The sudden death of your loved one is one of the most difficult things that can happen in your life. The emotional pain can be unbearable if your loved one died due to the negligent or reckless behavior of someone else or any business. You can decide to file a wrongful death claim due to the negligence of the other person or business.
Do not go through your loss alone. Our Macon wrongful death lawyers can help you file a wrongful death claim as you heal. You must file a wrongful death lawsuit to get monetary damages. Your lawyer will review your claim and help you get the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Want to pursue a wrongful death claim in Macon, GA? Get in touch with our experienced and reputable attorneys. Here at Bethune Law Firm, we understand wrongful death claims and have the experience required to succeed. Our personal injury lawyers know how to negotiate, and they understand the value of your claim.
Table of Contents
How is Wrongful Death Defined in Georgia?
Wrongful death is defined in the state of Georgia as the death of one person caused by the criminal, intentional, reckless, or negligent acts of another person or business. Negligence is a failure to use reasonable care when there is a duty to do so. That is why negligence must be proven in a wrongful death case.
The various possible legal grounds for a wrongful death claim in Georgia include:
- Pedestrian accident fatalities
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs
- Nursing home neglect
- Defective products
- Criminal actions
- Faulty construction and engineering malpractice
- Illegal or improper alcohol service
Who is Qualified to File A Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Georgia law is specific on who can file a wrongful death claim. It is established that the family of the person, who died, can file a wrongful death claim in Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act.
The first person to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia is the spouse of the person who died.
The spouse can also represent the interest of their children in court if the dead person and the spouse have children. The spouse gets one-third or more of the settlement money, regardless of the number of their children.
The surviving parent or parents of the dead person can also file a wrongful death claim in Georgia if there is no surviving spouse or children.
A representative from the estate of the dead person can also file a wrongful death claim. The estate holds the damages and uses the damages for the benefit of the next of kin of the dead person if the representative from the estate recovers damages on their claim.
What Types of Damages are Recoverable?
The family of the deceased person can recover two types of damages in the state of Georgia wrongful death case, including:
Full Value of Life Damages
The full value of life damages tries to place a monetary value on the life of the dead person. It is difficult for the jury panel to determine the exact value, so they usually assign an amount that they deem fair.
There are two categories of the full value of life damages:
This is the earnings capacity of the dead person. It is easy to calculate the total for the victim if the victim was a working adult. Economic value takes into account how much time was left in the workforce, pension, benefits, and salary of the victim.
However, it is tricky to calculate the total of a senior citizen, an unemployed victim, a child, or a stay-at-home parent. The state of Georgia believes in assigning a value to the life of the person. Therefore, they will handle the case of each victim differently to give the best possible total.
It takes into consideration that the life of the victim was cut short. The victim will miss the opportunity to have a happy and meaningful life with their family. The jury panel awards the damages that they deem fair to the family of the victim.
Medical, Funeral, and Related Expenses
The family of the victim uses these damages to take care of the medical, funeral, and related expenses of the deceased. Create a list of your expenses and give the list to your lawyer since the related damages are usually broad terms. Your lawyer will assess your list to know what you can recover via damages.
Can The Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?
The purpose of punitive damages in the State of Georgia is to punish the defendant for wrongful acts. Therefore, it is not to reimburse the family of the deceased for losses. That is why it is extremely rare in the Georgia civil courts for wrongful death cases to receive punitive damages.
However, the surviving family can still file for punitive damages if the defendant was guilty of gross negligence or if the defendant intentionally took the life of their loved one, such as in manslaughter, homicide, or murder case. In these cases, the judge may award the surviving family a compensatory award and punitive damages.
We can help you pursue punitive damages. How? We will establish that the defendant was malicious, intentional, and grossly negligent in their actions, and these actions led to the death of your loved one.
How is Negligence Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?
You need to prove negligence in your wrongful death case to win your case. However, it is usually hard to prove negligence, especially if you do not have the right lawyer by your side. We will be happy to prove negligence in your wrongful death case.
Here are the four elements of a wrongful death case:
The dead person must have been owed a duty of care from the defendant. This makes the defendant negligent for the death of the victim. You must prove that the defendant had a duty to keep the deceased safe and secure.
Breach of Duty
The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant breached the duty of care after they have proven that the defendant had a duty of care to the dead person. The plaintiff must present evidence showing that the defendant did not keep the deceased safe and secure.
The plaintiff must provide evidence proving the cause of death. The plaintiff must prove that the cause of death was due to the reckless actions of the defendant. The plaintiff must find the right evidence to convince the jury.
