You May Need An Investigator If Your Loved One Is In a Nursing Home

You May Need An Investigator If Your Loved One Is In a Nursing Home

It’s often very difficult making the decision for our parents to move into a nursing home.  Nobody wants to think about their parents being mistreated.   Unfortunately, it can and does happen.  Consider this scenario:  “Jared” goes to visit his mom regularly at the nursing home.  While normally upbeat and happy, he notices she has become fearful and withdrawn.  When he inquires, she says everything is fine.  He begins to notice small bruises on her arm.  She says she bruises easily.  He asks the staff and they state that it’s due to her age and part of the aging process.  Jared believes there is more to the story.  What can he do? How can a person in this situation get the true details? This is why you may need an investigator if your loved one is in a nursing home.

All Nursing Homes Are Not The Same

If you have followed the news in Georgia recently, you may have noticed an increase in legislative efforts to crack down on nursing home neglect and abuse.  This is due to the number of reports coming in regarding the overall treatment of elderly patients in facilities, including nursing homes.  These abuses include neglect, causing bedsores or pressure sores.  Bedsores can be fatal if gone untreated.
A nursing home may appear to have the best staff on the surface.  Meanwhile, when nobody is watching, things can take a drastic turn.  Patients can be neglected, verbally abused or even physically abused.  Neglect can be in the form of withholding medication or refusing to assist in daily needs.  The problem may be with all employees and the attitude coming from management or it may be a few rogue employees on one shift.

The Way To Learn The Truth: Investigate

If your loved one is in a nursing home and you have any concerns about his or her well being, you may need an investigator.  What can an investigator do to help you?  First, an investigator can do a financial background check on the company.  As a representative of the family, the investigator can do even more:
  • Drop-in visits to see the patient
  • Personal observations between patient and staff
  • Checking the physical condition of patient (weight for possible malnutrition) for injuries, marks, bruises
  • Checking the room for cleanliness including bed sheets and bathroom if appropriate
  • Speaking to the patient about their stay at the home (if appropriate)
  • Visiting public areas of the home (cafeteria, other public areas)

If there is any wrong doing, the staff may initially attempt to prevent the investigator from visiting but a good investigator knows how to gain information in a professional manner.

How Do I Find a Qualified Investigator

There are a lot of private investigators out there.  Here are a few things you should consider when hiring someone to help you out with investigating the nursing home for your family.

  • Licensed – Choose an investigator that is licensed.
  • Reviews – A good investigator has testimonials; usually they are on their website.
  • Variety – Look for an investigator with a variety of skills and investigation techniques as well as a variety of clients.
  • Technology – Although you may not realize this important, a good investigator must have excellent technology skills to do their job.  If he or she finds that there is neglect or abuse where your family member lives, there will be a need to gather more information and possibly work with an attorney and/or law enforcement.
  • Court admissible evidence – A good investigator understands that what he or she collects may need to go before the court at some point.
  • Fees & Expectations – Choose someone who explains their process clearly.  You should understand what you will pay and how the process works.

Remember, the investigator is YOUR advocate; a person to help you protect your parents or loved ones.  If you feel you may need an investigator, we recommend using Eagle Investigative Services. Eagle Investigative Services are licensed and have a wide array of clients.  You can contact them directly at: Eagle Atlanta.

If someone you love is in a nursing home or other facility you are concerned about,  contact us.  Attorney David Crawford has the experience and knows exactly where to start.  If the initial facts warrants further legal investigation, David and his team will gather information about the patient’s history so that he has a complete understanding of how, and when, this occurred.  He will work with you and others to develop a detailed time line to understand what happened to your loved one, any warning signs that were ignored by the nursing home staff and what could have been done to avoid the problem. In essence, David will show you the negligent acts and omissions that may have occurred and help you understand the case prior to filing any lawsuit.

Georgia Long Term Care Background Check Program

Georgia Long Term Care Background Check Program

The State of Georgia is getting tough on elder abuse cases, which have continued to rise significantly across the state.  On March 15th, 2018, the House passed what will be known as the Georgia Long Term Care Background Check Program Bill.  This, also known as Senate Bill 406, will require that elder care providers undergo criminal background checks.  This has been a long time coming.

The background check will be a comprehensive, fingerprint based criminal background check.  The law will apply to the owners of personal care homes, assisted living facilities nursing homes, and more.  In addition, applicants for employment in these facilities will be required to pass the background check.  As well as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, this will also apply to employees of personal care homes, hospice care, home health, adult day care and skilled nursing facilities.  The new background check requirement will take effect on October. 1, 2019, for new applicants and at a later date for existing owners and employees.  Another key component of SB 406 is the central registry.  The Department of Community Health would establish and maintain a central registry so that a family member or legal guardian looking to hire a personal caregiver for an elderly person could access information on eligible and ineligible applicants and employers.

