If you've suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one, an Atlanta injury lawyer can help answer your questions on how to win your personal injury claim in a Georgia personal injury court!
At S. Burke Law we are here to help give answers to these important questions. Our Frequently Asked Question database covers the common questions you may have regarding what to do after a serious accident, how to file a claim in personal injury court, and tips on how to win your personal injury claim. When researching information on the legal process following a serious accident you want legitimate advice from a source you can trust.
When you’ve suffered serious losses and damages from an accident due to the negligence of another you aren’t alone. An Atlanta injury lawyer from our office is always available to answer additional questions not addressed on our page. Contact us for a FREE consultation and get the answers you need to seek compensation for your losses!
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Who Is Liable for a Bus Accident?
Determining who is liable for a bus accident depends on the circumstances which led to the accident.
The process of filing a traffic accident claim feels daunting even under normal circumstances, let alone when a large bus is involved. If you or someone you care about was involved in a bus accident, call S. Burke Law: 404-842-7838.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Like other motor vehicle accidents, liability hinges on determining which party caused the accident. Accidents occur for a variety of reasons and bus accidents are no exception. The following are among the common causes of bus accidents:
- Distracted driving
- Bus driver error
- Driving under the influence
- Poor driver training
- Poorly maintained buses
- Violation of bus regulations
As you can see above, bus accidents happen for a variety of reasons. And those reasons directly influence who is liable in an accident. For example, if the bus driver in your accident did not have the proper licenses to operate the vehicle, then it is likely the bus driver, or whomever he or she works for, will be liable.
Conversely, if a passenger car driver was speeding, runs a red light, and rams into a bus attempting to make a turn, then the passenger car driver would be at fault.
Buses are common carriers. The term common carrier refers to vehicles that transport people or goods. In this category are tour buses, school buses, and any other type of commercial bus.
Because common carriers transport goods and people, they must exercise a higher degree of care. Thus, they often have lower thresholds for liability. So, if a bus driver is at fault in an accident, this factors heavily into who is responsible for your variety of damages.
Differences Between Commercial Buses and Public Buses
Some buses are public buses, such as school buses and commuter buses. Others are private buses transporting passengers and goods for a variety of reasons.
For example, if you get into an accident with a school bus, there are a variety of people and entities who may be liable in your accident. Those people and entities may include:
- School bus driver’s employer: The school bus driver’s employer may be liable for the driver’s negligence.
- The bus manufacturer: If the bus was defective in any way that contributed to the accident.
- Third-party contractors: If any contractors were responsible for supplying parts or hiring bus drivers.
Similarly, if your accident occurred on a tour bus, there are a few entities which may be liable. Those entities include:
- The owner: Whoever owns the bus is responsible for maintaining a safe fleet of vehicles. They are also responsible for ensuring their drivers are qualified to operate their vehicles.
- The tour company: Tour companies may be liable if they did not appropriately evaluate the bus companies they choose as a business partner. For example, if you can demonstrate that bus company’s owners had several safety violations, the tour company may be liable as well for an accident.
Call an Attorney at S. Burke Law Today
Being aware of the causes of your accident and who may be liable is crucial in eventually collecting compensation for damages in a settlement. But it is often difficult to determine who is responsible for your injuries. We can help you fight for compensation.Our team thoroughly investigates the circumstances of your accident to determine which parties might be liable for your damages. Call us at 404-842-7838 to learn more about how we can help you.
What Happens If You Crash a Leased Vehicle?
The process of handling things when you crash a leased vehicle a bit different from when you own or finance a car. Typically, you want to take the following three steps when involved in a car accident with a leased vehicle.
- Call your insurance company.
- Notify the dealer or leasing company.
- Document damage and get an estimate on repair costs.
Call Your Insurance Company
Like any other car accident, calling your insurance company is your first step. Report the accident to the insurer, but do not agree to a recorded statement until you speak with S. Burke Law.
The State of Georgia mandates minimum car insurance coverage. However, leasing a car is a bit different than owning one outright. Leasing companies may require you to carry certain types of insurance beyond the minimum to protect their property in the event of an accident. The leasing company may require you carry collision and comprehensive coverage, for example.
