ATLANTA WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY: UNDERSTANDING WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS IN GEORGIA
The first step is to call Barker Law Group, LLC. We Handle the Legal Component While You Focus on the Process of Grief and Emotional Healing
We are here for you but we understand that the last thing on your mind after losing a loved one is probably consulting with an attorney, especially when funeral and medical costs were unexpected. We recognize that you hardly have any emotions to spare. However, there is evidence, regarding the circumstances of the matter, which should be preserved right away and may help to bring closure by answering those lingering questions that you may have.
Whether the loved one was killed instantly after a tragic accident or died years later due to complications relating to the injury, your family likely has a compensable claim if their death was directly or indirectly caused by negligence, willful conduct, or indifference to the safety of others.
Georgia law provides remedy for those entitled to recovery, which are the spouse and children of the deceased. Any compensation obtained is shared among the surviving family. However, spouses are guaranteed a third of the full recovery amount. In circumstances where the departed individual is not survived by any immediate family, his or her individual estate becomes eligible to recover.
Your family could be entitled to “the full value of the life of the decedent without deducting for any of the necessary or personal expenses of the decedent had he lived.” Additionally, medical bills, funeral expenses, and any pain and suffering the negligent party has caused can be recovered.
You should consult with an attorney soon so the process of emotional healing can begin. We will investigate and litigate for your family so that you all can limit stress and allow your mental well-being to be your main focus during grief. Furthermore, your family's case may help to prevent it from happening to someone else.
Losing a loved one, especially when it's the result of a preventable accident or illness caused by another person's action or inaction, is an experience none of us want to endure. All emotions aside, however, wrongful death cases can take a financial toll. On behalf of the estate (typically), survivors (usually family members) can often file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. Though these claims are never what a person wants to do, they are often necessary and practical for the mere financial part of it.
At Barker Law Group, LLC., our wrongful death attorneys in Gwinnett and Dekalb County understand what you are going through and will persevere to obtain the best possible legal outcome. Contact us today at 844-344-3055 to schedule a free consultation. In the meantime, here's an overview of what a wrongful death claim in Georgia may involve.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia
When someone dies as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another person, the family of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim against the person at fault. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit brought against an individual, company, or government agency.
In a wrongful death claim, a plaintiff can seek compensation for things like:
- lost income
- medical expenses prior to the death
- funeral and burial expenses
- pain and suffering
- lost companionship
- lost prospect of inheritance.
While the specific laws vary between states to establish a wrongful death claim, a plaintiff generally needs to show the cause of death by satisfying four elements.
- The plaintiff owed a duty of care to the deceased person (also referred to as the decedent).
- They breached this duty of care (either negligently or intentionally).
- This breach caused the decedent's wrongful death.
- The plaintiff suffered losses as a result.
After establishing these elements, it then turns on the question of who can file the wrongful death claim in Georgia.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Wrongful death lawsuits are usually brought by a representative of the decedent's estate (often the executor) on behalf of or with survivors who suffered financially as a result of the death, referred to as the “real parties in interest”.
The definition of a real party in interest depends on the jurisdiction. In most states, they are the immediate family members of the decedent, including:
- Parents of young children
Many states also recognize life partners who were financially dependent on the decedent.
Relationships beyond immediate family members or life partners may not be eligible to file a wrongful death suit, depending on the relevant law. For example, only some states recognize extended family members like grandparents and siblings. Some states also recognize parents of a deceased fetus as real parties in interest.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Gwinnett and Dekalb Counties
Wrongful death claims often arise in the context of the following.
- Car accidents, especially those involving drunk drivers. If the case involves intoxication, the lawsuit may also name the person who served the driver alcohol as a defendant
- Other auto accidents or related-auto accidents, including those involving commercial trucks, semi-trucks, motorcycles, boats, pedestrians, and bicyclists
- Medical malpractice, when a practitioner fails to provide an acceptable level of care that leads to a misdiagnosis, surgical mistake, prescription error, birth injury, or any other harm
- Product liability, e.g., a defective medication causes someone's death
- Airplane accidents, where the airline, plane manufacturer, or pilot may be named as defendants
- Workplace accidents or construction accidents, including deaths caused by falls, falling objects, improper training, or exposure to toxic substances
- Premise liability accidents, e.g., a slip and fall or another accident occurring on someone else's property
What Are Common Defenses to Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia?
The defenses available to a defendant in a wrongful death claim and their application vary between states. If you are the plaintiff, it is important to know what potential defenses are so that you can be prepared to argue against them.
Some common defenses include:
- Expiration of the statute of limitations, where the plaintiff has filed their claim beyond the deadline and is now ineligible to recover
- Comparative or contributory negligence, where the defendant alleges the decedent's negligence contributed to their death
- Assumption of risk, where the decedent knew about the risk associated with an activity or signed a waiver or release accepting it
- Self-defense, where the defendant says they used reasonable force against the decedent to protect themself from the decedent causing serious harm to them
Whether a specific defense applies depends on the circumstances of the case. It's also important to remember that just because a defense is invoked, it does not mean you can't argue against it. When a defense is invoked, the defendant must prove it.
The standard of proof in a wrongful death action is the civil standard of a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, it is more likely than not that the defendant's actions resulted in the wrongful death.
Contact the "RIGHT" Wrongful Death Attorney in Gwinnett and Dekalb Counties Today
If you lost a loved one and believe you may have a wrongful death claim but are unsure, our wrongful death attorney can help you understand what your legal options are. Time is of the essence, though.
The statute of limitations begins running at the time of death, and the period to file a claim is often shorter than it is for any other type of personal injury claim. To know how long you have to file a claim, contact Barker Law Group, LLC. today by filling out the online form or calling us at 844-344-3055. We will schedule a free consultation with our wrongful death attorney so that you can get the legal advice and representation you need.
Should my family hire a lawyer in our wrongful death case?
Yes, you should definitely hire a lawyer because determining an appropriate value in your case could be difficult. That determination includes examination of economic losses, injuries the deceased sustained, and involves liability issues as well.
Insurance companies know all of the tricks of evaluating wrongful death claims, and will try to settle for the lowest possible amount. Therefore, you need an attorney to work on your behalf to protect your interests.
What factors determine my family's recovery in a wrongful death case?
The outcome will be based upon the deceased's current earnings, past earnings and earning potential, the life expectancy of the person before death, whether or not the person had dependents, any medical expenses arising from the incident that ultimately led to the person's death, and funeral expenses.
What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Georgia?
In Georgia, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of the death. It's important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Can I pursue a wrongful death case for my deceased child?
Yes. Georgia law allows your family to pursue such recovery.
Is there a limit on the amount that can be recovered?
No, Georgia does not impose a limit on damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death case.
We offer a free consultation to evaluate your injury claim. It will cost you nothing to consult with an attorney to see if you have a case. The Atlanta injury lawyers at Barker Law Group, LLC. will ensure that action is taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident and/or conduct in question and to file a lawsuit, when necessary prior to a deadline imposed by the Georgia statute of limitations.
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We give all our injury clients a promise that if we do not recover monetary damages in your case, we will not charge you an attorney fee. If we take your case, we only get paid when we win your case.