Articles Tagged with wrongful death lawsuits

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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.

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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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We previously discussed a terrible wrongful death case, Walden v. Chrysler Group, LLC, in which a 4-year-old Georgia child died after his aunt’s Jeep Grand Cherokee exploded in a rear-end collision. The impact caused the Jeep’s rear-mounted fuel tank to explode, setting the child on fire. Following a trial, a jury held the Jeep’s manufacturer, Chrysler, 99% responsible for the child’s death and awarded the family $150 million in damages. Although the judge reduced that award to $40 million, Chrysler still appealed.

Is a CEO’s Salary Relevant to a Wrongful Death Claim Against his Company?

The Georgia Supreme Court recently affirmed the modified verdict after reviewing and rejecting Chrysler’s challenge to some of the evidence presented at trial. Specifically, Chrysler argued that it was unduly prejudiced by the plaintiff’s introduction of evidence related to the salary of the company’s chief executive officer.

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In most cases, if you lose a spouse or parent due to third-party negligence, you can bring a wrongful death lawsuit under Georgia law to recover a wide range of damages, including the deceased relative’s lost wages, medical and burial expenses, as well as non-economic damages for their pain and suffering and your own loss of companionship.

If your loved one died as the result of a workplace accident, your legal options may be limited. Workers’ compensation provides the “exclusive” remedy for all on-the-job injuries, including those that are fatal. Since workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, you do not need to prove the employer was negligent; however, your damages would be limited to those death benefits mandated by the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act (GWCA).

Mangham v. Westin Hotel Management, LP

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Most car accident lawsuits in Georgia are handled by the negligent driver’s insurance company. If an insurer refuses to settle a personal injury claim “in bad faith,” said insurer may be liable for any judgment against the insured in excess of the policy’s normal limits. In other words, the insurance company may not place its own interests ahead of those of its policyholders by dragging its feet to avoid settling an apparently valid personal injury claim.

Linthicum v. Mendakota Insurance Company

But an insurance company’s obligation is only to act reasonably when attempting to negotiate a settlement. It is not necessarily liable just because no settlement is reached. A recent decision by a federal judge in Savannah illustrates this point.