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Child of hit and run victim withdraws wrongful death lawsuit so victim's spouse can pursue the claim on his behalf

Last September, Tommy Latimer was killed in a hit and run accident in Douglasville, Georgia. Latimer was leaving Douglasville’s public safety complex after being arrested for public intoxication when he was struck by a vehicle on Fairburn Road.

After the accident, Latimer was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia where he remained on life support until he was pronounced dead several days later. A blood alcohol test revealed that Latimer did not have any alcohol in his system when he arrived at the hospital.

The driver of the vehicle that struck Latimer was later identified as eighteen-year-old Tabitha Anna Paige. She was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, as well as leaving the scene of an accident. Her criminal case has not yet been adjudicated, but in a pretrial court appearance the teenager claimed that Latimer jumped in front of her car.

Just days after the accident occurred, the Douglasville Police Department changed their policy on booking and release after an arrest. The revised policy requires law enforcement officers to determine whether an individual that is to be released after being processed for an arrest is coherent enough to safely care for their own well being. Otherwise, the new policy requires law enforcement officers to release individuals into the custody of someone who can take responsibility for their well being.

Victim’s child withdraws wrongful death lawsuit, but continues to pursue out of court settlements.

After the accident, Latimer’s child filed a $5 million wrongful death suit against the city of Douglasville. However, this week, the child’s attorney issued a statement explaining that he is walking away from the lawsuit after learning that Latimer has a surviving spouse, Valerie Darlene Latimer. He explained that this would allow the first claim for damages to go to Latimer’s spouse. However, the attorney did state that he would seek out of court settlements with Paige’s car insurance company, as well as the city of Douglasville.

State laws specify who can bring a wrongful death action on behalf of a decedent.

Each state has specific statutes that articulate what parties can file a wrongful death action on a decedent’s behalf. Under Georgia law, a surviving spouse of the deceased individual can bring a wrongful death action on their behalf. If no surviving spouse exists, then the decedent’s surviving children may file a wrongful death action. In the event that the decedent has neither a surviving spouse nor surviving children, their surviving parents may pursue a wrongful death action. If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse, children, or parents, then the administrator of the decedent’s estate may file wrongful death action.

If your loved one has been killed as a result of another party’s negligence, you should consult with an attorney immediately. An attorney can help you determine whether you are entitled to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.