Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers
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Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience, especially if you find out your loved one was killed because of the negligent acts of a careless individual. Fortunately, you may be able to pursue legal action against the at-fault party and hold him responsible for the pain and suffering that he has caused.
Wrongful death can be caused by a number of events, including car accidents, truck accidents, slip and falls, and medical malpractice. If you have lost a loved one, talk to an attorney to see if you have the right to file a wrongful death claim.
Let one of our wrongful death attorneys review your case now by scheduling a free case evaluation. Call us or you can get in touch with us by filling out the contact form on our website.
Below are some FAQs about wrongful death lawsuits in Atlanta:
- Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim In The State Of Georgia?
- Survival Actions vs. Wrongful Death Claims – What Is The Difference?
- Who Pays the Wrongful Death Settlement?
- What Do Wrongful Death Attorneys Do?
- How To Find The Best Wrongful Death Attorney That Can Help You Win
Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers is located at 50 Hurt Plaza SE #1536, Atlanta, GA 30303, United.
What are Common Wrongful Death Claims?
A wrongful death claim can stem from any number of personal injury cases, including:
- Automobile collisions
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and falls
- Dog bite attacks
- Defective products
If you are unsure whether or not you have a wrongful death claim, you should speak with a wrongful death lawyer. A wrongful death lawyer will review your case and offer you guidance on taking legal action.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim may stem from a victim suffering injuries as a result of another person’s negligence. Negligence is the failure of a person to take proper care in performing a task.
For a successful wrongful death claim, four elements must be proven:
Duty of Care
The wrongful party had a duty to keep the victim safe. In a slip-and-fall, a homeowner has an obligation to keep sidewalks properly maintained during the winter months. If a homeowner does not shovel ice and snow on a street sidewalk and someone falls and suffers a fatal injury (i.e., head trauma), the homeowner can be sued.
Breach of Duty
A party must breach their duty to the victim by behaving carelessly or failing to intervene to prevent the other person’s harm.
There must be a causal relationship between the breach of duty and the victim’s death. The defendant’s negligence must contribute significantly to the victim’s death.
The victim’s death must cause measurable losses or damages. The types of damages may include medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, or lost income.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you want to receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering following a personal injury, you will only have a limited time to file a lawsuit. This is known as a statute of limitations. It gives the plaintiff a certain amount of time to bring the case to court.
A statute of limitations is designed to protect the defendant from being sued after a significant amount of time has passed. It also serves to preserve evidence and to prevent the court system from becoming overburdened. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury suits is two years. After the two years have passed, you won’t be able to recover damages.
In a wrongful death claim, the clock will begin “ticking” on the date the victim dies. However, you will be given extra time to file a wrongful death action if your loved one’s estate has not gone through probate. According to Georgia Code § 9-3-93, you will have five years to take legal action if the estate has not been probated.
Damages for a wrongful death claim are often for actual losses suffered, known as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages fall into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are easily calculable and are tied to losses that have a specific dollar value. In contrast, non-economic damages are subjective losses that have no monetary value but impact a person’s quality of life.
Economic damages are sometimes referred to as “special” damages, while noneconomic damages are sometimes called “general” damages.
The types of damages being sought will depend on whether a wrongful death claim or survival action is being pursued.
Wrongful Death Claims
In a wrongful death claim, family members may seek to recover for any financial or emotional losses they have endured due to their loved one’s passing.
In a wrongful death claim, the following compensatory damages may apply:
Funeral and burial costs
Planning a funeral is costly. The negligent party should compensate you for these costs.
The funeral home will provide many services and products. A casket can cost between $2,000-$10,000. Many funeral homes require embalming the deceased if you plan on having an open casket public viewing, although it is not required by Georgia law. If you do plan to skip embalming, you could save hundreds of dollars.
Loss of future wages
Family members may have relied on the deceased for financial support. In recovering the loss of future wages, loved ones may have the financial means to keep living in the same home. Children may also have the opportunity to receive a postsecondary education.
Loss of consortium
A victim’s spouse can also recover for loss of consortium. Under Georgia law, loss of consortium damages provides compensation to a widow for the emotional trauma and loss of the intimate relationship between the couple. This will include loss of companionship, love, support, comfort, and affection.
Loss of household services
A family may recover for the loss of household services that the deceased provided, including yard work, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and taking out the trash, to name a few.
Loss of inheritance
Due to the deceased’s untimely death, there may be less value to the estate. If the victim lived a full life expectancy, he or she may have received an inheritance from a parent or relative. Loss of inheritance damages can only be claimed if the deceased would have added more value to the estate.
However, a survival action will be treated like a normal personal injury lawsuit in that damages will be recovered on behalf of the victim. This is a lawsuit that the deceased would have brought to court if he or she had survived. For this reason, a survival action can only be filed by the deceased’s estate.
Damages for a survival action may include:
Whether the deceased had to take a lower-earning position or could not work at all due to their injuries, damages for lost income may be recovered following a loved one’s injury and prior to their death.
Pain and suffering
Pain and suffering damages may be recovered if the victim incurred emotional distress or physical discomfort prior to their death. Physical ailments such as loss of appetite or insomnia may stem directly from post-traumatic stress.
Any medical bills that were incurred after the victim was injured and prior to death may also be recovered. This may include hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, and the cost of medical imaging.
