As you mourn the loss of your loved one, there are rumblings that the death may have occurred due to negligence. As time passes after the tragedy, more details surface that compel you to consider this option. The wrongful death attorneys at the SHElaw firm® offer a free consultation to help you determine if this is a matter you should consider.
How is Wrongful Death Defined
Georgia Code 51-4-1 states the death of a human being from negligence, criminal activity of another, or from property that has been defectively manufactured or improperly instructed for use is a wrongful death. It also applies to on-the-job accidents that resulted in death due to negligence, erroneous equipment instruction, or lack of oversight. The cause of death is homicide, not accidental. The state may file a criminal case for jail time or punishment. A Wrongful Death case is a civil case to recover monetary damages caused by the tragic loss of life. There have been times when the civil case has brought to light evidence that helped the criminal case. Other times the civil case is the only justice for the victim.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
The surviving spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death claim if they believe their loved one died under suspicious circumstances. The personal representative can file the claim for the estate if siblings, grandparents, or any other loved ones want to see justice served.
What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
These examples will qualify as wrongful deaths:
Criminal Acts – Intentional homicide, mass shooting, an innocent bystander at shooting, shot during a burglary, vehicular homicide, kidnapping, and extreme torture
Example: During a bank robbery at the First Federal Bank, four gunmen took ten bank customers and five employees as hostages. The leader of the gunmen told the bank president that if he did not open the vault, he would shoot one of the hostages. The gunman made it clear that 45-year-old Mr. Johnson would be his target. The bank manager thought the gunman was bluffing, and refused to open the vault. The gunman shot Mr. Johnson in the head in front of everyone. The bank president opened the safe and allowed the robbers entrance. The four robbers got away with $14.5 million, and no arrests ever made. Mr. Johnson was the only fatality. First Federal sent flowers for his service. After his funeral, Mrs. Johnson and his children started hearing rumors that the bank president was in on the heist. They won a Wrongful Death case against First Federal and the bank president for $10 million.
Engineering Errors and Shoddy Construction – Poor construction, equipment misuse, or lacking oversight, engineering decisions to cut corners and save money
Sanitation Issues and Food Contamination – Food poisoning, exposure to deadly diseases due to mishandling of food, garbage, or any other public exposure due to poor handling of food or waste products
Defective Products – Faulty construction or distribution of appliances, furniture, electronics, and vehicle parts, including medical products and drugs
Example: IKEA has settled numerous wrongful death lawsuits for children that have suffered crushing deaths beneath their furniture. Some amounts are undisclosed, but other settlements list at $50 million. None went to trial. IKEA has been working on improvements and anchors for these dressers and other large pieces of furniture.
Medical Malpractice – Inadequate care due to misdiagnosis, medication prescribing errors, surgical errors, medical injury, or delay in care
Example: One of the most common medical malpractice wrongful death claims is mothers dying immediately following delivery. It happens with a saddening frequency that mothers experiencing hemorrhaging or other life-threatening complications are under-diagnosed. Due to the strenuous and stressful nature of delivering a child, it can be hard to determine a normal response for each mother. Each woman has her own pain tolerance level to evaluate. Some women can handle the experience like champs and be bleeding to death. Others are exhausted and barely losing any fluids. Nurses and doctors must recognize the warning signs and care for these women. This death is a terrible tragedy for the spouse, the new baby, any older children, and her parents.
Improper or Illegal Alcohol Service – Sales or services to obviously intoxicated individuals who die tragically due to that intoxication
Neglect and Abuse in Nursing Homes – Mistreatment of residents, ignoring resident needs, improperly administering medications, delay or failure to seek expert medical care
How is the Monetary Amount Calculated in Wrongful Death?
The compensation amount for a wrongful death suit is calculated based on two factors: economic value, and non-economic value. There can be claims for the expenses paid by the estate, but that is a separate claim filed by the estate. There are no punitive claims in Wrongful Death cases.
- Economic Value is the projected financial loss to the family upon the death of the loved one, including future earnings, pensions, investments, and work benefits.
- Non-Economic Value is a monetary amount, calculated by the court for the loss of companionship, parenting for the children, and emotional support for the family by the tragic loss of their loved one.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
A Wrongful Death case requires proof of negligence. There are four specific criteria to prove negligence. The Wrongful Death Specialists at the SHElaw firm® know how to find the answers to win your case.
- Duty of Care – This means to abstain from causing harm. The defendant owed the deceased a safe workplace, venue, or passage but did not do so.
- Breach of Duty of Care – The defendant broke the duty of care resulting in the death of the deceased.
- Causation – The prosecution must show that the defendant’s negligence caused the death. The death may be a result of an earlier act of negligence. We can win a Wrongful Death case if there is documentation of the origin and progression following the injury.
- Damages – The death of the loved one is the loss in a Wrongful Death case, but there may be other financial losses leading up to the death.
Contact SHElaw firm® if You Are Dealing with the Tragic Death of a Loved One
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person or company, please contact The SHElaw firm® or call 470-378-1162. We offer free consultations for potential clients in the Decatur, GA. area. You only have two years to get your case filed after the date of death. Our personal injury attorneys would love to help you win your wrongful death case and get some justice for your loved one.