After a loved one has died, bringing a lawsuit is probably the last thing on your mind. Nevertheless, Georgia law allows some surviving family members to sue if their loved one died because of another person’s negligent or intentional act.
These lawsuits provide critical financial support as family members try to pick up the pieces and move forward.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Georgia’s wrongful death statute states that the following can bring a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Surviving spouse
- If no surviving spouse, then children
- If no spouse or children, then the parents
The personal representative may also bring a wrongful death lawsuit, in which case the compensation they receive will go to the deceased person’s next of kin.
Need Information about filing a Wrongful Death Claim?
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Who Can You Sue for Wrongful Death?
Under the state statute, you can sue anyone who is responsible for your loved one’s death. They could have caused the death:
For example, you can sue someone who murders your loved one, but you are not limited to that. Anyone who negligently caused the death could also be sued. At our firm, we have brought wrongful death lawsuits for:
- Car accidents
- Bus accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Premises liability
What Compensation Can You Receive?
Surviving family members can receive financial compensation for a variety of losses, including:
- The lost wages and benefits your loved one could have earned had they lived. For example, if your husband died at 35, you might obtain compensation for the wages he could have earned over the next 30 years.
- The loss of companionship, care, and other emotional benefits. These are harder to calculate, but you can still receive a sum of money for your loss.
The personal representative can also receive compensation to cover funeral expenses, burial expenses, medical treatment for your loved one’s last injury, and any pain and suffering your loved one consciously endured before death.
Why Isn’t the Prosecutor Bringing this Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are civil lawsuits, not criminal ones. They differ in several ways:
- The prosecutor enforces criminal laws, but family members bring wrongful death lawsuits.
- After a criminal conviction, a defendant can be sent to jail and receive other punishments like fines or community service. With a civil lawsuit, the defendant only pays money if they lose.
- Prosecutors bring criminal cases to deter the defendant from engaging in bad conduct in the future. Wrongful death lawsuits can also have a deterrent effect, but the primary purpose is to compensate victims for their losses.
- You can bring a wrongful death lawsuit for conduct that would not warrant a criminal conviction, such as simple negligence.
- Criminal cases have a higher burden of proof—beyond a reasonable doubt. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the standard is “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning it is more likely than not that the defendant caused your loved one’s death.
If a criminal prosecution is ongoing, you should consult with a wrongful death attorney to decide whether you would benefit by delaying your civil lawsuit until the criminal case finishes.
Speak to an Athens Wrongful Death Attorney Today
No amount of money can ever replace a loved one. Nevertheless, surviving family members need to think about their futures and how they will support themselves. It is also important to hold negligent defendants accountable in court for their actions.
If you have questions about how to file a wrongful death lawsuit, please reach out to us today. At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, our Athens wrongful death attorneys have helped many clients get the compensation they need.
You can schedule your free consultation by calling 706-354-4000.