Georgia law is consistent with other states in the treatment of the duty owed to passengers in vehicular accidents. Passenger who are injured in motor vehicle accidents are entitled to collect damages from any drivers who are determined to have been negligent and a substantial cause of the accident. Sometimes, the victim may therefore be compensated by more than one party involved in the accident.
If the passenger is killed by one or more negligent drivers in a motor vehicle accident, the decedent’s estate will have a legal right to claim damages from those at fault. In many accidents, there is one driver who clearly lost control of his or her vehicle and was the only substantial cause of the accident. That driver is responsible to pay damages to all persons injured or killed as a result of that negligence, including to innocent passengers.
When a passenger dies in an accident that is negligently caused by the passenger’s operator, that operator is liable to the estate of the deceased passenger. This last rule seems applicable in a recent fatal accident that occurred in Lowndes County. According to the Georgia State Patrol, the operator of a sedan who was traveling south on Ga. 31 failed to stay in its lane and struck a car traveling north and coming in the opposite direction.
After striking the first car, the operator of the sedan struck another car traveling north on Ga. 31. There were several injuries in the crash and one fatality. A passenger in the offending sedan, a 68-year-old woman, died at the scene, according to the Georgia State Patrol. An official state forensics team that investigates motor vehicle accidents arrived on the scene to begin the investigation. The decedent’s next of kin will be authorized to start an estate for the victim and to make a claim for wrongful death damages.