Elder abuse can take many forms.  It can be the withholding of medicine, physical abuse, mental abuse, or neglect.  Every patient has rights.  Here in Georgia, we utilize the following statutes:  O.C.G.A. §31-8-103 through §31-8-121, collectively known as the “Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities”.  These rights protect patients.  If you feel that your mother, father or other loved one is not being cared for properly in a nursing home or other care facility, do not wait to act.  Waiting can be fatal.  Contact our office so that David Crawford can work directly with you on the details.  David has the experience, the passion and the legal knowledge to work with you and guide you towards a solution for you and your family.

 

 

Things You Should Know About Tickets in Georgia

Things You Should Know About Tickets in Georgia

Each state has its own set of laws regarding rules of the highways.  The State of Georgia is no different in that respect.  Some of the laws in Georgia are stricter, while some are not.  All states have mandatory seat belt laws, speed restrictions and requirements on obtaining a driver’s license at a certain age.  What makes Georgia different?  What types of things can cause you to get a ticket on Georgia’s highways? Here are some things you should know about tickets in Georgia.

Speeding in Georgia

Speeding in Georgia is a big thing.  Georgia has what’s known as the Super Speeder Law.  Basically, the law provides a $200 additional fine for anyone who is convicted of driving over 85 miles per hour on any road or highway or 75 miles per hour on any two lane road or highway.  It is a misdemeanor, however, it can have far reaching ramifications on you as a driver.

Driving without Insurance in Georgia

Getting caught driving without insurance in Georgia will land you in serious trouble.  It results in going to court, possibly being fined and posing your license for a period of time.  Depending on the circumstance, you can find yourself in jail.

Why is it required to have auto insurance? This is to protect drivers in the event of an automobile accident or collision.  Let’s say you have a fender bender and you are determined to be at fault.  Your insurance company will be responsible for payment for damages to the vehicles as well as any medical bills incurred during the collision.  Now, let’s assume in that same fender bender, you are NOT the one at fault and the other driver has no insurance.  The estimates indicate that there is a large amount of damage done to your car because of the impact.  Turns out, it was more than a fender bender.  Who pays for this since the other driver has no insurance?

If Georgia did not require insurance, there would be no recourse, penalties or otherwise.  We would all have to pay for damages out of our pocket.  Requiring insurance keeps most of us with enough to pay for damages to the auto.

Can You Go To Jail for a Traffic Ticket in Georgia

This is a frequently asked question.  Technically, you can go to jail for any violation of the law if you refuse to obey the officers at the scene.  You can go to jail if you are intoxicated and refuse to take a roadside test, because they are going to take you in and have another test administered.  It is their job to keep someone who is impaired off the road.  It is also your right to refuse the test.  You can be taken to jail if you cause a scene during a traffic stop that creates a sense of danger for the officers or public.  It’s always best to provide what the officers ask for, do not offer any information, answer in Yes or No only and do not allow a search.  If you are detained or arrested, ask for an attorney and do not speak without your attorney present.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, contact us.  Attorney David Crawford has the experience and knows exactly where to start.    Contact Us Today to get started.

Traffic Stop in Georgia

Traffic Stop in Georgia

Seeing blue lights behind you often brings on feelings of panic even when you have done nothing wrong.  This shouldn’t be the case but we have conditioned ourselves to the thought that if the police are pulling us over, we must have done something wrong.  A traffic stop in Georgia is often misunderstood.  The media has played a big part of this as well as a general misunderstanding of how our rights work in traffic stops.  Most people believe that during a traffic stop, we have no rights and are doomed from the start.  That’s simply not true.  Here are some tips to help during a traffic stop in Georgia.

Avoid a Stop

First, try to avoid getting stopped by the police in the first place.  Now, that doesn’t mean that if you see the police, try to avoid them or outrun them.  Driving the speed limit, stopping at lights and stop signs and otherwise obeying traffic laws will reduce the chance of being pulled over.   Here are a few other things that will help you avoid a stop.

  • School zones – be careful to watch the speed limit.  These usually have heavier police presence
  • Construction zones – more likely to be pulled over if you are above the speed limit
  • HOV lanes – in Georgia, you will likely be pulled over if you are travelling in the High Occupancy Lane with only 1 person
  • Changing lanes – hopping from one lane to another will often get you pulled over
  • Faulty equipment – many stops are for break lights or headlights that are not functional.  Make sure you check these before traveling
  • Always keep an eye on your speed.  Georgia has a super speeder law.  You can learn more about that in this article.

The Blue Lights

If you see blue lights coming up fast behind you, pull over to the right as soon as it is safely possible to do so.  If it’s not you he is pulling over, it’s still the law that you pull over out of the way to give him room to pass.  If he is pulling you over, the following will help.

