When someone dies in an accident, certain people may be able to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. However, A wrongful death claim differs from other personal injury claims. Only a few people can bring this type of claim, and there are additional damages you may be able to collect.
This article will cover everything you need to know about the wrongful death claim process.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is possible after someone dies due to a negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal act of another person or entity (such as a business). Since the deceased person obviously cannot file a claim against the at-fault person for what they lost, certain loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death claim for damages.
Wrongful death lawsuits did not use to exist under United States common law, but they are now possible in every state, including Georgia.
Wrongful death claims can arise from any type of accident that results in death. That can include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle, motorcycle, or pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability accidents
- And more
The at-fault party can be an individual person, government agency, or business or company. The actions of the at-fault party do not have to be malicious, but they must have been acting in a way that led to the accident.
To hold the at-fault party responsible for a wrongful death claim, those bringing the claim must be able to prove that:
- The defendant (alleged at-fault person or entity) owed the deceased a duty of care
- That duty of care was breached
- The breached duty of care resulted in the victim’s death
- And the resulting death caused the damages mentioned in the claim
This can be hard to do alone, especially if there are many damages or fault is less obvious. A wrongful death lawyer can help families know where to turn during the legal process.
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Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
Georgia law is very specific about exactly who can bring a wrongful death case:
- If they are still alive, the spouse of the deceased person is the first individual who can file a claim.
- If the deceased and their spouse have children who are minors, the spouse can also represent them and their interests in the case.
- When the deceased does not have a surviving spouse or surviving children, either a parent of the deceased or a representative of their estate can bring a claim.
If the spouse brings a wrongful death case, they are also entitled to receive at least a third of the settlement, no matter how many children the deceased has.
And if a representative for the estate wins damages in a wrongful death claim, the state will hold those damages to be used by the deceased person’s next of kin.
The laws about who can file a wrongful death suit vary from state to state.
Wrongful Death Cases Versus Personal Injury Cases
A wrongful death claim is the same as a personal injury case in one big way: It results from the negligent actions of another person or entity. In both cases, the victim has suffered harm by the actions (or inactions) of another. You likely have a wrongful death claim if the victim would have had a personal injury claim had they not been killed.
The biggest difference between the two is the types of damages the person bringing the case can claim.
Damages That Can Be Claimed for Wrongful Death
Wrongful death claims can include monetary damages you would normally see in a personal injury case, including medical bills and lost wages. However, they may also include funeral and burial expenses as well as pain and suffering the deceased faced before they died and intangible benefits the loved one would have provided to the family like loss of companionship.
Money is the only way the law can compensate for the loss in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. We know there is nothing that can truly reverse what happened or make up for what the deceased and their families lost. However, filing a wrongful death claim for damages often helps loved ones feel a sense of closure or justice for what happened. Plus, the financial support can provide relief to those mourning the loss.
We Can Help with Your Wrongful Death Claim
If you lost a loved one because of an accident someone else caused, John Foy & Associates can help. We’ve been taking on wrongful death cases for more than two decades, and we’re here to listen to your concerns with compassion while providing tailored advice based on your situation and case. For a FREE consultation to discuss how to move forward, give us a call today or fill out the online form. Call 404-400-4000 to schedule your free consultation as soon as you’re ready.