Losing a family member is never easy, but it can be especially devastating when you know that they could still be here, if not for someone else’s callous or irresponsible actions.
A wrongful death lawsuit can’t rewind time and help you prevent your loved one’s death, but it can give your family the financial security to grieve in peace and, sometimes, a sense of justice and closure.
Below, we’ll go over common types of life-threatening negligence in Brookhaven, and some points to consider if you are thinking of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. If you would prefer to speak directly with a Brookhaven wrongful death lawyer about your particular situation, please feel free to reach out by phone or chat at any time to the wrongful death attorneys at the Stoddard Firm.
Residential Landlords Share Responsibility for Violence in Brookhaven Apartments
When landlords collect rent for residential properties, they are promising that those properties are, to the best of their knowledge, safe to live in, and that they will take all reasonable steps to keep them that way. This includes appropriate crime deterrence and security measures.
Many property management companies spend years profiting off of dangerous apartment complexes, without doing anything to address the problem. They do this knowing full well that their tenants are at constant risk of being targeted by violent criminals, or simply caught in the crossfire of irresponsible weapon usage. As common as this practice is, it counts as negligence in civil court.
Brookhaven’s Buford Highway is an excellent example of an area where landlords should be aware of the threat of gun violence, and have no excuse for leaving residents unprotected.
The apartment buildings on Buford Highway were most recently in the news as the site of a police raid in July of 2022. In response to gunshots, a team entered one of the units and found a stash of heroin, cocaine, and guns, at least one of them stolen. However, this was far from the first sign of danger.
In November of 2021, a 20-year-old man was found shot in the doorway of another apartment building not far from the July raid. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, and three teenage suspects were arrested.
Less than two months later, a man visiting from England was fatally shot while lying in bed with his girlfriend at the Park on Clairmont Apartments. While that building’s address is on Clairmont Road, police believe the bullet was fired at random from a neighboring complex on Buford Highway. The nearest Buford Highway apartment building, the Highland Knoll Apartments, is right behind the Park on Clairmont. The individual shooter has still not been identified, but neighbors report that random gunfire is common behind the complexes.
While landlords cannot interfere with legal gun ownership, this kind of dangerous mishandling of firearms is grounds for eviction. The owner of either complex could also have employed security guards, or even pointed extra cameras toward problem areas, to prevent easy anonymous shooting.
Brookhaven Commercial Landlords Must Protect Guests from Violence Too
Landlord responsibilities do vary in some ways between residential and commercial properties. However, the duty to protect people from known dangers, such as high rates of violent crime, is a constant.
In addition to its residential areas, Buford Highway has commercial properties that also struggle with violent crime. In March of 2022, a man was robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Penthouse ATL Restaurant and Lounge. The victim of the robbery then ran into the restaurant and fired his own gun at the security guard on duty.
Parking lots are common crime hotspots, even for properties that are otherwise well protected. Stationing guards outside as well as inside, or at least making sure parking lots are well-lit, can go a long way toward preventing incidents like these.
Crime in Brookhaven isn’t limited to Buford Highway, of course. Back in July of 2018, a man was shot outside of the Capital City Country Club. He was waiting for a ride after having attended a wedding at the club. He ultimately died of his injuries, and his widow is currently in the process of suing the club for wrongful death. She and her lawyer are arguing that the club knew crime was a problem nearby, but misrepresented its level of safety and failed to provide adequate security.
Brookhaven hotels also have their own set of crime problems, as do hotels in many parts of Georgia. Along with the standard challenges and responsibilities of commercial property management, hotel owners must be especially careful not to harbor sex trafficking and other forms of crime often conducted in rented rooms. Unfortunately, many hotels don’t bother attempting to deter crime, or actively choose to profit off of it.
In September of 2019, there was a shooting in Brookhaven’s Courtyard by Marriott directly related to onsite prostitution. A woman was apparently attempting to pimp another woman, and when that other woman refused, she demanded that the intended buyer pay her anyway. When the buyer also refused, she shot and killed him.
Incidents like these can easily end up injuring or killing guests who have no knowledge of criminal activities in progress, which is part of why it’s so important for hotels to prevent these situations before they start.
If your loved one was killed violently on any property not owned by your own family, it’s worth looking into whether the landlord played a role in enabling the crime.
Landlords Must Also Keep Properties Hazard-Free in Other Ways
Violence isn’t the only issue that can make a property unsafe, or that landlords are legally required to address. Property hazards can range from small but deadly details, like uneven paving stones and unlatched pool gates, to mishandled disasters, like fires and floods.
