Losing a loved one is difficult under any circumstances, but when the death is the result of the negligent or wrongful actions of another, it can be particularly devastating.
Georgia law allows family members to seek damages from the party responsible for their loved one’s death. A wrongful death claim is meant to compensate the family and dependents of the deceased for the losses they have endured. While compensation can’t take away your grief, it can ease the burden on your family.
It’s critical that you seek assistance from a reputable wrongful death attorney in Union City, Georgia. At the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C., we are ready to help you get justice for the loss of your loved one.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in Georgia?
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act has been around for over 100 years and has undergone several alterations through the years. The Act defines wrongful death as the demise of a person as a direct or indirect result of another party’s actions.
The five sections of the Wrongful Death Act clarify the various possible legal grounds for filing a wrongful death claim in the state, including:
- Criminal actions, including intentional homicide
- Medical malpractice like misdiagnosis, medication errors, medical injury, or surgical errors
- Defective products, such as electronics, drugs, medical devices, vehicles, etc
- Engineering malpractice or faulty construction
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs
- Contaminated food and drinks or other sanitation problems in commercial enterprises
- Pedestrian accident fatalities
- Improper or illegal alcohol service, like a bartender serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron
You can rely on the experience and proficiency of our Union City wrongful death lawyer, attorney Gil, to handle your claim and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Who Is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Unlike in other personal injury cases, the victim in a wrongful death claim isn’t in a position to claim damages in court. Consequently, other persons have to file the lawsuit on the decedent’s behalf.
Under Georgia law, the following people can file a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased.
- The surviving children of the deceased, including those born out of wedlock, where there is no surviving spouse.
- The parents of the deceased, where there is no surviving spouse or children.
- The representative (executor or administrator) of the deceased’s estate when the deceased left no surviving spouse, children, or parents.
Keep in mind that Georgia law designates the decedent’s surviving spouse as the primary plaintiff in a wrongful death claim. As a result, they don’t need to seek permission from the decedents surviving parent/s or children to initiate or settle a wrongful death claim.
No other relative of the deceased, such as a sibling or grandparent, can file a wrongful death claim unless they are named as the estate representative.
If the claim is made by the representative of the decedent’s estate, the compensation recovered will be given to the deceased’s heirs or next of kin.
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable?
The unexpected death of a loved one can result in an unimaginable emotional toll and extreme financial difficulties for the surviving family.
You should rely on an experienced Union City wrongful death attorney to help you get justice. Attorney Gil of the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C. will help you win the highest compensation possible.
You should know that the damages you can recover from a wrongful death claim are different from those in personal injury claims.
Recoverable damages for wrongful death claims include:
In a wrongful death case, economic damages are meant to compensate for the “full value of the decedent’s life.” Here, what the deceased would have earned over their career plus their retirement benefits are considered.
These cover losses that are non-financial in nature. Non-economic damages may include loss of advice, loss of love, loss of companionship, and loss of sexual relations.
Estate Claim Damages
An estate claim can only be brought by the representative of the estate of the deceased and is commonly filed separately. They are meant to cover particular financial losses related to the departed’s passing. The damages can cover medical expenses, as well as funeral and burial costs.
Can the Surviving Family File for Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are typically awarded in personal injury cases where the liable party acted intentionally or with extreme recklessness. Georgia law bars the deceased’s surviving family from seeking punitive damages in a wrongful death suit. However, they can be pursued through an estate claim.
The executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate is the only one who can file an estate claim on behalf of the deceased’s next of kin. It’s possible to seek punitive damages in an estate claim if the deceased did not die instantly, even if they only survived for a few seconds.
How Is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
Establishing negligence is the basis for proving liability in typical wrongful death cases. Your wrongful death attorney in Union City must establish four elements to hold the defendant accountable for your loved one’s demise.
- Duty of Care: The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care in the specific situation. For example, all drivers have a responsibility to follow traffic laws.
- Breach: Your attorney must show how the defendant violated or breached this duty of care. In the case of a car accident, the defendant may have been speeding.
- Causation: Your attorney must prove that the death resulted from the defendant’s actions and not some other cause.
- Damages: Your attorney will highlight the financial and emotional impact of the death on your family.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years. You must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of your loved one’s death. The deadline may be extended in some cases, such as if there is a criminal case related to the death.
