Wrongful Death Lawyer Decatur, GA
What Must Be Proven?
In the event of a wrongful death incident, you should consider scheduling a consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Decatur, GA from a law firm like The Krause Law Firm. We understand the laws that surround wrongful death and could bring you clarity when it comes to the legal options that you have or might want to take. If these two key elements are proven, then the defendant can be held legally responsible for the injury:
- The defendant breached a duty by acting badly or wrongly
- The bad act of the defendant directly caused the injury.
The Breach of Duty (AKA: Bad Act or Carelessness)
The term “breach of the duty” describes the wrongful act of the defendant. It is the duty, obligation, or rule that the defendant must follow to avoid causing injury. Defining the specific wrongful act depends on the facts and circumstances of the injury, but ultimately, the defendant must have been careless and thus responsible for the injuries they caused.
When a death occurs in a motor vehicle collision, such as a car or truck collision, then the traffic laws are useful to describe the careless act. For example, the law sets the speed limit and specifies that one may not cross a double yellow line, or drive while drunk. Thus, it is wrongful and dangerous to drive faster than the speed limit, cross a double yellow line, or drive while intoxicated. If the death occurred because of one or more of these wrongful acts, then the defendant breached the duty to drive carefully and safely.
What if the death occurs at the hospital? Has a breach of duty occurred? This is a more difficult scenario, particularly given that many Americans ultimately die at a hospital. As such, we need to work harder to demonstrate a legal breach of duty.
By way of example, what if I walk into the ER with chest pain and shortness of breath? Let’s further assume the doctor’s diagnosis is acid reflux, and I am having a heart attack. What’s the bad act? The answer is the failure to diagnose the true problem, and the failure to medically treat the problem.
Now, what if I was admitted due to chest pain, and required open-heart surgery. Let’s assume that I was required to have antibiotics, but did not receive them? Who is responsible? We still do not know. We need more facts.
What if the surgeon failed to prescribe the antibiotics or failed to monitor my condition? If so, then the surgeon could be held responsible for their carelessness. Is there anyone else who should be held responsible? What about the nurses? If the antibiotics were prescribed and the nurses failed to give them per the doctor’s orders, can the nurse be held responsible? The answer is likely yes. Moreover, the hospital, as the nurse’s employer, would also be held responsible.
Now, what if I was hit by a truck? What if the truck driver had been driving for eighteen hours because he received a bonus for getting his trailer to the drop-off location quickly? What are the wrongful acts and who should be sued?
Here, the analysis begins with the truck driver. Certainly, the driver would be held responsible; after all, he caused the collision.
What about the truck driver’s employer? Why? What did the employer do wrong? Here, the employer created incentives or bonuses that can only be achieved by a driver who had too little sleep. Moreover, federal law limits the number of hours that a truck driver can work, and with this additional fact, we know that the company also violated federal law.
Causation: The Careless Act Must Cause The Injury
Causation is the legal term that describes the relationship between the wrongful act and the harm. It is the bridge or the relationship between (i) the bad act, and (ii) the harm. The causation is the “but for” in the statement that explains why the defendant is responsible. “But for the wrongful act of the defendant, my loved one would have lived.” For example, “But for the defendant truck driver crossing the double yellow line, I would not have been injured.” The causation relationship can also be explained with the converse: “If only the trucker stayed on his side of the road, then the collision would not have happened.”
By way of another example, assume Dan rear-ended Patrick. Dan was driving Sam’s car and the reason for the rear-end collision was that the brakes failed. Let’s also assume Dan just took Sam’s car without asking his permission. Let’s further assume Sam put his car in the garage because he knew the brakes on the car were not working and was waiting to have enough money to fix the car.
Who Should Be Held Responsible?
Should Dan be held responsible? The answer is, of course, yes. Applying our “but for” analysis: “But for Dan driving, the collision would not have occurred.” Is that true? Yes. What about Sam? Is Sam responsible? After all, it was Sam’s car. Let’s apply the rule. “But for Sam’s failing to get the brakes fixed, the collision would not have occurred.” Is that true? No.
There was a step missing: Dan taking the car without permission. However, if Sam loaned his car to Dan, knowing the brakes were defective, then Sam could be held responsible. What if the collision was caused because Dan was drinking at a local bar and was drunk? Who should be held responsible? There is little doubt that Dan should be held responsible.
