There is nothing that can make up for losing a loved one in an accident. You will need time to process what has happened and be with your family. Handling the legal side of things is likely the last thing on your mind, which is where a Georgia accident lawyer can help.
Accidents of any kind can become expensive quickly. When an accident is fatal, it can leave family members overwhelmed with the costs and wondering what they should do. In some situations, you may be able to recover compensation for what happened. Here’s what you can do if you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal Georgia accident.
Certain Family Members Can File a Claim
When a car accident results in injuries, the law is on the side of the victims. It all comes down to fault. The at-fault driver is legally liable for all damages, including medical bills and property damage from the accident. That means the injury victim(s) can seek compensation in damages for what they lost (Georgia Code section 51-12-4).
When someone loses their life in an auto accident, the damages, of course, don’t just go away. There is still potential for compensation. Certain family members can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one.
The order of eligibility for a wrongful death claim is (according to Georgia Code section 51-4-2):
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s children (if there is no spouse)
- The deceased’s parents (if there are no children)
- The executor of the deceased’s estate (if the parents are no longer living)
If the deceased had a spouse and children, their spouse would share at least one-third of damages from the wrongful death claim with the children. The only exception to this is if the deceased had a will that did not award anything to the children. In that case, the spouse would receive full compensation.
If the loved one who lost their life was under the age of 18, their parents or guardian would be able to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. Each parent is expected to receive a portion of the damages, even if they are divorced.
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What to Do After Losing a Loved One in a Fatal Georgia Accident
Unfortunately, insurance companies are rarely fair to accident victims and their families.
Ideally, you would be able to file a wrongful death claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and they would pay for all the damages you claim. What typically happens is the insurance company tries to offer a lowball settlement and decrease the amount of money they have to provide.
It’s important to protect your legal rights after a fatal accident. Chances are, your loved one was not at fault for the accident. You will need to demonstrate in your wrongful death claim that:
- The other driver was being negligent (basically, a legal term for careless)
- The accident and your loved one’s death was caused by the other driver’s negligence
- Your loved one suffered damages because of the accident
- There is proof of the wrongful death damages you are claiming
Here are some ways you can begin building up your claim after the accident. Don’t forget that an experienced car accident lawyer can reduce the burden by helping you with all of this.
Report the Accident
If you were present when the accident occurred, make sure the crash is reported to the police—even if the other driver tries to flee or does not want to report it. Officers will create an accident report with their notes about what happened. This is the first evidence that the accident happened.
Keep Track of Expenses
A fatal accident can leave the victim’s family with medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and other costs resulting from the accident. It’s important to keep track of these costs as much as you can. They will need to be included in your wrongful death claim.
If the victim had dependents, they may be able to claim compensation for income the deceased would have been able to provide if they had not died in the accident. The exact amount of compensation will depend on factors like the victim’s age and health status when they died, their possible life expectancy, and their earning capacity. Other damages may include loss of:
- Companionship or consortium
- And inheritance
Wrongful death claims can also include pain and suffering the deceased experienced before they passed away. Pain and suffering damages are harder to prove, but they can be worth a lot more. If the wanton or malicious behavior was the cause of the accident, such as in a drunk driving accident, punitive damages may also be an option.
Call a Good Car Accident Lawyer
It’s very hard to handle a wrongful death case without legal expertise. It’s best to consult with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as you can. They will know how to handle all the moving parts and make sure all factors are considered.
You should not have to bear the burden of someone else’s mistakes after the passing of your loved one. We know how difficult this time can be for you and your other family members. A lawyer can ensure every aspect of your case is handled so you do not have to stress about the details.
Talk to a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer for Free Today
If you lost a loved one in a fatal accident in Georgia, contact John Foy & Associates today. Our experienced and compassionate lawyers are ready to help you and your family. We can handle your case so you can focus on mourning and spending time with your family.
We have been helping injury victims get the compensation they deserve after an accident for more than 20 years. We don’t get paid unless we win you money, so there are no upfront costs for you to worry about. To get started with a FREE, no-risk consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today.