In Georgia, the legal definition of “wrongful death” is the death of one person caused by an action or inaction of another person or entity.
The first step in filing a wrongful death case in the state of Georgia is understanding what it means. Wrongful death cases are very complex and intense. They may also have many different meanings in various states. In Georgia, the legal definition of “wrongful death” is the death of one person caused by an action or inaction of another person or entity. These acts must prove to be “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal”. “Negligence” is a key component in these cases. It is usually defined as a failure to use reasonable care, resulting in harm to another person.
Proving negligence is similar in both wrongful death claims and standard personal injury cases. Both of these claims can stem from a single or similar event such as a car accident. One of the main differences is who can bring the case to court. Due to the deceased no longer being able to bring the personal injury claim to court, the victim’s family is allowed to file the suit. If there are no living family members, a personal representative of the deceased’s estate is next in line to file the claim.
So, How Long Do I Have To File A Wrongful Death Case In Georgia?
The short answer to this important question is 2 years from the date of the victim’s death. But there are several situations that can either shorten or lengthen this period. A caring and experienced wrongful death attorney can answer more fully. They will also take into consideration all the facts of your particular case.
One instance in which you will have less than the normal 2-year window is if a branch of government is involved. An example would be if a van belonging to a government agency causes the death of the victim. In this case, the filing deadline could be much shorter — even down to 6 months after the incident. The exact deadline will depend on which government agency (city, county, state, or federal) you are dealing with. Known as an “ante litem” deadline, it simply means “before litigation”. The ante litem is essentially a document that advises the government agency of your intent to file suit. It is critical to know what guidelines and time limit that particular agency operates under.
The term “tolling” in a wrongful death case refers to the practice of pausing the statute of limitations. This is often done when the case also involves the violation of a Georgia law. As long as there is at least a misdemeanor offense, tolling can be applied. It doesn’t matter if the incident is a traffic accident or a violent crime. The statute allows for a suspension of up to 6 years or until the final disposition of the criminal case. The court will use whichever period is shorter. Once that occurs, the 2-year period set by the statute of limitation would then start running.
It is our hope that you are reading this article for informational purposes. In the unfortunate event that you have suffered the loss of a loved one, we offer our sincere condolences. If you have more questions regarding a Georgia wrongful death case, please contact Butler Law Firm for a free consultation. Let one of our compassionate attorneys see what we can do to help you — with your case and with moving forward again.