Wrongful Death in Covington
Georgia personal injury law allows victims to sue the people responsible for their injuries and receive monetary compensation in return. But what happens if the victim dies?
Not too long ago in Georgia, a potential personal injury lawsuit died with the victim. This meant that a drunk driver who killed someone in a crash could walk away completely free.
Fortunately, Georgia has changed its laws, and surviving family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit to hold someone legally responsible. Reach out to a Covington wrongful death attorney for more information.
What is Wrongful Death?
Not every death qualifies as a wrongful death. Instead, Georgia law defines wrongful death as one that results from negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal behavior.
At MG Law, our wrongful death attorneys in Covington see many cases that result from:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Accidents involving pedestrians;
- Medical malpractice; and
- Defective products.
The key will be to show that the defendant’s conduct was wrongful as defined by the statute. You must also show that this wrongful conduct was the cause of your loved one’s death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case?
Georgia law identifies who can bring the lawsuit and who can receive compensation. The rules are as follows:
- A surviving spouse can bring the wrongful death claim and receive compensation on behalf of themselves and any children. According to Georgia Code § 51-4-2, if there are children, then the spouse cannot receive less than 1/3 of the amount of compensation received.
- If there is no surviving spouse, then children can bring the lawsuit themselves and split the compensation between them.
- Sometimes, a loved one leaves behind no spouse or children. In that case, either surviving parent can bring the claim and receive compensation from the defendant.
- When no parents are living, the estate’s personal representative brings the lawsuit, and compensation goes to the deceased person’s next of kin.
If you have a question about whether you can file suit, contact a Covington wrongful death attorney immediately.
How is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Different than a Criminal Trial?
There are many differences you should be aware of. First, wrongful death lawsuits are civil suits for money damages only. The defendant, if found liable, only has to pay money to the surviving family members. By contrast, in a criminal trial, the defendant can go to jail or be put on probation.
Second, the prosecutor will bring a criminal trial, whereas the surviving family members bring wrongful death lawsuits.
Third, the standard of proof is different. In a criminal trial, the defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Conversely, in a wrongful death case, a defendant must only be liable “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means it is more likely than not that the defendant caused your loved one’s death.
Fourth, you can sue for conduct that is wrongful but that might not be criminal. For example, someone who rear-ended your loved one because they were distracted probably would not be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter. However, their negligence is sufficient to warrant a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive?
No two wrongful death cases are exactly alike, so the amount of compensation available will differ on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, Georgia law allows family members to receive the “full value” of their loved one’s life, which typically includes:
- The wages your loved one reasonably could have earned had he or she lived
- The value of the loss of companionship, care, and other intangible benefits provided by the deceased
The estate can also receive compensation for losses suffered by the deceased before he or she died. These losses can include:
- Funeral expenses;
- Burial expenses;
- Medical bills incurred to treat your loved one’s last injury; and
- Any pain and suffering your loved one consciously endured before death.
How Much Time Do You Have to File?
Not much. Georgia has a statute of limitations that lays out the maximum amount of time you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The law currently allows only two years from the date of death. If you wait too long, then a judge can dismiss your case.
Covington Wrongful Death Lawyers Who Work for You
At MG Law, our team of experienced lawyers has helped many of our clients get the compensation they need after a devastating loss. We understand that no amount of money can ever replace a child, spouse, or parent. However, we are committed to holding negligent and reckless defendants accountable for their conduct.
For more information about how we can help you get started, please schedule a consultation. All consultations are free, and you can schedule yours by calling us at 678-210-6690 or submitting an online message.