Articles Tagged with wrongful death lawsuits

A motorist who was trying to evade pursuing police officers apparently lost control of his car at speeds approaching 170mph. Four people between age 16 and age 22 died in the inferno.

A deputy operating a speed trap initially clocked a Dodge Challenger at 102mph. As the deputy pursued, the suspect sped away. That deputy lost sight of the vehicle, as did another deputy further ahead. When the driver tried to exit Interstate 75, the Charger barreled into a tree line and burst into flames. Two people were able to get out and the other four did not make it.

“It’s sad when young people lose their lives,” especially if the incident involves “poor choices,” opined Monroe County Sheriff Brad Freeman.

As of 2019, there have been 173,040 unintentional deaths in the United States. Unintentional deaths can result from various incidents, such as work-related injuries, medical malpractice, or car accidents. When a loved one dies, it makes sense that survivors would want to file a wrongful death claim against the person or entity they believe caused the death. The following article will provide some vital information regarding wrongful death claims in Georgia to assist you if you decide to file a claim.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim typically asserts that the decedent’s death was the result of a person’s negligence or misconduct. Wrongful death claims can apply to all types of fatal accidents, ranging from car accidents to medical malpractice. Various individuals can be sued in wrongful death suits, such as the driver in a car accident fatality or the physician in a medical malpractice fatality.

Social media can be a valuable tool in our modern society. It helps keep us connected and updated on what is happening around the world. However, sometimes the use of technology can be dangerous, especially while driving. Can social media companies be held responsible when drivers are injured while using their apps? The following article will discuss two recent cases in which plaintiffs attempted to hold Snapchat (Snap, Inc.) responsible for its alleged role in contributing to car accidents.

Lemmon v. Snapchat

In 2017, three young men in Wisconsin were killed in a car accident while using Snapchat’s “speed filter.” The driver of the vehicle was traveling at speeds of up to 123mph and attempted to document his actions on Snapchat. In the process, he ran the car off the road and crashed into a tree, killing himself and the other passengers.

Millions of cars and other passenger vehicles share the nation’s roads and highways daily with large commercial trucks, including 18-wheeler tractor-trailer rigs. In the vast majority of instances, they do so without collisions or other incidents. When those two classes of vehicles collide, however, the outcome is overwhelmingly to the detriment of the drivers and occupants of the passenger vehicles. When this type of accident involves a truck override, the results quite often are fatal for the people in the passenger vehicles involved.

Commercial Trucks Versus Passenger Vehicles: Trucks Win

“Win” might not be the right term for this match-up so much as “passenger vehicles lose.” Physics dictates that the larger, heavier object dominates in a collision with a lighter object. Commercial trucks such as tractor-trailer rigs weigh at least 10 times what the average passenger vehicle weighs, and often more. Naturally, this leads to one-sided results in truck-passenger vehicle collisions, as federal statistics make clear. In 2018 there were 531,000 accidents involving large commercial trucks, including 18-wheel tractor-trailers, resulting in 4,951 deaths and about 151,000 injuries. Out of those, more than 70% of fatalities and 72% of injuries were suffered by occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in those accidents. Many of those accidents did not involve truck overrides, but many did, and truck override accidents often are especially deadly.

Industrial accidents are often the result of a chain of events. There are usually multiple parties whose negligence or intentional failures led to an innocent worker’s injury. Of course, when the victim files a lawsuit, these parties are quick to try and deflect blame to one another.

Hill v. Konecranes, Inc.

An ongoing federal lawsuit in Savannah, Hill v. Konecranes, Inc., provides an apt illustration of this principle. This tragic case involves the 2015 death of a crane operator. The victim worked for International Paper Company (IP) in Augusta, where he used a gantry crane to move timber. Konecranes, Inc., was the company responsible for manufacturing and installing the crane. IP also retained Konecranes to perform regular inspections of the gantry crane.

In October 2014, a man from McDonough, Georgia, died after his Suzuki motorcycle collided with a Toyota Prius. According to a report from the Henry Herald at the time, the man “was traveling east on Campground Road and the Prius was traveling north on Palmer Road.” The Prius then pulled out onto Campground Road and was “hit by the Suzuki.” At the time, police attributed the accident to “speed and reckless driving” on the part of the motorcyclist.

Clack v. Hasnat

The family of the motorcyclist subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and owners of the Prius. The case was tried before a jury, which returned a verdict for the defense. The family then unsuccessfully moved for a new trial.

There are certain types of records that are considered inadmissible in Georgia personal injury cases. For example, there is the well-known attorney-client privilege. There is also a mental health privilege. This generally protects any communications between a patient and his or her psychologist or other mental health care professional.

Advantage Behavioral Health Systems v. Cleveland

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Advantage Behavioral Health Systems v. Cleveland, illustrates the broad scope of the mental health privilege. This tragic case involves the suicide of a young man. The victim went to a hospital emergency room in Athens, Georgia, in March 2016, telling doctors he had a “history of suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, severe depression, hallucinations, and alcohol use disorder,” according to court records.

Personal injury claims against Georgia state officials are subject to a special set of constitutional and statutory rules. According to the Georgia Constitution, the General Assembly “may waive the state’s sovereign immunity” by law in cases in which an individual employee negligently injures someone. But “except as specifically provided” by such a waiver, the Constitution says, no public employee can be held liable for “the performance or nonperformance of their official functions.”

What does this mean, practically speaking? Basically, you can not sue an employee for exercising his or her own discretion in the performance of a job. You can, however, sue an employee who fails to carry out a legally mandated (or “ministerial”) task.

Wyno v. Lowndes County

It is common practice following a Georgia car accident for the victim to negotiate a settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company. Typically, the insurer agrees to settle for the policy limits in exchange for a “release of all claims” arising from the accident. Either party may also impose a deadline for the other to accept the terms of the settlement.

DeMarco v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently examined an unusual case involving the widow of a deceased accident victim who attempted to enforce a settlement agreement three years after the fact. The accident itself occurred 11 years ago, in July of 2007. The victim’s car was knocked by one vehicle into a third vehicle. The victim subsequently sued the owner and driver of the third vehicle for damages.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a special kind of personal injury claim. Unlike other torts, however, wrongful death is purely a creation of state law. Historically, if a negligent act killed the victim, the personal injury claim died with them. Under Georgia’s wrongful death statute, however, the victim’s surviving spouse or children may bring their own claim against the negligent parties.

Bibbs v. Toyota Motor Corporation

Generally speaking, you cannot recover twice for the same injury. In other words, if a victim initially survives an accident and successfully pursues a personal injury claim, the family cannot seek additional damages via a wrongful death lawsuit if the victim subsequently dies. The wrongful death statute is only designed to ensure the victim’s family recovers the same damages she could have recovered herself had she survived.

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