Even cops can be responsible for the wrongful death of another. This case highlights a police officer driving with a heavy foot while not responding to calls.
This reported case did go to settlement largely because if it had gone to court, the family of the deceased would likely have been awarded more. As it was, the city approved a half million dollar settlement for the family of the dead teens and an unborn baby.
Although the city did step up and make a settlement offer, they also added that just because they were considering a settlement did not mean they were admitting guilt on their part or on the part of the officer involved. It’s hard to assume that if they are willing to pay out a settlement that they do not assume some degree of guilt.
Most cases where settlements are offered are resolved because one party knows the other one has enough to mount a substantial case against them. Rather than face a possibly significant jury verdict, offering a settlement gives the defendant some control over their financial liability. In some instances, and this may happen in states with damage caps, a family may sue for a maximum of $250,000 per person.
In this case where the accident killed two teens and an unborn child (considered in that jurisdiction to be a person), the jury total could be $750,000. However, it is capped at $500,000 for one incident. In other words, where this accident happened, whether the case did make it to court or not, the half million dollars would be the ceiling for wrongful death damages. This is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer to find out what you need to do to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. Every state has different rules when it comes to wrongful death claims.
Was this accident caused by the police officer’s negligence? On the face of the evidence, the answer is yes. Accident reconstruction technicians proved that he was travelling 80 mph in a 45 mph zone, and he was not responding to a call. He was suspended without pay indefinitely, just shortly after the police department learned he had not told his supervisor he was on medication that could impair his ability to work.
The rest of the facts of the case will not see the light of day, thanks to the settlement. However, it is worth considering those details when it comes right down to the wire. There was obviously negligence here based on the speed the officer was doing when he hit the teen’s car. Factor in the medical issue, and you have an accident looking for a place to happen. It did happen and three people died. It could be said the settlement is not enough, considering the circumstances.
These factors and many others play an integral part in any wrongful death case handled by an Atlanta personal injury lawyer. If you have been in a similar situation, or are dealing with a wrongful death claim, find out what your rights are, when to file, whether or not there are damage caps in your state and what to expect when the case is resolved.
Tim Anderson writes for Atlanta Personal Injury attorney, Stephen M. Ozcomert. The firm specializes in personal injury, malpractice, motorcycle accidents, and wrongful death. To learn more about Atlanta personal injury lawyer, Stephen M. Ozcomert, visit Ozcomert.com.