impairment were involved in any of these fatalities?

Given the apparent pattern of pedestrian fatalities along Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Singleton Road and South Norcross Tucker Road, what additional pedestrian safety measures, such as improved sidewalks, light-up crosswalks, caution signage, lower speed limits, and pedestrian bridges, have Gwinnett County officials implemented to protect pedestrians in these high-risk areas?

Should the drivers in any of these accidents be found at fault for distraction, speed, impairment or other negligence, the families of these victims may elect to file civil claims in their wrongful deaths. Claims of this magnitude would send a critically needed reminder to all Gwinnett County drivers on the need to share our roads with pedestrians and end distracted driving. Further, such claims would demand city officials finally improve pedestrian safety measures in these high-risk areas. Perhaps, through these legal claims, many other lives may be spared.

The Murray Law Firm works tirelessly for families devastated by distracted and negligent drivers and we offer our legal expertise, if needed. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us at 404.842.1600. Consultations are free and confidential.

SAC EM Update

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The Murray Law Firm is taking an active role to curb a practice commonly known as “ambulance chasing.” In each of our blogs, we are informing our readers that, pursuant to the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer or anyone acting on behalf of a lawyer may not engage a potential client “through direct personal contact or through live telephone contact.”

As a personal injury and wrongful death law firm, we have long been aware of the unscrupulous practices of some attorneys in this field who use unethical and illegal measures to obtain clientele.

SAC EM Square.jpgThe immoral practices of a few have, unfortunately, given rise to a public distrust of many. The term ‘ambulance chaser’ has become synonymous with a field of law, which at its best, exists solely to empower people over corporations and insurance companies, to serve those harmed by the negligence of others and to guide everyday citizens to justice through what is often a daunting and complex legal system.

We are saddened to acknowledge that some in the field have tarnished this noble mission through a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which is why we are proud to announce we are taking an active approach to ridding our community of those firms and attorneys that would harm the people and practice, which we care for so deeply.

The Murray Law Firm has achieved the Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent rating, an honor achieved by meeting the highest ethical standards in our field, as attested to by judges and other attorneys who serve to better the practice.

In support of our commitment to high moral and ethical practices, The Murray Law Firm has founded the S.A.C.’EM Campaign (Stop Ambulance Chasing Ethical Movement), which is committed to rooting out lawyers who violate Rule 7.3 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct. Together, with our clients, the State Bar of Georgia and fellow attorneys committed to the highest ethical integrity, we will fight to stop this unethical practice that has become an epidemic in the legal profession.

If you have been injured and have been directly contacted by a lawyer or an individual acting on behalf of a lawyer, please notify The Murray Law Firm at 888.842.1616 and we will assist you in reporting the lawyer or individual to the appropriate authority.

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Pledge DOT.jpgThe Department of Transportation and the National Highway Safety Administration are urging the public to take the pledge to stop distracted driving.

In tribute to all of our clients who have been injured or lost loved ones to distracted driving, we’d like to encourage Georgia drivers to take the Distracted Driving Pledge and make the roads safer for our families.

Have you already taken the pledge? Spread the word! The NHTSA is looking for your pledge on Facebook.

“Pledge like a life depends on it. Because it does.”–NHSTA

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Ungated Entrance to Macon Gardens Apartments

Ungated Entrance to Macon Gardens Apartments

Local News

A shooting outside the Macon Gardens Apartments reportedly claimed the life of 19-year-old Tavarous Veal and injured 23-year-old Terry Brown Thursday evening, March 27, 2015.

According to The Macon Telegraph, Mr. Veal and Mr. Brown were sitting outside, around 7:30pm, when gunfire erupted in the parking lot of the Macon Gardens Apartments. Mr. Veal was reportedly struck in the shoulder and transported to Macon Medical Center, where he later succumbed to injuries. Mr. Brown suffered gunshot wounds to both legs, per media reports. His condition has not been released.

Police are now searching for multiple suspects who allegedly fled the scene in a white SUV.

Our Legal Take

As police continue to search for the gunmen, The Murray Law Firm is questioning whether a potentially fatal apartment security lapse may also hold responsibility in this shooting.

