Unexpectedly, losing a loved one is devastating. When you add a wrongful death situation to the mix, it can be daunting to even think about dealing with the legal complexities that come with the situation. Taking proper steps with a trusted Conyers wrongful death lawyer by your side can provide some measure of closure and resolution. While it doesn’t take the pain away, having an attorney on your side can take some of the pressure off as you try to grieve and go through your case.
Overview of Georgia’s Wrongful Death Law
Georgia has a wrongful death statute that allows certain family members to pursue legal action and financial compensation when the death of a loved one is caused by another party’s negligent or wrongful actions. The state law provides an option to hold an identifiable individual, company, or entity accountable through a civil claim or lawsuit.
For a valid wrongful death case in Georgia, the death must have resulted from provable negligence, intent to cause harm, recklessness, or strict liability misconduct on the other party’s part. The death must have been preventable, not solely because of unforeseen health conditions. Eligible family members must be able to show losses related to the death, such as loss of financial support, benefits, inheritance, services, companionship, and guidance.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases in Georgia
While every wrongful death situation involves unique circumstances, some frequent scenarios can warrant families pursuing wrongful death compensation through civil lawsuits or claims in Georgia. Some grounds for wrongful death cases in GA include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Reckless drunk drivers, aggressive truckers, speeding motorists, and other negligent driving behaviors tragically take lives on Georgia highways far too often. Surviving family members may pursue wrongful death damages by proving the liable driver’s negligence caused the fatal collision.
Suppose inadequate medical care, such as misdiagnoses, surgical errors, or improper medication, directly results in a preventable patient death. In that case, the deceased’s loved ones may be able to hold healthcare providers accountable through a medical malpractice wrongful death case in Georgia.
When dangerous defects in products, drugs, or devices render them unreasonably hazardous and life-threatening, the manufacturers and suppliers can be held responsible for resulting deaths. Justifiable reasons for cases include flaws in vehicles, machinery, consumer goods, and prescriptions.
Property owners who fail to remedy or warn of hazardous property conditions that directly lead to deadly accidents, like drownings, electrocutions, or fatal falls, may face premises liability wrongful death suits in Georgia if negligence can be established.
Preventable occupational fatalities caused by lack of proper employer safety precautions, training, and equipment maintenance can potentially constitute grounds for Georgia work-related wrongful death claims against employers.
Families who lose loved ones deserve justice and closure. Although monetary damages cannot replace those lost, holding fully liable parties accountable under Georgia’s wrongful death laws can provide some measure of resolution.
Georgia’s Statute of Limitations for Filing Wrongful Death Claims
Unlike some personal injury cases, Georgia has accelerated statutes of limitations dictating strict deadlines for taking legal action in wrongful death claims. Families must understand these limitations periods.
Under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, authorized survivors have only two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court against the liable parties. This two-year countdown runs from the date of passing, not when grounds were learned.
This short two-year window to either settle or sue applies regardless of circumstances. The only exception is if the defendant’s identity is unknown, which pauses the clock until established.
Missing the two-year cutoff forever extinguishes the legal claim under Georgia law. Your family must promptly take action within two years or lose your right to pursue accountability and compensation through the courts.
Given the tight timeline and legal intricacies, meeting with a wrongful death attorney in Conyers, GA, immediately after the tragic loss is strongly advised. Navigating strict limitations by yourself is risky. Working with a lawyer can help your family seek justice.
Who is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Georgia’s wrongful death statute designates specific surviving family members and dependents as legally authorized to pursue wrongful death compensation through claims or lawsuits after losing a loved one. Those eligible to file include:
- The deceased person’s spouse
- Children and grandchildren of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
- Siblings of the deceased
- A court-appointed estate administrator if no qualifying family members exist
Additionally, adoptive or foster family members have equal standing for bringing wrongful death actions under Georgia law. Other dependents substantially reliant on the deceased’s financial support at the time of passing, such as a dependent fiancé, may also file a claim. Only survivors who qualify as statutory heirs under O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2 may recover damages in a successful Georgia wrongful death case. Our attorneys help determine rightful heirs.
It is important for all authorized members to jointly work with a wrongful death lawyer to avoid conflicts. Our legal team compassionately guides qualifying Georgia family members through this process after a tragic loss.
Types of Compensation in Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
Although no financial award could ever heal the profound grief of losing a loved one, Georgia’s wrongful death statute permits families to pursue certain types of monetary damages meant to account for tangible and intangible losses. With the guidance of a compassionate lawyer, damages families may be entitled to in Georgia include:
Economic and Financial Losses
- Lost income and benefits the deceased would have earned for family support based on earning history
- Loss of financial advantages tied to the deceased, like health insurance, life insurance, retirement benefits
- Funeral, burial, and memorial service expenses related to the death
- Loss of love, companionship, nurturing, guidance, intimacy, and relational damages
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased beforehand
- Mental anguish, emotional distress, and grief inflicted upon surviving family members
- Loss of services like childcare, household maintenance, transportation
In cases involving intentional or grossly negligent behavior, courts may award additional sums to punish and deter morally shocking misconduct.
Attorneys work with financial experts to quantify economic and intangible damages attributable to your unique wrongful death case. Although no dollar value reflects a life’s worth, securing some measure of justice helps families move forward.
