There are countless accidents involving negligence, many of which lead to individuals suffering some of the most significant harm. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries are not the worst that can happen, and negligent actions can lead to fatal injuries.
Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult situations to endure. Knowing that the death was a result of someone else’s actions can make it even more challenging, and you need to know what legal options are available to you and your family moving forward.
In Georgia, there are specific laws regarding wrongful death cases. In any case, it’s often in your best interest to hire a wrongful death lawyer to help you navigate the complexities of the legal system, giving you the information necessary to build the strongest case possible on your behalf.
If you lost a loved one to negligence, call our firm at (888) 425-6070.
What the Law Says
Under Georgia law, the legal statutes define wrongful death as any fatal injury resulting from someone else’s negligent, intentional, reckless, or criminal act. The law details the various parties who may file a lawsuit, what damages are available, and just how long the family has to take legal action against the responsible party.
Here’s who the laws allow to file a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased individual. He or she is the first person in line to file the wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased had minor children with the surviving spouse, it is the surviving spouse who represents the needs of the children. The surviving spouse would recover at least one-third of the damages, regardless of the number of children.
- If there is no surviving spouse, surviving children may be next in line to take legal action. This is most often the case where the couple has children but are not married, or they are divorced, and the children have the legal rights.
- In situations where there are no surviving children and no surviving spouse, the wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by the surviving parent or parents. This is also the case for wrongful death actions involving young teenagers or children.
- If none of the above exist, the wrongful death action goes through the deceased individual’s estate and personal representative. This is someone who may be chosen by the deceased prior to death or by the court. The estate holds the recovery as a benefit to the deceased person’s next of kin.
It can be difficult for families to recognize their rights when filing a wrongful death action. However, it’s often necessary to move forward with a claim because of the emotional trauma and financial hardships that can arise following a wrongful death.
Damages That May Be Available
When filing a wrongful death action, you’re doing so because you and your family have a need for compensation to recover damages associated with the death. In Georgia, the law considers various damages and provides two specific types of wrongful death claims. Both of these actions work to help your family obtain distinct compensation. Here are the differences you should know about:
- The first claim considers the deceased individual’s full value of life. The surviving family members can file this claim to pursue monetary damages associated with lost wages that the deceased person would have earned, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, and more.
- The second claim considers the financial losses associated with the death and the medical care needed prior to the death. For instance, it can consider medical bills from the date of the injury to the date of the death, funeral expenses, and any pain and suffering the deceased endured prior to the death.
Like other personal injury matters, it’s vital to recognize what constitutes negligence and how to show that someone is responsible for the fatal injuries sustained. Proving liability means showing that someone breached their duty of care, causing an accident, which resulted in the fatal injuries.
You should also know that Georgia laws allow two years to file a wrongful death claim against someone. This is two years from the date of the death—not the incident if the deceased individual doesn’t succumb to his or her injuries immediately. There may be factors that change the statute of limitations, so it’s important to speak with legal counsel. For instance, the two-year deadline pauses if there is criminal activity associated with the death and a criminal case is ongoing.
If there are other circumstances, the wrongful death case may be delayed even further, and the statute can reach up to seven years before filing the claim.
Working with an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney
At Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC, we know how devastating this situation can be and what it means for your family moving forward. You shouldn’t have to worry about the legal process when you and your family are grieving, while also dealing with financial hardships associated with the losses caused by the wrongful death.
Your family needs answers during a difficult situation. Our team works hard to help you get through the complicated situation you may encounter. We’re committed to be the trusted advocates you need during one of the most difficult situations. Our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers are ready to help you fully understand your rights and options moving forward. You deserve to focus on your grieving; we’ll focus on the legal matters.
Call our firm at (888) 425-6070 to discuss your potential options with our team during a free consultation. Let our team be in your corner every step of the way.