Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer
Any time a loved one passes away, it’s a painful experience. It’s even more distressing when a death occurs because of someone else’s recklessness or negligence. Even when treatment fails to cure the injury caused by this recklessness or negligence, there are medical bills and funeral expenses to pay.
While a lawsuit can’t return your lost loved one to you, the compensation from such a wrongful death claim can help you and your family live more comfortably while you learn how to move forward.
Cases like these are why our wrongful death attorneys do what we do. We’re here to help you find closure and financial stability. If you’ve recently lost a family member in an accident that was someone else’s fault, our skilled wrongful death attorneys want to help you recover compensation from the responsible party.
Call Spaulding Injury Law today for your free, no-obligation consultation.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Wrongful deaths are common in the United States. Common causes of wrongful death include:
- Medical malpractice – Medication errors, surgical errors, poor post-operative care, and other instances of medical malpractice can lead to death. If the doctor’s actions – or those of another medical professional – are found to fall below the medical standard of care, they can be held liable. A John Hopkins Medicine study found that medical errors may be the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
- Car and truck accidents – Even if the driver was not impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, they might be held liable for behaving negligently in some way. Crashes involving large semi-trailers are especially deadly. Truck drivers may operate their vehicles negligently impaired after driving for too long without adequate rest, or may act in some other way that leaves them liable for their actions.
- Industrial and construction site accidents – Heavy industrial machinery or construction equipment that isn’t adequately maintained can malfunction, hurting workers and bystanders. Bystanders are also vulnerable if construction companies don’t take adequate steps to protect passers-by from falling objects, slip-and-falls, and so on.
- Slip-and-falls – Poorly maintained homes, workplaces, or public spaces all present hazards that can cause slip-and-fall accidents. A traumatic brain injury from slipping and falling can prove fatal, and it’s the responsibility of property owners to make sure these accidents don’t happen.
- Defective products – Wrongful death claims related to defective products run the gamut from dangerous children’s toys and unstable furniture to automotive recalls and dangerous medical devices. Manufacturers may cut corners to save some money, or they may not undertake adequate testing to make sure their product was fully safe. If the manufacturer is found to be negligent, you can pursue a wrongful death claim.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or products – Cut corners and inadequate testing can lead to situations where consumers are inadvertently exposed to harmful, even toxic, chemicals, or other products.
- Nursing home abuse and neglect – People in elder or nursing care are often extremely vulnerable to neglect, and that neglect can be fatal. Poor hygiene, physical and verbal abuse, medication errors, resident-on-resident abuse, inadequate supervision, and financial abuse can cause serious harm to nursing home or elder care residents.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Georgia?
Wrongful death cases in Georgia generally must be filed by the surviving family of the deceased. Usually, the surviving spouse files the claim, and the spouse can also represent the interests of any minor children.
If a spouse or child of the deceased cannot or will not file a suit, a parent or a personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file the claim. In the event a personal representative files a wrongful death claim, any awarded damages will be held by the deceased’s estate for the benefit of their next-of-kin.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case?
Like most personal injury cases, a wrongful death claim usually involves proving some type of negligence. This means showing that the responsible party either failed to act when they had a duty to do so, causing someone’s death, or that their reckless actions led to the person’s death.
Your lawyer will show exactly how the other party’s actions led to your family member’s death. This can be particularly difficult in medical malpractice cases, which require proof that it was the doctor’s actions (or lack thereof) that caused the victim’s death, not an underlying medical condition or something else. A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer is an invaluable asset when it comes to proving these claims.
A wrongful death attorney can investigate the circumstances of your case, hire expert witnesses to testify on your behalf, and make sure your case is presented in the best possible light to help you recover full, fair compensation.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
There are two different kinds of legal filings you can make in a wrongful death case. The first is a standard wrongful death claim, which in Georgia allows you to recover “the full value” of the deceased’s life once they’ve passed.
The value of the claim includes two components: The tangible value of their estate, and the intangible value. The tangible value of someone’s estate in a wrongful death claim includes things like lost wages and benefits that were lost when they died. The intangible component includes compensation for lost companionship and support, the value of lost family relationships, and other hard-to-calculate damages.
In addition to a standard wrongful death claim, there is what is known as a survivor’s action, which is filed by the deceased’s estate. A survivor’s action is a legal claim for any medical expenses or other losses the victim suffered prior to their death. This includes medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and so on.
Statute of Limitations on Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Georgia is fairly strict, with a few narrow exceptions. In most cases, you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the date of your family member’s death.
There are a couple of caveats to that two-year time limit, however. If there’s a criminal case related to the wrongful death claim, the two-year countdown doesn’t start until the criminal case is completed. The statute of limitations can extend for a further five years after the date of death if your loved one’s estate was not resolved through probate. In these rare instances, you have a total of seven years to file a claim.
If you have any questions about the timing of your wrongful death claim, a wrongful death attorney like ours at Spaulding Injury Law you can help establish your timeline.