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Georgia has very clear statutes that include specific rules when it comes to claims for wrongful death.
Furthermore, a few of those rules are extremely important to know if you plan to file such a lawsuit.
Wrongful death claims can be very complex, so it is important that you consult with an experienced attorney to help take you through the process.
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What Does Georgia Consider a Wrongful Death?
The state of Georgia defines wrongful death as being the death of a person caused by a reckless, criminal, negligent, or intentional act of another entity (i.e. a business) or person.
Negligence means that they failed to use reasonable care when they had a duty to do so that resulted in the harm of another individual.
Wrongful death claims are somewhat similar to personal injury cases in that negligence must be proven for either type of case.
The two cases can also be based on the same types of events, such as a car accident.
However, in the case of a wrongful death suit, the person that was injured isn’t available to bring their own case to court.
The case must instead be brought on by the family of the deceased person, or a person that is representing the estate of the deceased person if there are no family members living that would be eligible to bring the case to court.
Statute of Limitations for Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
A statute of limitations is the time limit that a survivor or personal representative of the deceased person to bring a case of wrongful death to court.
Typically, there is a two-year statute of limitations from the time of the person’s death.
If the claim is not filed in that two-year time limit, the possibility of bringing forth such a claim is almost always lost.
There are, however, certain situations in which the two-year time limit clock stops running. If the wrongful death involves a criminal case that the court is dealing with, the time limit for the wrongful death case will be suspended until the criminal case has been completed.
Once the case is over, the clock begins to run again on the wrongful death case.
Georgia law also allows wrongful death cases to be filed for up to five years if the deceased person’s estate hasn’t gone through probate.
Ultimately, if you have doubt about any of these time limitations, it is important to discuss them with a wrongful death attorney.
Who Can File Georgia Wrongful Death Claims Under the Georgia Wrongful Death Statute?
Georgia law is very specific about who is allowed to bring forth wrongful death claims.
The first person that is allowed to bring such a claim to court is the spouse of the person who has passed.
If the deceased person and the spouse have minor children, the spouse must represent the interests of the surviving children in court as well.
The spouse will always receive at least one-third of the settlement money, regardless of how many children are involved.
If there are no surviving children or spouse, the claim may be brought forth by the following parties:
- The surviving parents or parent of the deceased person.
- A representative from the estate of the deceased person.
If a representative of the estate of the deceased person recovers damages on their claim, the damages will be held by the estate and used for the benefit of the next of kin of the deceased person.
Damages Available in a Georgia Wrongful Death Case
The state of Georgia recognizes two distinct and separate types of cases when it comes to wrongful death claims. The first claim helps establish the full value of the life of the deceased person.
This is brought on behalf of or by the surviving members of the deceased person’s family. It typically includes the monetary damages related to the intangible and financial value of the deceased person, including:
- Lost benefits and wages, including the amount that the person might have earned if they had lived.
- Loss of companionship, care, and other intangible benefits that the deceased person would have provided to their loved ones if they had lived.
The second type of claim is one that helps relieve any financial loss the surviving family or estate sustained as a result of the deceased person’s passing.
This claim is also brought on behalf of or by the family or estate of the deceased person and helps to establish and recover any losses the estate may have suffered due to an untimely death. Damages recovered in this type of claim include the following:
- Medical expenses related to the last illness or injury of the deceased person.
- Burial and funeral expenses.
- Pain and suffering that the deceased person endured just before their death.
Steps to Take if You Are Considering a Wrongful Death Case
The very first thing a family should do if they have lost a family member is to take time to grieve.
There is certainly a host of emotions that come from losing a family member, especially if it was due to negligent actions of a business or individual. While you are mourning your loss, it is also important to gather as much evidence as possible for your claim, because the defendant in the case has likely already begun this process too.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
Contact our office and schedule a consultation.
In most situations, a wrongful death case is handled on a contingency fee arrangement, which means it will cost you no money until your case has been settled. The attorneys at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. have over 30 years of experience handling wrongful death claims in Georgia.
Contact us today for a consult and let us handle the stress during such a tragic time in your life. No one should have to grieve and deal with an insurance adjuster on their own.