A survival action will be advantageous if there is a lengthy amount of time between the victim’s accident and death. If the victim died soon after the accident, then awarded damages may be insignificant.
Survival Actions vs. Wrongful Death Claims – What Is The Difference?
There are two separate claims that you should talk to an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer about if your loved one was killed by another person’s negligence. The first is a wrongful death claim, which is filed by the surviving family members to recover compensation for losses that they have suffered or expenses they have incurred as a result of the victim’s death.
The other is known as a survival action, which can only be filed by the victim’s estate. A survival action is filed against the negligent party in an attempt to recover damages for any losses suffered or medical expenses incurred by the victim prior to his passing.
For example, let’s say the victim was involved in a car accident and taken to the hospital for treatment before eventually passing away from his injuries. While in the hospital, the victim could have incurred medical expenses and experienced a significant amount of pain and suffering. A survival action seeks compensation for the victim’s expenses and losses, so it is similar to a personal injury claim, with the difference being that the victim is deceased.
Who Pays the Wrongful Death Settlement?
In most cases, the negligent party’s insurance company will be responsible for paying the wrongful death settlement or verdict. For example, if your loved one was killed in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, the driver’s auto insurance company would be responsible for negotiating the settlement with the victim’s family.
It’s important to remember that insurance policies do have limits. If the insurance policy only covers $25,000 but you intend on recovering more than that, the insurance company will not pay the remaining balance. Instead, you will have to pursue legal action against the negligent party to recover whatever is leftover.
What Do Wrongful Death Attorneys Do?
Wrongful death claims are complex, which means you will need an Atlanta wrongful death attorney if you want to recover the compensation that you deserve. How can a wrongful death lawyer help? It can be difficult to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of your loved one’s death.
Proving liability can involve interviewing witnesses, consulting with medical or accident reconstruction experts, and gathering evidence from the scene of the accident. All of this would be very difficult for you to handle on your own.
But, that’s not the only way that an attorney can help. Family members may be able to recover compensation for funeral expenses, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, loss of wages, loss of benefits, and more.
It can be incredibly challenging to place a value on the losses you have suffered after a loved one passes away, but an attorney can help. Experienced wrongful death lawyers know exactly how to calculate how much financial support you have lost as a result of the wrongful death.
An Atlanta wrongful death lawyer can also closely examine the case to determine the value of your emotional pain and suffering and loss of companionship. If you don’t work with a wrongful death attorney, it’s very possible that you could miscalculate the value of your claim and accept a settlement that is far less than what you actually deserve.
An attorney can also help in the event that your case goes to trial. The jury will want to hear a convincing argument delivered by a charismatic and honest speaker, and that’s exactly why you will need legal representation from one of the top Atlanta wrongful death in Atlanta.
How To Find The Best Wrongful Death Attorney That Can Help You Win
A quick search on the internet will show you that there are countless wrongful death attorneys in Atlanta, which may leave you wondering how you can find the right one for your case. It’s always best to start your search by asking loved ones if they have any recommendations.
Be sure that you specifically ask for a wrongful death lawyer instead of just asking for a lawyer in general. The attorney that you work with must be experienced in this type of law in order to help you recover compensation.
Get in touch with the local bar association to find out if they can help you locate an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer near you. You should be able to create a short list based on the information you receive from the bar association and your friends and family members. Then, it’s time to start scheduling consultations so you can meet or speak on the phone to each attorney before making your decision.
During the consultation, it’s important to ask about the attorney’s experience handling wrongful death cases. How many years has he practiced law? What percentage of his cases has involved wrongful death? What kind of success has he had with representing clients in wrongful death cases? The answers to these questions will help you determine if the attorney is qualified to handle your case.
You should also ask about the attorney’s prices. Most wrongful death lawyers—including those at Spaulding Injury Law: Atlanta Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyer—work on a contingency fee basis. To put it simply, this means that we don’t get paid unless we help you and your family recover compensation. This is an ideal scenario for clients because it means they don’t have to pay any attorneys’ fees upfront, and won’t have to pay at all unless they receive money through a settlement or verdict.
Finally, ask about the attorney’s experience taking cases to trial. Many wrongful death claims are settled outside of the courtroom, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that yours will be. It’s important to be prepared by hiring an attorney who can take your case to trial if necessary. Ask the attorney how often he reaches settlements on behalf of his clients and how often he has to take cases to trial.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim In The State Of Georgia?
Each state decides which family members are permitted to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved ones. If the victim has a surviving spouse, he is able to file a wrongful death claim.
The spouse should also represent any of the victim’s children who are still minors, meaning they are under the age of 18. If compensation is awarded, it should be split between the children and the spouse, with the spouse receiving at least 33% of it.
What happens if the victim did not have a spouse? If the victim does not have a surviving spouse but does have surviving children, they are next in line to file a wrongful death claim.
The parents of the victim will be given the opportunity to file a claim if the victim did not have a surviving spouse or children. In cases where the victim did not have any surviving family members, the victim’s estate can choose to file a wrongful death claim.
Our Personal Injury Office in Atlanta
Spaulding Injury Law: Atlanta Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyer is located close to you, in Downtown Atlanta near Woodruff Park and Hurt Park, approximately 9 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).
Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers Merge onto I-85 N from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and take Exit 246 toward downtown. Merge onto Central Avenue SW and continue onto Peachtree Center Avenue SE. Turn left onto Edgewood Avenue, and our office will be on the left.