In Georgia, Is There a Difference Between Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Recovery?

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In September of 1992, a woman driving a Toyota van crashed and suffered a traumatic brain injury. This crash left her in a coma for over 20 years. Now, she has finally passed, and her family is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota. But will a personal injury filing from a few months after the accident derail the wrongful death case?

Is It Possible to Be Awarded Both Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Recovery?

Only months after her crash, the family of the woman in a coma filed a personal injury lawsuit. They claimed negligence on the part of Toyota, citing defective seatbelt latches and a defective door-locking mechanism. The trial ended in a verdict, awarding $400,000 for past medical expenses, $6 million for future care and $30 million for past and future pain and suffering.

Over 20 years later, the woman finally succumbed to her condition. She never awoke from her coma. And so, her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota, but the company had an objection. Toyota made a motion to dismiss the suit claiming a post-verdict settlement released Toyota from liability for all claims and damages other than funeral expenses. The family disagreed, and so the case eventually went to the Georgia Supreme Court.

After examining the case, Justice Keith Blackwell came to the conclusion that Toyota did owe for more than just funeral expenses. Though there was an overlap between the wrongful death and personal injury recoveries, the overlap didn’t include some non-economic damages. The justice sent the case back to district court for further litigation.

A case like this proves just how complicated legal matters can become when dealing with an automobile crash. This is why it’s important to contact legal counsel as soon as an accident occurs. This can help your family take the steps they need in order to recover the damages from their loss.



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