Losing a family member is devastating. The pain and grief could be even more difficult to deal with if someone else’s actions or failure to act caused the death. The fatal negligence might result in a criminal charge, but a criminal conviction will not provide any financial relief for those left behind.
Fortunately, surviving family members could potentially pursue a civil wrongful death claim against the party responsible for their loved one’s death. This compensation could include funeral and burial expenses, lost earnings, loss of emotional support, and more.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
Once a wrongful death case is settled in Georgia, payments will be distributed among the victim’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. However, a surviving spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the total settlement amount. The remaining settlement is divided equally among the surviving children or parents.
At Butler Kahn, our Georgia wrongful death lawyers have extensive experience helping families seek justice and compensation when they’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. To ensure everyone who needs our assistance can afford it, we won’t charge anything for our services unless and until we win your case.
You can learn more about our wrongful death claim services by contacting us for a free initial consultation.
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What Is a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim and Who Can Bring One?
Under Georgia’s wrongful death law, wrongful death is any death resulting from a criminal act or negligence, regardless of whether the negligent act or failure to act rises to the level of a crime. In other words, if someone’s negligent actions or failure to act resulted in someone’s death, the surviving family and heirs could pursue compensation for their losses.
Surviving family members could potentially seek compensation if their loved one died due to a:
- Car accident
- Truck or 18-wheeler crash
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Defective products, including prescription medications
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability injuries (for example, slip-and-fall accidents)
- Intentional acts of violence
Georgia law limits who can collect compensation for wrongful death to:
- The deceased’s spouse — The deceased’s surviving spouse has the first chance to file a wrongful death claim under Georgia law. If the deceased was divorced at the time of death, the former spouse is not eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
- The deceased’s children — After the deceased’s surviving spouse, any surviving children have the next chance to file a wrongful death claim. The deceased’s surviving children can file a claim only if there is no surviving spouse.
- The deceased’s parents — If the deceased has no surviving children and no surviving spouse, then their parents are eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
- The representative of the deceased’s estate — Lastly, the administrator or representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim if there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children or parents. In cases where the deceased’s estate representative files a claim, the estate collects any compensation recovered in the claim divides it among the deceased’s next-of-kin.
These four groups are the only parties eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia. If someone else in the deceased’s family wishes to file a wrongful death claim, they’ll have to go through one of the family members listed or the administrator of the deceased’s estate.
Please note, there is a Statute of Limitations on how long you have to file your wrongful death claim. In Georgia, that time is two years.
Georgia Law on How Wrongful Death Claims Are Paid
Under Georgia’s wrongful death laws, here’s how claims are paid out, depending on who filed the claim and who among the deceased’s eligible relatives are alive to recover compensation:
- If the deceased has a surviving spouse but no surviving children, the surviving spouse will collect all the money recovered in the claim.
- If the deceased has a surviving spouse and surviving children, the spouse receives one-third of whatever compensation’s recovered, while the surviving children split the rest.
- If the deceased has surviving parents and no surviving spouse or children, the surviving parents will split the compensation equally.
- If the deceased has no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the estate will divide the proceeds among the deceased’s next-of-kin.
How Does a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Get Paid?
In wrongful death cases in Georgia, the lawyer for whoever filed the claim is paid the same way they would be in any other personal injury case. Assuming the case reaches a successful resolution for the plaintiff, the law firm’s fee is usually a percentage of whatever compensation is recovered in the claim. However, if no compensation is awarded, the client generally does not owe their attorney any fees.
Our Georgia Wrongful Death Law Firm Is Ready to Help
Butler Kahn provides compassionate and knowledgeable legal services to families who’ve lost loved ones in preventable accidents in Georgia. We know what you’re going through, and we know that you need qualified counsel on your side during this difficult time.
Let us help you find the time and resources to grieve your loss and heal with your family. Call us for a free initial consultation whenever you and your family are ready to discuss your legal options.