Depending on the type of insurance you have, your deductible determines how much you can receive to repair your vehicle. For example, let us say your car sustained $2,000 worth of damage, and your collision coverage deductible is $300. Your car insurance company will pay the remainder of $1,700 to repair the vehicle.
Notify the Dealer or Leasing Company
Though you’re driving the car every day, you are required to notify whoever you lease from because they own the vehicle.
Even if you are financing your car, you would call your insurance company to notify them that you were in an accident. The insurance company would either send over an adjuster, or you would provide them with an estimate from a body shop.
But in leased vehicle accidents, the leasing company may specify certain requirements to fix the vehicle. In some cases, car dealers will require that the repair be made using the manufacturer’s parts, not secondary parts.
Check with the leasing company or car dealer before you make any repairs, as failing to comply with their requirements could leave you on the hook for penalties for violating the terms of the lease.
Document Damage and Obtain an Estimate on Repair Costs
Once you call your insurance and leasing company, you are ready to document the damage and learn how much repairs cost. In most cases, this is a straightforward process similar to when you repair a vehicle you own outright.
The insurer may deal directly with the party performing the repair, such as the car dealer itself, and provide reimbursement for the repairs directly to the repair company.
Gap Insurance When Your Lease is a Total Loss
Insurance companies may consider a vehicle a total loss if the repair costs exceed a certain percentage of the vehicle’s value. You might find yourself in a precarious situation if there is a gap between the value of the totaled vehicle and what you owe on the lease.
Most leasing companies require you to carry gap insurance as part of the terms of the lease. Gap insurance covers the difference between what the insurance company is willing to pay for a totaled vehicle and the remaining balance on the lease.
Call an Atlanta Attorney Today if You Crash a Leased Vehicle
If you or someone you care about was involved in a car accident with a leased vehicle, we encourage you to speak with a personal injury attorney.
Call S. Burke Law today for legal guidance. Our team can walk you through what to expect with a free consultation. Call us at 404-842-7838 today to schedule your free case review.
Will Homeowner's Insurance Cover Personal Injury?
Yes, homeowner’s insurance does cover personal injury. However, like any other personal injury case, collecting a settlement requires proving the homeowner was liable for the accident and your injuries.
Most people typically think homeowner’s insurance only covers disasters like fires and floods. But most homeowner’s insurance policies cover injuries in a home with their personal injury liability coverages as well. Personal injury liability covers a variety of injuries around the house and, in some cases, outside the home.
Common Types of Home Accidents
Accidents can happen anywhere, and a residential home is no exception. Homeowner’s insurance protects you from recourse to those accidents. And, as we mentioned above, this protection occasionally extends beyond the person’s physical home.
Like a private property owner, homeowners have a duty of care to their guests. Owners must maintain the safety of the premises for any guests visiting their property. And they must also warn their guests about any potential dangers which may raise the risk for injury on the premises. The following are the most common types of home accidents:
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and falls are common residential accidents. A homeowner may be liable for your slip and fall injuries if it occurs in the following situations:
- Rugs (particularly without proper grip pads or holes)
- Wet floors
- Ice or snow
- Cracks in the floor or concrete on the property
Accidents on Staircases
Accidents on stairs are another common occurrence. And they often lead to severe injuries because you may roll down them rather than falling in one swoop like most slip and fall accidents. The following are common causes of staircase accidents:
- Missing handrails or poorly placed handrails
- Water, grease or any other foreign substances on the handrails
- Poorly placed carpets and rugs on the stairs
- Shallow steps
Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pools offer a great form of recreation but are often the cause of serious accidents. And in many instances, you may have a case for wrongful death if someone drowns in your pool. However, one thing to note is that homeowner’s insurance only covers you if you were injured when after an invite to the pool. Coverage does not include trespassers.
Homeowners are also liable for your injuries if his or her dog bites you. A dog is part of your home, and a homeowner must keep you safe from a potentially dangerous dog. But one thing to note is that homeowner’s insurance covers your dog bite injuries even if the dog bite did not occur on the owner’s property.
