We got a call from a Georgia State Student this week who was badly hurt when she was hit by a car while crossing Moreland Avenue. She sustained a broken pelvis, tore multiple knee ligaments and has been in a wheelchair for weeks. She apparently had called one of the TV law firms and was told that since she crossed at the intersection, but not in the crosswalk, she was at fault and could not recover from the driver who hit her. This is a typical shallow analysis from certain unnamed firms here in Atlanta. “Oh you got the ticket, well then there is no case.”
Had the firm investigated further they would learn that a thunderstorm had knocked out the traffic signal completely such that when she was crossing the road the light was inoperable. There is also an eyewitness who was driving a car coming the opposite direction. Under OCGA 40-6-70, when two cars come up on an intersection and the traffic light is out, they have to treat it as a four way stop and come to a complete stop. Given that the eyewitness car and the defendant’s car were approaching the intersection, the Defendant had a legal duty to come to a complete stop. Instead, she plowed through the intersection at full speed and hit the pedestrian. Under the law, this is negligence per se.
Furthermore, because the pedestrian was crossing at the intersection, the intersection counts as an unmarked crosswalk under the law and therefore she is not jaywalking. OCGA 40-1-1 states in the definition of crosswalk:
“(A) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway;”
Setting all of the laws aside, the answer to the question “who is responsible” is clear; don’t drive blindly into an intersection when the traffic signal is out in the dark.
Here is the full text of OCGA 4-6-7:
(a) When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right, provided that when a vehicle approaches or enters an intersection with no stop signs or other traffic-control devices from a highway that terminates at the intersection, the driver of that vehicle shall yield the right of way to the other vehicle, whether the latter vehicle be on such driver’s right or left. When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection with an inoperative traffic light, the driver of each vehicle shall be required to stop in the same manner as if a stop sign were facing in each direction at the intersection.”