Losing a family member is never an easy situation, particularly if it happens in a sudden way. However, it can be even more devastating if their death was due to the careless or negligent actions of another party. The death of a loved one can have severe effects, such as the loss of services, loss of financial support, and even unexpected demands to cover funeral and burial expenses.
The law allows families to seek compensation for wrongful death in Georgia. Pursuing a wrongful death claim, however, is no walk in the park and proves to be more stressful when you’re grieving. This is why it is advisable to seek the support of an experienced Warner Robbins wrongful death lawyer. The team at The Herro Law Firm has vast experience in this field and will work hard to seek justice.
We know that losing a loved one unexpectedly is a painful experience and that’s why our Warner Robbins personal injury lawyers are here to help families with wrongful death claims. Call us today at (404) 433-6876 to learn more about your legal options with a free consultation.
How Does Georgia Law Define Wrongful Death?
According to Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act, which has existed for over a century, wrongful death is the death of an individual as a result of the negligent, reckless, intentional, malicious, or criminal acts of another party (person or entity). Negligence is key when it comes to proving wrongful death and it means failure to practice reasonable care when there’s a duty to do so.
The legal grounds for wrongful death claims in the state include:
- Criminal actions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Defective products
- Improper or illegal alcohol service
- Pedestrian accident fatalities
- Nursing neglect or abuse
- Medical malpractice
- Engineering malpractice
- Faulty construction
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim in GA?
Not everyone qualifies to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia and the law is very specific about eligible parties. A seasoned wrongful death lawyer will be able to guide you on the individuals who qualify including:
This is the first party allowed to file a wrongful death claim. In some cases, the spouse may decide to file a claim on behalf of the children. This happens if the young ones are under 18 years of age. When the spouse files a lawsuit on behalf of their kids, the law stipulates the spouse qualifies for a least a third of the settlement.
Surviving Children or Parents
If there’s no surviving spouse, the decedent’s surviving children can pursue a case. If the deceased didn’t have any surviving children or spouse, his or her parents have the right to pursue a case.
The Estate Representative
If there’s no surviving spouse, child, or parent, the administrator of the decedent’s estate has a right to pursue a wrongful death case. If the administrator is successful in recovering compensation, it is given to the decedent’s next of kin.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
While no amount of money can bring back your loved one, a Warner Robbins wrongful death lawyer can help you seek compensation that will make the implications easier for you and others affected. The best lawyers at Herro Law will help you determine the types of damages you may be eligible for.
According to the wrongful death act, you may qualify for the following types of damages:
The damages cover tangible financial losses due to your loved one’s death. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses of the deceased before she/he died
- Income the deceased would have earned if he/she was still alive
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost inheritance
These entail the non-financial losses experienced due to the death of a loved one. They are subjective in nature and their value can’t be objectively measured. Examples include:
- Loss of support
- Loss of a companion
- Emotional distress
- Loss of a mentor
- Loss of a father/mother figure
The determination of the types of damages that can be recovered and the value of your claim will depend on the specific facts of your case. Still, you can obtain more specific information about your situation by calling The Herro Law Firm at (404) 433-6876 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death lawyers.
Can the Surviving Family Members File for Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a special type of damages that are designed to punish the defendant as opposed to compensating the victim. Georgia does not allow the surviving family to file for punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, Georgia courts sometimes award punitive damages in a survival action (also known as an estate claim). This is a type of case that is filed in connection with a wrongful death when the victim did not die immediately.
Our wrongful death lawyers at The Herro Law Firm can evaluate your case and determine if you can seek punitive damages in an estate claim.
How to Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim
As earlier mentioned, proving negligence is key in order to have a valid wrongful death claim in the state of Georgia. Proving negligence, however, entails the following elements:
Duty of Care
The defendant must have owed the deceased a duty of care. This means the defendant had some responsibility for keeping your loved one safe. For example, all drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and drive safely.
Breach of Duty of Care
Second, you need to show that the defendant breached the duty of care. This entails presenting evidence that their actions were careless or reckless. This can be as simple as showing that a driver was drunk.
Next, you need to prove that your loved one’s death was a direct result of the defendant’s reckless actions. This entails providing evidence showing the cause of death.
Lastly, to receive compensation, you should be able to prove that the deceased and loved ones suffered damages. If you are unable to provide sufficient proof, the jury will have no reason to award damages. These include medical expenses, unexpected financial losses, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, etc.
How Do I Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
It’s important to note that Georgia has a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit known as the statute of limitations. You must file your case within two years of your loved one’s death. The first step in pursuing compensation is to contact an experienced Warner Robbins wrongful death attorney for a free consultation.
Here is a general process of how a wrongful death claim is filed in Georgia.
Building Your Case
After your lawyer determines that there is sufficient cause to file a wrongful death claim, the lawyer will gather evidence against the party at-fault to support your claim. You should work with an experienced lawyer to file your claim and obtain the maximum compensation for your losses.
Negotiating a Settlement
Most wrongful death cases are settled out of court. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company or the defendant’s lawyer for a fair settlement. Having an experienced attorney represent you will make all the difference in whether or not the offer you receive is a satisfactory amount.
If the negotiations are not successful, your lawyer will prepare the case for trial. The team at The Herro Law Firm is well experienced at arguing wrongful death cases in court and will fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to under the law.
What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Estate Claims?
A wrongful death claim is brought by the surviving family members of the deceased to seek compensation for the full value of their loved one’s life. This includes the loss of income since the deceased can no longer support the family financially, lost companionship, etc.
The estate claim is filed by the estate of the deceased. The purpose of the claim is to recover expenses such as burial and funeral costs as well as medical expenses related to the event that led to the decedent’s death. The estate may also seek damages for pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to death. In some cases, courts may award punitive damages in an estate claim.
Hire the Best Warner Robbins Wrongful Death Lawyer!
Proving liability in wrongful death cases is no walk in the park. Losing a loved one is stressful in itself and the last thing you want is the additional burden of seeking compensation. At The Herro Law Firm, we have extensive experience in these kinds of claims and know exactly what to do to prove liability and help you recover the full compensation you deserve.
We handle all wrongful death cases on a contingency fee arrangement. This means there are no out-of-pocket legal fees. You only pay us after we secure a settlement or win your case in court.