Brookhaven buildings have had distinct trouble with disaster preparedness, prevention, and management lately.
In July of 2022, a fire destroyed one of the buildings at the Evergreen Lenox Apartments. No official cause for the fire has been released, but tenants report that they heard no alarms, and that the building’s sprinkler system did not activate. Instead, many of them credit their survival to one man, who happened to see the beginnings of the fire on his way to work, called 911, and began knocking on doors to warn people.
Impromptu heroism and luck seem to be the two main reasons no human beings were killed in the fire, and those are two things landlords should never rely on. To add insult to injury, displaced residents say that the company is now suggesting they move into comparable units in its other buildings, for much higher rent.
Meanwhile, flooding remains an ongoing struggled in Brookhaven Fields, and residents say it’s only gotten worse following recent changes to the city drainage system.
The potential negligence at play in this situation isn’t as clear-cut as some. Homeowners understandably want the city to address the flawed infrastructure, while the city denies all responsibility for drainage issues on private property.
Either way, anyone renting in Brookhaven Fields is caught in the middle of the flooding, with no power to stop it. If a tenant were to drown in the intermittently river-like conditions, become seriously ill from mold thriving in the dampness, or be crushed by a rotted structure, someone would be liable, whether the property owner or the city itself.
Caregiving Services Are Responsible for the Lives in Their Care
On top of the general obligation to keep properties hazard-free, many specific types of businesses carry additional responsibilities. For example, facilities like daycares, nursing homes, and hospitals accept the task of caring for people who are not fully able to care for themselves. In these kinds of arrangements, the business can be held liable for harm caused by neglect, as well as by active endangerment.
Neglect in nursing homes has come to light as a serious problem throughout Georgia in recent years, and Brookhaven has not escaped this deadly phenomenon.
In February of 2014, a World War II veteran staying at the Northeast Atlanta Rehabilitation Center called for help at least six times while struggling for breath. The staff reportedly ignored him for at least an hour, and did not call 911, in spite of the patient’s chart stating that he needed to be taken to a hospital in case of chest pains. By the time anyone responded, he could not be resuscitated.
The patient’s family had planted a security camera in his room, after he expressed misgivings about staying at the center, which is how the details of the incident came out. The family later sued for wrongful death and received and undisclosed settlement.
If what happened to your loved one happened under the direct care of a professional, and you believe it was preventable, you may be able to sue on the grounds of neglect or medical malpractice.
Any Death Caused by Negligence Is a Wrongful Death
So far, we’ve gone over some of the most likely scenarios in which it would be advisable to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in Brookhaven. However, there are many other possible causes of wrongful death, including car accidents, defective products, and substandard work.
The basic requirements for any valid wrongful death claim are as follows:
- A person or organization had a duty to behave in a certain way. This could be a basic, everyday duty like not attacking other people, or a highly specialized duty like flying an airplane responsibly.
- That person or organization failed in that duty.
- Someone was killed as a result of that failure.
- You are the deceased person’s legal next-of-kin.
On a practical level, the advisability of a wrongful death suit also depends on whether any of the negligent parties will be able to pay for a reasonable settlement.
For example, if your loved one was murdered, that’s definitely a wrongful death, but unless the killer is independently wealthy, obtaining fair compensation directly from that killer is extremely unlikely. That’s part of why suing the property owner, if applicable, tends to be a more effective route to take.
If you are uncertain whether your loss qualifies as a wrongful death, or whether a lawsuit is worthwhile given the parties and assets involved, a lawyer can help you make that determination.
The Stoddard Firm Has Wrongful Death Lawyers for Brookhaven Families
When searching for a wrongful death lawyer, it’s a good idea to search locally. For one thing, pursuing justice for a lost loved one is always an emotionally fraught process. It’s easy to feel isolated or uncertain, and it can be helpful to know that you have an advocate right nearby, for convenient face-to-face office visits.
Having a wrongful death lawyer who operates in Brookhaven on a daily basis can also be an advantage for your case itself. For example, because we know Brookhaven so well, the Stoddard Firm can easily track down crucial evidence, such as records of past violent crimes in a neighborhood. We know our way around DeKalb County Superior Court, and we know who to call to collect documentation from Northside Hospital Atlanta or the Brookhaven Police Department.
We can also coordinate directly with local funeral homes, like Fischer Funeral Care, or H.M. Patterson & Son, to make absolutely certain your loved one is fully examined before being laid to rest.
For a free consultation with a Brookhaven wrongful death lawyer, just call 678-RESULTS, or reach out through our online chat function.