Proving Liability after Residential Accidents
An accident occurring in someone else’s home is only part of the puzzle when seeking damages from homeowner’s insurance. You must also prove that the homeowner was liable for your injury. Accomplishing this requires proving negligence on the part of the property owner.
A premises liability lawyer may be of great help if you got hurt one somebody’s property.
For example, if you suffered a slip and fall, you must prove that the accident was preventable. You must demonstrate that the homeowner was aware or should have been aware of potential risks. If you fell because there was a conspicuous hole in the homeowner’s lawn, you may be able to prove the homeowner was negligence in not fixing or warning of the hole.
Potential Compensation for a Personal Injury in Atlanta
Everyone feels a bit of uncertainty when deciding to file a personal injury claim. You are likely wondering if it is worth it and what damages you can collect. While S. Burke Law cannot guarantee you any specific amount of damages, we can seek the following on your behalf:
- Medical expenses: This includes ambulance bills, hospital stays, medication, therapy and more.
- Lost wages: Any time you miss at work can be a portion of your reimbursement.
Call an Atlanta Personal Injury AttorneyIf you or someone you care about is need of compensation after a residential accident, we encourage you to reach out to S. Burke Law. Our team dedicates itself to representing the victims of serious accidents. Our service begins with a free consultation. Call us at 404-842-7838 today to schedule your free consultation with a member of our legal team.
Can a Personal Injury Case Be Reopened?
No, generally you cannot reopen a closed personal injury case. Once you sign a release to settle the case, you are essentially signing away your right to pursue further compensation for the accident.
However, there are a few circumstances in which you may be able to reopen the case.
Nevertheless, it is important to build a solid case that accounts for all your current and future damages so you are not left in a position looking to reopen a closed case.
Signing a Release Ends Your Personal Injury Case
Signing a release is the moment you officially end your personal injury case. A release typically presents a settlement offer for a certain amount of money. But what many people do not realize is that you are also signing your right to pursue further damages away for a certain amount of money and other damages. Only you can sign a release, not your attorney.
Most releases usually dictate terms for what your claim and damages are worth including:
- Medical expenses: Based on the cost of medical bills, such as ambulance bills, medication, therapy and projected costs of long-term medical care if necessary.
- Lost wages: Reimbursing you for losses when you miss time at work and can include the time missed because of scheduled doctor’s appointments. Occasionally, it includes lost earning potential.
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is not part of all settlements, but it is not uncommon. If you receive damages for pain and suffering, it varies depending on the extent of your injuries and length of your recovery.
Why You Might Want to Reopen a Case
Most people who want to reopen their claims do so because they believe they did not receive enough compensation for their damages.
One example would if you suffered a leg injury and discovered that you would require long-term medical assistance for the rest of your life. You rightly believe that you deserve a more substantial settlement to satisfy these costs, but unfortunately, you probably cannot receive one because you already signed a settlement agreement.
A release is a legally binding document that most courts will uphold barring specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, signing a release prematurely or discovering unexpected medical costs do not typically qualify as circumstances that allow you to reopen most personal injury claims.
It is for these reasons that it is imperative to have a personal injury lawyer on your side who can help you value your case and can advise you on when to accept a settlement offer.
Personal Injury Case Settlements Made in Bad Faith
One of the rare instances in which you can reopen a personal injury claim is if you believe the settlement is in bad faith. While it is difficult to prove, it is possible.
A settlement made in bad faith requires demonstrating that the defendant or insurance company defrauded you or your attorney at the time, which led you to settle.
If fraud is at play in your initial settlement, it may be possible to void the settlement. From there, you may be able to reopen the case and pursue further compensation for your damages.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney at S. Burke Law for a Free Case Review
Getting compensation for your injuries the first time you file a personal injury claim can be challenging. Attempting to reopen a previously closed claim is nearly impossible.
That is why working an attorney dedicated to getting you the money you deserve the first time is vital. When execution of your first personal injury case is correct, there should not be a need to reopen the claim.Our legal team thoroughly examines the circumstances of your accident but also ensures that your diagnosis of injuries is accurate. If you or someone you care about recently suffered an injury in an accident, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law for a free consultation. Schedule one today at 404-842-7838.
