Losing a loved one is always a difficult experience to endure, but losing a loved one because of someone else’s wrongful actions can be especially devastating. In that case, an attorney can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit and claim compensation for your lost family member.
You might have a possible wrongful death case on your hands if you recently lost a loved one because of another person’s wrongful or negligent actions. A wrongful act might be a criminal offense (e.g., homicide) or a non-criminal act of negligence (e.g., a car accident). Generally, immediate family members, including surviving spouses and children, can file wrongful death lawsuits. If no such people exist, a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file the case. The damages you can claim are based on the “full value of the life of the decedent,” which is very subjective and varies from case to case.
If you recently lost a loved one and believe the wrongful actions of another caused their death, our Alpharetta wrongful death attorneys can help you explore your legal options. Call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 for a free case assessment.
Determining if You Have a Wrongful Death Claim in Alpharetta
A wrongful death claim stems from the death of a loved one caused by the wrongful actions of another. According to Georgia Code § 51-4-1(2), the statutory language used to describe wrongful deaths is “homicides.” A wrongful death may be caused by more than just criminal homicide. The statute goes on to say that homicides resulting from crime, criminal negligence, other negligence, or defectively manufactured property might all constitute wrongful deaths. In short, a wrongful act does not necessarily have to be criminal to create a wrongful death.
While a criminal homicide would be grounds for a wrongful death case, the statute above leaves room for other possibilities. Some common examples of wrongful death cases include defective power tools, car accidents, and medical malpractice, among others.
If your loved one passed away because of someone else’s negligence, criminal or not, you might have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Our Alpharetta wrongful death lawyers can go over your case to determine what steps you should take to get compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Alpharetta?
Wrongful death cases differ from other types of civil lawsuits because the person harmed is no longer around to file the case themselves. Someone else must take up the case, usually an immediate family member. According to Georgia Code § 51-4-2(a), a deceased person’s surviving spouse may bring an action for wrongful death. If there is no surviving spouse, the deceased person’s child is entitled to bring the action.
Some people are unmarried and have no children, but our Alpharetta wrongful death lawyers can still help you file a lawsuit for your loved one. According to Georgia Code § 51-4-5(a), the deceased person’s personal representative or estate executor can bring the wrongful death action when there is no surviving spouse or child. Such a person might be the deceased person’s next of kin, like a sibling or cousin. They might also be an attorney or a close friend.
Under Georgia Code § 19-7-1(c), when a minor child passes away, the child’s parents are entitled to file a wrongful death claim. However, a parent might not have the right to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of their child if they did not have legal custody of the child or their parental rights were terminated (e.g., adoption, child abuse, marriage of the child). Parents might also have the right to file a wrongful death claim for an adult child if the child had no surviving spouse or children of their own.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Alpharetta
Generally, there are two very broad categories of damages in wrongful death cases. First, there are damages related to estate claims, which include damages the deceased person might have brought themselves had they survived. Second, wrongful death claims include damages for the full value of the life of the decedent. This is perhaps the most significant claim for damages, and our Alpharetta wrongful death attorneys can help you evaluate these damages.
Estate claims are an important part of a wrongful death lawsuit and usually pertain to damages experienced by the deceased person shortly before they passed away. According to Georgia Code § 51-4-5(b), these damages include funeral expenses, medical bills, and any other necessary expenses from the deceased person’s injuries and death. For example, if your loved one passed away after a car accident, estate claims for damages might include your loved one’s pain and suffering, hospital bills, and vehicle damage. You can speak to our Alpharetta wrongful death attorneys about possible damages in an estate claim in your case.
The damages you can claim as part of an estate claim may vary depending on how your loved one passed away. If extensive life-saving efforts were made by doctors before your loved one succumbed to their injuries, their medical bills and related damages are probably greater.
Damages for estate claims are paid to the deceased person’s estate rather than the loved one filing the case. Damages paid to the deceased person’s estate will descend according to that person’s will or, if there is no will, according to probate laws under Georgia Code § 53-2-1(c).
Wrongful Death Claims
Most plaintiffs are primarily concerned with damages based on the full value of the deceased person’s life. These damages may only be recovered by family members, typically a surviving spouse or child, although other next of kin may recover these damages in some cases. These damages can be very significant and are likely to constitute the greater portion of damages in a wrongful death case.
There is very little guidance in the statutes on how the full value of the life of the deceased person is evaluated. As a result, the courts have determined how to calculate these damages. Generally, courts consider economic and non-economic factors. Economic factors include the overall value of the deceased person’s estate, income at the time of death, and future earning potential.
Non-economic factors include intangible elements that are subjective and difficult to prove with hard evidence. Companionship, love, and parental guidance are some such elements that are considered. Because of the subjective nature of these considerations, they are usually determined by a jury.
Contact Our Alpharetta Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you recently lost a loved one because of someone else’s criminal or other negligence, our Alpharetta wrongful death lawyers can help you argue for fair compensation. For a review of your case free of charge, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.