Have you recently lost someone close to you as the result of another party’s negligence, recklessness, or criminal behavior? If so, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim under Georgia law. With a successful wrongful death claim, you can recover financial compensation for your loss and hold the at-fault party accountable. The knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys at Butler Kahn can help you seek the money your family needs while giving you the time and space to mourn the loss of your loved one. If you have questions about your legal rights, don’t hesitate to contact our firm today to get started with your free initial consultation.
What is Considered a Wrongful Death?
Under Georgia law, a wrongful death is defined as any human death that is the result of another party’s negligence or criminal behavior or any death caused by a defectively manufactured product, regardless of negligence. If someone dies a wrongful death, their surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Surviving spouses typically have first priority when it comes to filing wrongful death claims in Georgia. If the deceased did not leave behind a surviving spouse, any surviving child or children of the deceased can file the claim. If there is no surviving spouse or child, surviving parents of the deceased can file. If there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent, only a court-approved personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. If a personal representative files the claim, any compensation they recover will go to the deceased’s estate and must be distributed among surviving next-of-kin.
What Are the Top Causes for a Wrongful Death in Roswell, GA?
Here are some common contributing factors we see among the wrongful death cases we handle in Roswell, GA:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Rideshare accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
- Distracted driving accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products
- Dangerous drugs
- Unsafe premises
- Animal attacks or bites
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Acts of violence
- Criminal behavior
Is It Difficult to Prove a Wrongful Death?
To demonstrate that a wrongful death occurred and that you should be entitled to compensation, you must be able to prove the existence of the four following elements:
- The other party had a responsibility to avoid harming the deceased – Common examples include motorists with a responsibility to obey traffic laws and avoid accidents and healthcare providers with a responsibility to provide acceptable standards of care.
- The other party refused or neglected to uphold their responsibility – Extending the previous examples, this could be by exceeding posted speed limits or failing to adequately consult medical charts prior to surgery.
- The other party’s negligence directly contributed to the wrongful death – You must be able to draw a logical connection between the other party’s negligence and the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death. To finish the above examples, the careless driver may have lost control of their vehicle because of excessive speed that caused a wreck, or a negligent surgeon removed the wrong organ during surgery.
- Surviving family members suffered measurable losses as a result – Finally, you must demonstrate the extent of your losses to recover compensation for them. You can do so by supplying copies of bills, invoices, pay stubs, and bank records to show what you have paid and how much you have lost.
What Sort of Compensation is Available for a Roswell Wrongful Death?
If you incurred any out-of-pocket expenses as a result of your loved one’s death, you may be able to recover compensation for those costs. This includes things like medical expenses for any treatment the deceased received before they passed away, as well as reasonable funeral or burial costs. Additionally, § 51-4-2 of the Georgia Code allows surviving family members to claim compensation for the “full value of the life of the decedent.” The “full value” of someone’s life is measured from the deceased’s point of view and does not subtract any personal expenses the deceased would have incurred if they had survived. The following factors may be considered when calculating the full value of a life:
- The projected value of the wages and benefits the person would have earned if they had reached their full life expectancy
- The estimated value of the services and support the person would have provided, such as childcare or housekeeping
- The value of the care, companionship, and counsel they would have provided
When families successfully recover compensation from Georgia wrongful death claims, surviving spouses are legally entitled to at least one-third of the total amount. Any remaining compensation must be divided equally among surviving children. If a surviving child is a minor, their share is typically held by their legal guardian until they reach adulthood. And if the deceased leaves behind grandchildren whose parents pre-deceased them, the grandchildren are entitled to inherit the share their parents would have received.
What is The Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death in Roswell, GA?
If you suspect you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit in Roswell, it’s important to understand how the statute of limitations applies to your case. If you are making a wrongful death claim, you have just two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file suit. If you fail to file your lawsuit before the deadline passes, you will almost certainly lose your right to compensation. However, there are certain exceptions to this time limit. For instance, it may be paused for up to five years if the estate of the deceased has not yet been probated in court. Similarly, if the at-fault party faces criminal charges for the wrongful death, the statute of limitations may be suspended for up to six years while all parties wait for the resolution of the criminal case. An experienced Roswell GA wrongful death lawyer can review the circumstances of your case and inform you of applicable deadlines.
Contact a Roswell, GA Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you lost a loved one because of the careless, reckless, or criminal conduct of another, contact Butler Kahn today. You can benefit from a free initial case review with a knowledgeable Roswell, GA, wrongful death lawyer. We charge no up-front or out-of-pocket fees, and we only get paid when you do.