The Howard Law Firm

Practice Areas

Wrongful Death

If a loved one has died as the result of another person’s actions or inaction, you may consider consulting a Georgia wrongful death attorney. However, you must understand that a wrongful death claim will not apply to every unnatural death. A careful legal analysis is required to fully identify each event, person, corporation, or governmental entity that may have had a role in causing a death as well as the relatives of the deceased victim (i.e. the decedent) who are entitled to pursue the claim.

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death? 

Attorneys at The Howard Law Firm can provide a specific analysis of your case. For example, a wrongful death claim may apply if your loved one’s death was caused by negligence, intentional harm, medical malpractice, or a defective product. If the decedent was killed while performing his job duties, then a worker’s compensation claim must probably be filed. However, if the death was not caused by the employer, then a wrongful death claim may be available whether or not the decedent was working at the time of his death.

Negligence may support a wrongful death claim when one party’s carelessness created the circumstances that led to the individual’s death. For instance, if a driver runs a stop sign to cause a fatal car accident, then he was negligent in failing to obey the Georgia traffic laws.

Intentional harm may be based on an assault or other physical violence committed with the intent to either injure or kill someone. A wrongful death lawsuit may follow a murder trial in a criminal court based on much of the same evidence. Since the burden of proof is lower in a civil case, it can be easier for Georgia wrongful death lawyers to win a civil lawsuit than it is for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction in a criminal prosecution.

Medical malpractice may result in a wrongful death suit in cases where the caregiver’s negligence resulted in the patient’s death. This may happen through a misdiagnosis, or through a failure to advise a patient of the adverse side effects of a treatment. Medical malpractice may also apply in cases where surgery or other forms of treatment were improperly administered.

These are just a few of the most common instances in which a wrongful death lawsuit may apply. To learn more about the wrongful death laws in your area, and to see how they may apply to your specific situation, contact The Howard Law Firm. An initial consultation will answer many of your questions and assist you in determining how to proceed with your claim.

Personal Injury

Personal injury claims in Georgia may be based on a wide variety of negligent or intentional misconduct. Some legal principles and procedures apply universally to several types of claims. Some specific claims (e.g. medical malpractice, product liability, wrongful death) require knowledge and application of specialized legal principles and procedures. The successful resolution of any personal injury claim requires a detailed understanding and presentation of the related injuries and damages.

The Howard Law Firm recognizes that a personal injury and the proper resolution of personal injury claim are both life-altering events.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are the most common type of personal injury claims brought in Tucker, DeKalb County, and the entire State of Georgia. If you were injured in one of those accidents as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, the person who caused your accident can be held liable for your injuries and any resulting damages. Proving liability, injuries, and damages can become a very complicated process. The effective personal injury lawyers at The Howard Law Firm are experienced in pursuing a wide variety of auto accident personal injury cases, including:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driver error in recognizing vehicle movement
  • Crashes involving alcohol and drug impairment
  • Failure to reduce speed or yield the right-of-way to avoid an accident
  • Hit-and-runs
  • Wrongful deaths

Our skilled Georgia motor vehicle accident lawyers will guide you through the entire process while keeping your individual needs at the forefront. We conduct a comprehensive investigation of every accident and perform a detailed legal analysis of fault, liability, and damages. We will communicate our findings to the opposing insurance company. The insurance company for the at-fault driver cannot ignore our demand for settlement because it is always based on a detailed analysis of the facts of the case, the resulting damages, and the applicable law in Georgia.

Georgia law doesn’t require you to cooperate with or give any kind of a statement to the opposing insurance company. Talk with us first by arranging for a free and confidential consultation and case review with the Georgia injury lawyers at The Howard Law Firm. If we enter into a retainer agreement, then you will not pay a penny of legal fees unless you receive a financial settlement or award.

Premises Liability

Premises liability law involves the liability of owners and occupiers of land for injuries suffered by people who are invited onto the premises. Georgia law recognizes that hotels, restaurants, apartment complexes, and stores invite the public in to do business and such claims arise more often than you might expect. 

The Duty

The general rule in Georgia is that the owner, occupier, or manager of a property that is open to the public has a legal duty to maintain and operate the premises in a reasonably safe condition. For example, a property owner must either repair a dangerous condition that arises or adequately provide a warning of the danger to anybody who is lawfully on the premises. When an employee of a responsible company breaches that duty, the company can be held liable for any injuries resulting from its breach. Anyone seriously injured as a result of the negligence of the owner or occupier of a property in Georgia should contact a premises liability attorney at The Howard Law Firm. You will be able to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Premises Liability Claims at Hotels

Anyone legally on a hotel’s premises is entitled to expect that their guest rooms, the common hotel areas and grounds of the premises are safe. That expectation also extends to the amenities that the hotel offers, including restaurants, bars, spas, gyms, swimming pools and hot tubs. Given those amenities, here are some of the dangerous events that may occur at Georgia hotels:

  • Slip-and-falls caused by hidden hazards
  • Swimming pool and hot tub, and gym equipment accidents
  • Inadequate security
  • Hotel staff misconduct or poor training
  • Elevator and escalator injuries
  • Food poisoning

Contact a premises liability attorney at The Howard Law Firm to discuss any injury or accident. A knowledgeable attorney will answer your questions and advise you about your legal options.

