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Drivers crossing center line in car accident liable for damages

There were two accidents reported in Jackson County within 24 hours of each other that kept the county emergency crews busy for over a day. The first car accident occurred on Aug. 8 at around noon. The Georgia State Patrol reported that a 75-year-old man from Cumming lost control of his car and crossed over the centerline of Winder Highway at Curk Roberts Road.

He then crashed into an oncoming Toyota Tundra head-on. The two female occupants of the Toyota, the 18-year-old driver and her 15-year-old passenger, were taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with injuries. The at-fault driver and his passenger, a 75-year-old woman, were also injured and transported to the same hospital.

The second accident happened at about 2 a.m. on Aug. 9 on Highway 129, known as Athens Highway, in the Talmo area. A 24-year-old man crossed the center lane while negotiating a curve and hit an oncoming Honda head-on. The Georgia State Patrol reported charging the driver with drunk driving, failure to maintain lane, and possession of an open container in the passenger area.

The Honda's driver and its four passengers were all taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for treatment of unspecified injuries. In each car accident, a driver lost control, went over the center line and into oncoming traffic. In both accidents, the occupants of the vehicles that were hit by an out-of-control vehicle will be entitled to recover damages for their injuries against the at-fault driver.

Under Georgia negligence law pertaining to a car accident, the two drivers who crossed over the center line are at-fault and liable to compensate the others for their injuries. In the one case, the driver was charged with drunk driving, which could in some circumstances justify an additional award for punitive damages. With respect to the elderly driver, no charges were filed. It could be that he fell asleep or had a medical condition, but that generally does not eliminate the concept that the driver was operating carelessly under the circumstances.

Source:, "GSP investigates two head-on collisions in Jackson County," Alyson Shields, Aug. 9, 2013

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