Wrongful death claims can be very challenging because they are legally complex and emotionally charged. A skilled attorney can help you and your family get justice and fair compensation for your tremendous loss.
After a person passes away under wrongful circumstances, their immediate family members may file a wrongful death claim. If no eligible family members come forward, or there are no eligible family members, a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file the claim. Damages in wrongful death claims are vaguely described by Georgia law as being for the full value of the life of the deceased individual. Generally, this encompasses economic and non-economic losses. Wrongful death claims involving children may be handled differently, and parents are usually eligible to bring these claims. Common situations resulting in wrongful death claims include accidents, medical malpractice, and neglect.
To schedule a review of your potential claims for no charge with our wrongful death attorneys, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.
Who Files a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Under the law, a surviving spouse or children may recover for a wrongful death claim. Children may be adults or minors when they file the claim. If the children are minors, another adult family member may step in as a guardian or next friend. If there is no other adult family member, the court may appoint a guardian. If there are no eligible family members, a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file the claim on behalf of the estate.
The personal representative is often named in the deceased person’s will. Often, the representative is an immediate family member, such as a spouse or adult child. It might also be another family member, like a parent or sibling. Still, it could be a non-family member like a close friend or an attorney. If there is no will or no personal representative is named, the court may appoint one if need be.
Whoever files the claim must do so before the statute of limitations expires on the claim. In Georgia, claimants have 2 years to file wrongful death claims, according to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. The deadline begins to count down beginning on the date of your loved one’s passing. This is important to remember because many people do not pass away at the time they are injured. Many people remain in the hospital or in critical condition for days or even weeks before ultimately succumbing to their injuries.
Possible Damages in Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
Damages in wrongful death claims in Georgia can be a bit complicated to wrap your head around. Rather than name specific damages plaintiffs may claim, the law under O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1(1) states that damages are based on the full value of the life of the deceased person. While this is a somewhat vague explanation of damages, courts have fleshed out what plaintiffs can claim in court.
As with any civil claims, damages are broken into categories of economic and non-economic losses or injuries. Economic losses related to wrongful death claims often include funeral and burial expenses. If your loved one incurred medical bills because of their injuries before passing away, you may claim them as part of your economic damages.
You can also claim damages for the lost financial contribution the deceased person contributed to your family. For example, a surviving spouse may claim the lost income of their deceased spouse, especially if the deceased spouse was the household’s primary income earner.
Non-economic damages are the painful experiences your family endured because of the wrongful death of your loved one. Spouses may claim the loss of companionship and consortium, while children can claim the loss of parental guidance. Your immense pain and suffering should also be taken into consideration.
Wrongful Death Claims Involving Children in Georgia
Wrongful death claims where the deceased person is a child are handled somewhat differently. In such cases, parents may file wrongful death claims. However, certain restrictions might apply, depending on the circumstances.
If the child was an adult with no spouse or children of their own, their parents may recover for the full value of the deceased person’s life. If the child were a minor, their parents would do the same. The parents may file the claim jointly if they are married and living together. If one parent is deceased, only the other parent may file the claim.
If the parents are both living but divorced or unmarried, they may still have a joint right to file a wrongful death claim. However, if one parent refuses to proceed with the claim or cannot be located, the other may proceed with the claim on behalf of both parties.
In cases where one or both parents are responsible for the child’s passing, they lose their right to file a wrongful death claim. This tends to come up in cases of child abuse or neglect.
Circumstances That Often Lead to Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Georgia
Various accidents and injuries may lead to a wrongful death claim. Although every case is unique, certain cases tend to emerge more frequently. If you find yourself in any of the situations described below, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Many wrongful death claims are rooted in car accidents. Car accidents are some of the most common reasons for many civil actions. As we all know, many car accidents are deadly, and not all rivers and passengers survive. If you lose a loved one to a car crash, you can sue the other negligent driver for their wrongful death.
Cases involving neglect are also common scenarios in wrongful death cases. Many neglect cases involve children who are neglected by one or both parents. However, they might also be neglected by childcare providers other than parents. In other cases, neglect happens in places like nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Medical malpractice also comes up in many wrongful death claims. People pass away in hospitals all the time, but that does not mean they died from medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or medical professional fails to provide treatment that meets the standards of care. If this is the case, surviving family members may sue the negligent doctor for wrongful death.
Contact Our Georgia Wrongful Death Attorneys for Help Immediately
To schedule an evaluation of your case and claims for no charge with our wrongful death lawyers, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.