Nursing Home Negligence

In the United States, an estimated two million residents of nursing homes are abused each year. Whether the abuse is physical, emotional, financial, or even sexual, experts believe that only a small percentage of cases are reported. If you have a loved one in a nursing home and you have reason to suspect previous or ongoing abuse at a facility in Georgia, then you may consult negligence attorneys at The Howard Law Firm for advice in exploring your legal options.

While many nursing homes offer excellent care to residents, many others regularly engage in unethical behaviors toward patients. If your loved one is being abused, then it is likely that other defenseless residents have also suffered from similar abuse. Your negligence attorney may attempt to contact others who have suffered at the facility and also gain access to state and federal records pertaining to inspections and investigations of the nursing home and its practices.

Documenting the Abuse

Nursing home negligence cases can be complex, so it will be crucial to promptly gather as much documentary evidence as possible. To do so, you should take photos of unexplained bruises and cuts, room conditions, medications given to the patient, and anything else that may seem relevant. In addition, if your loved one now seems fearful or is complaining of mistreatment, use your smartphone to record a video of their allegations.

Reporting the Abuse

Your concerns about possible negligence or abuse should probably be reported to the nursing home’s administrator. However, you should also contact your local social service agency to file a report with Adult Protective Services. When a report is filed, this agency must conduct an investigation which may ultimately provide assistance in stopping the abuse, punishing the offender, and obtaining information that may support a civil claim.

Criminal Defense

Criminal defense work at The Howard Law Firm usually involves serious felony charges in the state and federal courts. Firm attorneys have handled more than 100 jury trials and successfully represented criminal defendants charged with a wide range of criminal offenses, including murder, drug conspiracy, drug trafficking, rape, aggravated assault, Medicaid fraud, kidnapping, theft, extortion and armed robbery.

For example, James Howard represented a defendant in United States v. Rivera, et al., the longest federal drug conspiracy trial ever conducted in Georgia; his client was eventually acquitted of each drug charge after a six-month trial of 17 co-defendants. In 1999, The Howard Law Firm represented a physician in State of Georgia v. Watson and won a rare acquittal on charges of Medicaid fraud. In 2000, the firm successfully defended the lead defendant in United States v. Harriston, a federal racketeering and drug conspiracy trial. This defendant was acquitted of some charges at the trial; the remaining charges were ultimately dismissed after a successful appeal. In 2015, the firm successfully completed its defenses in a federal drug conspiracy and in a separate armed robbery trial despite incriminating DNA evidence and cell tower data.

In some criminal cases, the defense attorney must challenge the prosecution’s use of inadmissible evidence. For example, physical evidence seized in a search, a defendant’s statements, or a witness’ identification may be challenged if the evidence is improperly obtained. The “suppression” of such evidence may require careful legal research, a thorough investigation of the facts, effective cross-examination of witnesses, and persuasive argument to the presiding judge. The firm has successfully suppressed critical evidence in several federal and state courts.

Although the firm has won many criminal trials, it is also committed to negotiating fair sentences and the dismissal of unjustified criminal charges. A primary objective in the defense of any criminal case is to avoid the risk of going to trial. Unless a case is dismissed, the defendant must make the final decision on going to trial. However, the defense attorney must objectively evaluate the evidence and carefully advise the defendant in making this important decision. The defendant may have more favorable options if the defense attorney is able to effectively challenge questionable evidence and to negotiate a reasonable sentence.

The firm’s top priority is to avoid a formal prosecution of unjustified criminal charges. In the state courts, a preliminary hearing is intended to determine whether there is enough evidence, or “probable cause,” to “bind over” a case to the superior court for a felony indictment. The firm has a much better chance of obtaining an early dismissal or preparing a later defense if it is employed before a preliminary hearing. Felony cases may be prosecuted without a preliminary hearing or regardless of the outcome of that hearing. However, the development of the evidence at the preliminary hearing generally controls or influences whether the State will proceed with a formal prosecution.

An “indictment” is a formal criminal charge issued by a grand jury. Most felony prosecutions require a grand jury indictment, although some designated felonies may be prosecuted in the state courts with an “accusation” drafted by the prosecutor. After an indictment or accusation is filed, a defendant must appear for a plea and arraignment in a state court, a superior court or a federal district court.

