The loss of a loved one can be a devastating experience, even more, if they died as a result of the negligence or careless actions of another party. This can be more difficult when trying to bear the burden of the hospital bills and funeral expenses on top of the unexpected loss. These negligent acts from one who clearly owed a degree of responsibility to your loved one are punishable, in this case through filing a wrongful death claim.
Our wrongful death attorney in Peachtree City will help you explore the option of filing a wrongful death suit against the responsible party. Our firm will take you through the process, prepare you on what to expect, and finally represent you in court if needed to recover the settlement. The damages recovered from the suit can at the very least aid in bearing the financial burden during this time.
If you are located in Peachtree City, GA, reach out to our very able and experienced personal injury lawyer for a free review of your claim. He will assist you in the in and outs of the legal process which sometimes can be very taxing to an individual especially one that is grieving. We recommend that you allow us to handle the other party for you as well as the legal procedures surrounding it as you heal.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in Georgia?
Wrongful Death in Georgia is defined as stated in the Wrongful Death Act which is the death of an individual caused by the negligent, criminal, or reckless acts of another party; person, or business.
The grounds that constitute a wrongful death claim are outlined as follows:
- Medical malpractice such as surgical errors
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
- Car accidents as well as pedestrian accidents
- Defective products
- Engineering malpractice and faulty construction
Who Is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
The law in the State of Georgia is quite particular on who can file a wrongful death suit. Those who can file the claim are required to be the family of the victim or a representative of the estate.
The first person should be the surviving spouse of the deceased. The spouse is expected to represent the interests of their children if they had children and is allowed a third of the settlement regardless of the number of children they had,
If there is no surviving spouse, the next in line is the parent or parents of the deceased who can file the wrongful death suit.
If there is no surviving spouse or parent, the representative of the victim’s estate can file the suit. The damages recovered from the suit in turn go to benefit the next of kin to the deceased or the person appointed by the court if there was no representative to the estate.
What Types of Damages are Recoverable?
The person filing the wrongful death claim is entitled to two types of damages.
The first type includes the full value of the victim’s life. This normally includes the monetary and non-monetary damages that are determined by the jury after carefully reviewing the case presented.
- The loss of companionship from the death of the victim. This surrounds or puts together the intangibles felt by the surviving family surrounding the loss of their loved one. The time spent together, the laughter, the going out on vacations. For everything that cannot easily have an attached financial value to it, the court is required to determine a just figure and award it to the victim’s family.
- The loss of income as a result of the death of an earning member could also include benefits and wages that would have gone to the victim if they were still alive.
- Carefully note that it is sometimes difficult to determine this figure if the victim was an elderly citizen or ar a retired person. But through careful consideration, the court ensures to award a fair and just settlement to the family of the victim.
The second type of compensation is tied to the expenses that have risen as a result of the accident and the death of the individual. These include hospital bills incurred, medication, funeral and burial expenses as well as the pain and suffering that the deceased felt before death among others.
In the instance where the deceased did not have a will, the court makes sure to compensate the family justly and appoint an administrator. The court also makes sure to divide a third of the settlement 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 is made accessible to them when they reach the age of eighteen.
Can the Surviving Family file for Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages in the state of Georgia are intended to act as a form of punishment for the responsible parties, to discourage reckless behavior. However, these types of damages are rare in a usual wrongful death claim. The court awards these if they feel that the actions of the responsible party were maliciously reckless and careless and therefore awarding damages should act as a warning against such acts not only to them but also to outsiders.
Keep in mind that the Wrongful Death Act does not explicitly mention punitive damages and as such one cannot file for them. The judge only awards these only if the actions of the responsible party cannot be ignored and show a clear intention of carelessness.
As mentioned, you would need a skilled attorney to argue your claim to recover these damages given how complex they seem. Call us here at 404-418-7816 and let us have your claim reviewed by Attorney Gil for maximum compensation!
How is Negligence determined in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Negligence, in the state of Georgia, is defined as a failure on the part of the responsible person to show the care that they owed to the victim. Proving negligence follows the below criteria. One needs to make sure that your claim meets the mentioned four elements.