The harder question: should the bar be held responsible? To answer this question, we need to focus on the acts of the bar. What exactly did the bar do wrong? After all, the bar was licensed to sell alcohol and the defendant was of legal age to purchase alcohol — so what did the bar do wrong?
Historically, the bar was not held responsible. However, through the advocacy of organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and the American Association of Justice (AAJ), we have all learned that there is a direct link between drinking and car crashes. For these reasons, Georgia adopted the so-called “dram shop laws” that specify a bar can be held responsible if they are serving intoxicated drivers. To answer the question above, what did the bar do wrong? The answer is: The bar allowed Dan to continue to drink when Dan was intoxicated.
The question of causation, the relationship between the bad act and the injury, is hotly litigated in medical malpractice cases. Given the injured party is typically ill, doctors will usually argue that even if there was a mistake, the mistake did not injure the patient as nothing could have prevented the ultimate injury. Many jurors have found this argument compelling.
To prove that the defendant is legally responsible, the plaintiff must show that the breach of duty was the cause of the injury. As demonstrated by the examples above, while these elements seem simple in theory, they are complex in application.
There is a lot to understand when it comes to wrongful death claims and that is why it is important to work with a Decatur, GA wrongful death lawyer to better understand what might you be dealing with and what might be owed to you.
Types of Wrongful Death Accidents
Deaths are terribly difficult for families, and can be made even more tragic when someone’s carelessness caused it. Wrongful death happens when a person’s death is caused by negligence or a wrongful act, whether it be an individual or business. Wrongful death incidents are caused by various situations and factors. Here are the most common types of wrongful death cases that we can handle:
Car accidents are the most prevalent types of wrongful death accidents, due to the number of drivers on the road. Most car accident deaths are due to at least one person’s negligence if they were driving recklessly, speeding, drunk, or not paying attention to the road. If the accident happened because of road issues, then a county or city may be liable instead. Furthermore, there are situations in which a crash occurs and neither driver was being careless, although these are far between.
Jobs that have a higher risk for workplace accidents are construction and manual labor. But wrongful death can happen at any workplace if the job puts the employee in a risky situation. For example, a doctor may have to work multiple 12-hour shifts and then was in a fatal car accident on the way home because of extreme exhaustion.
We trust that doctors and nurses have our best interest in mind. But in reality, they are human too and are prone to mistakes. Medical malpractice may happen for many reasons, such as staff shortages, being improperly trained, or from an oversight in the patient’s file. Most medical staff members are skilled, but they may still cause a patient serious injury or death if they misdiagnose, provide an inappropriate treatment plan, make a mistake during surgery, prescribe the wrong medication, etc.
If someone dies after using a product, the manufacturer could be held liable. In fact, this is why many manufacturers take the time to fully test their products before releasing to the public, as if someone gets hurt when using it properly, they may have to pay restitution in a lawsuit. Common examples of defective product wrongful death are unsafe children’s toys, toxic foods, and malfunctioning auto parts.
The Statute of Limitations
It is always important to file an action as soon as possible. The first step for you should be finding a wrongful death lawyer who understands the state’s laws and will ensure everything is done properly and on time. If you miss the statute of limitations for filing, your case will be thrown out. This is typically just a few years after the day the incident happened, or after the day you realized there was negligence that occurred during the accident. Your lawyer will be able to give you advice on what steps to take next.
Contact The Krause Law Firm Today
Do not hesitate to reach out to a wrongful death lawyer at The Krause Law Firm right after experiencing a wrongful death due to the negligence of someone else. He or she can help take a great burden off of your shoulders by focusing on your case for you. You and your family should not have to focus on a lawsuit while you are grieving. This is the time for you to all try to heal and to spend your time with friends and family celebrating the life of your lost loved one.
By retaining the assistance of an experienced wrongful death lawyer, you are making the decision to focus on yourself and prioritizing your mental health. We will do our absolute best to help you and your family get what you deserve from the case. You can trust us to always have your best interest at heart and try to make an easier life for you and your family while going through this. The sooner you reach out to us the faster we can begin collecting necessary evidence and working on your case. Contact a wrongful death lawyer in Decatur, Georgia from The Krause Law Firm now for assistance.