Atlanta continues to see a high number of fatal pedestrian accidents. The most recent happened on I-20 in downtown Atlanta, which shut down traffic for several hours. In 2021, our city saw 29 pedestrian fatalities, which was almost twice as many as the year before.
If you lost a loved one in a pedestrian collision, you could have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the motorist who struck them. But there are many legal and factual challenges in these cases, which make them different from other wrongful death claims. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys to speak with our Atlanta wrongful death attorney. We will provide an overview of the legal process and discuss the strength of your claim.
What You Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim
A death is wrongful in Georgia when it is the result of a crime, negligence, or defective property. Most wrongful death cases are brought for negligence, which means the failure to use reasonable care.
Most pedestrians are killed by negligent drivers who are:
- Driving on the sidewalk
- Making an illegal U-turn
- Failing to yield
Fatigued and drunk drivers are also prone to driving negligently, because they can fall asleep, or their reflexes are slowed so that they can’t brake in time. In fact, driving under the influence is one of the most dangerous things a motorist can do.
We need evidence that the driver who struck your loved one was negligent. When we have that evidence, we can sue or negotiate a settlement.
Complications that Arise with Atlanta Pedestrian Accidents
If your loved one died while walking, then some unique issues will arise. One is whether they were jaywalking or not. For example, people should only cross at an intersection or in a crosswalk, if there is one. They should also yield the right of way according to Georgia’s traffic rules.
Pedestrians also should not walk on the highway, which is reserved for motor vehicles. We aren’t sure why the recently killed pedestrian was walking on I-20, but he seemed to do so illegally.
Comparative negligence applies in Georgia wrongful death lawsuits. If your loved one was at least 50% to blame, you will not recover any compensation. Jaywalking, darting in front of vehicles, and crossing a highway are all examples of negligence.
Is There a Lack of Evidence?
Another challenge with wrongful death cases is whether there is enough evidence to show what happened. With a car crash, we at least have damage to the vehicles, which can show how the cars came together. Based on that information, we can usually assign fault for the collision.
This evidence is usually missing with pedestrians. It’s hard to tell based on the victim’s injuries whether they were jaywalking or not or whether the driver is to blame.
Pedestrian accidents are also so violent that many victims die instantly. By contrast, someone involved in a horrific car accident might hang on for days and even be able to tell you what happened. Pedestrians rarely survive long enough to provide helpful information.
Suing a Business Employer
Another challenge with pedestrian accidents involves the sheer number of people who are driving downtown as part of their jobs. Delivery vehicles, utility trucks, and sanitation vehicles are running around at all hours of the day. Some of them end up colliding with a pedestrian and killing them.
When a person is working, their employer is usually liable for any accident that results, including fatal pedestrian accidents. This rule doesn’t apply to people running errands on their own time or coming into the office to start their day. But it does apply if a person is driving at the direction of their boss to fulfill their job. Delivery workers are a prime example.
We might end up suing the employer at the same time as we sue the driver. This means there are more insurance companies involved and more lawyers on the other side. No one should ever go up against a big business without an experienced legal team backing them up.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney Right Away
Although these cases are challenging, it’s still possible to bring a successful wrongful death suit. You should quickly reach out to our legal team. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the better.
Fortunately, many downtown businesses have surveillance cameras pointed at the sidewalk, which also pick up some of the street. This video evidence might conclusively show what happened and who is at fault. We can quickly visit nearby businesses and ask them to preserve their video. Some businesses erase it after a week or record over it.
Your attorney can also begin to search for witnesses to the collision and talk to them. The police report might list people who spoke to the responding officer. We can follow up and pin down what happened, which helps us establish negligence.
We expect the other side to point the finger at your loved one and blame them for jaywalking or cutting in front of the vehicle. We will actively look for evidence to disprove this, such as the surveillance video listed above.
Call Us for Help
The days following a fatal accident are grim for surviving family members, who usually spend most of their time grieving. However, you also have important legal rights which you don’t want to lose out on. A wrongful death claim cannot bring your spouse, child, or parent back. But it can provide some peace of mind and financial support. Please contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys today at (404) 529-3476 today to schedule a consultation.