What is Vicarious Liability?
Vicarious liability is a component of American law which holds a third-party responsible for negligent actions. Vicarious liability commonly relates to accidents involving employees who behave negligently within the scope of their duties. Vicarious liability is also known as “respondeat superior,” and it specifies that employers are vicariously responsible for accidents and injuries involving their employees.
One way vicarious liability can come into play is when filing a lawsuit against a trucking company. There may be various reasons to hold the employer responsible for the truck accident. Two ways to hold the trucking company responsible for your accident would be proving negligent hiring or negligent maintenance on the truck. Each of these elements contribute to vicarious liability and can leave an employer liable for the actions of its employees.
Proving Vicarious Liability in Georgia
There are a few key elements required to make a case for vicarious liability following an accident:
- Establishing that the employee was operating within the scope of their job’s duties
- In the case of car accidents, establishing that the company owns the vehicle
Establishing That The Employee was Operating Within Their Job Description
The first key to proving vicarious liability in Georgia is proving that the employee was operating within the scope of their job description. First, that requires establishing what the employee’s job is and what is reasonable behavior for that job. For example, delivery drivers should to be on the road throughout the duration of a shift. But if a delivery driver is running a personal errand, the company he or she works for would not be liable if the driver has an accident.
Conversely, if an accident occurs while the driver is making a delivery, this would fall within the scope of the driver’s job description and proving vicarious liability is possible.
Establishing Vehicle Ownership
Vehicle ownership is an important element to vicarious liability. If you are involved in an accident with someone driving a company-owned vehicle, it is often the presumption that the accident occurred within the scope of the employee’s duties. However, this does not prevent the employer from attempting to prove that the employee was driving outside the scope of their duties.
A relevant situation could be if the driver was traveling to or from work when the accident occurred. In such cases, the employer would argue that vicarious liability does not apply to this accident.
Negligent Hiring in Vicarious Liability
Negligent hiring is an important factor in vicarious liability cases. Part of an employer’s duty to consumers is doing their due diligence when vetting potential candidates, particularly when those employees may be interacting with customers or must meet certain qualifications to qualify for their job. Examples of negligent hiring include:
- Failing to check references
- Not conducting background checks
- Failing to conduct drug tests
- Foregoing skills tests
- Foregoing credentials checks
Using an example of a trucking accident, if the driver involved in the accident did not have the license required to operate the vehicle, this would be negligent hiring. By extension, this would also leave the employer vulnerable to vicarious liability claims.
Negligent Maintenance in Vicarious Liability
Like hiring practices, employers must perform maintenance on their property to ensure the safety of others. And poor maintenance can certainly contribute to vicarious liability claims.
Employers must regularly monitor and maintain their property to ensure the safety of employees, customers, and anyone who may come in contact with their property.
So, if a truck driver gets into an accident because his trucks’ breaks were not maintained, this could be a case of negligent maintenance. The trucking company has a responsibility to repair the vehicle, and if we can prove that the company knew or should have known about the bad brakes, you could have a strong case for vicarious liability.
Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
Accidents happen all the time and are often difficult to deal with. One of those difficulties is determining who you can seek damages from. Making sure you meet your expenses and needs rank high on your list of priorities after an accident. Determining who is liable in an accident is not only important but often complicated.
But this is also where S. Burke Law can help you. Our team prides itself on simplifying complicated legal concepts for our clients as we aid them on the path to personal and financial recovery.If you or someone you care about was involved in an accident recently, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Our team pores over the details of every potential claim and walks you through your options. We can help determine if you have a case for vicarious liability. Call us at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation.
Can I Get Workers' Compensation for a Repetitive Motion Injury at Work?
Yes, you can collect workers’ compensation for a repetitive motion injury at work. People typically think about serious, often life-threatening injuries when thinking about receiving workers’ compensation. However, most workers’ compensation claims are due to repetitive motion injuries at work and are one of the common types of work injuries.
