When someone passes away, it leaves a major void in the lives of those closest to them. Even under the best of circumstances, it takes time to accept a loved one’s death and to adjust to life without them. But when the death happens suddenly and unexpectedly because of something that was preventable, it becomes even more difficult to take. A death that someone else is responsible for leaves families with a lot of unanswered questions as well as a desire to somehow right this wrong and bring at least some sense of closure to the situation.
Wrongful death is a legal term that indicates a death caused by the recklessness or negligence of another individual or corporation. In many cases, car accidents, medical malpractice, and workplace accidents (such as construction accidents) can lead to wrongful death. And when this happens, the victim’s loved ones deserve to be compensated.
The financial and emotional hardships that families face after the loss of a loved one can be crippling, and we know that no amount of money can ever make up for losing someone who was close to you. However, financial compensation can help surviving loved ones to cope with their circumstances and move forward toward a more secure future. At Ross Moore II, P.C., our Atlanta fatal accident attorney can listen to your case and fight for the compensation you are owed.
Fight for just compensation by calling (404) 905-3146 for a free initial case evaluation today!
If we don’t win on your behalf, you don’t owe us any legal fees.
GEORGIA WRONGFUL DEATH LAWS
Georgia law defines wrongful death as a death that is caused by the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” actions of another person or party. Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care when the individual or entity had a duty to do so, resulting in the person’s death. There are a number of situations in which this can occur, including:
Premises Liability Accidents
Product Liability Accidents
Nursing Home Negligence
Essentially, a wrongful death case is like a personal injury case, except that the injured party is deceased. Many of the same rules apply, but there are some unique aspects to a wrongful death claim that make these types of cases more complex.
It is important to note that wrongful death claims are civil cases that are entirely separate from any criminal charges the responsible party may be facing for the decedent’s death. Criminal cases use a higher standard of proof than civil cases, and a wrongful death civil claim can be brought regardless of whether or not someone is charged criminally for the same action.
Another major difference is that criminal cases are brought by the government, and penalties for the defendant typically include fines and jail time. Civil cases are brought by a private party, and the legal remedy they seek is monetary damages rather than criminal penalties.
WHO MAY BRING A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM IN GEORGIA?
In Georgia, certain relatives of the decedent as well as the decedent’s estate are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the following order:
Spouse: The first person who would be able to file a wrongful death claim would be the decedent’s surviving spouse. However, if the spouse and the decedent also have children, then the spouse is legally required to bring the claim on behalf of the children as well. No matter how many children there are, the spouse of the decedent is allowed to receive at least one-third of the total recovery.
Children: If there is no surviving spouse, then the children of the decedent are next in line to initiate the wrongful death action. Proceeds from the recovery are then divided equally among each child.
Parent: If there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children, then any surviving parent(s) would be allowed to file the wrongful death suit.
Estate: If there is no spouse, children, or parents, then the wrongful death action is brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, and proceeds are divided among the decedent’s next of kin according to Georgia probate laws.
COMPENSATION IN A GEORGIA WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM
The compensation involved in a wrongful death claim is meant to help surviving loved ones maintain financial security after the passing of a family member.
In many cases, compensation can include the following:
Funeral and burial expenses
Lost future wages
Loss of consortium
Loss of comfort, care, instruction, guidance, and support
In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded if the death of the loved one was caused by a grossly negligent, reckless, malicious, or willful act. This type of damages is meant to punish the responsible party and help discourage similarly egregious conduct in the future. Georgia places a cap of $250,000 for punitive damages in most cases. If the death occurred because of a defective or dangerous product or an intentional action, however, there is no punitive damages cap.
It is worth noting that damages from an estate claim (with no surviving family members) are typically more limited than damages from wrongful death actions that are brought by immediate relatives. With an estate claim, damages are usually awarded only for the expenses of the estate, such as funeral and burial costs, and for the pain and suffering of the decedent.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN GEORGIA WRONGFUL DEATH CASES
In most cases, the statute of limitations to bring a wrongful death action in Georgia is two years from the date of the decedent’s death. There are some instances in which the statute of limitations can be “tolled” (i.e. paused), such as when there is a criminal proceeding ongoing for the same wrongful action or there are delays related to the probating the decedent’s estate, but for the most part, two years is the time limit to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you fail to file before the two-year deadline, there is a very good chance that your case will be thrown out. For this reason, it is very important to retain the services of an experienced wrongful death attorney as early as possible so you do not run up against any time constraints that could deprive you of the just compensation you and your family deserve.
CALL AN ATLANTA WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER FOR A FREE CASE EVALUATION!
Ross Moore II, P.C. is here to provide compassionate support and strong legal guidance throughout this incredibly difficult time. Our skilled wrongful death attorneys in Atlanta can thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading up to the accident and fight for justice on behalf of your loved ones. We are unafraid to go up against insurance companies or other parties that would wish to undervalue your claim.