How Wrongful Death Attorneys Calculate Compensable Damages
Both economic and intangible losses after a wrongful death can have complex legal, ethical, and emotional challenges. A wrongful death lawyer in Conyers can use the help of experts and established methodologies to comprehensively assess all attributable damages on the survivors’ behalf. Some general approaches include:
Calculating Financial Losses
- Economists project future lost income and benefits based on the deceased’s earnings history, unused leave, projected raises and promotions, education, health, and retirement benefits that now cease.
- Wrongful death lawyers consult forensic accountants to help with direct expenses like funeral bills, crime victim funds received, and other documented costs.
- Vocational analysts review lost services like childcare, transportation, cooking, cleaning, and home repairs that family members must now pay to replace or do without.
Assessing Non-Economic Harms
- Mental health professionals provide expert reports on emotional trauma, grief, depression, loss of companionship, family dynamics disruption, and similar psychological sequelae from wrongful death.
- Counseling, support groups, and time for each family’s healing help guide attorneys on the emotional toll warranting significant compensation.
- Ultimately, no formula adequately measures a life’s value and worth. But a lawyer will help ensure that your family will receive the fullest justice within the law.
How to Make Sure Your Evidence is Strong in a North Carolina Wrongful Death Case
Gathering solid legal evidence to prove liability and damages is crucial for success when pursuing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Although emotionally difficult, families must take proactive steps to secure key forms of proof while memories, witnesses, and records remain accessible.
Some tips include:
- Reviewing all medical records related to the death and treatment. Obtain qualified medical opinions assessing if improper healthcare directly caused or contributed to the situation.
- Collecting police reports, investigative findings, and other documentary authorities’ conclusions about circumstances and likely culpability. Make sure reports are complete and accurate.
- Compiling proof of close family ties and dependence on the deceased’s financial support and services through records, journals, calendars, photos, and other means.
- Getting written statements from eyewitnesses while recollections remain clear. Also, secure contact information to set depositions, later establishing consistent firsthand accounts of what occurred.
- Gather product samples, accident recreationist analysis, maintenance records, diagrams, photographs, videos, and other materials demonstrating responsible parties’ violations of reasonable safety duties.
- Keeping detailed receipts and records to value all financial losses and expenses thoroughly. Documenting lost companionship and emotional impacts as they unfold.
Partnering with an empathetic wrongful death attorney ensures you collect the right forms of legally compelling evidence in preparation for pending claims and court processes. The lawyer will know what proves cases in court.
How Much Time Will It Take to Resolve a Wrongful Death Case?
Unfortunately, there is no set timeline for how long it takes a wrongful death case in Georgia. The case involves many factors and stages that make predicting an exact resolution schedule difficult. Cases can last months or years, depending on the circumstances.
Delays can occur at each point. An attorney will work diligently to keep the case progressing efficiently through each phase while allowing proper grief and family healing time. Although closure takes time, we aim to secure resolution thoughtfully yet efficiently. Trust us to guide you through the process compassionately yet tenaciously.
Can a Georgia Wrongful Death Case Get Settled Out of Court?
Although each case has unique circumstances, most Georgia wrongful death claims do end up settling through negotiations with liable parties and insurance companies before trial. There are benefits to both sides in avoiding lengthy, expensive litigation.
However, deaths involving clear recklessness or gross negligence on behalf of corporations or high-profile defendants may face fierce resistance to reasonable settlement. Factors that impact the potential for an out-of-court wrongful death settlement include:
- Clear evidence proving liability and damages makes defendants more likely to settle reasonably. Patterns of liability tend to require litigation.
- Financial vulnerabilities and risk exposures of defendants if the case went public often lead to higher settlement offers, avoiding negative attention.
- Corporate policy, insurance limits, and payment history can help with defense approaches.
- Defendants facing potential punitive damages for misconduct tend to litigate rather than settle.
While each case must be individually evaluated, an attorney works diligently toward fair out-of-court resolution while fully prepared to litigate aggressively if there is no other option.
How Emotions Can Negatively Impact Your Wrongful Death Case
The grief, anger, and frustration felt after losing a loved one can be overwhelming. However, allowing emotions to drive legal proceedings can undermine or jeopardize your wrongful death case. Acting solely out of emotion rather than reason can lead to mistakes like:
- Publicly making accusations before gathering evidence fully substantiating wrongful death liability. This gives defendants time to poke holes in claims.
- Refusing reasonable settlement offers and dragging out litigation over years simply because of bitterness creates added stress for your family.
- Getting into heated arguments with insurance representatives or defense lawyers can make you look unstable.
Your attorney understands this is an extremely emotional time. However, important legal decisions regarding strategy and resolution options should be made rationally, not based purely on anger or a desire for vengeance. Emotions are valid, but justice requires level-headed action.
Work With a Compassionate Conyers Wrongful Death Attorney
Although nothing can ever replace your loved one, getting justice can bring some closure so you can find it a little easier. Our team is ready to stand by your side and handle the legal side compassionately yet tenaciously while you grieve.
Reach out for a free consultation. We are here to answer any questions or offer guidance during this difficult time. Our team will help you take the first steps toward getting justice so your family can move on without this situation at the back of your mind.