Duty of Care
The very first step is to prove that the party at fault owed the victim a degree of care and that the lack of this care directly caused the death. For instance, if the victim was at the surgical table they knew they were safe in the doctor’s hands as expected but due to the lack of care during surgery, the patient died. which can be classified as negligence on the doctor’s part.
The judge of course is the one who determines whether the party at fault caused the death, or whether it was another variable such as the tools used in surgery upon looking at and reviewing the conditions surrounding the death.
The Breach of Duty of Care
After proving the failure of duty of care, the attorney should also prove the breach of duty of care. There should be clear legal obligations that the one at fault failed to live up to. For example, one should not drink and drive, or drive while on the phone and when the attorney can prove this he can move on to the third element.
One must be able to prove that the negligent acts of the responsible party were the direct cause of the death of the deceased. If he had not been drunk driving the accident would not have happened, he would not have died, for instance.
After the above elements are indeed proven, the third step is proving that the failure of showing the duty of care expected from the responsible party, has resulted in significant financial damages. One should be able to prove that there will be financial implications such as a lack of income, benefits property damage, and medical expenses.
In essence, paint a picture of the victim’s life before the death and after the death proving a shift in financials. Having met the above four one can argue that they have a strong case.
How Do You Initiate a Wrongful Death Claim in the State of Georgia?
The statute of limitations here in Georgia requires one to have filed the suit within 6 months if it is an accident that involves the government, after six months the suit cannot be filed. By this, it means if the accident involved a government car, ambulance, truck, or others For any other occurrence that does not involve the government the time limit is 2 years after the occurrence of the death. After the two years have lapsed, you have no grounds to file the suit.
There are special instances when the time limit can be extended and that is only when your claim is tied to an ongoing criminal case. Otherwise, there are no other exceptions.
Second, determine if you are eligible to file the suit. If you are either the surviving spouse, go ahead, if there is no surviving spouse, the parent or parents of the deceased are next in line, if the aforementioned parties are not there, then the representative of the victim’s estate can then file the suit.
Third, determine if your claim is a wrongful death claim. Go through the above-mentioned elements to determine whether the death of the victim was true as a result of negligent, careless action by the other party. Doing this might be a bit complex, so it is highly recommended you do this with the help of an experienced lawyer here at Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C. Reach out to us to make the process easier for you.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and An Estate Claim?
A wrongful death suit involved seeking compensation from a responsible party on their loved one’s full value of life. This means making sure that it is within two years of the occurrence, one is a surviving family member of the victim or a representative of his estate and finally making sure that it is indeed a wrongful death case. Then it is then presented here in Georgia court and presented to a judge. The outcome of the case determines the nature of damages awarded, which as mentioned before fall under economic, which are financial losses from the death of the victim such as loss of income, and non-economic damages which are the loss of companionship, grief, and time lost with the victim.
An estate claim involves seeking compensation for losses felt from the loss of the victim by the family. These include medical bills, funeral expenses, pain, and suffering among others. In this claim, one can also seek punitive damages, if there are any from the party at fault. Also, if the victim had a will it is presented in this claim by the administrator, if they did not the court appoints someone to bring the said claim.
Hire a Professional Wrongful Death Attorney In Peachtree City Today!
The loss of a loved one has its share of pain and burden, even more, overwhelming when it was a result of a careless party. You should be able to grieve and even if a settlement cannot bring back the person it can offer a level of comfort as you heal. Attorney Gill is ready to share your burden by handling the wrongful claim for you so that the complexities of the process do not overwhelm you.
Keep in mind that the other party when at fault are willing to settle as low as they can, which in many instances is an unjust amount. We are here to make sure you get the compensation that is rightfully yours.
The Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling III is ready to get right to work as we have already done before. Also, we operate on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid when you recover your damages. The legal fees are subtracted from the compensation, which gives us even more reason to ensure a win-win for you, our clients, and the firm.
Call 404-418-7816 today to learn more about your legal options and get the justice you deserve!