Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence can be quite stressful and traumatic. When you know that your loved one lost his/her life due to someone else’s reckless actions, the grieving process can be even more difficult. The surviving family members might be left with a series of financial difficulties including medical bills and funeral costs.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to claim compensation from the at-fault party. While a lawsuit can’t erase the pain created by the untimely death of your loved one, recovering compensation can ease the financial burden on your family.
If you decide to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party, you should understand the process is complex. That’s why you need to work with a qualified and experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyer to obtain the maximum compensation for your loss.
The Herro Law Firm employs some of the best personal injury lawyers in town to represent your wrongful death lawsuit and obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer like Anthony J. Herro knows the ins and outs of personal injury law.
Call us at (404) 433-6876 today for a free consultation and get the best representation in your wrongful death case!
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of Georgia?
The Georgia Wrongful Death Act has been in force for more than 100 years. In fact, several addendums have been added to the act over the years. The 5 code sections of the Wrongful Death Act highlight the various possible legal grounds for a wrongful death claim in the state of Georgia including:
- Criminal actions, such as intentional homicide
- Medical malpractice, such as medication errors, surgical errors, misdiagnoses, and medical injury
- Defective products including appliances, medical devices, drugs, electronics, and vehicles
- Faulty construction and engineering malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs
- Contaminated food in commercial establishments
- Pedestrian accident fatalities
- Illegal and improper alcohol service, for example, a bartender continuing to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron
Who Is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
The main purpose of a wrongful death claim is to let a living family member file a claim on behalf of a deceased victim. As per Georgia’s wrongful death law, only specific people can represent the deceased in a wrongful death case.
Spouse of the Deceased
The first person to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the spouse of the deceased. If they were married, the spouse has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of any children of the deceased person who are under 18 years of age. In fact, the spouse is eligible for at least one-third of the full financial recovery from the wrongful death claim.
Children of the Deceased
If the deceased was not married or their spouse passed first, the deceased’s surviving children have the right to file a wrongful death claim.
Parents of the Deceased
If the deceased person was not married and did not have any surviving children, any surviving parent can file the claim on behalf of the deceased person.
If the deceased did not leave behind a surviving spouse, children, or parents who can file the claim, a designated representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. Any damages won under such a claim will go to the deceased’s estate and be distributed to their surviving next-of-kin.
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable?
A wrongful death claim in Georgia takes into account the full value of the deceased person’s life, including:
- Financial losses – Lost wages and benefits the deceased person would have earned if he or she was alive.
- Intangible losses – The loss of companionship, care, and other benefits the family members would have otherwise received from the deceased individual.
Another type of claim related to wrongful death is usually brought by the deceased individual’s estate – which is known as an estate claim. Such a claim will try to make up for the financial losses related to the person’s death including:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical costs for treatment of the victim’s past injuries or illnesses
- Pain and suffering endured by the person before he or she succumbed to his/her injuries
Can the Surviving Family File for Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a special type of damages that are designed to punish the defendant as opposed to compensating the victim. Georgia does not allow the surviving family to file for punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, Georgia courts sometimes award punitive damages in a survival action (also known as an estate claim). This is a type of case that is filed in connection with a wrongful death when the victim did not die immediately.
Our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers at The Herro Law Firm can evaluate your case and determine if you can seek punitive damages in an estate claim.
How Is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
The plaintiff needs to prove several essential points in order to win a wrongful death case in Georgia. The wrongful death lawyers at The Herro Law Firm will evaluate your claim and determine if your case is worth pursuing.
The most important point to prove is that you lost your loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence.
To prove negligence, your Atlanta wrongful death lawyer must establish several criteria:
- Duty of Care – The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. For example, drivers have a responsibility to follow traffic laws and drive safely.
- Breach of Duty – The defendant breached or violated the duty of care.
- Causation – The defendant’s breach of duty caused your loved one’s death. An example is a fatal car accident caused by drunk driving.
- Damages – The defendant’s actions resulted in damages. These include your loved one’s death, the resulting expenses, and loss of companionship.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
It’s important to note that Georgia has a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit known as the statute of limitations. You must file your case within two years of your loved one’s death. The first step in pursuing compensation is to contact an experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyer for a free consultation.
Here is a general process of how a wrongful death claim is filed in Georgia.
Building Your Case
After your lawyer determines that there is sufficient cause to file a wrongful death claim, the lawyer will gather evidence against the party at-fault to support your claim. You should work with an experienced lawyer to file your claim and obtain the maximum compensation for your losses.
Negotiating a Settlement
Most wrongful death cases are settled out of court. Your Atlanta wrongful death lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company or the defendant’s lawyer for a fair settlement. Having an experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyer represent you will make all the difference in whether or not the offer you receive is a satisfactory amount.
If the negotiations are not successful, your lawyer will prepare the case for trial. The team at The Herro Law Firm is well experienced at arguing wrongful death cases in court and will fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to under the law.
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 loss of income since the deceased can no longer support the family financially, lost companionship, etc.
Estate claims are also known as survival actions. 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. The estate may also seek damages for pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to death. In some cases, courts may award punitive damages in an estate claim.
Call The Herro Law Firm in Atlanta, Georgia today at (404) 433-6876 to handle your wrongful death claim and obtain maximum compensation for your losses!
Call Our Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers Today!
Georgia has its own share of personal injury law firms. But all of these law firms are not top-notch. You should be cautious when choosing the best wrongful death lawyer in town to represent your case. That’s where The Herro Law Firm comes into the picture. We are your trusted partner in Atlanta, GA, to handle our wrongful death claim and obtain the maximum compensation for your losses.
Working with such a professional can simplify even the most complex lawsuit. We can help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible. Don’t wait any longer to take action because, in the state of Georgia, you have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim.