Unfortunately, many families in Georgia find themselves faced with the death of a loved one because of the negligent, careless, or even criminal acts of another person or party. This is known as a wrongful death case.
Georgia wrongful death lawyers can help loved ones get justice and adhere to established rules for how to handle a claim with the highest financial recovery in mind. The individuals who are eligible to recover from these damages vary from state to state so it’s best to have an experienced legal team on your side to advise you on how and if you can proceed.
Individuals Who Are Able to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to let a living family member file a case on behalf of a deceased victim. In Georgia, the law only allows specific people to represent the deceased in a wrongful death case.
Spouse of the Deceased
The first person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is the spouse of the deceased if they were married. The spouse can also file the suit on behalf of any children of the deceased who are under 18. Either way, the spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the full financial recovery from the wrongful death claim.
Parents of the Deceased
If the deceased person was not married, did not have a surviving spouse, and didn’t have any children, any surviving parents can file the claim.
The wrongful death claim can also be filed by a designated representative of the deceased’s estate. Then, any damages won will go to the deceased’s estate and be distributed to their surviving next-of-kin.
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What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There are two ways wrongful death claims can be filed in Georgia, and each focuses on different types of damages. The first type of wrongful death claim is the most common brought by (or on behalf of) the deceased’s surviving family members. This wrongful death claim takes into account the full value of the deceased person’s life, including:
- financial losses like lost wages and benefits the deceased person may have earned if they had lived
- intangible losses like loss of companionship, care, or other benefits family members would have otherwise received from the deceased person
The second type of wrongful death claim is typically brought by (or on behalf of) the deceased person’s estate. This claim, known as an estate claim, aims to make up financial losses related to the person’s death. Those damages include:
- Medical costs for treatment of the victim’s past injuries or illnesses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pain and suffering the deceased endured before they died
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
Under Georgia’s statute of limitations, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years from the date of the deceased’s death. It’s very important to file before this deadline, as trying to file a claim after the two-year period is usually impossible.
There can be exceptions to this. If a criminal case related to the same events as the wrongful death claim is in court, time is suspended until the criminal case is completed. In that case, the time to file becomes longer. This typically happens if the person was killed because a Georgia law was violated, such as in a traffic violation, violent crime, or drunk driving accident.
Also, if the deceased person’s estate does not have an established will, the statute of limitations can be put on hold for up to five years.
Despite the exceptions, it’s best to hire a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible because it all depends on your unique circumstances. Plus, two years might seem like a long time, but it can go fast—and the time in between will need to be spent wisely to ensure you seek the best financial recovery.
Evidence Required in a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim
Alongside your wrongful death attorney in Georgia, you will need to gather evidence to proves to the insurance company that:
- If your loved one had lived, the negligent act would have entitled the victim to file a personal injury claim
- There are surviving distributees, children, or dependents of the victim
- Monetary damages were accumulated as a result of the victim’s death
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The Benefits of Hiring a Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney
A wrongful death lawyer can help family members with their claim by:
- Finding evidence: Your attorney will collect any evidence that can prove the responsible party’s liability and the presence of damages.
- Filing paperwork: An attorney can file your insurance claim and wrongful death lawsuit as well as handle all forms and communications in your case.
- Negotiating with insurance companies: After filing your claim, your lawyer can meet with the insurance company to negotiate for a settlement.
- Attending trial on your behalf: If the negligent party’s insurance company refuses to make you a fair settlement offer, your case may go to trial and a wrongful death lawyer will take your place and argue your case in front of a judge or jury.
Many personal injury law firms represent wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency-fee-basis. This means you would only be charged if and when your case is won and you recover compensation via a settlement offer or court award.
Talk to a Wrongful Death Lawyer for Free Today
If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person or a business, don’t suffer alone, and make sure your loved one’s rights are upheld. At John Foy & Associates, our attorneys have been helping loved ones file wrongful death claims for over 20 years. We are experienced, compassionate, and ready to help you seek the financial recovery you need.
We know money can never make up for a lost life. However, we’ve found it can help surviving family members cover expenses and work on moving on from the accident. For a FREE consultation with one of our wrongful death lawyers, call us today at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form to the right.