Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams obtained $350,000 for Terrance Dean, a prisoner at Macon State Prison who had been beaten by correctional officers. Mr. Williams, who specializes in wrongful death police misconduct cases filed suit against correctional officers many of whom have been recently indicted for their crimes by the Department of Justice after a GBI and FBI investigation. Several news organizations have featured the story involving this prison abuse incident.

Terrance Dean Civil Rights Prison Abuse Case by julie9094

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traffic.JPGGood Georgia Lawyer is very concerned about the Governor’s new plan to turn the emergency lane on the Ga. 400 into a travel lane. Governor Nathan Deal announced this new project to convert the highway shoulder that is typically used for an emergency lane as an additional lane for traffic. The emergency shoulder is currently used for ambulances, firetrucks, and police cars who need a speedy bypass for getting through congested traffic to reach an emergency or get a patient to the hospital in time.

Emergency services operators are all expressing their alarm. Even those who simply need to use the emergency lane in the event of a car break down now will not have an option to do so, thus increasing the dangers on this particular freeway significantly. Firefighters, police officers, and ambulance drivers are against the new plan believing it will put the public at risk.

Ga. 400 rush-hour commuters know how difficult this freeway can be as it has been recently ranked as one of the nations most unreliable commutes. Nevertheless, experts say that converting the emergency lane into a traffic lane will not ease the traffic that significantly and critics contend that the heavy price tag made up of safety losses make it not worth it.

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Tekila Mynon Glass, age 30, from Riverdale, Georgia was charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide as a result of the death on Sept. 18, 2011 of a 1-year-old child who was in a stroller at Lenora Park in Gwinnett County.

Witnesses who observed Ms. Glass strike the child in the stroller as she backed up with her 2005 Chrysler Pacifica through the parking lot at Lenora Park on Lenora Church Road are urged to contact the Accident Investigation Unit at 770-338-5675.

Tekila Mynon Glass, was charged with improper backing which resulted in the death of Olivia Hellwig. Broooke Hellwig was the mother of Olivia Hellwig. Ms. Hellwig was pushing Olivia in her stroller when her young daughter was killed.

Olivia Hellwig was transported to Children’s Healthcare at Egleston in Atlanta where very sadly she tragically died. Her mother, Brooke Hellwig, was also treated for injuries police said. Her greatest injury of course was the loss of her young daughter due to the negligence of Ms. Glass.

Gwinnett County police report revealed that Glass’ vehicle carried six passengers. The police request that anyone who has witnessed the accident and has yet to speak with investigators to please contact the Accident Investigation Unit at 770-338-5675.

Good Georgia Lawyer urges our legislature to craft stricter laws that will keep pedestrians safe and prevent terrible tragedies that result in the loss of life. In the event a Georgia citizen dies due to the result of someone’s negligence, then the negligent driver is generally held liable for a failure to exercise reasonable care while driving. Hopefully, it is the case that Ms. Glass carried an ample insurance policy so that the family of the young child she killed may receive damages—money given as compensation to assist a family in a personal injury suit.

In Georgia, there are two major types of damages–compensatory and punitives. Punitives punish and deter the offender from injuring someone in the future. Compensatory helps with medical bills, funeral costs, pain and suffering.

If you know someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of a person or a corporation, we encourage you to seek legal advice immediately.

Good Georgia Lawyer implores all Georgians to drive carefully: always pay attention when backing up your vehicle in a parking lot. You never know what precious cargo may be in your path and your life as well as the life of someone else can change in a split second if you are not exercising caution at all times while driving.
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A very sad tragedy occurred for a Clayton County, Georgia family this past weekend. Franky J. Cassidy, a 24-year-old man was struck and killed while riding his motorcycle home from work. Marvlyn Eugene Martin, was drunk driving when he ran into Cassidy’s motorcycle head on at 4 a.m.

Police stated that Martin had a blood-alcohol count of .192 percent, more than double the legal limit. Martin was charged with driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle, having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle and other traffic violations.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that as of yesterday, Martin was held without bond on the homicide charge in the Clayton County jail.

The fact that Martin was driving intoxicated will certainly be admissible and would be the primary factor for proving punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. At a trial of any civil or criminal action arising from actions alleged to have been committed by any person in violation of O.C.G.A. 40-6-391, evidence of the amount of drug or alcohol in a person’s blood, breath, urine or other bodily fluid at the alleged time, as determined by chemical analysis shall be admissible. Cheevers v. Clark, 214 Ga. App. 866 (1994).

