Losing a loved one can be quite devastating, especially if they died due to another party’s careless or negligent actions. It can be more difficult when trying to bear the financial burden of hospital bills and funeral expenses in addition to the unexpected loss of life. Fortunately, it is possible to hold those that owed a degree of responsibility to your loved one accountable by filing a wrongful death claim with the assistance of a Conyers wrongful death attorney.
Attorney Gil will help you explore the possibility of filing a wrongful death suit against the party responsible. We will take you through the entire process, prepare you on what to expect, and even represent you in court if necessary to recover the settlement. Damages recovered from the wrongful death suit can at least help you bear the financial burden during this time.
If you’re located in Conyers, GA, you should consider reaching out to our experienced wrongful death attorney for a free review of your claim. He will assist you in the ins and outs of the legal process that can sometimes be incredibly taxing especially to a person that’s grieving. We request that you let our Conyers injury attorneys handle the other party for you along with the legal procedures surrounding it as you heal.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in Georgia?
The definition for wrongful death in Georgia is provided in the Wrongful Death Act as the death of an individual resulting from the reckless, criminal, or negligent acts of another person, party, or business. Grounds for filing a wrongful death claim in Georgia include but aren’t limited to:
- Auto accidents and pedestrian accidents
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
- Medical malpractice such as surgical errors
- Engineering malpractice and faulty construction
- Defective products
Who Is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Georgia is very specific regarding who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim or suit in the state. The only party or parties allowed to file a wrongful death claim must be the victim’s family.
The first eligible party is a surviving spouse of the deceased. He or she is expected to represent the interests of the children if they had any and is allowed a third of the settlement irrespective of the number of children shared with the deceased.
If there’s no surviving spouse, the next eligible party to file a wrongful death claim or suit is the parent or parents of the deceased.
If there’s no surviving spouse or parent, the other eligible party to file a wrongful death claim or suit is a representative of the decedent’s estate. The damages recovered from the suit in turn benefit the decedent’s next of kin or the person appointed by the court if there’s no representative to the decedent’s estate.
How Is Negligence Determined in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The state of Georgia defines negligence as a failure on the part of the responsible party to show the duty of care that they owed to the victim. Proving negligence follows the criteria below. You need to ensure that your claim meets these 4 elements:
Duty of Care
The first step to determining negligence is proving that the at-fault party owed the victim a duty of care and their lack of presenting this care was the direct cause of death. For example, if the victim was undergoing surgery, they knew that they were safe in the surgeon’s hands but unfortunately, due to the surgeon’s lack of duty of care during surgery, the patient died.
It is usually up to the court to determine whether the at-fault party was responsible for the death or whether it was a different variable such as the tools used to perform the surgery upon looking at and reviewing the conditions that surrounded the death.
Breach of Duty of Care
Once you have proved failure of duty of care on the at-fault party’s part, the next step is to prove breach of duty of care. There must be clear legal obligations that the at-fault party didn’t live up to. For example, a driver must never drink and drive or drive while on the phone. Once the Conyers wrongful death attorney proves this, you can then move on to the third element.
You must also prove that the at-fault party’s negligent actions were directly responsible for the death. For instance, if the at-fault party hadn’t been drunk driving, the accident wouldn’t have occurred, and the person wouldn’t have died.
Upon proving the above 3 elements of negligence, the final step is to prove that the failure to show the duty of care expected from the at-fault party has resulted in actual financial damages. You must prove that the death has financial implications such as medical expenses, property damage, a lack of income, etc.
Simply put, you need to paint a picture of the victim’s life just prior to their death and after their death proving a shift in financials. If you meet the above 4 criteria, you can argue that you have a strong wrongful death claim/case.
What Types of Damages Can Be Recovered?
The person that files the wrongful death claim is entitled to two types of damages.
The first type includes the full value of the victim’s life, which usually includes both the monetary and non-monetary damages as determined by the jury after careful review of the case presented before them.
Examples of such damages include:
The loss of companionship from the victim’s death. It puts together the intangibles experienced by the surviving family due to the loss of their loved one. The laughter, the time spent together, the going out on vacations. Everything that isn’t easy to attach a financial value to, the court is required to determine a compensation amount that’s fair and award it to the victim’s surviving family.
The loss of income caused by the death of an earning member may also include wages and benefits that would have gone to the victim if they hadn’t died.