 Were the gunmen residents of Macon Gardens Apartments and, if not, how did they gain entry to the property? What access-controls and security measures, such as gated entry, security fencing, security patrols, surveillance cameras, and bright lighting, were in place at the time of the shooting?

Have there been previous incidents of violence on or near property and, if so, what security precautions were implemented by the apartment complex owner and management to protect residents and deter crime?

Georgia apartment owners are required by law to protect all residents and guests legally on premises from any foreseeable harm. Should the Macon Gardens apartment owner and management company have failed in this legal duty, the family of Tavarous Veal and the injured victim may elect to pursue a legal claim for negligent security. Under such a claim, the the victims may be entitled to an award of damages that could include, among other items, substantial monetary compensation for: pain and suffering; past and future medical expenses; loss of wages and future earning capacity; and, emotional distress. If the facts of this matter warrant such a negligent security claim, it would not only be an avenue of justice for the victims, but would also demand that Macon Gardens re-evaluate security measures. Perhaps, through this legal claim, many families may be spared such tragedy.

Based upon its prior experience in handling negligent security claims, The Murray Law Firm suggests that photographs and a thorough inspection of the scene will need to be performed immediately on behalf of the victim’s family before any evidence, such as surveillance footage or broken gating, may be repaired, damaged or destroyed. It is imperative that all evidence be preserved to ensure that the family’s interests are protected.

The Murray Law Firm has extensive and successful experience in representing families who have lost a loved one as a consequence of apartment violence and property negligence and we offer our legal expertise, if desired. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us at 404.842.1600. Consultations are free and confidential.

SAC EM Update

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Local News

A young man was reportedly killed in a fatal shooting outside the Cascade Pines Apartments early Wednesday morning, March 25, 2015.

According to the AJC, the victim was struck in the parking lot of the Cascade Pines Apartments, on Campbellton Road, shortly before 1:00am. The victim, a man in his 20s, reportedly collapsed in the breezeway outside of an apartment building.

Atlanta Police have are still seeking a suspect and motive in the shooting.

Our Legal Take

As police continue their search for a gunman, The Murray Law Firm is questioning whether a fatal apartment security lapse may have contributed to this tragedy.

Campbellton Road Crime Map, March 2015 (spotcrime.com)

Campbellton Road Crime Map, March 2015 (spotcrime.com)

Was the gunman a resident of Cascade Pines and, if not, how did the shooter gain entry to the property? What access controls and security measures, such as gated entry, surveillance cameras, security fencing, security patrols, and bright lighting, were in place at the time of the shooting?

Crime reports indicate a staggering number of violent crimes in the surrounding community, including a fatal Deerfield Gardens apartment stabbing in January. What security precautions were implemented by the Cascade Pines owner and management to protect residents and deter crime following previous property violence?

By law, apartment owners are required to protect all residents and guests legally on the premises from any foreseeable harm.  Should the Cascade Pines owner and management company have failed in this legal duty, the victim’s family may elect to pursue a legal claim in his wrongful death.  Under such a claim, the victim’s family may be entitled to an award of damages that could include, among other items, substantial monetary compensation for: pain and suffering; loss of wages and future earning capacity; and, emotional distress. If the facts of this matter warrant such a negligent security claim, it would not only be an avenue of justice for the victim’s family, but would also demand that Cascade Pines re-evaluate security measures.  It would also serve as a grave warning to other Atlanta apartment owners to make resident safety their first priority.

Based upon its prior experience in handling negligent security claims, The Murray Law Firm suggests that photographs and a thorough inspection of the scene will need to be performed immediately on behalf of the victim’s family before any evidence, such as surveillance footage or broken lighting, may be repaired, damaged or destroyed. It is imperative that all evidence be preserved to ensure that the family’s best interests are protected.

The Murray Law Firm has extensive and sucessful experience in representing victims of security negligence, and we offer our legal expertise in this potential claim, if desired.  Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us at 404.842.1600. Consultations are free and confidential.

SAC EM Update