When a police officer requests a driver to submit to a chemical test because of actions alleged to have been conducted while driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the police officer arrests that persons, O.C.G.A. 40-6-392 requires that the police officer informs him at the time of the arrest of his or her right to an independent analysis to test the amount of drugs or alcohol present in the blood stream in order for the test administered by the police to be admissible at trial to prove the accused was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Carswell v. State, 171 Ga. App. 455 (1984).
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footballs.JPGDear Dr. John Barge:

Our law firm urges you to submit a DOE proposed rule pursuant to O.C.G.A. §50-13-4(b) that protects our young Georgia student athletes from further injury and death due to heat related illnesses as a result of sports practice in high temperatures during the most dangerous months of the summer. As you know, just last week, two Georgia high school students have died from heat exposure during football practice – two deaths that should have been completely treatable and avoidable. These deaths are two too many.

Consequently, we ask that you take action by issuing State DOE recommendations to local county school districts, in addition to submitting a proposed rule concerning school sports safety before another student’s life is put at risk.

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GA state patrol.jpgThe second fatal collision occurred last week in Moultrie, Georgia this time involving a motorcycle and truck. The Georgia State Patrol investigators reported that a 1996 Toyota Tacoma, driven by an 81 year old man named James Henry Smith, failed to yield when crossing a road, hitting a motorcycle that was driven by 30 year old Randy Larry Harris.

Very sadly, Mr. Harris was ejected from his motorcycle and died at the scene. Mr. Harris, a young man at age 30, tragically left behind a loving wife, children, and large extended family from West Berrien. He was a diesel mechanic and shop supervisor at the Berrien County Bus Shop, and a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church. The elderly driver who hit him was given a citation for failing to yield.

Very sadly, motor vehicle crashes such as this one are the leading cause of injury and death in the United States. The most recent 2010 report put out by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading in fact the cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S. The financial impact is also significant: the lifetime costs of automobile crash deaths and injuries among Americans was listed at $70 billion a year just a few years ago.

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New Georgia biking law General Assembly House Bill 101, which went into effect July 1, provides for safer bicycle riding for bicyclists and the motoring public.

It also spells out minimum safety guidelines for bicycle lanes in Georgia.

Georgia bikers say they hope the new law encourages motorists and bikers to be more careful. Reports of accidents between motorists and cyclists in 2009 and 2010 faulted cyclists at 48 percent of the time and motorists around 39 percent of the time. The remaining percentage was for no fault or when both parties (the cyclist and motorist) were both to blame.

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Georgia wrongful death lawyers at our firm have explained the laws concerning wrongful death before in other articles. Today’s article will explain when a minor can still sue for the wrongful death of their mother or father who died, even if it happened years ago.

An action for wrongful death in Georgia is solely created by statute and does not exist in common law. What this means is that the Wrongful Death Act in Georgia, O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1 et seq., must be strictly interpreted and not extended beyond its plain meaning and explicit terms.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Extended for Minors:

The language of the Act, given its plain and ordinary meaning, does not contain a separate, internal statute of limitation that applies specifically to a wrongful death claim. As a result, O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, the general two-year statute of limitation for personal injury claims, applies to wrongful death claims that do not arise from medical malpractice.

Under § 9-3-33, actions for injuries to the person generally shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues.

Consequently, the courts have made clear in Georgia that if you have a wrongful death in Georgia, you must sue within the two years of your loved one’s passing in order to secure your claim. However, if your mother or father died while you were still under the age of 18, i.e. a “minor,” you will still have an additional two years after you turn 18 to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful Death: Terminating Life Support Without Family Approval:

Under State of Georgia law, the decision of whether to continue or terminate life support belongs exclusively to the patient’s family or legal guardian, not to the hospital, the doctors, or the State. A claim based upon a physician’s termination of life support of a child over the objections of the child’s parents constitutes a claim for wrongful death. DeKalb Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Hawkins, 288 Ga. App. 840, 843 (Ga. Ct. App. 2007)

In 2007, an important case arose after a young mother named Tara Hawkins fell and sustained severe head trauma. When Hawkins arrived at the Dekalb Medical Center, she was unconscious and sadly, she never regained consciousness. Hawkins, who was pregnant, remained on life support for nearly four months.

