A wrongful death lawsuit can be a long and emotional process, and no result will undo your loved one’s death. This does not mean, however, that wrongful death suits cannot serve a purpose, or that you are wrong for wanting to understand and assert your rights.
What a wrongful death settlement can do is repair the financial damage you’ve suffered, give you the freedom to focus on your mental health, and often provide a sense of closure and justice. If your loved one’s death was caused by a negligent company, a wrongful death suit can also hold the company financially accountable. Companies almost always act according to their perceived financial interests, so the more money they lose to wrongful death and personal injury suits, the more likely they are to prioritize safety in the future.
Below, we’ll go over some ways wrongful deaths have happened, or almost happened, in Dunwoody, and how to recognize wrongful death when you see it. If you would prefer to speak directly with a Dunwoody wrongful death lawyer about your specific situation, please feel free to reach out by phone or chat at any time.
Dunwoody Landlords Have Failed to Address Life-Threatening Conditions
Renting out a property is a promise. When a residential landlord rents to a tenant, they are guaranteeing that the property is safe to live in, and will be maintained that way for as long as the rental agreement continues. No contradictory wording included in the lease can override this legal responsibility.
More or less the same is true for other kinds of property owners. A commercial landlord who rents an unsafe space to a small business is liable for the harm to that business’s workers and visitors.
Even without a rental agreement, a company that invites people onto its own property, such as a shop or a theme park, is responsible for making sure that property is free of needless or hidden safety hazards.
A landlord’s duty to ensure people’s safety is not limitless — harm caused by unforeseeable events, or by the victim’s own negligence, is not generally the landlord’s responsibility. However, injuries and deaths are frequently caused by premises hazards that landlords knew or should have known about in advance.
For example, here in Dunwoody, a gas explosion destroyed one of the three buildings at the Arrive Perimeter Apartments complex in September of 2021. By luck, no one was killed, though at least four were injured, and all tenants were displaced. Survivors say they had noticed and reported the smell of leaking gas as long as four months in advance, and that it got worse in the days before the blast. Problems were found with the complex’s gas setup in the subsequent investigation.
Keeping necessary but potentially dangerous systems like gas and electricity in safe working order is the very least a tenant should be able to expect from a landlord. Clearly, local property management companies need to do much better.
Criminal Violence Counts as a Life-Threatening Condition
As noted, landlords are liable for any foreseeable harm caused by hidden or unnecessary hazards on their properties.
Criminal violence on a property is a hazard. It also is unnecessary and often hidden. So, the question of whether a landlord is liable for it usually comes down to foreseeability.
If a given crime is unprecedented on the property, and on similar properties in the surrounding area, a landlord would probably not be considered liable. However, if the crime is part of a pattern, preceded by a threat, or committed by one of the landlord’s employees, it may be the landlord’s financial responsibility. This is especially true if the landlord did nothing to improve security after earlier signs of trouble.
Violent crime is a serious and consistent threat to the lives of many Dunwoody residents.
Arrive Perimeter Apartments, the same apartment complex that shut down after the 2021 gas explosion, is currently being sued for wrongful death due to a violent incident from two years earlier. In April of 2019, a man was shot to death in the complex’s parking area. Two days before his death, the victim had reported to the Dunwoody PD that he believed the suspect, a former romantic partner, was going to kill him.
Parking areas are common sites for violence. Keeping surveillance cameras, good lighting, and even security guards in these areas are good basic security measures for apartment complexes in high- or moderate-crime areas, even if there are no direct threats to their tenants.
Another Dunwoody apartment complex is also dealing with the aftermath of a more recent fatal shooting. In May of 2022, a teenage pair of brothers were shot to death in front of the LaCota Apartments on Peachtree Industrial Blvd. The suspects were caught on camera and tracked to Dunwoody Glen Apartments farther down the street. Four suspects, all teens themselves, were ultimately arrested in connection with the shooting.
Whether the LaCota Apartments’ security measures were adequate for the dangers they knew of at the time is open for debate, but these two deaths are, at the very least, proof of security failings that should be fixed for the future.
Like the duty to prevent accidents, the duty to protect against crime isn’t limited to residential property owners, or even private property owners. Public institutions must also do what they can to ensure the safety of their guests.
That’s why, for example, the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) maintains its own police department. That department hasn’t always been successful at protecting commuters, however. In Dunwoody in particular, a serial rapist targeted several women at bus stops before finally being arrested in Missouri this past year.
