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Macon GA Personal Injury Law Blog

How much is too much in wrongful death damages?

The value of human life is in many ways a subjective question. In wrongful death lawsuits, Georgia courts and juries consider two basic criteria to arrive at a dollar figure to measure the cost of a life that has been truncated by the wrongful act of another person: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages measure more tangible losses connected with the loss of a loved one,  such as lost income expectancy and costs associated with medical expenses preceding the death as well as funeral and burial expenses. Non-economic damages are ones associated with what many people consider to be "pain and suffering" injuries, and these can be much harder to calculate with certainty.

Occasionally the jury's decision on how much to award in damages can itself be the subject of a dispute between the plaintiffs and the defendant's. This is what has happened in a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit that was recently decided against Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, in which the jury awarded the plaintiffs $150 million in connection with the death of their four year-old son when an allegedly defective gasoline tank exploded after a rear-end collision. 

How statutory violations may contribute to accident liability

You may already be familiar with the concept of a wrongful death action that can arise when the family of a loved one files a lawsuit against an individual or company that caused the death or contributed to it. In Georgia, those allowed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit including the spouse of the decedent or, if there is no spouse then the children of the decedent; if neither a surviving spouse or children exist, then the parents of the decedent can bring the wrongful death lawsuit.

There is a second, related cause of action to wrongful death that you may be less familiar with, survival action. This is a lawsuit that is also brought in connection with the death of a loved one, based on the concept that he or she would have had a cause of action had he or she survived.

How statutory violations may contribute to accident liability

On a website for recent arrivals to the United States, one piece of advice was, "Note that Americans obey traffic laws and traffic signals, and will expect you to, too." When you engage in a driving activity as simple as crossing an intersection, you must trust that others approaching the intersection will let you pass when it is your turn; the vast majority of the time that faith is justified.

When it is not, however, the consequences can be lethal. This is shown by a recent two-car collision in Lithonia, when one vehicle ran a red light and struck another broadside, killing all three in the other vehicle. Aside from a charge of vehicular homicide, the surviving driver is also facing charges of driving while intoxicated and with hit-and-run.

What is Georgia law with regard to comparative fault?

The old common-law doctrine of contributory negligence, which used to hold that if a plaintiff was in any way negligent he was barred from recovery, has been superseded in virtually every state including Georgia. Most states today use some form of comparative fault (also referred to as comparative negligence) when apportioning between the plaintiff and the defendant or defendants their respective share of blame for the occurrence of the event that led to the plaintiff's injuries.

In Georgia, the general rule of comparative fault is that if the jury finds that the plaintiff is 50 percent or more at fault this has the same effect as the old contributory negligence rule: the plaintiff is barred from any recovery. As long as the plaintiff is less than 50 percent at fault, then the plaintiff's award is reduced by the percentage of his or her negligence. Thus, for example, if in a car accident case the plaintiff sues the defendant and wins a $100,000 damages award but the jury finds that the plaintiff was 35 percent at fault for his injury, then the damages award will be reduced to $65,000.

Confused about a wrongful death claim? We can help

It is an unfortunate truth that sometimes a personal injury which results from the act of someone else is something that your loved one never recovers from. It may take days, weeks, months or longer, but serious injuries can become fatal ones.

Losing someone in your family is hard enough to cope with; losing that person because of the act of someone else is harder still. What can make matters even worse is when the consequences of your loss start making themselves felt: medical expenses and funeral expenses can be just the beginning. What if your loved one was key to your family’s ability to earn a living? You were counting on his or her ability to sustain your household, and now that is gone, too.

What laws target the distracted driver and drunk driver in Macon?

According to statistics released by the federal government, more than 150 billion text messages are sent each month in this country. It should not come as a surprise that 20 percent of teenagers and 10 percent of adults admitted to engaging in extended text messaging conversations while driving.

Georgia has enacted several laws aimed at making highways safer by restricting activities by drivers that put other people at risk of serious injury in an auto accident. For example, school bus drivers in Macon and in other communities are prohibited from using their cellphones for talking or texting while driving. This ban also applies to drivers who are younger than 18 years of age. Drivers 18 years of age and older are prohibited from texting and driving.

Comparisons between marijuana and alcohol on driving ability

At any given time there are many drivers on Georgia roads who are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or both. Studies that have been done concerning the effects of each of these drugs suggest that they have different effects. This post covers some of the findings of these studies.

Cognitive and automatic functions: Alcohol has a stronger influence on cognitive functions, which include motor skills and concentration in activities like steering, braking, signal detection, hazard perception, reaction time and hand-eye coordination. 

How does vicarious liability work with regard to truck accidents?

A central characteristic commercial trucks is that if you find yourself involved in an accident with one, the odds are good that it was engaged in a business purpose.

The significance of this observation becomes apparent when after the accident the time comes to identify the responsible parties against whom to pursue a legal claim for damages. Under Georgia law, the doctrine of vicarious liability can enable you to establish a cause of action against the business that owns the truck and not just the driver.

Georgia’s “scarlet letter” license plates

It is no secret that driving under the influence is one of the most dangerous actions a person can take, both in regards to their own safety and those around them. States all over the nation are taking a stand against this irresponsible behavior, marking habitual drunk drivers with special license plates. While some states may make their markings painfully obvious with a bright color, Georgia took a more subtle approach, using special serial numbers that only officers would know to look out for.

These plates were first put in use in 2006, and since then, fatal accidents caused by drunk drivers has reduced by 35 percent. While no one can say for certain that these plates were a main contributor to this statistic, it seems that officers who are able to locate habitual drunk drivers and stop them before they hurt someone is doing some good. In addition, Georgia’s method of identifying these drivers protects their identity better than bright stickers do.

Being a reasonable person may not prevent a car accident

 

Courts in Georgia use the legal construct of the "reasonable person" when determining whether civil liability exists in a negligence lawsuit, such as one arising out of a car accident. The reasonable person is not a real individual, but rather a concept to help the jury decide if the defendant's act was wrongful. The question is whether a reasonable person under the circumstances would have done what the defendant did that caused the plaintiff's injury or property damage.