Repetitive motion injuries occur within the context of your job even if your job is not physically grueling. An example of a repetitive motion injury at work would be developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive motion injuries can alter your life and livelihood as much as sudden accidents can. They can alter, or even impede, your ability to function normally and gain employment in the future. And you deserve full compensation for your damages if you are suffering from repetitive motion injuries just like you would if you had an accident.
Symptoms of Repetitive Motion Injuries
There are a variety of symptoms related to repetitive motion injuries depending on the type of work you do. Like we mentioned above, if your career involves a lot of typing and using a computer, you may develop carpal tunnel syndrome. People experiencing repetitive motion injuries often cite rotator cuff syndromes, tendonitis, and bursitis among their ailments. And lower back pain is often an ailment as well. No matter where your repetitive motion injury manifests, it is likely that you are dealing with one of the following ailments:
- Loss of strength and coordination
- Pain from tenderness in the affected area
- Poor range of motion
People at risk of developing repetitive motion injuries
These ailments develop from a diverse group of tasks and careers. And they can develop even in people who do not realize their career makes them at risk for it. This is why many people do not realize they are eligible for workers’ compensation for repetitive motion injuries at work. And it is also how many employers argue that these ailments did not develop due to the tasks related to your duties. The following are among the jobs from which many people develop repetitive motion injuries:
- Bus drivers
- Doctors and nurses
- Stock clerks
- Professional athletes
- Janitors and housekeepers
The tasks associated with each of these jobs generally do not put employees at great risk for a single traumatic injury. Rather, these constant movements lead to wear and tear which causes cumulative injuries that may not manifest for years. The delay in experiencing the pain of the wear and tear occasionally makes it difficult to collect workers’ compensation benefits. But that is where S. Burke Law can help you.
Proving Repetitive Motion Injuries
Repetitive motion injuries can be as debilitating as a sudden traumatic injury leading to your injury. Unfortunately, employers and insurance adjusters are not always as willing to compensate you for repetitive motion injuries even if you are just as deserving.
So, collecting benefits requires demonstrating how your duties at work directly contributed to your injuries. That involves evaluating your job’s physical demands and the effects it can have on your body. Employers and insurance adjusters may argue that you suffered your ailment on your own time during your own personal activities.
S. Burke Law can help you demonstrate that you did not suffer these injuries on your own time. That may include documenting how you spend your personal time away from work. It may also involve pulling up medical records which show that you were in great physical condition prior to working this job.
Benefits Available for Repetitive Motion Injuries
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance, and it covers repetitive motion injuries. Workers’ compensation guarantees you certain benefits and provides a safety net for victims.
- Lost income: Workers’ compensation covers up to two-thirds of your lost income up to $575 per week.
- Medical expenses: Workers’ compensation fully covers your medical expenses. You should not receive a bill for any treatments or doctor’s visits as workers’ compensation should cover those bills directly.
Call an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you or someone you care about is suffering from a repetitive motion injury, you may be due compensation. And if you believe you are not getting the compensation you deserve, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Our team will walk you through your options and provide the guidance you need during a difficult time.We encourage you to call S. Burke Law if you believe your employer or insurance adjuster is undervaluing you. We can help you get workers’ compensation for a repetitive motion injury at work. An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve. Call us at 404-842-7838.
Can I File a Pedestrian Accident Claim If I Was Hit by a Car Outside a Crosswalk?
Yes, you can file a pedestrian claim if you were hit by a car outside of a crosswalk. However, your ability to win that claim depends on the circumstances of your accident. While crosswalks are one area where pedestrians have the right of way, they are not the only place where drivers must exercise care.
Drivers must exercise a duty of care when navigating the streets. And that certainly applies to pedestrians, who are at greater risk to suffer injuries than drivers of other cars, even if they are outside a crosswalk. Georgia’s crosswalk laws cover the duties owed by drivers and pedestrians, and many of them translate outside of crosswalks.
Establishing Duty of Care and a Driver’s Responsibilities
Like most personal injury cases, the strength of your claim hinges on proving liability and negligence. And determining if a driver acted negligently requires establishing how a reasonable driver must act in a situation.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia codifies how drivers and pedestrians alike must behave when sharing the road. Specifically, the office says that pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks and all vehicles must yield to them. However, vehicles have the right of way in most other places such as intersections.
