The devastation can be overwhelming when you lose a close family member or friend. Thankfully, the law provides opportunities for specific individuals to pursue legal action against those responsible for causing their loved one’s death.
If your family member was killed due to someone else’s negligent, irresponsible, or wrongful actions, you might have a chance to make them pay with help from a wrongful death attorney. With that in mind, identifying the at-fault party is crucial for justice to be served.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil action you could take when a loved one dies because of another party’s negligent or intentional conduct. This is different from the criminal charges the liable party might face.
In criminal court, the district attorney will pursue charges against the at-fault party seeking criminal penalties, such as fines, incarceration, and more. In civil court, you will work with a wrongful death lawyer to pursue compensation for the various ways your life and the decedent’s life were affected by the defendant’s conduct.
While the burden of proof in criminal claims is beyond a reasonable doubt, in civil court, the burden of proof is based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means the evidence must prove the defendant more than likely is responsible for causing your family member’s death. Although criminal charges may not always apply, you do not have to wait to pursue your wrongful death claim if the defendant is arrested or charged criminally.
Common Wrongful Death Claims
In fact, such charges could be considered evidence that can be used against them in your civil claim. Some instances in which you might have grounds for a wrongful death action include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Assault and homicides
- Other intentional acts
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Construction accident injuries
- Work-related injuries
- Fatalities caused by defective products
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How GA Wrongful Death Lawsuits Work
If you are interested in pursuing a wrongful death claim, it is essential to understand how these types of lawsuits work. To start, only certain parties have the authority to file a claim. Under Georgia law, only the following parties can pursue a wrongful death action:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- If the decedent was not married, the decedent’s surviving children
- If the decedent was not married and had no children, the decedent’s surviving parents
- With no surviving children, spouse, or parents, the decedent’s personal representative
You must also take action on your wrongful death claim as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Georgia is only two years from the date of the decedent’s death. Your claim must be filed before this deadline, or you will no longer have the chance to bring the liable party to justice in civil court.
Who Can Be Sued in a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you hope to hold the liable party accountable for their actions, your attorney must first identify them. In a wrongful death claim, the type of accident that caused your loved one’s death will determine who is responsible for causing their fatal injuries. Here are some of the top parties who could be sued for damages based on the type of fatal accident:
Fatal Car Accidents
Multiple parties could share liability if you lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, commercial truck wreck, motorcycle crash, or any other type of motor vehicle accident. In instances where driver negligence, such as speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, or failure to follow traffic signals causes the accident, you might have grounds for a claim against the negligent driver.
However, if vehicle defects contributed to the accident, some of the parties that could be sued include:
- Auto parts designers
- Motor vehicle parts manufacturers
- Parts distributors and suppliers
- Safety inspectors
- Maintenance professionals
- Motor vehicle dealerships
There are also instances in which government agencies, such as the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) or the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), fail to ensure the safety of the roadways. When this happens, and your loved one passes away, you might have the opportunity to file a wrongful death claim, naming these government agencies liable.
Fatal Work-Related Injuries
Some types of industries are more dangerous to work in than others. Those working in factories and construction are far more likely to suffer debilitating injuries than those working in a restaurant or behind a desk all day.
However, whether your loved one was involved in a forklift accident, building collapse, or suffered third-degree burns, if they were injured at work, you may have grounds for a claim against their colleagues, supervisors, or even the company your loved one worked for.
Medical Malpractice and Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
In nursing home abuse and medical malpractice claims, any healthcare providers or other individuals who facilitated the event can be held accountable when their actions caused the death of another. Healthcare professionals commonly named in medical malpractice and nursing home abuse wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Primary care physicians
- Internal medicine doctors
- Nursing assistants
- Doctor’s offices
- Nursing home facilities
- Assisted living facilities
Fatal Injuries and Premises Liability
If you lose a loved one due to an accident on public or private property, you can file a claim against the property owner. If the property owner failed to make dangerous conditions obvious or warn guests and patrons, they could be sued for your family’s damages. Your attorney’s in-depth investigation into the cause of your family member’s death will uncover the liable party’s identity.
Get Help from a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
How your family member or loved one passed away will help your compassionate wrongful death attorney at John Foy & Associates figure out who is to blame so they can be brought to justice.
Contact our team for a confidential case evaluation today and learn more about who could be sued for your relative’s death and what is next in the claims process. Fill out our quick contact form or call our office to schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today.