Losing a loved one is not an easy experience, especially if it was caused by the negligence or carelessness of others. It is an experience that comes with a lot of emotions, shock, pain, and anxiety. When a person has lost a loved one, it becomes a challenge to make the correct or informed decision because emotions take over and one loses their sense of reason. Let’s not forget the fact that death comes with psychological, emotional, and financial implications.
This is where we come into the picture. We are a firm that fights for the best interests of our clients. During this hard time, it would be wise to allow our Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers to take over your case and allow you to grieve in peace. That is because, according to Georgia’s Statute Code Title 51 Chapter 4, Paragraph 1, you are allowed to seek wrongful death compensation. Although this will not bring your loved one back, it is a way to ease some of your burdens.
Fighting a civil wrongful death case is not easy, and you will need the services of a highly qualified and experienced lawyer. At Herro Law, we will fight for your legal rights with all we have, while at the same time giving you updates on each step we take. To book a consultation session, call us at (404) 433-6876, and speak to our personal injury lawyer.
How Does the State of Georgia Define Wrongful Death?
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act (Ga. Code 51:4:1-5) has existed for more than 100 years and has undergone several additions and amendments. The Wrongful Death Act outlines what a wrongful death is and the possible grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Georgia law defines wrongful death as a death caused by another party’s negligence or criminal activity or by defective products/property. According to this definition, there are several possible situations where you can file a wrongful death case in Lawrenceville, GA. This includes the following:
- Defective consumer goods such as appliances, drugs, vehicle parts, and so on
- Criminal offense (both intentional and unintentional homicide)
- Medical negligence
- Traffic accidents caused by careless or reckless behavior
- Errors in engineering
- Food contamination and sanitation
- Abuse and negligence in nursing homes
- Illegal or improper alcohol service
Who Qualifies to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
A wrongful death claim cannot be compared to other types of personal injury cases, although they fall under one category. The reason is that in wrongful death cases, compensation is awarded to the closest family member of the deceased and not the victim. Nevertheless, the state of Georgia has strict rules that govern those who qualify to file for and receive compensation.
The Spouse of the Dead
The surviving spouse of the deceased is the first person in line to qualify to file a wrongful death claim in a civil court. Note that this does not include former spouses from a divorce.
The Children or Parents of the Dead
If there is no surviving spouse, children are second in line to qualify. Parents are next in line if the departed did not have kids or a spouse.
An estate representative is the last person who has the legal right to file a wrongful death claim. If compensation is awarded, the estate will distribute it to the next of kin.
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act does not allow other family members to file a wrongful death claim. However, if they wish to do so, they can only do it through the mentioned parties.
The Types of Damages Awarded in a Wrongful Death Claim
In a wrongful death case, the compensation awarded is divided into three groups. These are:
The surviving family is entitled to compensation for the “full value of life” of the departed. The economic value includes the income and benefits the deceased would have obtained if he/she were alive. This means that the family can recover compensation for work benefits, future income, retirement benefits, etc.
The value of someone’s life goes beyond money. The civil court will award financial compensation for the intangible losses and harm caused by the death. It may cover future life loss, loss of emotional support, loss of companionship, and others.
These are compensations based on specific financial losses related to the deceased. Only an estate representative can file an estate claim and it is always filed separately. It covers losses like burial costs, the pain and suffering the dead went through before death, medical expenses before death, and more.
Can A Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?
According to the Wrongful Death Act, a family member can’t file for punitive damages. The good news is that it is possible to get it through an estate claim, but it must be filed by an estate administrator.
How Is Negligence Proven In A Wrongful Death Case?
All litigation processes have some kind of formula or process that one has to follow. This is not different when it comes to personal injury cases. In a wrongful death claim, one must fulfill four elements, which are:
Duty of Care
The person who files the civil lawsuit must demonstrate or prove that the deceased was owed a duty of care. There are many ways to prove duty of care, but it will depend on your specific civil case. Remember, not all cases are the same.
Breach of Duty of Care
The party bringing the wrongful death lawsuit must show how the duty of care was violated. This means showing the action the defendant took that violated the duty of care.
This is the link between the defendant’s actions and the death. It simply means that the action the defendant took was the cause of the death and nothing else.
The party filing the civil lawsuit must demonstrate the extent of the damages. In the case of wrongful death, the damage is the actual death of the family member. It is important to note that showing death is not enough; what exactly caused the death is also important.
How Do You Start A Wrongful Death Claim In Georgia?
It is important to understand the requirements and the process when filing a wrongful death claim. You also need to be aware of the statute of limitation, which is 2 years starting from the date of the death. For you to succeed in filing a wrongful death in Georgia, you will need to follow the following steps:
Constructing and Filing the Case
For your case to succeed, you need to construct it by collecting all the necessary information and documentation. What you get will determine if you have sufficient grounds to file a lawsuit. After collecting everything, you can now file a civil case.
The first step after filing a civil wrongful death claim is negotiation. It is important to note that a majority of civil cases are settled out of court through negotiations.
In the case where negotiations fail, the next step is preparing for trial. At this stage, all parties must share evidence, which is known as “discovery.” This allows all parties to review the records. Also, at this stage, all witnesses will be deposed under oath. Settling is possible in this state.
Just as the name suggests, a trial is a trial. It will involve telling the life story of the dead, showing evidence, and arguing the litigation. All this is done in front of a judge and jury.
What Is The Difference Between A Wrongful Death And An Estate Claim?
There is a huge difference between the two. The first difference is that a wrongful death litigation is filed by a loved one, whereas an estate claim is filed by an estate administrator. Another difference is that in a wrongful death claim, compensation is awarded to the surviving member of the deceased, and in an estate claim, compensation is awarded to the estate, which then can be distributed to the next of kin. Another difference is that in wrongful death, compensation covers both economic and non-economic values, whereas, in an estate claim, compensation covers lost expenses associated with the deceased and punitive damages.
For Consultation and Legal Representation as Your Wrongful Death Lawyer, Call Us Today!
If you have lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, it is wise to seek the services of an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Remember, losing a loved one comes with emotions, stress, anxiety, and psychological distress. This may make filing a civil case stressful. You may even end up making irrational decisions. To prevent all this, you need someone with a sober mind and legal expertise.
At Herro Law, we have top-rated lawyers in the country. Our goal is to make things easier for you during this tough time. We will not only fight for your legal rights but also ensure they are protected according to the state laws. Call your Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers at Herro Law for a consultation session with our experienced lawyers at (404) 433-6876.