Drivers Must Exercise a Duty of Care for Pedestrians
But this does not mean that pedestrians are automatically at-fault if you are hit by a car outside of a crosswalk. In fact, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-93 states: “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, shall give warning by sounding his horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person."
This Georgia code effectively establishes that even though drivers have the right of way, they must still do everything possible to avoid potential accidents. That may involve the driver changing lanes, honking their horn, or slowing down. Whatever it is, the driver must do his or her best to avoid the accident.
You Can Still Collect Damages
So, if you as a pedestrian crossed a street when there were no cars, but you get hit by a vehicle who pops into your line of sight late because the car was speeding, you can still file a claim and collect damages. Another instance when the pedestrian would not be at-fault is if the driver was drinking.
Comparative Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents
Georgia’s comparative negligence laws may factor into pedestrian accidents outside of crosswalks. Georgia is one of 12 states that use modified comparative negligence in personal injury cases.
Compensation Varies on Your Percentage at Fault
This means you can file a claim if you were less than 50 percent at fault for an accident. Pedestrian accidents outside of a crosswalk are an instance where this law could be very important. As a pedestrian, you are required to yield to oncoming traffic. But, like we mentioned above, there are instances when you may be unable to yield, and the driver must do everything in their power to avoid the accident.
If the driver’s inability to fulfill this duty of care was a larger cause of this accident than where you crossed the road, then you can file a claim. Another way comparative negligence impacts your case is in how much you can collect.
For example, if you were 35 percent at-fault for your pedestrian accident, then you can only collect 65 percent of the value of your damages.
An Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help
Many people are under the impression that you are automatically at-fault if you are involved in a pedestrian accident outside of a crosswalk. This is far from the truth, and every accident This is far from the truth, and every accident deserves evaluation within context. And that is what a pedestrian accident lawyer at S. Burke Law can do for you.
Call S. Burke Law For a Free Case Evaluation
If you or someone you care about was involved in a pedestrian accident, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Pedestrian accidents are among the worst injuries you can suffer. You are likely facing high medical costs while also unable to work.We will pore over the details of your case and lay out your options. We understand how trying a time this is for you and your family. That is why we offer these services in a free consultation. Also, we do not collect a payment unless you win a settlement. So, you can feel at ease knowing there is little risk in contacting us. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to learn more about how we can help.
Who Can You Sue for Wrongful Death?
Who you can sue for wrongful death depends on the circumstances of your loved one’s accident. Like all personal injury cases, wrongful death cases require proving negligence and liability. The person or party you can sue depends on where the event occurred, if negligence contributed to the incident, and who was liable for the death.
Reasons For Wrongful Death
Wrongful death can occur for a variety of reasons. Those reasons include:
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
- Criminal activity
- Automobile accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Product liability
- Bicycle accidents
Losing a loved one creates a difficult time for all, particularly if you believe negligence contributed to their passing. There are likely several questions racing through your mind after such a sudden and traumatic event.
Proving Liability in Wrongful Death Claims
Like we mentioned above, proving liability is the key to filing and eventually winning a wrongful death claim. Primarily, you must prove two things:
- The liable party caused the death.
- The deceased party would have had just cause to file a personal injury claim had they survived their injuries.
Once you have established who would be liable for the wrongful death and that the deceased would have cause to file a personal injury claim, you can begin determining whether negligence contributed to the wrongful death. Establishing liability in personal injury cases requires determining the following:
- Establishing a duty of care
- Establishing a breach of the duty
- Proving causation
Establishing A Duty of Care in Wrongful Death
A duty of care is essentially how a reasonable person should act in a given situation. A duty of care requires people and organizations to not engage in activities which put the safety of others at risk. A duty of care varies depending on where the accident occurred and the events that took place.
For example, if your loved one was driving at the time of their accident, then there are certain duties the other drivers must adhere to while navigating the roads. Driving within the speed limit and stopping at red lights qualifies as a duty. Another example of a duty of care is the safety measures an employer must maintain while you work. They must ensure that all equipment, hardware, and the property itself is safe while you complete your workday.
