After the death of a family member, it can be hard to tell which side is up and what way to turn. If someone else caused their death, whether intentionally or through negligence, you can be left even more confused and pained. Filing a wrongful death claim can allow you to hold them accountable and ease your financial burden.
A wrongful death lawyer in Smyrna from John Foy & Associates can help you with that. By investigating your case and gathering evidence that proves the other party’s negligence, an attorney can help you along the process of recovering.
We recognize that no amount of money can take away the grief. However, compensation can allow you to focus on healing instead of dealing with expenses related to your loved one’s death. If you have more questions about your claim, you can talk to a member of our team for free.
Family Members Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
There is no restriction on how to grieve for a family member or who is allowed to feel their loss. However, in Georgia, there are strict restrictions on who can file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. This is to cut down on inter-family conflict and make sure there is just one claim filed for the decedent’s accident.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 51-4-2 lays out the order in which people can claim compensation for wrongful death. Keep in mind that this is simply who can file, but not necessarily who gets the entire settlement:
- If there is a surviving spouse, they file the claim
- If there is no surviving spouse, the children of the decedent file the claim
- If the decedent had no living spouse or children, their parents file the claim
- If none of the above apply, someone designated by the decedent’s estate may file the claim
The payment in these scenarios depends on what family members are living and who is filing. For example, if a surviving spouse files and there are also two living children, the settlement is split into three equal parts. If there are more than two surviving children, the spouse receives a third and the children split the rest equally.
If you’re not sure whether you can file or who will be receiving compensation for your family member’s death, an attorney can help. At your initial consultation, your lawyer can help you understand what steps you and your family should take.
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The Key Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
Your loved one’s death is tragic, regardless of whether there was anyone at fault. However, to legally count as a wrongful death, there are specific criteria that your situation must meet. If there is not a valid argument for wrongful death, you may have to rely on your loved one’s insurance to pay for expenses.
The key elements of a wrongful death claim are:
- A duty of care. You and your lawyer have to be able to show that the other party owed your loved one a duty to treat them as well as any person can be reasonably expected to.
- Negligence. This occurs when someone breaches the duty of care–this can be intentional or unintentional and does not necessarily have to be a criminal act. It just has to be below the standard that someone should treat someone else.
- Causation. You and your lawyer will have to show that, not only was the other party negligent, but that negligence also caused your loved one’s death.
- Damages. It’s not enough to just show how the other party caused your family member’s death. To get compensation, you also need to show why you deserve compensation. That is, you need to show the economic and non-economic damages that the at-fault party’s negligence caused.
Your wrongful death lawyer in Smyrna will gather evidence that proves all these points. By proving your claim and showing the full extent of your damages, your attorney will make sure the other party and their insurance company give you as much as possible.
Smyrna Wrongful Death Lawyer Near Me 404-400-4000
Damages You Can Recover for Wrongful Death
Your compensation in your wrongful death claim will depend on the specific damages that your loved one and your family suffered because of the at-fault party’s actions. Damages in cases like yours are usually split into three groups: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
The first type of damage that your lawyer will calculate will be your economic damages. These are the financial losses that you and your family experienced due to your loved one’s accident and subsequent death.
Economic damages can include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future household income
In most accident cases, the other type of damage that comes into play is non-economic. Non-economic damages are the toll on your quality of life, and that of your loved one before they passed away.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Mental trauma
To calculate your non-economic damages, your lawyer will actually most likely use your economic damages. They will multiply your financial losses by a number that will depend on the level of suffering your loved one and your family has had to endure, and the product of that will be how much you receive for your non-financial losses.
The third type of damage that you could recover compensation for does not factor into every accident case. Punitive damages are meant to punish parties whose actions were particularly egregious and discourage others from making the same mistake. You aren’t guaranteed any punitive damages, but they do appear more in wrongful death claims than other accident claims.
Talk to a Wrongful Death Attorney in Smyrna Today
Your family member’s passing should not mean you carry a financial burden on top of the emotional one you’re already suffering under. The Smyrna wrongful death lawyers at John Foy & Associates can help you recover from your ordeal, if only monetarily.
To get a free consultation with an attorney who can help, call us or contact us online today. We are available to talk to you any day of the week.