If a child dies because of another person’s negligence, the surviving parents or other family members may be able to recover for the wrongful death of that child. This article covers when and how a parent may be able to recover from the loss of a child. For information about how a child can recover for the wrongful death of their parent(s), click here. For information about how a spouse can recover from the wrongful death of his or her husband or wife, click here.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A claim for wrongful death allows a jury to award the “full value of the life of the decedent” from the perspective of the decedent (person who died). The claim is made against the individual or company who caused the decedent’s death by acting negligently. The individual can be a reckless or drunk driver or even a doctor or medical professional in a medical malpractice case. Corporations like trucking companies can be held responsible for a child’s wrongful death when one of their drivers causes an accident, and apartment complex owners and managers can be held liable when they fail to keep premises from crime or other dangers.
How can a parent recover for the death of a child who was the victim of gun violence?
A child’s death from gun violence happens all too often—especially in Georgia. Recently, 2 children were shot at a southwest Atlanta apartment complex. Fortunately, they survived, but many victims of gunshot wounds are not so lucky. In fact, since 2013, 239 children between the age of 0-11 were killed or injured in Georgia from gunshot wounds. More, 705 children between the age of 12-17 were killed or injured from the same. Is the shooter partially responsible for the death of the child? To some degree, yes. But are they wholly or even predominantly responsible? In many cases, no.
To the extent those children suffered injuries or death because of someone else’s negligence (like the owners or managers of an apartment complex or a gas station), there may be recovery available for their families. We call these cases “negligent security” cases since they hold a property owner or occupier responsible for negligently failing to keep their premises reasonably safe from crime. If there were prior, substantially similar criminal acts on the property where the child was killed, and the owners/occupiers had knowledge of it and failed to take reasonable measures to keep people safe, they are liable to the child’s heir for the value of that child’s life. The question then becomes, which family member(s) have the right to recover.
How can a parent recover for the death of a child?
For minor children whose parents were still living at the time of death, the parents are the sole heirs for purposes of that minor child’s wrongful death case. Determining whether someone can recover for their adult child becomes slightly more complicated. A parent may only recover for their child’s wrongful death if that child was not married and had no children. The reason being, a person’s spouse comes first in the line of succession and then the person’s children. The only exception is where the parents of the decedent are guardians to that decedent’s minor children. In that instance, the parents may bring claims on behalf of their grandchildren.
The lawyers at Rafi Law Firm have seen how the wrongful death of a child can impact the lives of his or her parents. Rafi Law Firm has helped people who have lost a child determine whether they are entitled to recovery and achieved significant financial results on behalf of those clients. If you or someone you know has lost a child because of someone else’s negligence, call us at 404-800-1156 for a free consultation.
For more information about how to determine the beneficiary for a wrongful death claim, click here.
For a list of grief support groups in the Atlanta area, click here.