Breach of Duty in Wrongful Death
When you know what a person or party’s duty of care was to the deceased, you can investigate if there was a breach of duty. A breach of duty is anything in direct conflict with how a reasonable person would act to ensure safety.
If your loved one died because another driver ran a red light while speeding, this represents a breach of duty on the part of that driver. Moreover, if an employer knowingly allowed you to use defective equipment or allowed other dangerous items in a work area, this is a breach of duty too.
Proving Causation in Wrongful Death
Proving causation is key in determining who you can sue for wrongful death. There may be instances when a person or party is responsible for your accident but not directly responsible for the death of the deceased. For instance, it is possible that the initial car that sped and ran a red light caused the accident but is also not responsible for the death of your loved one. An example of this could be if another vehicle hit the car after the initial impact from the first vehicle or if the victim’s car had defective airbags.
Ultimately, determining who you can sue for wrongful death relies on the ability to draw a direct connection between the cause of the accident and the death. And S. Burke Law dedicates itself to determining where that connection is and what you should receive in damages.
Call an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney
Collecting damages after personal injury cases is among the top concerns for every personal injury claim. But they take on greater importance in wrongful death cases. While money can never replace your loved one, those damages may be essential to your own survival if your loved one was the primary breadwinner for your family.
We encourage you to reach out to S. Burke Law. Our firm has represented families in several wrongful death cases. We can examine the details of your case and help answer your questions. S. Burke Law fights on your behalf to help collect the damages you require following this unfortunate accident. We begin determining who you can sue for wrongful death with a free consultation.Call us at 404-842-7838 to set yours up today.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Georgia?
In most instances, only close relatives of the deceased have the right to file wrongful death suits. Typically, it is spouses, children and parents who file wrongful death lawsuits. However, if there is no next of kin, the estate of the deceased can also file wrongful death suits.
Losing a loved one is never easy, especially if they died suddenly due to an accident completely out of their control. S. Burke Law understands how trying a time this is for everyone who knows your loved one. And while no amount of money can replace the relationship you had with your lost family member, receiving compensation is often something owed to you, particularly if the deceased was the primary breadwinner in the family.
Parties That May Collect Wrongful Death Claims
There are several different parties that may collect wrongful death claims including:
- A surviving spouse
- A surviving child
- Surviving parents
- The estate
It is important to note there is a time limit for filing a wrongful death claim.
Surviving Spouses Filing Wrongful Death Claims
Generally, surviving spouses have the priority as wrongful death beneficiaries. A wrongful death beneficiary is a person who holds the right to file wrongful death cases. Assuming the spouse and the deceased did not have any children, the spouse would collect the entire wrongful death settlement.
However, if the deceased did have children, they split the money between them. In this case, the spouse receives one-third of the settlement, and the children would split the remaining settlement.
Surviving Children Filing Wrongful Death Claims
If there is no spouse, but the deceased left behind children, the right to file a wrongful death claim falls to the children. Assuming they win the claim, the surviving children split the award equally between them.
Surviving Parents in Wrongful Death Claims
If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children, the right to file a wrongful death claim falls to the parents. This does not change if the parents were not living together. Both parents split the settlement whether they are dating, married, divorced, or separated.
However, there are a few cases in which one of two surviving parents may file a claim and act as the sole wrongful death beneficiary. If one parent refuses to follow through in filing a personal injury claim, the other parent can file a wrongful death claim without him or her. Also, if one of the parents failed to provide for the deceased child, or totally abandoned them, that person may be unable to file a wrongful death claim.
The Estate in Wrongful Death Claims
If there are no surviving spouses, children, or parents, the estate can file a wrongful death suit in Georgia. Whoever is the estate’s administrator or executor would file the claim. The beneficiaries distribute the proceeds from the settlement. Georgia’s probate law determines how those funds are distributed.
The Statute of Limitations to File Wrongful Death Claims
Like most personal injury cases, wrongful death claims have a statute of limitations. Georgia’s state laws dictate the wrongful death claim must be within two years of the negligent act which caused your loved one’s wrongful death. That said, this does not mean your case resolves within that two-year timeframe. Simply, you must file the claim at the two-year mark.
