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Dozier Law Firm, LLC
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Macon GA Personal Injury Law Blog

What if there are multiple defendants in my wrongful death suit?

In actions for wrongful death, causation is not always so simple that a single person or legal entity can be identified as the sole defendant responsible for the decedent's death. For example, if a person dies in a car accident, it may be partly because of the fault of another driver and partly due to a mechanical defect on one of the vehicles that may be the responsibility of the auto manufacturer. A lawsuit would name both of these as defendants. Assuming that the plaintiff prevails, how are the damages to be divided among them?

Until 2005, Georgia followed a doctrine known as joint and several liability, under which all defendants were liable for all of the damages even if none of them was 100% at fault. In the example above, if the other deceased was not negligent, the other driver was 70 percent at fault and the auto maker was 30 percent at fault, the old doctrine would have let the plaintiff collect 100 percent of the damages award from either the other driver, or the auto maker, or some combination of both of them. Changes to the law, however, have made joint and several liability obsolete in Georgia.

Lawsuit follows in wake of Bobbi Kristina Brown's death

Georgia law allows for two types of lawsuits to be initiated following the death of an individual.One of them is known as a survival action, and the other is an action for wrongful death. Both of these may be evident in a recent case if legal pleadings that have allegedly surfaced in connection with the death of Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late Whitney Houston, prove to be authentic.

A survival action is one in which the successor in interest of a person, who is often the personal representative of that person's estate, either initiates or continues a lawsuit that the deceased would have had against the defendant had he or she survived. According to the alleged complaint against the former boyfriend of Ms. Brown, the allegations against him include theft and abuse. As neither of these would ordinarily be thought of as causing the death of an individual, it would appear that the legal foundation for the lawsuit would be based in a survival action.

Common symptoms of traumatic brain injuries

Car accidents happen every single day in Macon and the rest of Georgia. A lot of them are simple fender benders or low-speed impact collisions. But even a seemingly minor car collision could result in a concussion or other form of brain injury. It’s important to know the symptoms of these types of injuries, as ignoring a concussion could lead to major issues later on.

In general, there are four categories of symptoms to look out for. The first is issues with memory and thinking. Someone who has suffered a concussion may not be able to think clearly or concentrate. They may feel like they are thinking slower than usual and may be unable to retain short-term memories. The second category is also mental, but involves the victim’s emotions. They may feel irritable or sad. They may also feel nervous, or just more emotional in general than they usually are.

We help motorcyclists to protect their rights after an accident

Riding a motorcycle is an exercise in trade-offs. In exchange for the benefits of greater maneuverability, better fuel economy and a greater sense of freedom riders must be cognizant of the potential hazards, of which the most significant is what can happen to you if you get into a collision with a car or a truck. The same lightweight characteristics of your motorcycle that contribute to the benefits above can turn into serious or even deadly drawbacks when there is nothing between you and the road but the clothes you wear and the helmet on your head.

The reasons why another driver might hit you are many, but car-motorcycle accidents frequently result from the car driver never even seeing you until it is too late. The reasons for that, in turn, can lead to questions of possible negligence: careless driving, distracted driving, not paying sufficient attention in conditions including darkness and bad weather, speeding and otherwise not complying with traffic laws, signs and signals, or driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol can all form the basis of a negligence-based legal action in a Georgia civil court case.

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.