  • Be courteous with the police officer – no attitude
  • Always have your insurance and driver’s license ready to show if asked
  • Roll down your window – Do not get out of your vehicle unless asked to do so
  • Do NOT offer information.  Wait until you are asked and then only answer the questions you are asked
  • Do not ask questions and do not begin a dialogue
  • Keep your hands where the officer can see them
  • Keep calm and do not be jumping around

Here is an example: “Hi John. You were going a bit fast tonight. Do you know how fast you were going?” John: “No sir.” “John you were going 90. License and registration please” John hands it over to the officer with no further conversation.

It can be tempting to defend yourself, especially if you feel the information you are provided is wrong.  However, it is unwise to argue with a police officer.  Keep your answers short, stay calm and be friendly.  He is just doing his job.

Right to Say No

There are certain times you have a right to say “no”.  Sometimes during a stop the officer will conduct a search of you or your car.  The police have a right to know they are safe and that you have no weapons on you.  This is a pat down.  If they ask if they can search your car, say no.  Don’t ask questions.  Just say No.  If they ask why, say, “it’s my right..  But don’t be rude about it.  Just stay calm and say no.

What often happens is that they will give you a ticket and then say “can I ask you a few questions”.  Tell them “no” that you are already running behind.  Tell him Goodbye and proceed to your car.  If you are ordered to stop – Stop.  You have to stop if he orders you to stop.  But you do NOT have to answer questions. Do not engage in any dialogue with him other than politely stating that you are not answering questions.

Arrest/Suspension of License

If you find yourself arrested or your license is suspended after a traffic stop, don’t try to fight it alone.  Even traffic citations and DUIs have potential serious consequences. They can cost you your license, a job and more. David Crawford knows how speeding tickets can affect your life and your livelihood.  Before you act, contact David to find out your legal options.  Contact us today by completing our online form.

 

 

Georgia’s Super Speeder Law

Georgia’s Super Speeder Law

Imagine you are driving your regular business route from Alabama to South Carolina.  It’s a beautiful day as you travel along I-75 through Atlanta, Georgia. As you sing along to songs from the radio, traffic is light and you are making excellent time for a mid-Monday morning trip.  Suddenly you see blue lights in your rear view mirror and look down to see that you are going nearly 90 miles per hour.  You panic as you pull over to the side of the road knowing this is going to be hard to explain to your boss.  You are in your company truck,  on company time, on a business trip.  Your troubles are just beginning as you learn that your ticket is going to be extra costly due to Georgia’s Super Speeder Law.

What is Georgia’s Super Speeder Law?

HB160 became known as the Super Speeder Law aimed to slow down drivers in Georgia.  The law provides a $200 additional fine for anyone who is convicted of driving over 85 miles per hour on any road or highway or 75 miles per hour on any two lane road or highway.  Here’s how it works,

  • You receive a ticket for going 85 on a highway.
  • You are convicted upon your payment of the speeding ticket because you are pleading guilty to the charge.
  • After you pay, you are sent a bill for an additional $200 because you are then designated as a Super Speeder.
  • You have 120 days to pay this.
  • Failure to pay the fine can result in suspension of your license.

Is Super Speeder a Felony?

A Super Speeder ticket is a misdemeanor. Super Speeder is simply a designation the State of Georgia gives certain speeding offenses. It is an additional financial penalty levied by the state. Although it is only another financial penalty, it should be taken seriously since it can lead to a lose of license if not handled correctly.

How Many Points Can You Get On Your License For a Super Speeder?

The Georgia point system is the same for all speeding convictions—super speeder or not. If you get 15 points in 24 months, your license will be suspended. Each offense carries a penalty between two to six points according to the breakdown provided by Georgia Department of Driver Services .

Speeding:
15 to 18 mph over speed limit 2 Points
19 to 23 mph over speed limit 3 Points
24 to 33 mph over speed limit 4 Points
34 mph or more over speed limit 6 Points

It should be noted that each state handles the license point system differently.  However most states do recognize out of state tickets and will assign some points on the driving record for violations that result in convictions.

Fighting The Ticket / Saving Your License

Do not just pay the ticket.  It’s important that you speak to an attorney first.  Learn your options.  Paying that ticket means admitting guilt.  An attorney may be able to negotiate the ticket before you pay it so that it will no longer meets the requirements of a Super Speeder.

Contact Us for Solutions

David Crawford knows how speeding tickets can affect your life and your livelihood.  Before you act, contact David to find out your legal options.  Contact us today by completing our online form.

