Ice on the roadway is a dangerous combination. In the south, it is such a rare event that is even more dangerous. Local governments are simply not prepared nor adequately equipped to handle road maintenance. Likewise, many motorists are not accustomed to driving in these treacherous conditions. Compounding the problem, daytime temperatures melt the existing ice and it refreezes at night resulting in patches of black ice. The result is that we see an increase in the number of wrecks especially in the days following a winter storm.
In January of 2011, the Atlanta area was hit by a huge storm cell bringing snow and ice. Our firm handled numerous cases involving motorists driving too fast and losing control after sliding on black ice resulting in serious injuries. In most cases, the insurance companies for the at fault drivers settled fairly. Some cases had to be handled through the court process.
The Jobling case stands far above all of the Sherrod and Bernard cases as one that shows the dangers of black ice. 5 days after the storm hit, Karli Jobling agreed to accompany her classmate to the local shopping mall. This day was long after the storm and most people had returned onto the roads and resumed their daily lives. The local government had been doing road maintenance all week. The girls were glad to be out after days of cabin fever.
As her young friend drove toward the mall at the speed limit, her small car suddenly hit a patch of black ice. Out of control, the car spun counter clockwise across the raised median into oncoming traffic. The car was struck by an unsuspecting motorist on Karli’s front passenger-side. Karli was pronounced dead at the scene. Karli was 18 years old.
I have had the privilege of representing Karli’s parents over the past 2 years. It has made me cherish the time with my young daughters who I think could have easily been in that car. This tragic case also makes me ever mindful of the lingering danger of black ice. As we go through the aftermath of this week’s snow storm, we must be vigilant drivers at all times. Not just as the snow is falling but until it is completely gone. Be cautious of the stretches of roadway that are constantly shaded. More importantly, pass this message onto your children drivers while you hug them tight.
Billy and Debbie Jobling will never be able to.
John W. Sherrod is a Founding Partner of Sherrod & Bernard, P.C., who has represented injury victims and their families in Georgia for more than 30 years. A native of Marietta, Georgia, John graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia in 1984 and graduated from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law at the top of his class in 1987. In addition to his law practice, John is a frequent speaker at trial lawyer functions and an active member of several professional organizations, including the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and Southern Trial Lawyers Association.