Only the surviving spouse, surviving children, surviving parents, or a representative of the decedent’s estate can file a claim.
The wrongful death claim has to be submitted in a civil court. Civil courts specialize in resolving civil matters, such as financial compensation, while criminal courts resolve matters involving crime. You can start your wrongful death claim in Georgia by taking the following steps.
Consulting and Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney in Union City
If you are planning to file a wrongful death claim, it’s best that you contact an experienced and proficient wrongful death attorney. The lawyer will assess your wrongful death case and advise you on the way forward. Having the legal expertise of a competent lawyer will boost the likelihood of your claim being a success.
Our team, led by Attorney Gil, will thoroughly investigate your case to find evidence to support your wrongful death lawsuit. We will also determine what damages you can claim in your lawsuit to ensure that you are justly compensated for all losses.
The liable party, their insurance representative, or their lawyers may choose to have out-of-court negotiations for your wrongful death claim. The other side will try to minimize the amount of compensation you receive.
Your wrongful death attorney in Union City will handle negotiations to win you a fair settlement. Attorney Gilbert Sperling has an impressive track record of winning favorable settlements for Georgia clients in wrongful death cases.
If settlement negotiations don’t produce a just agreement, your lawyer will be ready to take the case to trial. Attorney Gil will present the facts of your wrongful death claim in court to ensure you get the justice you deserve for the loss of your loved one.
The judge or jury in the civil court will rule on the outcome of your wrongful death claim after hearing arguments from both sides.
How Much Will a Union City Wrongful Death Lawyer Charge?
The unexpected death of a loved one can result in an unimaginable emotional toll and extreme financial difficulties for the surviving family. At the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C, we represent clients in wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay no upfront legal fees.
Our payment is a percentage of the compensation, so we only get paid if your claim is successful.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
There are two types of claims that can be filed after someone dies because of a defective product or another party’s criminal actions or negligence. A wrongful death claim and an estate claim are filed separately. There are some key differences between them.
Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is submitted by a surviving family member of the deceased seeking damages for the full value of the life of their loved one. This includes compensation for the income the deceased can no longer provide for their family and loss of companionship.
The representative (executor or administrator) of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim if the deceased left no surviving spouse, children, or parents. If the claim is made by the representative of the decedent’s estate, the compensation recovered will be given to the deceased’s heirs or next of kin.
An estate claim can only be filed by a representative of the decedent’s estate, either an administrator or an executor. Also referred to as “survival action,” an estate claim is meant to recover compensation for expenses associated with medical bills, as well as funeral and burial costs of the deceased.
An estate claim can also seek compensation for the pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their death. In some cases, punitive damages associated with wrongful death are awarded under the estate claim.
To recover punitive damages, it’s critical to prove that the deceased survived the accident, even for a short time before they passed away. Our Union City wrongful death lawyer will access the facts surrounding your case and inform you whether pursuing punitive damages is a viable option.
How Is the Wrongful Death Settlement Shared Among Surviving Family Members?
Georgia law on wrongful death provides direction on how a settlement or compensation from a lawsuit should be divided among family members.
While state law gives the deceased’s spouse the right to start and settle a wrongful death lawsuit, it also dictates that the surviving children of the deceased must also receive part of the settlement. This includes the children of the deceased who were born out of wedlock. The spouse has the right to keep at least a third of the total settlement.
For instance, a wrongful death claim is filed in Union City by the surviving spouse with the help of an attorney from the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C. Three children survive the deceased. The wrongful death lawsuit results in a $900,000 settlement. In such a situation, the surviving spouse would get to keep at least $300,000, while the three children would equally share the remaining $600,000.
Any compensation recovered through a wrongful death estate claim will be shared based on the will of the deceased. If there is no will, the settlement will be distributed based on Georgia’s intestate succession laws.
Looking for a Proficient Wrongful Death Attorney in Union City, GA? Call Us Now!
Losing a loved one is difficult under any circumstances, but when the death is the result of the negligent or wrongful conduct of another, it can be particularly devastating. Georgia law allows families to sue the party responsible for their loved one’s death.
While compensation can’t take away your grief, it can ease the burden on your family. Hiring a skillful wrongful death attorney to handle your case is crucial. At the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C., we fight to win families in Union City and throughout Georgia the full compensation that they deserve.
Call us on 404-418-7816 for a free consultation. We are here to help you through this tough period.