If someone in your family has tragically lost their life in Augusta, we understand that this is one of the most difficult times in your life. We know you are grieving, and you may also wonder how you will pay for the funeral or put your life back together without your loved one’s income.
A death in the family is traumatic and can put your finances in a tailspin; however, financial help is available. You may be entitled to recover money in a wrongful death claim for losing your family member. The Augusta wrongful death lawyers at our law firm can help you get compensation and justice for your loss.
What does Wrongful Death Mean?
A wrongful death claim is made by family members of someone who has died from fatal injuries due an accident or other negligent behavior. Negligence is a legal term that essentially means carelessness, and it can include many types of conduct, including:
- Drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, or other aggressive, careless, or unlawful driving behavior
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Dangerous medical devices
- Prescription drugs that aren’t safe or don’t carry proper warnings
- Nursing home neglect
- Assaults and other criminal acts
- Food contamination
- Defective construction
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
When Someone Dies Due to Negligence
When a person or business is negligent, they are liable for all the effects of negligent behavior. In an ordinary situation, this includes medical expenses, lost paychecks, other financial losses, and non-financial losses for pain and suffering.
But when someone dies due to negligence, the negligent party is also responsible for wrongful death damages. This means your attorney must show that the other party is negligent so your family can get the compensation they need.
Our firm has decades of experience serving victims and their families, and we know what to do to ensure you are cared for. We’ll guide you through the legal process and help you hold the liable parties accountable.
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What Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Augusta Do for Me?
Our lawyers want you to be able to mourn in peace, so once you agree to hire us to represent you, we will handle every step of your wrongful death case.
After your initial consultation, when your attorney assesses your situation and tells you what the next steps are going to be, your personal injury lawyer will:
- Gather evidence.
- Calculate the damages associated with your loved one’s death.
- Negotiate with the other party.
- Deal with the insurance company.
- Fight for you in court, if necessary.
It’s unlikely your case will end up going to court. Most of the time, both sides can agree on a settlement before that happens. However, sometimes negotiations break down, and the wrongful death case goes to trial.
Our skilled legal team of wrongful death lawyers in Augusta will be ready to represent you if you need to go to court. We work on a contingency-fee-basis, which means we don’t get paid unless you win.
How do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In any personal injury case, including wrongful death, there are three elements to proving that someone else’s negligence caused your loved one’s death. The three elements are:
- The other party owed the deceased a duty of care, e.g., a certain level of care that any reasonable person can be expected to show to someone else.
- The other party breached the duty of care. This can include breaking traffic laws, manufacturing faulty equipment, or failing to keep safe conditions on their premises. This is known as negligence.
- The other party’s negligence caused certain damages, such as your loved one’s death.
Proving negligence can be tricky in a Georgia wrongful death case because evidence fades, and sadly, only one party of the accident can give their record of events. Thankfully, our firm has decades of experience and knows what to look for. To build a strong case, your wrongful death attorney in Augusta will gather evidence like:
- Pictures and videos of the accident scene
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Medical documents
- Criminal or driving records
By showing that the other party’s recklessness was the cause of your loved one’s death, our team can secure the fair compensation you and your family need to recover from your devastating loss.
Is There a Time Limit for Wrongful Death Claims?
Yes, you only have a limited time to file a wrongful death claim. In most cases, the Augusta courts have a statute of limitations two years from the death date. But there are various reasons why the deadline might be longer or shorter in your case, and it is best to consult with a lawyer to find out exactly what deadline applies to your situation.
If you don’t file your case before the deadline passes, you are out of luck. You will have lost the opportunity to recover money that could make a dramatic difference in your family’s lives for years to come.
Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim in Augusta?
To make a wrongful death claim in Augusta-Richmond County, you must have lost someone close to you. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 51-4-2 only allows a few people to file personal injury claims for wrongful death:
- If the deceased was married, the husband or wife could file a claim for themselves and any children the deceased left behind.
- If the deceased had children but wasn’t married, the children can bring a wrongful death claim on their own.
- If the person who died didn’t have a spouse or children, the deceased person’s parents are the ones who can make a wrongful death claim.
- If someone dies without leaving behind a spouse, child, or parent, the deceased person’s estate can make a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased person’s heirs.
Georgia law doesn’t recognize anyone else’s right to claim wrongful death, including unmarried partners, close friends, step-parents, step-children, or grandparents.
What Can I Recover Money for in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Because wrongful death concentrates on the expense of the damage itself, wrongful death lawsuits differ from other injury claims. A wrongful death claim considers the losses the victim suffered due to their death. This could incorporate the following:
- A lost potential lifetime income
- The absence of loved ones’ company
- The inability to participate in activities and community activities that they liked
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses
Human life is precious and cannot be replaced, and the legal system knows it cannot bring the deceased person back. It can only provide financial compensation to the family who tragically lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence.
After a loss, financial damages can help you pay your mortgage, return to school to advance your career, educate your kids, access bereavement counseling, and find a means to rebuild your life.
You should hire an Augusta, GA, wrongful death attorney who understands your needs and how to address them.
Who Will Pay for the Funeral Expenses?
After a loved one dies, the estate is responsible for wrapping up their financial circumstances, including medical bill payments and funeral costs. After a tragic accident or another event, the estate can file a claim to recover damages.
This claim is similar to a wrongful death claim but is valued differently. Its purpose is to cover losses incurred before the deceased’s death.
These losses may include funeral costs, hospital fees, and any pain and suffering the deceased individual endured before passing away.
In some cases, like drunk driving accidents, it can include additional punitive damages to punish the person who caused the accident.
The damages the estate recovers can be substantial. And after costs are paid, they will be distributed to the deceased person’s heirs under their will or according to Georgia law.
To ensure you have enough money to cover all the expenses associated with losing a loved one, a wrongful death attorney will calculate your costs and ensure the insurance company pays in full.
Talk to a Wrongful Death Attorney in Augusta for Free
The Augusta wrongful death lawyers at John Foy & Associates never want to see a family suffer financially because of a tragic death. Our attorneys know how to get you the money you need and don’t want to cause more financial burdens than you already have.
That’s why our team gives you a free consultation and doesn’t request payment unless we receive a settlement. We have spent the last 20 years fighting to get family members the money they deserve in wrongful death and accident claims, and we have an outstanding track record.
Call us or fill out the contact form on our website. We want to meet with you to discuss a plan for getting the financial award for which you are qualified.