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How the state's abortion law could impact wrongful death lawsuits in cases of negligence or murder

Previously, such lawsuits couldn't be filed until later in a pregnancy. An attorney explained how the state's abortion law could impact those suits.

ATLANTA — Georgia's abortion law took effect in late July. Now, some unintended impacts of the legislation are being realized. The law considers a fetus to be a person when a heartbeat is typically detected, which generally happens around six weeks into the pregnancy.

On Monday, the Georgia Department of Revenue announced parents of unborn children can claim the child on their state taxes. 11Alive interviewed an attorney Tuesday who handles wrongful death suits and learned the abortion law could also impact lawsuits.

"When it used to be an absolute floor of 10 weeks, now it has been moved down to six and the problem becomes one of notice to the mother. The mother might be completely ignorant to the fact that they're carrying," Christopher Simon of Simon Bridgers Spires law firm said.

Simon said previously what's called quickening would have had to take place for a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed if the child didn't survive as a result of murder or negligence. The circumstances would have to support pursuing a case. Quickening typically takes place in the second trimester when the mother feels the movement of their unborn child and the birth of the child is considered more viable.

"The typical example is a car accident scenario. Two months in, three months in, that is a viable wrongful death case if the other person caused the fetus's death," he said.

Legally, miscarriages could now become very complicated, Simon said, because the mother might not be aware of the pregnancy - but her actions or someone else's actions might have resulted in the loss of what the state legally considers a person.

Cases of trauma, accidents, or other incidents resulting in a miscarriage have potentially changed drastically for the expecting mother, attorneys, and everyone else involved.

"It is all going to come down to specific factual questions of how soon after the trauma did the miscarriage occur and what do the doctors have to say about it," Simon added. "The doctors draw causation saying, 'this trauma is what caused this fetus to leave the womb early.' You always need to have that evidence there, but it certainly has made a much more dangerous for businesses, and for people in the insurance world because now they can't go arguing we don't know if this life would have succeeded. Our courts and our legislature has said absolutely it has a viability chance."

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