Hands Free Driving Law

Hands Free Driving Law

It’s hard to think back to a time when we did not have a phone in our cars and trucks.  We have become so accustomed to being available 24 hours of the day to family, friends, work and social media.  However, an alarming statistic showed that most accidents were the cause of distracted driving.  After one metro Atlanta city rolled out their own hands free law, many cities followed.  It wasn’t long before the State of Georgia wrapped up its work on the Hands Free Georgia Act.

Hands Free Georgia Law

The Hands Free Georgia Law has been in the making for quite some time.  The purpose behind this law is to curb distracted driving and ultimately reduce the number of traffic fatalities on Georgia’s highways caused by drivers playing with their cell phones, answering texts, making calls or reading Facebook.

Between 2016-2020 there were nearly 55,000 confirmed distracted driving accidents, resulting in 126 fatalities.  There were nearly 1 million accidents that are suspected to be the result of distracted driving in those same years and almost 2500 of those were fatal.  It was obvious to lawmakers that something should be done with cities responded to public outcry.   In response, many cities around Georgia began to enact their own ordinances which prevented the use of electronic devices while behind the wheel.  Rather than have a variety of confusing laws throughout the State, Georgia enacted the Hands Free Act.

The Act provides that drivers no longer be “behind the wheel” while holding a phone or other wireless electronic device, unless making an emergency call.  The following are prohibited actions as listed on Governors Office of Highway Safety

  • A driver cannot have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone.  Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, phone is connected to vehicle or an electronic watch.  GPS navigation devices are allowed.
  • Headsets and earpieces can only be worn for communication purposes and not for listening to music or other entertainment.
  • A driver may not send or read any text-based communication unless using voice-based communication that automatically converts message to a written text or is being used for navigation or GPS
  • A driver may not write, send or read any text messages, e-mails, social media or internet data content
  • A driver may not watch a video unless it is for navigation.
  • A driver may not record a video (continuously running dash cams are exempt)
  • Music streaming apps can be used provided the driver activates and programs them when they are parked.  Drivers cannot touch their phones to do anything to their music apps when they are on the road.  Music streaming apps that include video also are not allowed since drivers cannot watch videos when on the road.  Drivers can listen to and program music streaming apps that are connected to and controlled through their vehicle’s radio.

There are exceptions and exemptions for emergencies situations and for emergency personnel. They are as follows:

1.    Reporting a traffic crash, medical emergency, fire, criminal activity or hazardous road conditions.
2.    An employee or contractor of an utility service provider acting within the scope of their employment while responding to an utility
emergency.
3.     A first responder (law enforcement, fire, EMS) during the performance of their official duties.
4.     When in a lawfully parked vehicle—this DOES NOT include vehicles stopped for traffic signals and stop signs on the public roadway.

What Does This Mean For You As a Driver

It means that all drivers must comply with this law unless you are one of the exceptions noted above.   Officers have an option to issue warnings, however, they also have the ability to ticket under this law as well. As a driver, you may be ticketed for this infraction whether or not you are stopped for another offense or in an accident.

If you receive a ticket for this offense alone, the fines are as follows:

  • First conviction: $50, one point on a license;
  • Second conviction: $100, two points on a license;
  • Third and subsequent convictions: $150, three points on a license.

What Should You Do?

Having points added to your license can be a big deal. Points can lead to a suspended license. Not only that, but points can create increases in your Georgia auto insurance and cancellation of your policy if you have enough. If you are ticketed for more than one traffic violation at a time, these can add up quickly.

The Bottom Line

Research shows a link between distracted driving related to hand held phones and accidents.  According to the CDC, “Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.” (See https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html) This raises insurance, causes arrests and kills people.  The reality is this: with so many new options in technology, there are ways to use the phone without holding it, if you must absolutely use the phone.

Bluetooth

Many cars have a method to connect phones directly through the speaker system.  If you have never used it and your car or truck is 2004 or newer, you may have the ability.  Research it, have a friend show you or take it to a car shop.  Once you learn how to connect it, it’s very simple to use.

Hands Free Mode

Most phones have an In Car or Hands Free Mode.  This allows you to touch one button and everything goes to voice activated.  It’s very simple to use.  Depending on your model of phone, you can provide verbal commands such as “call David Crawford” and it will dial his office provided you have that number in your phone.

Wait

If you are about to engage in a heated discussion, it is best to wait until you are not driving.  Even with a hands free device, distracted driving can be caused by anything that takes your focus off of the road.  If you have a conversation with a person who owes you money, for example, but is refusing to pay you, you may become upset enough that it affects your driving.  It only takes a second for an accident to happen.

Contact Us

The Hands Free Georgia Law is in effect now and has been since July of 2018.  If you have been arrested or need representation for a traffic ticket, please contact our office.  David Crawford has the experience you need to help you.  He will take the time to understand your concerns and help protect your record.

Contact David Today