Losing a loved one is overwhelming. When their death was avoidable and due to the negligent or wrongful act of someone else, it can be even more devastating. Wrongful death claims are a particularly complex area of personal injury law and require the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney. Read on to learn more about wrongful death claims, including who may file a wrongful death lawsuit and how a Lawrenceville wrongful death attorney can help you.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Georgia law defines wrongful death as the death of a person caused by another party’s reckless, criminal, negligent, or intentional act. Most wrongful death cases occur due to negligence. Proving negligence requires establishing four essential elements.
Duty of Care
You must establish that the alleged wrongdoer owed your loved one a duty of care. A duty of care is apparent in many situations. For example, drivers owe a duty to operate their vehicles safely to protect others from harm. But sometimes, establishing the duty of care is more nuanced and requires the help of an experienced attorney.
Breach of Duty
Negligence also requires a breach of an established duty of care. In the previous example, a breach occurs if the liable party drove their vehicle while intoxicated or otherwise failed to adhere to other traffic laws. Or, in a different context, a doctor who doesn’t adhere to the standard of medical care likely breached the duty of care.
Causation links the liable party’s wrongful act with a person’s injuries or, in this case, death. For example, if a person drove drunk and got in an accident that resulted in a loved one’s death, it is very likely that you will be able to show causation.
Damages require proof that you suffered some real harm. In a wrongful death situation, the harm obviously is centered on the loss of your loved one’s life. But more specifically, recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages represent financial losses stemming from the death, including:
- Medical expenses,
- Funeral expenses,
- Property damage,
- Lost future wages the loved one would have contributed to the family,
- Lost future benefits.
Your attorney uses receipts, pay stubs, and other invoices to prove economic damages in a wrongful death claim.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses, including the following:
- Pain and suffering incurred by the deceased up until their death,
- Loss of companionship,
- Loss of care.
These values are subjective and complicated to prove without the assistance of a qualified Lawrenceville wrongful death attorney.
In addition to the four essential elements of proving negligence, it’s important to understand the legal and emotional implications of wrongful death. When a loved one dies due to someone else’s actions, it can be a devastating and traumatic experience for the family and friends left behind. Wrongful death lawsuits aim to compensate for the loss of the deceased’s companionship, financial support, and other contributions they would have made to their loved ones’ lives. In certain cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious or intentional, the court may award punitive damages to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death cases may stem from any tragic situation where someone loses their life unexpectedly due to someone else’s conduct. However, attorneys regularly see common types of wrongful death cases.
We trust healthcare providers to provide our loved ones with the highest level of care. When negligence or oversight results in a death, you may pursue a wrongful death claim against medical staff for their defective care. Often, the surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for damages, such as medical expenses, funeral expenses, and loss of income and support from the deceased. Proving medical malpractice and establishing a wrongful death claim can be complex, and it is crucial to work with an experienced attorney who specializes in these types of cases.
Auto, Pedestrian, Truck, and Motorcycle Accidents
Auto, pedestrian, truck, and motorcycle accidents often lead to wrongful death claims. All operators of vehicles must behave reasonably. When their failure to do so results in death, surviving family members may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. In these scenarios, you may be able to claim damages for medical and funeral expenses, loss of income and financial support, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering.
A manufacturer may be liable for death when they sell unsafe products to consumers and a consumer uses the product in the intended way. Product liability cases may arise due to toxic food products, faulty vehicles, dangerous toys, and harmful medications. One of the most recent examples of such was the Roundup lawsuit back in 2018, where people using the product had been diagnosed with cancer.
Employers must provide their employees with a safe working environment. A death caused by a failure to maintain a safe working environment often leads to a wrongful death claim. Common examples of these types of accidents include falling from great heights, handling faulty machinery, and being exposed to toxic chemicals without given proper safety gear.
Even if the circumstances of your loved one’s death don’t fall under these common types of wrongful death claims, you should still reach out to an attorney.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Georgia?
Georgia law permits the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased victim to file a wrongful death claim. Suppose a decedent has no surviving spouse, child, or parent. In that case, a person may petition the court to be appointed as a personal representative for the estate to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Is There a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations dictates when a person must file a lawsuit. Filing outside of that designated period bars them from filing a lawsuit at a later time. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims must be filed within two years from the date of the decedent’s death. There are certain situations where this statute of limitations may be shortened or extended. Speak with a lawyer after a loved one’s passing as soon as possible to ensure you never miss your opportunity to seek justice. A qualified attorney keeps track of all vital procedural deadlines so you and your family can begin to heal.
How Can Our Lawrenceville Wrongful Death Lawyer Help You?
Our legal team has extensive experience handling these types of cases and understands the required legal process. An attorney takes on the multiple challenges involved with filing a wrongful death lawsuit, including:
- Determining the eligibility of the person filing the case,
- Determining when the lawsuit should be filed,
- Gathering and preserving relevant evidence to strengthen the wrongful death claim,
- Proving the wrongful death claim,
- Negotiating with opposing counsel,
- Handling the settlement process, and
- Litigating the case at trial if settlement discussions fall through.
It’s important to keep in mind that the process of pursuing a wrongful death claim in Georgia can be complex and challenging, both mentally and emotionally. By allowing us to handle the essential aspects of your lawsuit, you and your family can avoid feeling overwhelmed and focus on the processing of your loss.
At MG Law, we provide our clients with the best service and outcome possible in your case. We understand that anyone who loses a loved one in an accident may feel angry, overwhelmed, and anxious about what to do next. Our attorneys want to help you through this difficult time. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you with your wrongful death claim. We offer free consultations and are ready to assist you with the compassion and advocacy you deserve.