Addressing a loved one’s wrongful death is one of the most daunting and emotionally challenging tasks a person can face. At The Stoddard Firm, we aim to make your search for justice and closure as painless and effective as possible.
Below, we’ll discuss wrongful death lawsuits and common causes of wrongful death in Alpharetta. If you would prefer to discuss your case directly with a wrongful death lawyer, feel free to reach out by phone or chat at any time.
Alpharetta Landlords Are Responsible for Keeping Their Premises Hazard-Free
Tenants have very limited power over how buildings are run, including the decisions that affect their physical safety. If a landlord decides to ignore building codes and leave their property full of mold and crumbling walkways, tenants may not be able to force change before someone suffers permanent harm.
Even people who own their homes must often spend time on someone else’s property, when frequenting businesses, or using public amenities. At such moments, they find themselves at the mercy of a landlord’s safety policies.
This is not to say that landlords have a right to ignore the safety of their tenants and guests. Quite the opposite. Legally, anyone who opens their property to others has a responsibility to make sure it’s as safe as reasonably possible, and to provide warnings about any hidden hazards that can’t be eliminated.
The challenge lies in enforcement.
That’s why, when someone is injured or killed on a public, commercial, or rental property, it’s important to look into whether the landlord could have done more to protect them.
For example, in May of 2021, a man fell over the railing of the exit stairs at Jekyll Brewing in downtown Alpharetta. He hit the sidewalk and died of his injuries. If the railing was too low, or the stairs too steep, or if the staff served the man alcohol past the point of obvious, dangerous intoxication, the brewery might be responsible for his death.
More recently, there’s the case of the Manchester at Mansell apartment complex burning to the ground. Thankfully, the building’s fire safety seems to have been adequate in one way: all 31 residents were able to escape with their lives. On the other hand, many of the methods of preventing out-of-control fires in the first place are a landlord’s responsibility. If the blaze started with faulty wiring, for example, or if it spread beyond a single unit due to excessively flammable building materials, the property management company could be responsible for the damage.
Had anyone died, they could have been responsible for that too.
There is one notable exception to the right to sue negligent landlords, and that’s the employer-employee relationship. When a wrongful death happens on the job, worker’s comp law blocks the family from suing the employer directly. There are often other avenues for pursuing compensation, however. An Atlanta wrongful death lawyer can help you identify your options.
Landlords May Also Be Responsible for Protecting People from Violent Crime
As a default, one individual or company isn’t responsible for the criminal actions of another.
However, when crime on a certain property becomes predictable, either through repeated patterns or advance threats, it qualifies as a known hazard, which the landlord does have a duty to address.
For example, last March, a man broke into a home off of Tidwell Circle and shot three people, killing two of them. The suspect who was later arrested had a child with a woman who lived in the house, though neither she nor the child were among the victims. The suspect had reportedly broken into the house and threatened the family on past occasions as well. If the house was rented, the landlord might be liable for failing to help the family increase their security.
Violent crime is a serious problem for many Alpharetta apartment buildings as well. Last year in August, seven months before the Manchester at Mansell burned down, a resident was shot in the parking lot of that same building, allegedly by two other residents.
Two months after that, there was a similar shooting in the parking lot of the Collingwood Apartments. Two high school students have been identified as suspects, and the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety believes the shooting to be a drug-related robbery gone wrong.
Collingwood and Manchester at Mansell are at opposite ends of Alpharetta, and it’s possible that the buildings’ owners had no particular reason to expect gun violence before it happened. However, these incidents should, at the very least, be a warning to Alpharetta landlords to provide better security in the future. With parking lot shootings being an established danger to Alpharetta apartment residents, failure to take action to prevent them could qualify as negligence.
If you’ve already lost a loved one to violent crime on rental or public property, you may be able to pursue compensation from the landlord, as well as criminal justice for the perpetrator.
Daycares and Nursing Homes Have Extra Duties Toward Their Vulnerable Clientele
Obviously, children and people with independence-reducing disabilities require more protection and care than the average person renting an apartment or visiting a business. This extra care is exactly what facilities like daycares and nursing homes market themselves to provide, and they have a responsibility to do it right.
Sadly, Alpharetta’s most vulnerable residents have suffered repeatedly at the hands of companies promising to meet their needs. In 2016, two Alpharetta daycares, Bright Horizons and Crème de la Crème, were investigated for child abuse. In one case, there was evidence of sexual molestation. In the other, the teacher’s behavior was recorded on camera for an extended period, yet the company did not appear to take action until a state investigation began.
