Have you recently lost a loved one due to the negligent actions or inaction of another party or person? It’s a traumatic experience to deal with the death of a loved one, especially when they have been taken away from you due to the negligent actions of others. In such cases, the surviving family members are often in shock and have a lot of questions.
If a death happens due to the negligence or wrongful actions of others, Georgia law dictates that the surviving family members and the estate of the decedent have the right to file a lawsuit to receive compensation and financial security they deserve. However, wrongful death lawsuits are extremely complex and highly contested, and this is why you should always hire the services of an experienced McDonough wrongful death lawyer at Bethune Law Firm to represent you.
Here at Bethune Law Firm, we have extensive experience in representing family members of accident victims who have lost their life due to the negligent actions of other parties. Give us a call at 1-800-INJURED to schedule a free consultation and to discuss the details of your wrongful death claim with a personal injury attorney.
Definition of Wrongful Death in the State of Georgia
The Georgia Wrongful Death Act is more than 100 years old. Over the past century, a number of amendments have been made to this law. Wrongful death is defined as when a person loses their life due to the criminal, intentional, reckless, or negligent acts of another entity or person. Negligence is defined as the person failing to use reasonable care when they had a duty to do so and their actions of negligence caused harm to another.
There aren’t that many differences between a standard personal injury claim and a wrongful death case but one major difference is that in case of a wrongful death claim, the case needs to be brought to court by the surviving family members or the estate of the deceased.
Some examples of wrongful death include faulty construction, fatalities in pedestrian accidents, illegal alcohol service, defective products, medical malpractice, neglect in nursing homes, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contaminated food, and various others.
The basic principle remains the same in all cases that the defendant had a duty of care and their failure to do that resulted in the death of the victim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Not everybody is legally entitled or eligible to file a wrongful death claim. For instance, you cannot file a claim for your neighbor or your friend. There are specific people who are allowed to file a wrongful death case in Georgia.
The immediate family members (in a certain order) are legally entitled to sue for wrongful death. The spouse, children, and stepchildren, parents as well as siblings are allowed to sue for wrongful death. In case there are no surviving children or spouse, a designated state representative will hold the damages until they are distributed to the next of kin.
The estate of the deceased also has a legal right to sue for wrongful death in Georgia.
What Type of Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
There are 2 types of claims that can be filed with the court in case of wrongful death. These include the wrongful death claim and the estate claim.
The wrongful death claim is for the full value of life. The jury has to consider the value from the perspective of the person who died. The calculation of value is divided into 2 parts including the tangibles and intangibles.
The intangible category includes the value of regular day-to-day activities such as raising children, volunteering, daily activities, playing sports, exercising, having fun, spending time with family and friends, and other such things. It is difficult to quantify the intangibles.
The other part is the tangible value which is also known as the economic value of life. In simple terms, it is the amount of money that the decedent might have earned throughout their life. This tangible category also includes the economic value of certain activities the decedent would have performed around the house such as taking out the trash, washing the dishes, caring for older relatives, and mowing the yard, among other things.
The estate claim allows the administrator of the decedent’s estate to recover compensation for the pain and suffering of the decedent, medical expenses before death, expenses or funeral or burial, and a few other things.
Are Surviving Family Members Allowed to File for Punitive Damages in Georgia?
Georgia law does not allow claims for punitive damages to be brought by the surviving family members. Any claim for punitive damages needs to be brought by the estate of the decedent. In case the decedent left a will, the administrator of the will should bring the estate claim and in case they didn’t leave a will, the laws of intestacy in Georgia will come into play to define the eligibility of the person who can bring the claim.
How to Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case in Georgia?
There are 4 elements that need to be proven in a wrongful death claim in Georgia. These include:
- Duty of Care – It must be shown that the decedent owed due care from the defendant which makes the defendant negligent.
- Breach of Duty – After proving that the defendant had a duty of care, it also needs to be proven that they breached their basic duty.
- Causation – It must be shown that the death of the deceased occurred due to the breach of duty of the defendant. In such cases, the proof needs to be exact and extremely detailed oriented.
- Damages – It needs to be proven by the plaintiff that the family suffered damages to be eligible for receiving compensation. The attorney must provide proof of these damages.
Starting a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia
Wrongful death lawsuits are extremely complex and highly contested. Therefore, adequate preparation needs to be done before starting a wrongful death claim in Georgia. Usually, the first step in a wrongful death claim is establishing the estate of the deceased and appointing an administrator. The next step involves gathering evidence and working with experts such as economists to arrive at the full value of the life of the deceased. Everything needs to be backed by exact and extensive evidence.
This is why you need to hire the services of an experienced wrongful death attorney at Bethune Law Firm. We have extensive experience in representing clients in wrongful death cases and have helped many of our clients recover the compensation they deserved.
Give us a call at 1-800-INJURED to schedule a free consultation.
How Does an Estate Claim Differ from a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
In Georgia, the wrongful death claim is created by the statute defining the people who are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The claim can be made for the full value of the life of a decedent and there are two parts to it, as per the statute. These are tangible and intangible parts, as explained earlier.
The estate claim is brought by the administrator of the estate where they try to recover various expenses such as the medical expenses of the decedent, burial and funeral costs, and certain other expenses. The estate also has the right to sue for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before their death.
Contact our McDonough Wrongful Death Lawyers for a Free Case Review
If you have recently lost someone due to the negligent actions of another party, we at Bethune Law Firm are here to help you. It is important to seek compensation when your loved one lost their life due to the negligent or willfully criminal acts of another. No amount of money is going to ease your grief, but the compensation you win will help you deal with the financial burden and allow you to focus on healing.
Give us a call at 1-800-INJURED to schedule a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee arrangement which means you do not have to pay any fees upfront. Our legal costs will be recovered from the compensation we win for you. If we do not win anything, we do not get paid. Also, initial consultations are completely free.
Here at the Bethune Law Firm, we regularly deal with wrongful death cases. We will provide you with an honest assessment of your wrongful death case and we can assure you that all discussions are completely confidential.