A tragic accident on the outer loop of I-285 near the Moreland Avenue exit took a man’s life on July 24, 2020. The fatal crash occurred at about 12:30 Friday afternoon. 

The Georgia State Patrol reported that a Chevrolet Malibu was stopped in the second left lane because the vehicle had broken down. The driver, 32-year-old Jimmy Tajada, got out of the vehicle and stood at the rear of the car. A Chevrolet Impala crashed into Tajada.

Tajada was pronounced dead at the accident scene. A passenger in the rear of Tajada’s vehicle was injured. The collision also injured the Impala’s driver.

It took hours to clear the accident scene. No charges were pending as of Friday afternoon, but the accident was still under investigation.

Car Accidents Involving Fatalities 

When a car accident results in a fatality, the surviving family members may have a wrongful death claim against the party who caused the crash. Wrongful death claims might arise from a variety of traffic accidents including:

If the car crash injured other individuals, the wrongful death claim is separate from other claims filed for personal injury. Family members of the deceased person can receive compensation for the loss of their loved one, while injured victims seek compensation for their losses and damages.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a civil claim. It is separate and apart from a criminal charge. A wrongful death claim may continue even if the police never file criminal charges or the court acquits the individual of criminal charges.

A surviving spouse and children of the deceased person have the standing to bring a wrongful death claim under Georgia’s wrongful death laws. If the deceased person did not have a surviving spouse or children, the parents of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim.

Georgia’s wrongful death laws also dictate how the proceeds from a wrongful death claim are divided among the family members. The money from a wrongful death claim is divided among the eligible family members according to the person’s will. If the person did not have a will when he or she died, Georgia’s intestate laws decide who receives the proceeds.

According to intestate laws, the surviving spouse receives one-third of the damages awarded for the wrongful death claim. The children divide the remaining two-thirds of the award. If the couple did not have any children, the wife receives the full amount paid for the claim. 

If a child predeceases a parent, his children receive his share (the deceased’s grandchildren). When a deceased child has no children, his siblings split that child’s share.

When parents file a wrongful death claim, the money is split equally between the two parents. Even if parents are divorced, they share equally in the claim.

What Damages are Paid In a Wrongful Death Case?

Placing a dollar amount on a person’s life is impossible. The loss of a loved one is not measurable in dollars. However, a monetary award is the only way the judicial system has to compensate a family for the death of a family member.

The court attempts to place a dollar value on the value that the person would have added to the family members’ lives. One factor is the potential lost income that the family sustains because of the death of a loved one. Lost income includes wages, but it also includes pensions, benefits, investments, and other forms of work-related compensation.

However, a person’s value to the family includes much more than the potential income the person may have provided for the family. Intangible contributions are also considered. Intangible contributions include, but are not limited to:

  • Contributions to household chores
  • Child-rearing
  • Love and companionship
  • Guidance and support

Additionally, wrongful death claims include funeral expenses. The pain and suffering the person experienced before death and any medical bills related to the fatal injury may also be included in a wrongful death claim.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia

If the party or parties responsible for the death of a person refuse to negotiate a fair settlement, the family may need to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, Georgia’s Statute of Limitations limits the time to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia is two years from the date of death. However, there could be an exception that could shorten or lengthen the time to file a claim. It is generally best to talk to a wrongful death lawyer as quickly as possible to avoid losing the right to pursue justice for your loved one and your family.