Bus stops can make appealing targets for crime, because of how exposed they tend to be, and because criminals know that the people there will be waiting for a while without a quick means of escape. Just because it’s common for transportation organizations to leave people unprotected during the wait doesn’t mean passengers don’t deserve better.
In short, any time a person is attacked on property that does not belong to them, it’s worth questioning whether the attack could have been predicted, and whether the landowner could have done more to keep the victim safe.
Caregivers and Medical Professionals Have Extra Duties to Clients
As a default, individuals and organizations have a duty to avoid actively endangering others, and that’s all. Once an individual or organization assumes responsibility for someone’s care, however, they are obligated to live up to that responsibility.
Healthcare, daycare, and elder care facilities can be held liable for directly injuring someone, just like any other kind of business. However, unlike a shop, a theme park, or an apartment complex, these facilities can also be held liable for allowing an injury to occur through neglect or substandard care, whether or not they created the danger in the first place.
Medical malpractice and caregiving negligence can affect people at their most vulnerable, as some Dunwoody families know all too well.
Little Lovey Daycare, which formerly stood on Leisure Lane, was shut down in early 2021 after a 4-month-old boy was found unresponsive in a playpen. In spite of all resuscitation attempts, he did not survive.
When Dunwoody police examined the daycare’s security footage, they found that the owner of the daycare had placed the baby face down for a nap and not checked on him for close to three hours.
Under current medical advice, babies should sleep flat on their backs and not be left unsupervised on their fronts until the age of 1, or at least until they can reliably roll themselves back and forth, which does not usually happen before 6 months. Facedown sleep is a suffocation hazard for newborns.
The daycare owner had also not completed her required annual training and was supervising two more children than she was licensed for. She was charged with murder and cruelty to children. A further four counts of cruelty to children were added upon further review of the footage, which reportedly showed her picking babies up by one foot, tossing one to the floor, and pulling another’s hair.
Farther back, in 2010, Dunwoody Obstetrics was ruled to have caused serious birth defects in an infant, including brain damage and chronic kidney disease. An obstetrician had known for the full term of the mother’s pregnancy that she was taking a blood pressure medication that was unsafe for fetal development. According to her suit, she had asked him about it, and he had repeatedly told her that he’d “change it later.”
In cases of negligent care and medical malpractice, several parties may be liable, including the individual practitioner or caregiver, their insurance company, and the facility where the harm was done.
All Wrongful Deaths Have Three Things in Common
Because death happens in so many different ways, examples of wrongful death can sometimes seem random and disconnected from one another. However, under all the disturbing and tragic individual details, all wrongful deaths follow the same basic pattern.
In order for a death to be viable grounds for a wrongful death suit, it must meet these three criteria:
Someone, other than the deceased or the next-of-kin, had a duty to protect the health and safety of the deceased. This could be the simple duty to refrain from recklessly dangerous behavior, or a more specific duty, such as a doctor’s duty to provide a decent standard of care.
Someone failed in that duty. In this case, “someone” could mean an individual, such as a drunk driver, or an organization, such as a neglectful property management company.
That lapse of duty caused the deceased to miss out on time they would otherwise have had. The death does not have to be immediate, but it does have to be untimely and traceable to the defendant’s actions.
Using these criteria, we can determine that a hospice is not liable for wrongful death when a patient dies of untreatable cancer, even though the death happens under the hospice’s care. Meanwhile, a pesticide company that polluted the patient’s town a decade earlier, causing the cancer in the first place, would be liable, even if the patient was never a visitor, employee, or even customer of that company.
The examples included on this page are not an exhaustive list of every possible wrongful death scenario. If you’re unsure whether your loved one’s death qualifies, it’s always a good idea to check with a wrongful death lawyer.
The Stoddard Firm Has Wrongful Death Lawyers for Dunwoody Families
Knowing Dunwoody as well as we do gives us an advantage when representing the families of those who’ve died here.
We know the safety history of the companies that operate in the area, and the crime patterns landlords should be aware of. We know the procedures that take place at the end of a Dunwoody resident’s life, and the organizations involved, from the Dunwoody Police Department to Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. That means we know who to call to compile crucial documentation for your case.
We can also coordinate with nearby funeral homes like Fischer, McDowell’s, or Washington Memorial, to make sure final evidence collection is completed on time and will not interfere with your farewell arrangements.
To get started with a free consultation on your case, just reach out at 678-RESULTS, or through our online chat function.
Attorney Matt Stoddard
Matt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]
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