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Betts & Associates is committed to providing each of our clients with top quality legal representation and achieving successful outcomes for their cases. We specialize in representing individuals and businesses in all areas of complex civil litigation matters. Our firm provides legal services with skill, strength, and integrity to residents all over the state of Georgia.

Betts and Associates offer a wide range of skills in almost all areas of the legal practice. Our commitment to growing a wide range of more discrete practice areas allows us to better assess client needs and provide prompt and effective legal solutions. Our firm was founded on the belief in providing personal service and valuable legal counsel that addresses our client's needs creatively. After a decade, that has not changed. We ensure that every client's case is carefully handled every step of the way.

If you need advice about the best way to approach and resolve your case, consider Betts & Associates. To request a legal consultation, contact our office at 404-577-8888 to schedule an appointment. We are proud to provide personal service and practical solutions for those with even the most complex legal concerns.

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My family member was killed. Can I sue the people who are responsible?

296-1275366564kmni.jpgWhat happened to your family member might be considered “wrongful death.” Wrongful death is when someone dies because of the willful or negligent actions of another person. Willful actions are when someone intended to act in a certain way. Negligent actions are when someone did not intend to do something, but they were not acting in a reasonable or expected way.

The first step in a wrongful death case is to determine if the statute of limitations has expired. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33 requires wrongful death cases to be filed within 2 years from the death of the person. If you miss the 2 year deadline, you will be unable to bring the lawsuit.

If the statute of limitations has not expired, then you must determine who has “standing” to sue. “Standing” is the idea that not everyone has the right to sue for everything. O.C.G.A. title 51 Chapter 4 limits who can sue, typically to specific family members. It operates somewhat like a flowchart:

  • →If the person who died was married at the time, the spouse has standing to bring the lawsuit.
    • →If there is no spouse, the children can bring the lawsuit.
      • →If there is no spouse nor children, then the parents can bring the lawsuit, even if the person was an adult when he died.
        • → If there is no living spouse, children nor parents, the administrator of the estate can sue.

Assuming standing is proper, a jury must find that the actions of the person who caused your loved one’s death rose to the level of negligence or willfulness. For example, if a driver is texting while driving and causes a fatal accident, the jury might find that she was negligent in her duties to the other drivers on the road. However, not all deaths during auto collisions amount to wrongful death. In Georgia, accident is a defense to a wrongful death allegation. If the driver can convince a jury that she was acting as a reasonable person would have under the circumstances then she will not be liable for the death she caused. Sometimes the negligent or willful action might have been done by a hospital or a company. Businesses are generally responsible for the actions of their employees. This is called the respondent superior doctrine. One example is that if elderly person dies in a nursing home from neglect, the nursing home itself could be sued for her death. Another example is if a nurse in a hospital gives an overdose of a medication which causes a patient to die, the hospital would be a party to the lawsuit.

At Betts & Associates, we have decades of experience with filing and trying wrongful death cases. For a free review of your case, please call 404-577-8888.