Wrongful Death Claims
Any fatal shooting, whether intentional or accidental, produces a wrongful death unless the shooting was authorized by law. Certain members of the victim’s family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against any person responsible for the shooting, with the help of a wrongful death lawyer in Atlanta, GA. Responsible parties include the shooter and any business that negligently failed to protect the victim from a foreseeable death.
Failing to provide adequate security, encouraging customers to engage in rowdy behavior, or installing inadequate lighting in a parking lot are among the negligent actions that might contribute to a shooting. The law recognizes that a business should be accountable when its security negligence is responsible for a customer’s death.
Family Members Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim After a Shooting at a Business
The law assures that someone will always be permitted to bring a claim for wrongful death. The law establishes a hierarchy of family members who can bring a wrongful death claim. Friends, siblings, and other relatives who are not included in the hierarchy cannot sue for the wrongful shooting death, no matter how close they were to the victim.
The victim’s spouse is at the top of the hierarchy. If the victim was married at the time of the shooting death, the victim’s spouse will be entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. If the spouse does so, no other relative can bring the claim.
If the victim was unmarried at the time of death, or if the victim’s spouse chooses not to bring a wrongful death claim, the victim’s living children can bring the claim. If the victim died with no spouse and no living children, either of the victim’s parents can commence the wrongful death lawsuit.
Finally, if the victim died without a living wife, children, or parents, the victim’s estate can bring the lawsuit. If the victim survived the shooting long enough to feel pain and suffering, the estate can also bring a survivor lawsuit to recover compensation for that suffering on the victim’s behalf.
Distributing Wrongful Death Proceeds After a Shooting at a Business
The family members who can bring a wrongful death claim are not necessarily entitled to keep all of the proceeds when that claim is paid. The state law specifies how wrongful death proceeds must be divided.
When the wrongful death victim had a spouse but no children, all of the proceeds are retained by the spouse. When the victim had a spouse and one or two children, the proceeds are divided equally among them.
When the victim had a spouse and more than two children, the spouse receives one-third of the proceeds and the balance is divided equally among the children. When the victim had surviving children but no surviving spouse, the proceeds are divided equally among the children. If one of the victim’s children died before the victim, that child’s share is divided equally by the child’s children.
When the victim’s parents are entitled to make the claim, they divide the proceeds equally if they are married and living together. If only one parent is still living, that parent receives all the proceeds. If both parents are living but are not presently married and living together, they can agree to divide the proceeds equally or one parent can ask a judge to award a larger share of the proceeds to that parent.
Finally, when the estate makes the claim, the proceeds are divided according to the instructions for property distribution contained in the victim’s Will. If the victim died without a Will, most state’s law determines how all of the victim’s property (including the estate’s wrongful death claim) must be divided.
Thanks to Butler Law Firm for their insight into personal injury claims and wrongful deaths when there’s a shooting at a business.