Attorneys Claim Power Company Responsible for Woman’s Death
On the date of May 10, 2016, a 64-year-old woman woke up to find the power out in her Henry County home. The woman was recovering from cancer treatments. She required an oxygen machine to help her breathe. When she woke up, she found herself fighting for air and unable to breathe. By the time the paramedics got there, it was too late. Two days later she died. The official cause of death was respiratory failure.
The day before her power was cut off, the woman had received a shut-off notice. Her son begged the power company to give her an extension on medical grounds. Georgia Power asked for a letter from her doctor, which was sent on the 9th of May by fax. Georgia Power acknowledged receipt of the letter. Despite that, the woman’s power was shut off which cut off the oxygen from her machine. As a result, she died.
The family is suing Georgia Power for negligence and wrongful death. The plaintiffs will likely pursue punitive damages against the power company for maliciously cutting the power to critical care patient’s home.
Georgia Power responded by saying that their decision to cut the power was based on the fact that the account was in her son’s name, not her own name. The company restored power to the home two hours later, but by then it didn’t matter.
Georgia Laws and Utilities Regulations
In Georgia, utilities are regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission. Among those rules, a utility service may not shut the power off on a critical care patient. The company appears to have been in violation of that rule. The question, then, is to what extent a jury will hold them liable if the case goes to court.
One question that will need to be answered is: if the bill was in her son’s name, then why didn’t he simply pay it off?
The risk in pursuing a lawsuit like this is that some of the blame could end up on you. Under Georgia’s comparative fault system, the son, whose name the utility bill was under, might end up bearing some of the blame in the death of his own mother, which would not be a pleasant feeling.
On the other hand, the son provided the utility company with adequate notice that his mother was a critical care patient, and Georgia Power cut power to home anyway. That fact alone could move a jury.
Wrongful Death and Comparative Fault in Georgia
In Georgia, wrongful death claims can be brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate or by the surviving children. However, if the deceased is found to be at least 50% responsible, then the case will either be summarily dismissed or no monetary award will go to the deceased’s estate. It’s unclear what will happen if the son is held partially liable for the death of his mother. Since he tried to everything in his power to ensure that the power to his mother’s home was not cut, it stands to reason that Georgia Power is 100% to blame for the death of the woman. But anything can happen before a jury.
Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured another’s negligence, give the Georgia legal team at Gillette Law a call at (912) 289-4205 or contact us online. We can discuss your case and what you’ll need to prove it.