During that time, some of her physicians believed that she was brain dead and that her baby would not survive. Based upon these opinions, DMC repeatedly recommended an and the termination of her life support. Hawkins’ mother refused to agree to the abortion or termination of life support. On March 16, 2004, a DMC nurse discovered that Hawkins had spontaneously given birth to her son, Emmanuel Hawkins, without any medical assistance. Emmanuel weighed less than three pounds and suffered from numerous medical ailments.

Two days after giving birth, DMC terminated Hawkins life support, and she died that very day. There is no evidence in the record that, prior to terminating life support, Hawkins was terminally ill or that her death was imminent, nor was there any evidence that her brain function deteriorated or that her prognosis changed after Emmanuel’s birth. No family member, including Hawkins’ mother, had agreed to the termination of life support. Further, Hawkins did not have a “living will” or other advanced medical directive, and there was no court order giving DMC permission to terminate life support without the family’s consent.

On May 15, 2006, more than two years after Hawkins’ death, her mother, Nonnie Hawkins, as the next friend and natural guardian of Emmanuel Hawkins, filed a lawsuit against DMC, Marshall Nash, M.D., and DeKalb Neurology Associates, LLC. The lawsuit asserted a claim against DMC for “tortious termination of life support,” claiming that the hospital discontinued life support without the permission of her mother, the consent of any family member, or a court order.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that based upon the plain language of the statutes at issue, the lack of an internal statute of limitation in the Wrongful Death Act, the lack of language limiting the application of the tolling provisions in the Wrongful Death Act, and the absence of any Georgia appellate court rulings to the contrary, that the minority tolling provision of OCGA § 9-3-90 (a) applies to a wrongful death action brought by a minor for the death of a parent when the action is not based upon medical malpractice.

What this means in plain English is that if you are a person less than 20 years of age whose father or mother was wrongfully killed (outside of medical malpractice reasons) you may still have a wrongful death claim against the person or entity responsible, even if your parent died long ago.

However, because this law is so complex and because the clock is ticking on the expiration date of such a claim, it is important to seek competent, legal counsel as soon as possible.
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In Georgia, who is allowed to bring a lawsuit when someone dies? Wrongful death is a terrible thing for any loved one to go through. Oftentimes, many family members are not only emotionally affected by their loved one’s loss but can be significantly impacted financially as well.

The people allowed to bring a wrongful death action are in strict order under Georgia law. Currently, the wrongful death claim is considered property of the estate of the deceased, thus potentially involving a large group of the loved one’s heirs at law. This can naturally mean a lot of people could have a legal claim depending which relatives are still alive.

Wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia may be maintained primarily by three different persons or groups: (1) surviving spouse or children, O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2 (2) parents, O.C.G.A. § 51-4-4 and (3) the decedent’s personal representative. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5.

Unfortunately for the grand-kids, the statute vesting the right to recover for wrongful death in the surviving spouse or children does not permit participation in the recovery by a grandchild unless his parent was an original claimant and dies during the pendency of the litigation.Tolbert v. Maner, 271 Ga. 207, 208-209, 518 S.E.2d 423 (1999).

However, one of the many unique attributes within Georgia’s wrongful death law is that it provides exclusive standing to maintain the action on the surviving husband or wife of the dead spouse without giving all the rights to the claim in him or her (without allowing her claim to all the recovery). “The spouse is required to share the proceeds with the children. This means the spouse acts not solely as an independent party but rather as an individual and as a representative of the children.” Mack v. Moore, 256 Ga. 138, 138, 345 S.E.2d 338 (1986) (overruled on other grounds by, Brown v. Liberty Oil & Refining Corp., 261 Ga. 214, 403 S.E.2d 806 (1991)).

The surviving husband or wife of the dead spouse holds any amount recovered in a wrongful death action subject to the law of descents. This means the money from a wrongful death claim must be divided between the surviving spouse and the decedent’s children (or the children’s descendants equally if the child is dead), with the spouse taking a child’s share, but not less than one-third. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2. Illegitimacy of a child is no bar to his participation in the recovery.

In an action for the wrongful death of a parent or spouse, the lawsuit does not go away because of the death of the plaintiff. It survives to the remaining children of the deceased O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(b) or to his personal representative.O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5. Fortunately, it is not subject to any debts of the dead person. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(e).

Brothers and sisters of the decedent do not have any rights to proceed with a wrongful death action. If the only relatives living are siblings, the right to file a wrongful death claim will fall upon the decedent’s personal representative who would administer the estate.

In any event, all wrongful death claims have statutory deadlines that will expire if a lawsuit is not filed in time. Consequently, if you are interested in considering a wrongful death suit, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as practicable.
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