Then, in 2021, Tranquil Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care shut down without warning, giving residents only three days to relocate, in spite of the required 30-day notice. In the midst of this abrupt end, residents reportedly did not receive meals. During the previous few years, the company struggled with undisclosed financial problems, and apparently tried to alleviate them by holding public events during the earliest COVID-19 lockdowns, further endangering their elderly residents.
Although no deaths have been confirmed in connection with these incidents, it’s easy for these kinds of traumas to exacerbate already precarious health problems.
If you lost your loved one partly or wholly because of broken caregiving promises, you may be able to sue for wrongful death.
Alpharetta-Based Companies Have Allegedly Endangered People All Over the Country
A company doesn’t necessarily need to control a person’s surroundings in order to cause a wrongful death. In addition to managing their physical premises, companies are responsible for making sure the products and services they provide are as harmless as possible. Just like with premises hazards, companies must also warn customers about any risks associated with their products and services that can’t be eliminated.
When the purpose of a product or service is to protect the customer’s health, it’s not enough for that product just to be harmless. It must also be effective and live up to its marketing promises.
Medical services and supplies are major industries in Alpharetta, and some of the businesses headquartered here have been accused of failing their customers in some very serious ways.
In July of 2021, Avanos Medical Inc. was ordered to pay $22 million in compensation and penalties, after falsely claiming that some of their surgical gowns offered the highest available level of virus protection. While these gowns might have been perfectly fine for lower-risk uses, their misleading marketing essentially turned them into defective PPE, one of the most dangerous types of defective products.
A few years earlier, the medical records company Ciox Health was on the receiving end of a class action suit. The allegations included withholding records and charging excessive, illegal fees. One woman reported that Ciox denied her the records she needed for a wrongful death suit, after HealthAlliance Hospital allegedly failed to diagnose her husband’s lung cancer correctly. Although Ciox was only accused of hindering this woman’s pursuit of justice, not her husband’s actual care, there are many situations where withholding medical records could also result in medical errors and death.
If your loved one’s death was caused by a product or service that was needlessly dangerous, or did not fulfill the company’s promises, you likely have grounds for a wrongful death suit.
Wrongful Death Takes Many Forms, but Some Elements Are Universal
When pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, there are several things you will need to prove, no matter how the death occurred. Depending on your situation, some of these may be formalities, while others will become the crux of your case.
- The defendant had a duty to your loved one. This could be a specific, high level of duty, such as a doctor’s duty to provide a patient with a reasonable standard of care. It could also be the basic duty all people have to avoid recklessly endangering each other, such as by refraining from driving drunk.
- The defendant was negligent in this duty. Whatever duty your case is based on, you and your lawyer will need to detail exactly how the defendant deviated from their responsibilities.
- Your loved one was killed as a result of the defendant’s negligence. This could be as simple as pointing out that the defendant caused massive, immediately fatal injuries to your loved one. It could also be as tricky as proving that the defendant’s behavior accelerated your loved one’s existing illness.
- You are your loved one’s next-of-kin. Though one person’s death may be a serious blow to many people, there are strict limitations on who may collect wrongful death compensation. Generally, you may bring a wrongful death suit if the deceased was your spouse, your unmarried parent, or your unmarried child with no children of their own.
- Your monetary demands have a logical basis. Expressing the value of a life in dollars will always be imperfect, but it cannot be arbitrary. Your lawyer can help you arrive at a fair total, based on the work your loved one would have performed, the experiences they were looking forward to, the pain they experienced at the end, and the impact on your own life.
If you are uncertain whether your situation meets all of the qualifications for a wrongful death suit, it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer. A qualified wrongful death attorney can help you sift through the always-messy aftermath of your loved one’s death from a clear legal perspective.
If You’ve Lost a Loved One to Negligence in Alpharetta, The Stoddard Firm Can Help
Because wrongful deaths can happen in so many ways, it’s important to select a wrongful death lawyer who has experience in the right areas of law for your specific case.
In addition to wrongful death itself, the lawyers at The Stoddard Firm are experts in traffic law, product liability, premises liability, medical malpractice, and general personal injury cases.
It can also be very helpful to hire a wrongful death lawyer who’s local to your area. This eases coordination, not just between you and your lawyer, but between your lawyer and others who can help you. For example, The Stoddard Firm is in a great position to work with the doctors at Wellstar North Fulton Hospital, or the morticians at Gordan Funeral and Cremation, to compile evidence on your loved one’s cause of death, without delaying your funeral plans.
To speak with a wrongful death lawyer who knows Alpharetta, just call 678-RESULTS or reach out through our online chat function for a free consultation.