I was saddened to learn of the death of a DOT Hero Unit employee today while he was doing his job helping a stranded motorist on the side of I-85. My deepest sympathies go out to the family of the deceased DOT employee. As a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer here in Atlanta who represents family members who have lost loved ones, I have seen first hand the depth of grief caused by the sudden loss of a beloved family member.
This tragedy todays brings to light the truth of how dangerous many Georgia Department of Transportation jobs are. Since 1973, 56 Georgia DOT employees have been killed in construction zones. Construction zones are inherently dangerous places, but today’s DOT employee death happened on an Interstate Highway, not a construction zone. It has been reported that it was a Ford F-450 truck pulling a landscaping trailer that hit and killed this man on I-85. Georgia law requires vehicles to move into the next lane when there is either a police officer or other emergency vehicle in the emergency lane giving assistance. The Ford F-450 driver apparently didn’t do that, so it would not surprise me if vehicular homocide charges are filed against this individual. Clearly, he is at fault in this wreck. Remember, under Georgia law, vehicular homocide is death by vehicle where the at fault driver was simply careless or negligent; drugs or alcohol do not necessarily have to be involved. The concept of “negligence” is an unintentional act that reasonably prudent people would not do. Violation of a statute, such as the one requiring drivers to move over into the next lane when there is emergency personnel present in the emergency lane or shoulder, can be evidence of negligence. Said another way, a reasonably prudent person would have done something different.
Although bringing charges against the at fault driver of the Ford F-450 won’t bring back the loved one, it does sometimes give the family a sense of justice that can be instrumental in helping the family cope with their sudden loss.
Please be safe out on Georgia highways! They are inherently dangerous and deserve your full attention.