The plaintiff will receive damages after proving that the dead person suffered these damages. The jury panel would see no reason to award the plaintiff these damages if the plaintiff cannot provide enough proof. The plaintiff can present evidence of unexpected financial losses, unpaid medical bills, and the cost of the funeral.
How Do I Know I Have a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
It is not easy to lose some you love, especially if your loved one was killed because of the negligence or intentional act of someone else or business. You will even feel sadder since you know the death of your loved one could have been prevented.
You can file a wrongful death claim to get a settlement, so we recommend you hire our experienced and reputable Macon, GA, wrongful death lawyer to help you file a wrongful death claim.
Determine if Meet the Criteria of Who Can File For a Wrongful Death
Firstly, you need to determine your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim. If you are the surviving spouse, you can file a wrongful death claim in Georgia. Have minor children? You can bring a lawsuit on behalf of your children.
You can also file a wrongful death claim if you are the parent of the deceased, especially if there are no surviving spouses and surviving children.
Determine if Georgia Classifies the Death as Wrongful
Secondly, you need to figure out if you have a wrongful death claim. You can only pursue a wrongful death claim in Georgia under certain circumstances. You can only file a wrongful death claim if intentional or negligent acts were the cause of the death of your loved one.
It is not easy to file a wrongful death claim depending on the circumstances. Hire a wrongful death lawyer from the start. Your lawyer can file a wrongful death claim on your behalf. Do not pursue a wrongful death case without a lawyer since these cases are complex.
Here at Bethune Law Firm, our wrongful death lawyers will handle the stressful aspects of your wrongful death case. We will conduct an independent investigation, interview witnesses, gather evidence, and negotiate a settlement with the defendant. We will work hard to resolve your wrongful death claim as fast as possible.
What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
The surviving family members bring a wrongful death claim to seek compensation and punitive damages for the value of the life of their loved one. The estate of the deceased brings an estate claim to seek compensation for the financial costs associated with the death of the victim. Also, the administrator named in the will of the deceased brings the estate claim if the deceased had a will.
How Much Time do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
The surviving family has 2 years to file a wrongful death claim if their loved one died in an accident. Accidental deaths include; slips and falls, car accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and many more.
The surviving family has 2 years from the end of the criminal proceedings to file a wrongful death claim if their loved one died due to an act where the defendant is facing criminal charges. These cases are when someone dies from a robbery, a fight, a murder, and other circumstances.
The surviving family has as little as 6 months to file a wrongful death claim if their loved one died due to an accident that involves the government. Different rules apply if the accident involves the government, such as if the person was killed in a car crash involving a government vehicle, like an ambulance, garbage truck, bus, etc.
You will nullify your right to file a wrongful death claim if you fail to bring a wrongful death claim within the required timeframe. Instead of spending too much thinking about lawsuits, hire Macon, GA, wrongful death lawyers to help you file the lawsuit. We will file a wrongful death claim on your behalf, so you will have more time to grieve your loved one.
How Much Does a Macon Wrongful Death Lawyer Cost?
Our Macon, GA, wrongful death lawyers handle wrongful death cases on a contingency basis. This means you will not pay them upfront to help you file a wrongful death claim. As your lawyer pursues your claim, you will not owe them any fees. Our lawyer is only paid after they successfully obtain a settlement or a verdict.
In Georgia, if the claims are settled before the suit is filed, most contingency fee arrangements are thirty-three and one-third percent of all amounts recovered. However, if the claims are settled after the suit is filed, most contingency fee arrangements are forty percent of all amounts recovered. The contingency fee figures can increase because of the complexity of your wrongful death case.
Contact Bethune Law Firm, Get the Most Compensation For Your Suffering
You are entitled to file a wrongful death case in Georgia against someone or any business if your loved one dies because of the deliberate, reckless, or negligent behavior of another person or business. A wrongful death claim allows you to collect monetary damages for the untimely death of your loved one.
It is important to work with an experienced Macon, GA, wrongful death lawyer during this trying time. Your lawyer will help you file a wrongful death claim and navigate the legal process. Our lawyers know the value of your claim. We can help you recover damages for your pain and suffering, loss of earnings, medical expenses, and funeral expenses.
Bethune Law Firm has extensive experience in wrongful death cases in Macon, GA. We care about our clients and their loss. We always help our clients get what was taken from them. We will do our best to help you get the settlement you rightfully deserve.