Occasionally, there are instances when the clock on your two-year time limit stops running. This is not very common, but it does occur when there is a criminal case related to your wrongful death claim. If there is a criminal case dealing with the same circumstances as your wrongful death claim, the clock stops on your wrongful death claim until the criminal case concludes.
Call a Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney
Determining who can file a wrongful death suit in Georgia is the first step in collecting the damages you deserve for your loss. And speaking to a Georgia wrongful death attorney can help you in that process. S. Burke Law has represented many people in wrongful death cases.
We pursue a variety of damages in those claims which includes:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
How Much is a Wrongful Death Suit Worth?
There is no set or average amount wrongful death suits are worth. The amount you may be able to collect in a settlement depends on a variety of factors. The influencing factors include where the incident took place, who was responsible, and the type of damages the wrongful death beneficiaries suffered.
You can never prepare for a loved one passing away. But their death may truly be staggering if they died as the result of negligence which led to wrongful death. Not only will you never get to say goodbye, you have to pick up the pieces. And those pieces include deciding if a wrongful death claim is viable. S. Burke Law understands how difficult a time this is, and how difficult the decision to file a claim is.
Economic Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit
Economic damages are the primary form of compensation S. Burke Law seeks on your behalf following a wrongful death. These are the damages that cause you direct financial losses. In most cases, economic damages are easily quantifiable because they relate to new expenses or direct financial losses. But, in some cases, they may be a projection of future losses.
Lost wages are fairly straightforward to calculate in typical personal injury cases. Usually, it is just a matter of determining the time the victim missed at work and multiplying it by the victim’s salary. But wrongful death suits are not as simple because your loved one can never return to work. In a wrongful death claim, S. Burke Law will pursue the following:
- The age and overall health of the victim at the time of death
- The victim’s earning potential, including education, personal accomplishments, and current career
- The victim’s character and overall intelligence
- The parental status of the deceased. If the deceased had surviving children, this factors as well
Ultimately, the amount the next of kin or estate receives for lost wages depends on how much the family depended on the deceased financially, and how much the person would have contributed in the future. And this often includes the cost of clothing, food, medical care, gifts and more.
Medical bills vary depending on the circumstances of the accident. For example, if your loved one had an extended stay at the hospital following an accident, then the responsible party may owe you significantly more in medical expenses than if they died shortly after the accident. Medical expenses our firm seeks on your behalf include:
- Ambulance costs
- Hospital stay fees
- Specialist fees
Funeral expenses are probably the most straightforward of the economic damages S. Burke Law seeks on your behalf. While funerals are expensive affairs, if you receive an award for a wrongful death, the cost of the event is typically part of the damages.
Non-economic Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In most cases, family members do not receive compensation for their own grief in wrongful death claims. But there are instances when the family may be able to collect pain and suffering on behalf of the deceased.
For example, if your loved one spent a significant amount of time in the hospital as your family sought treatment for their injuries, they likely experienced significant discomfort throughout that process. In such cases, S. Burke Law would say that they missed out on the pleasures of life after the accident.
Also, you may receive damages for loss of companionship in addition to the above non-economic damages.
Where the Accident Occurred
Where the accident takes place also plays a large role in how much you can collect in a wrongful death as well. For example, if your loved one died at work, workers’ compensation may limit potential damages to collect. While workers’ compensation provides a valuable safety net in personal injury claims, it can also limit you. For example, workers’ compensation will only award damages for economic damages.
However, this does not mean S. Burke Law will not seek damages in addition to workers’ compensation. Our team will investigate the cause of the accident and determine if any third-party negligence contributed to the accident to help collect the settlement you deserve.
Call an Atlanta Wrongful Death AttorneyWhile the life of a loved one cannot be quantified into dollars—and there is no set amount for how much a wrongful death suit is worth—collecting a wrongful death settlement is often one of the first steps in picking up the pieces after an accident. If you or someone you care about recently suffered a loss in the family, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Call us at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation today.