The defendant should retain defense counsel by the time he appears for arraignment. At that point, the defendant is given a copy of the indictment or accusation; he must plead “guilty” or “not guilty”; and he must file pre-trial motions. The deadline for filing motions may be extended, but proper motions should be drafted and filed by an experienced criminal attorney.

The vast majority of criminal cases are resolved without a trial. The defense attorney’s role is simply to obtain the best possible outcome for his client. A trial is always a great risk, so the defense attorney must aggressively argue for a dismissal before trial if the evidence does not adequately support the criminal prosecution. The defense attorney may also seek a reduction of charges that are too severe. Even if a defendant has committed a crime, the penalty is negotiable and there are often alternatives to a permanent felony conviction or incarceration. The attorney must be fully aware of these alternatives to properly advocate for the most lenient sentence.

A defense attorney can never guarantee the outcome of a criminal case. Many factors are not within the defense attorney’s control, including the conduct and decisions of the judge, the prosecutor and prosecution witnesses. However, the defense attorney can and must control his own preparation and efforts to resolve the case. Thus, the outcome of a criminal prosecution may depend substantially on the quality of the defendant’s legal representation.


If you are operating a motor vehicle in Georgia with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at .08 or above, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Under Georgia law, even a first conviction may result in a sentence of up to a year in jail or on probation, a hefty fine, alcohol and drug evaluation with treatment, community service, and a one-year license suspension. Unlike other convictions for first time offenders, a conviction for DUI cannot be removed from your criminal history. During the license suspension, an ignition interlock device might be available to keep you on the road.

A guilty plea or conviction for DUI will lead to a license suspension, but your license can also be suspended beforehand. A police officer may initiate the suspension of a driver’s license when the driver refuses to take a state-administered breath, blood or urine test under Georgia’s implied consent law. The driver’s license can be confiscated when the driver receives a notice of the intent to suspend the license. The driver may appeal the suspension by submitting a letter requesting an Administrative License Suspension Hearing, but this letter must be filed within 30 days after the date of arrest.

Remember that a wide variety of defenses to a DUI charge exist. Some evidence is inadmissible, or it may justify reducing a DUI charge to a lesser offense. It is critical to be fully informed of all the legal choices that are available based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. The prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We hold every prosecutor to that burden and defend DUI cases vigorously. 

Contact the criminal defense lawyers here at The Howard Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss any DUI charge and the options for your defense. When you hire us, you’ll put our extensive experience and solid reputation on your side of the case.

Civil Rights, False Arrest & Malicious Prosecution

It is the duty of a police officer to serve and protect the community that gives him authority. Unfortunately, a police officer may overstep this authority and violate the rights of citizens he was sworn to protect. Law enforcement officers may also arrest and prosecute an innocent person for illegitimate reasons, such as to cover up an officer’s misconduct, to resolve an unsolved case, or to satisfy someone who is fabricating evidence for their own purposes.

The attorneys at the Howard Law Firm are skilled and compassionate Georgia civil rights attorneys willing to fight on behalf of citizens who have suffered as a result of police misconduct, false arrests, and malicious prosecutions. On occasion, attorneys at The Howard Law Firm have recognized and pursued civil rights claims as a result of a successful defense to an unjustified criminal prosecution.

Federal & State Laws Protecting Citizens from False Arrest & Malicious Prosecution

A federal statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, allows citizens to pursue a civil claim against anyone who uses a state law to commit a false arrest or malicious prosecution. The Georgia legislature also enacted statutes that specifically apply to false arrest and malicious prosecution claims. These claims can be pursued against any person or entity that intentionally participated in this reprehensible conduct based on state law and the Georgia Constitution. A knowledgeable attorney must carefully assess whether a specific claim should be pursued under state law, federal law, or both.

These claims are not necessarily or exclusively brought against police officers. A company, a business, or an individual may falsely accuse someone of criminal conduct. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors are not liable for doing their jobs, although they may be responsible for ignoring or manipulating the evidence to assist an unjustified criminal prosecution.

Despite the laws designed to protect against police brutality and misconduct, it can be very challenging to pursue a case against law enforcement officers. Police officers and government officials often benefit from legal immunities (i.e. governmental immunity, sovereign immunity, qualified immunity) that can thwart a case against them in its earliest stages. A skilled civil rights attorney is trained to recognize and challenge these immunities to provide citizens whose civil rights have been violated with the relief they deserve. 

The Representation You Need

Matters involving police abuse or misconduct are complicated issues that a Georgia citizen should not attempt to handle alone. If you or someone you know has been mistreated by police officers, falsely arrested, or maliciously prosecuted for a crime, then contact a skilled civil rights attorney at The Howard Law Firm at (770) 270-5080.