Have you lost a family member to negligence or crime? Call Atlanta, GA wrongful death lawyer at (678) 310-2827 to pursue legal action and justice.
Did your family member die due to suspected negligence, a defective product, or as a victim of a crime? You may be eligible to pursue legal actions against the responsible parties and receive punitive damages and additional damages to cover medical expenses or pain and suffering for your loss.
A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer can review the circumstances of your loved one’s death and help you determine whether and how to file a wrongful death claim. The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Greathouse Trial Law, who ensure that justice is served and victims are honored, describe below how wrongful death claims are adjudicated in Georgia.
What Is Wrongful Death, as the State of Georgia Defines It?
Your loved one’s death must have been ruled a homicide in Georgia for you to file a wrongful death claim. Homicide is death resulting from a defective product, negligence, or a crime.
Surviving family members may pursue two kinds of claims in the event of a suspected wrongful death. Survivors can pursue both a wrongful death claim and an estate claim.
Wrongful death lawsuits pursue the “full value of the life of the decedent.” In these cases, a jury must consider the value of the life of the deceased, including both tangible and intangible values.
The tangible value of life is also called the “economic” value of life. It includes prospective earnings throughout one’s life, the value of home chores, transportation of children or elderly parents, and late-life care for elderly family members. Intangible value includes emotional ties to friends and family, seeing children graduate from school or relaxation activities like playing sports or volunteering.
An estate claim allows the family of the deceased to recover some portion of the value of their loss resulting from the death of their loved one. If seeking punitive damages, the estate must file as part of the estate claim. A jury would consider the costs of medical care before the end of life, funeral and burial expenses, and whether punitive damages would be appropriate for the case.
Is There a Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Cases?
Typically, the statute of limitations in wrongful death claims is two years. Some exceptions do exist, though. If the deceased’s estate hasn’t gone through probate, the statute of limitations may be extended to five years.
Additionally, if you believe your loved one died as the victim of a crime, the statute of limitations does not begin until the resolution of the case, as long as the criminal case does not take longer than six years.
Who May Bring the Wrongful Death Claim?
Only a direct family member may file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased has a surviving spouse, it is their sole authority to bring the wrongful death claim. If the deceased was unmarried or divorced, any surviving children of the deceased jointly hold the authority for the claim.
In Georgia, only the surviving family may file a wrongful death claim. However, there is one exception: if the deceased left no surviving family to file for wrongful death, the administrator of the estate could file the wrongful death claim.
To file the estate claim, the surviving spouse usually files the necessary forms and documentation.
Who May Receive Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim?
If a wrongful death claim results in payment of damages, the beneficiaries include the surviving spouse and surviving children. The spouse receives the damages award and must share it with the deceased’s children. However, the spouse is never to receive less than one-third of the total damages awarded.
If the deceased and the surviving spouse have no children, the spouse is the sole beneficiary.
Should the estate seek punitive damages, perhaps due to a fatal accident or medical malpractice, the estate administrator must pursue these damages as part of the estate claim rather than the wrongful death claim.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate these complexities and determine which damages to pursue for wrongful death or estate claims.
How Do I Find a Wrongful Death Attorney Near Me?
Do you feel that the loss of your loved one may have been a wrongful death? Seek the guiding compassion of an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Georgia. Based in Atlanta, GA, our team at Greathouse Trial Law fights for families of wrongful death victims across the state in pursuit of justice. We’ll help you file claims for wrongful death, estate claims, and personal injury claims.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.