How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Case After a Shooting at a Georgia Restaurant?

Wrongful Death Case

Georgia law describes any death as “wrongful” if it is caused without legal authority. A wrongful death can result from intentional action (a murder) or from negligence (careless conduct that causes or contributes to a death). Georgia allows certain family members of a wrongful death victim to recover compensation from the person or business who caused the death.

In the case of a restaurant shooting, a wrongful death claim can be made against the shooter. Unfortunately, it is difficult to collect compensation from criminals, particularly after they are sentenced to prison.

If the negligence of restaurant owners and managers contributed to the shooting, a wrongful death claim can also be brought against the restaurant. Since restaurants carry liability insurance, a wrongful death claim against the restaurant where the shooting occurred can help families recover compensation for their loss.

A restaurant can be liable for a shooting death when it fails to take reasonable steps to protect patrons from crime. When a restaurant is located in a high-crime area, for example, the restaurant owners should anticipate the possibility of a shooting and should provide adequate security to prevent or deter acts of violence against the restaurant’s patrons.

If the restaurant as a parking lot, the restaurant also has a duty to provide adequate lighting to deter armed robberies that might end with a shooting. A Georgia security negligence attorney can review all of the circumstances and determine whether the restaurant can be held accountable for its failure to prevent a wrongful death.

Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death After a Georgia Restaurant Shooting

Every state sets time limits for bringing a lawsuit. In Georgia, the “limitations period” for bringing a lawsuit based on negligent acts that cause injury or death is generally two years from the date of death.

The two-year time limit runs from the date of death, not the date of the shooting. If the victim did not die immediately, the clock does not start until the victim died.

There are exceptions to the two-year limitations period. If the restaurant engaged in criminal behavior that contributed to the death, the limitations period is tolled until criminal charges are resolved or until six years have passed, whichever is shorter. Negligence is not itself a crime, but a wrongful death lawyer can examine the circumstances to determine whether the tolling period applies. To protect their rights, however, family members should seek legal advice as soon as they can after the death occurs.

After the limitations period expires, the right to sue is lost. It is therefore important to act promptly by either settling the wrongful death claim or commencing a wrongful death lawsuit before the end of the limitations period.

Time Limit for an Estate to Make a Wrongful Death Claim After a Restaurant Shooting

In some cases, the victim’s estate will make the wrongful death claim. That usually happens when none of the close family members who are authorized to bring the claim are still living.

An estate can also bring a separate claim on the victim’s behalf for any pain and suffering the victim endured between the time the victim was shot and the time the victim died. Even if death was quick, the estate can bring a claim for the suffering the victim likely experienced before death.

The estate’s claims are generally subject to the same two-year limitations period. However, when the estate has not been probated, the limitations period may be tolled until probate commences or until five years after the victim’s death, whichever occurs first. A wrongful death lawyer can help the estate compute the deadline for filing suit.