Gwinnett Crash Tragically Takes Life of Unborn Child

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In and around the Atlanta metro area on any given day, we read about all sorts of accidents from truck crashes to motorcycle accidents. In only the past few days there have been several fatal crashes around our area. Each and every one of these Georgia car accidents is a tragedy. A very recent Gwinnett car accident gave us pause and brought to mind the consequences of what otherwise might have been a normal drive to the office or to the store or home. The accident involved a woman driving southbound on Buford Highway and another driver in the northbound lane. The northbound vehicle was making a left turn when it was apparently was struck by the southbound vehicle. The driver of the southbound car survived the crash, but her unborn child did not survive. She was said to be in her third trimester. Other injuries of those involved were not life-threatening. Our hearts go out to all involved and the family dealing with this loss.

The Gwinnett authorities are now investigating the crash. They have said preliminarily that alcohol or other substances did not seem to be factors in this tragedy. There is no information at this point as to the cause of this accident or who might have been at fault. As our readers know, intersection accidents are not uncommon and can be devastating as this was.

This devastating accident reported by the Gwinnett Daily post brings to mind the way Georgia law views the death of an unborn child when that was caused by another person or entity. In Georgia, one or both parents of an unborn child who loses his or her life in a car or other accident due to the negligence of another driver or entity can bring a wrongful death action on behalf of that child. As is possible in the case of this tragic accident, parents or an estate executor can file on behalf of the fetus who has passed away as a result of a vehicle crash. But there are some thresholds that must be reached for the fetus to have legal rights and for one or both parents, or an executor of the estate, to pursue them.
In many states, a wrongful death action brought on behalf of an unborn child requires that the fetus was viable at the time of the accident that caused the fatality. In Georgia, the viability of the fetus is not the standard. The Georgia courts have determined that a fetus has legal rights when it has reached the point of  what is called “quickening.” (See, Porter v. Lassiter, 91 Ga. App. 712 (1955)). This is generally the point at which the mother can feel the fetus moving or other factors. (See, Citron v. Ghaffari, 246 Ga. App. 826 (2000)). Quickening can occur fairly early in the pregnancy, but it must occur prior to the accident that caused the tragic death. In situations in which the mother loses her life and the fetus also dies as a result of the accident, the analysis is the same with regard to “quickening.” In this accident, the mom was in her third trimester and most likely this fetus would have reached that point.
The obvious tragedy of the loss of a baby is devastating. As lawyers, we can help families recover for such a monumental loss where the loss was due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another driver. It is not known at this time who may have been responsible for the accident and whether a wrongful death action would be appropriate.
Scholle Law represents families dealing with the loss of a loved one in wrongful death actions. If you have any questions about an accident or injury or when a wrongful death action can be brought in Georgia, we are available to answer your concerns not only from our Duluth Law Office but all over Atlanta. Please contact our law firm at any time if you need assistance in evaluating an accident of any kind or one that involves the death of a loved one that may be caused by another person or entity’s negligence or wrongdoing. There is no charge for our evaluation and in most cases we get paid only after you are paid.
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