On the night of September 29, 2014, 18-year-old Atlanta resident Juan Ocompto
died after being ejected from a 2002 Ford Explorer in which he was a passenger.
Two other passengers suffered injuries and went to nearby hospitals, but
ultimately survived. Law enforcement stated that they believed the driver
was traveling too fast for the road and weather conditions on I-85, and
lost control of the Explorer to incite the single-car rollover accident.
The unidentified driver was arrested by police and an officer stated the
investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing. Charges are reportedly
pending for the driver.
Can the passenger’s family recover?
Georgia law allows specific family members, such as surviving spouses, children, and
parents, of a deceased accident victim to recover for their losses under
certain circumstances. If the accident occurred because of the negligence
or intentional act of another party, such family members may bring a wrongful
death action against the responsible party. Wrongful death claims often
arise out of incidents such as car accidents when negligence was involved.
When most people think about lawsuits involving car accidents, they tend
to think of a driver or passenger in one vehicle bringing a claim against
the driver of another vehicle. However, families of deceased passengers
are able to recover in single-car accidents if the driver of that one
car negligently caused the accident to occur. Some examples of damages
available in Georgia wrongful death cases include:
- Medical expenses for treatment prior to the death;
- Burial and funeral costs;
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to death;
- Loss of future earnings and related benefits the deceased likely would
have earned had the death not occurred; and
- Loss of companionship, care, and other such intangible benefits loved ones
will miss out on due to the death.
If you have lost a loved one and wish to discuss potential recovery through a
wrongful death claim, the experienced
Atlanta, GA injury attorneys at Goldstein & Hayes, P.C. can assist you.
Proving Negligence in Wrongful Death Cases
Like any other case for personal injury, you must sufficiently show that
the defendant acted negligently or wrongfully in order to recover. There
are many different acts of negligence in which a driver may engage to
cause an accident. Such acts include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Violating traffic laws
- Aggressive driving
- Reckless driving
- Violating traffic signals
The family of a deceased passenger must present evidence and adequately
prove in court that a driver engaged in some type of negligent activity
and that the negligence caused the accident.
“Negligence per se” is a legal principle under which a court
will find certain actions to be negligent simply because the act violated
a safety law. In the recent I-85 accident, the driver was arrested, which
means law enforcement had probable cause to believe he had violated a
law. This means that the family of the deceased teenager may have an advantage
in proving negligence if the driver broke any laws to cause the accident.