Please note that it isn’t always easy to determine this figure if the deceased was either a retiree or an elderly citizen. However, through careful consideration, the court always strives to award a fair and just settlement to the victim’s family.
The second type of compensation has to do with the expenses incurred as a result of the accident and death of the individual. They include medication, hospital bills incurred, funeral and burial expenses, and even the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to their death among others.
If the deceased didn’t have a will, the court ensures that the family is justly compensated and appoints an administrator. The court also ensures that a third of the settlement goes to the surviving spouse and the rest divided equally among their children. If the children are minors at the time of the claim, the settlement will be made accessible to them once they are 18 years of age.
Can the Surviving Family File for Punitive Damages?
In Georgia, punitive damages are usually awarded as a form of punishment to the responsible party to discourage reckless behavior. However, they are rarely ever awarded in typical wrongful death claims in the state.
The court awards punitive damages if it feels that the at-fault party’s actions were careless and malicious and therefore awarding damages should act as a warning against such acts and not just to them but also the rest of society.
Keep in mind that the Georgia Wrongful Death Act doesn’t mention punitive damages explicitly, which is why you cannot file for them. The judge usually awards these only if the actions of the at-fault party show a clear intention of carelessness and cannot be ignored.
That said, you still need an experienced Conyers wrongful death attorney to argue your claim to recover these damages considering just how complex they seem. Call us today at [Phone] and let Attorney Gil review your claim to recover maximum compensation.
How Do You Initiate a Wrongful Death Claim in the State of Georgia?
The time within which you are required to file a wrongful death claim, which is referred to as the statute of limitations, is 6 months if it’s an accident involving a government entity such as a government car, truck, ambulance, or others. However, for any other accident that doesn’t involve a government entity, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of death. After the 2-year period lapses, you don’t have any grounds to file the suit.
The statute of limitations can be extended in some special instances and that’s only when the claim is tied to an ongoing criminal case. Otherwise, there are usually no other exceptions.
The second thing you have to do is determine whether you are actually eligible to file the suit. If you’re the surviving spouse, go ahead, if there’s no surviving spouse, the parent or parents of the deceased are next in line, if the aforementioned parties aren’t there, then it is up to a representative of the victims estate to file the claim or lawsuit.
The third thing you need to do is determine whether you have a valid wrongful death claim. Go through the elements of negligence to determine whether the death was caused by another party’s negligent, careless actions. It might be a bit complicated to do this, which is why you should do it with the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney such as Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
A wrongful death claim involves recovering compensation from the at-fault party on their loved one’s full value of life. It means ensuring that it’s within 2 years of the occurrence, one is a surviving family member of the victim or a representative of their estate and ensuring that you actually have a valid wrongful death claim.
The wrongful death claim is then presented here in a Conyers, GA court and presented to a judge. The outcome of the case will determine the nature of damages awarded, which fall under economic, which are the financial losses associated with the victim’s death such as loss of income, and non-economic damages, which include grief, loss of companionship, time lost with the victim, etc.
An estate claim, on the other hand, involves seeking compensation for the loss of the victim by their family. Damages here include funeral expenses, medical bills, pain and suffering, among others. You can also seek punitive damages in this claim from the at-fault party. Furthermore, if the victim had a will, the administrator of the victim’s estate will represent it. However, if they don’t have a will, the court will appoint someone to bring the claim.
Hire a Professional Conyers Wrongful Death Attorney Today!
Losing a loved one comes with its share of burden and pain and can be particularly overwhelming if the death was caused by another party’s negligent actions. You should be able to grieve and while a settlement cannot bring back the person you lost, it can provide some comfort as you heal.
Attorney Gil is ready to share your burden by handling the wrongful death claim on your behalf so that you aren’t overwhelmed by the complexities of the process. Backed by our legal team, he will also ensure that you receive the compensation you are rightfully entitled to. Keep in mind that the at-fault party will only be willing to settle for an amount that’s as low as possible, which in most instances is an unjust amount.
Our team is ready to get to work to help you recover compensation just as we have done for many others in a similar position. We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means that we are only paid after recovering your damages. Legal fees are deducted from the compensation you receive, which gives us even more reason to ensure a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Call [Phone] today to learn more about the legal options available to you and get the justice that you deserve. Our Conyers wrongful death attorneys are here to help you.