The financial and emotional impact of suddenly and unexpectedly losing a loved one is devastating. The situation is even worse when the death is caused by another party’s negligent, reckless, or malicious actions.
Georgia law gives the bereaved a right to pursue justice for their late loved one by filing a wrongful death case. However, wrongful death cases are complicated. You need a qualified, experienced, reputable, and committed Druid Hills wrongful death lawyer to help you.
At SHElaw firm®, we know how dealing with a wrongful death suit while grieving can be overwhelming. That is why we strive to unburden you of the different legal requirements and processes once you hire us to represent you. You can focus more on mourning your loved one.
Our legal team is experienced, professional, dedicated, and compassionate about people’s circumstances. Our attorneys will fight aggressively for your family’s rights and interests. Call our Druid Hills law firm at 470-378-1162 to schedule a free consultation and case review.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of Georgia?
According to Georgia state laws (Ga. Code § 51-4-1 to 5), wrongful death is the death of a human being due to negligence, criminal activities, manufacturing errors, and defective products.
Here is a short breakdown of the factors that set the grounds for pursuing a wrongful death case:
- Murder and other criminal acts
- Car accidents attributed to negligence and reckless driving
- Defective products like drugs, electronics, appliances, vehicle parts, and medical devices
- Medical malpractice like surgical errors, wrong diagnoses, and more
- Neglect and abuse in care homes and retirement homes
- Shoddy construction and other engineering errors
- Food contamination in restaurants
- Illegal or improper alcohol service
Who Is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Wrongful death suits fall under personal injury law, but unlike in other personal injury cases, the family files the claim on behalf of the deceased.
Georgia has strict laws regarding who can file a wrongful death case and get compensation on behalf of a loved one. Those eligible to file a claim include:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s children (if there is no surviving spouse)
- The departed’s parents (if there is no spouse or children)
- The deceased’s estate representative (if the deceased left no spouse, children, or parents)
No other family members like siblings or grandparents are eligible to file a wrongful death suit pursuing compensation.
What Types of Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Your Druid Hills wrongful death attorney will focus on helping you and your family receive compensation under three categories:
The family can recover compensation for the “full value of the deceased’s life.” We consider what your loved one would have earned over their career as well as retirement benefits, etc. Our attorneys can also help you recover compensation for medical bills, funeral/burial expenses, and other losses with a definitive monetary value.
These cover non-financial losses and the compensation amount is usually determined by a jury. Non-economic damages typically focus on the loss of companionship, loss of emotional support, etc.
An estate claim can only be filed by the deceased’s estate, and it is often filed separately. It is designed to cover specific financial losses related to the demise of the departed. It may cover losses like funeral and burial costs and medical expenses.
Can the Surviving Family File for Punitive Damages?
Under Georgia laws, the surviving family is not allowed to file for punitive damages in a wrongful death suit and the civil court will not award punitive damages.
However, punitive damages may be included in an estate claim filed by the estate administrator. Punitive damages may be on the table if the deceased survived, even if only for a few seconds, after the accident.
How Is Negligence Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?
In order to win a wrongful death case in Georgia, your attorney must prove that the defendant was reckless, negligent, or malicious and caused your loved one’s untimely demise.
Your Druid Hills wrongful death lawyer must prove to the court the following crucial facts in order to win the case:
Duty of Care
We shall demonstrate that the defendant owed the departed a duty of care. For instance, if your loved one died in a drunk driving accident, the at-fault party had a duty to drive safely and carefully on the road.
Breach of Duty of Care
We shall prove that the accused failed to uphold the duty of care. And using the same drunk driving example, the driver violated traffic laws and endangered others by driving under the influence.
The focus will be on linking your loved one’s demise to the accused’s negligent actions by demonstrating how the death was due to the accident, which was caused by drunk driving and nothing else.
Once your wrongful death attorney proves to the court the first three facts that prove negligence, we also will focus on the damages associated with the wrongful death. Proof of death is one of the crucial elements to leverage in helping you recover damages. The other is showing how your loved one’s untimely death led to losses, pain, and suffering.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
When starting a wrongful death claim, it is important to understand the requirements involved. For example, aside from knowing the people eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia, you have to know about the statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations is the legal time frame for to filing a case. If you miss the deadline, you forfeit the right to file a claim. The statute of limitation for wrongful death in Georgia is 2 years starting from the date of the death.
To successfully start a wrongful death claim, you will have to follow the following general process:
Building a Case
The first step is to build a case. This involves determining if there is sufficient cause to file a lawsuit. This is why we offer a free case evaluation. Our goal is to not only understand your claim but try to determine if there is sufficient cause to pursue a legal lawsuit. If there is sufficient cause, we will gather evidence against the at-fault party and file a case in the civil court.
If the settlement offer isn’t fair or a settlement isn’t offered immediately, the lawyer will start negotiating with the other side and make every attempt to get a satisfactory offer. In a majority of cases, a fair settlement is reached without a trial.
If negotiations fail, the next step is to prepare for a trial. During the preparation stage, both parties will share evidence. This is known as discovery. The records related to the incident will be reviewed by both parties. Any and all witnesses will be deposed under oath. Of course, the judge will meet with both parties to determine if there is any room for settling. If not, a trial date will be given.
Going to trial is an entirely different ball game from negotiations. As we state our case, we shall be before a judge and jury, telling your loved one’s life story and providing evidence that supports our arguments.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
A wrongful death claim is brought by the surviving family members of the deceased to seek compensation for the full value of their loved one’s life. This includes the value of income and household cores as well as loss of companionship, time spent with family, and other such parts of life.
The estate claim is filed by the estate of the deceased to recover expenses such as burial and funeral costs as well as medical expenses related to the event that led to the decedent’s death. If the deceased lived for even a few seconds after the accident, the estate may also seek damages for pain and suffering.
If the deceased left a will, the administrator or executor brings the estate claim. If the decedent did not leave a will, Georgia’s laws of inheritance will come into play to determine the eligible party for bringing the lawsuit.
Call Our Druid Hills Wrongful Death Lawyers Today!
If you have lost a loved one due to the reckless or negligent actions of others, an experienced wrongful death lawyer from SHElaw firm® can help you file a claim and recover the compensation you deserve. While no amount of money for the wrongful death is sufficient, it does help with the sudden financial burden surviving family members are now forced to endure.
You don’t need to worry about the costs of bringing a wrongful death claim. Here at SHElaw firm®, we work on a contingency fee arrangement which means you do not need to pay anything out of your own pocket. We will recover our costs from the compensation we win for you.
Give us a call at 470-378-1162 to schedule a free consultation.