Many Americans have been eager to travel this summer, even as they continue to take precautions against COVID-19. But the coronavirus isn’t the only danger you need to be aware of as you hit the road. Right now, we are in the middle of the 100 deadliest days of driving– the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day when fatal accidents are at an all-time high. When a driver’s actions, be they intentional, accidental, or a result of a manufacturing defect, lead to the wrongful death of a loved one, you may be entitled to financial compensation. If you have lost a loved one in an auto accident, contact the Don Turner Legal Team and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.
A Deadly Time for Drivers
Why are the summer months so much deadlier for motorists right now? There are a variety of factors that lead to the sharp increase in traffic fatalities during this time:
- More drivers are on the road: Many Americans will be traveling out of state for the holidays, leading to an increase in traffic. On top of that, teenagers and college students are out of school for the summer. This means contending with even more drivers on the road, many of whom are inexperienced and have a greater chance of causing collisions. In fact, the majority of distracted driving accidents are caused by teenage drivers.
- Summer heat can cause vehicle failure:As outside temperatures continue to increase, it can have a negative impact on your vehicle’s performance. Hotter weather can cause the air inside of worn-out tires to expand, increasing the chances of a blowout, and overheated engines can cause a sudden stop. The heat can also get to a driver, making them more fatigued and less attentive.
- There is an increase in construction activity: Construction crews like to use the summer months to take care of heavy-duty projects before the cold winter weather puts them on hold. The presence of highway work zones leads to traffic lane shutdowns, temporary signs, and detours, creating more factors for drivers to pay attention to and increasing the chances of a collision.
- More people are driving under the influence: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day all see high rates of alcohol consumption and thus many more drunk driving accidents. When drivers decide to get behind the wheel while inebriated, tragedy can strike.
If the worst happens, and you lose a loved one due to the careless actions of another motorist, no amount of financial compensation will truly make things right. At the same time, the sudden death of a loved one can cause heavy economic losses and plenty of pain and suffering. You and your family do not deserve to suffer financially due to another motorist’s negligence. That is why you will want to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you pursue your wrongful death claim.
Pursuing Your Wrongful Death Claim
If a loved one dies in a traffic accident brought about by another driver’s negligence, you are entitled to file a claim seeking financial compensation for the losses you and your family have endured. You will have to prove several elements in order to successfully win your wrongful death lawsuit:
- Your family member or loved one died due to an accident caused by another driver.
- The other driver acted negligently, wrongfully, or was otherwise at fault in causing the accident. Examples of negligent behavior include texting and driving, driving under the influence, reckless driving, and driving while fatigued. Fatal accidents caused by manufacturing defects, poor weather conditions, or inexperienced or elderly drivers are also eligible for a wrongful death claim.
- The deceased person is survived by a spouse or children. Under Georgia law, priority in filing a wrongful death claim goes to the spouse, who cannot receive less than one third of the total recovered damages, no matter how many children the family has. If there is no surviving spouse or children, the wrongful death claim may instead by brought to court by the parents of the deceased or the executor of the deceased person’s estate.
- There are damages caused by your loved one’s death. This can include monetary damages, such as lost wages and benefits, including what the deceased person may have earned if they had lived, and intangible benefits, such as loss of care and companionship.
Georgia recognizes two separate types of wrongful death claims. The first type of claim is known as the “full value of the decedent” and is meant to establish the total value of the life of the deceased person. This includes the financial losses their loved ones may have endured as a result of their death and the pain and suffering caused by the loss of their spouse or family member.
The second type of claim is known as the estate claim. This claim is meant to recover any losses the deceased person’s estate may have suffered as a result of their wrongful death. This includes expenses caused by any pain and suffering the deceased person suffered before their death, medical bills related to their accident, and funeral expenses.
When Tragedy Strikes on the Road, You Need to Act
Be aware that Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations on most wrongful death claims – if the lawsuit is not filed within two years of the deceased person’s death, then the right to pursue the claim is almost always lost. However, if the state brings a criminal case against the responsible party, the clock will stop until the conclusion of the trial, and you will have one year to file afterward. Regardless, it is not advisable to wait to file your lawsuit.
In order to win your wrongful death lawsuit, you must establish that the other driver was negligent or otherwise at fault. This may mean interviewing witnesses, reviewing surveillance footage and vehicle computer data, or even employing the assistance of an accident reconstruction victim. This is why it is critical that you speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner evidence can be gathered, and a case can be established, the better.
Georgia is a comparative fault state. This means that if your loved one is deemed more than 50 percent at fault for their accident, you and your family will not receive any compensation. This is why you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side, one who will fight for you and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to another driver’s negligence, contact the Don Turner Legal Team and see how our attorneys can help you.