Car accidents are a common cause of wrongful deaths. Fortunately, after deadly crashes, victim’s families may obtain financial compensation through wrongful death claims. There are several types of damages that may be compensated.
However, the process for filing a wrongful death lawsuit after a car accident can be complicated. The case must be brought to court by the correct party and has to be filed on time. Furthermore, there are several key elements that must be established in order for the claim to succeed. The plaintiff must establish that the victim’s death occurred because of the defendant’s negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal act.
In the aftermath of your loved one’s deadly accident, seek help from our experienced Georgia wrongful death attorneys by calling Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Car Accident in Georgia
The path to payment in a wrongful death case can be complicated. Thankfully, if your loved one suffered a fatal crash, then our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys can help navigate the process for pursuing a claim.
How is ‘Wrongful Death’ Defined in Georgia?
In Georgia, “wrongful death” is defined as a death resulting from the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal actions of another party. Accordingly, deaths that stem from fatal car accidents caused by drivers’ negligence may constitute wrongful deaths.
There are several types of negligent conduct that may lead to deadly collisions. For instance, wrongful deaths regularly occur because of crashes caused by drunk, distracted, and speeding drivers. If your loved one suffered a fatal accident, then you may be able to recover damages for their wrongful death.
Who Can Recover Damages for a Wrongful Death in Georgia?
The damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit are intended to compensate specific categories of beneficiaries who have suffered losses as a result of victims’ deaths. The individuals who may recover damages, often referred to as “beneficiaries,” typically include surviving spouses, children (both minor and adult), and parents of the deceased.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
While there are multiple parties who may be compensated through a wrongful death claim, the case must be filed by a certain party. As outlined by O.G.C.A. § 51-4-2, the correct person to file will be determined by the victim’s family status at the time of their death.
The primary party with the authority to initiate a wrongful death claim is the surviving spouse of the deceased. If the deceased had a spouse, that spouse is the exclusive person entitled to bring the claim, though they are required to share any damages awarded with the victim’s children if there are any. Notably, the spouse must receive a minimum of one-third of the recovery, regardless of the number of children.
If the deceased did not have a surviving spouse, the right to file the wrongful death claim shifts to any surviving children of the deceased, who can bring the claim jointly. In situations where the deceased was divorced, the surviving children collectively hold the claim.
If the victim was unmarried with no children, then their parents will be permitted to file the wrongful death case. If the parents of the deceased are married and residing together, they may jointly bring the claim. However, if they are separated or not married to each other, either parent has the option to bring the claim if the other declines to do so. In the unfortunate event that one parent has passed away, the surviving parent retains their right to file.
Finally, in a case where the victim passes away without any surviving spouse, children, or parents, the victim’s estate is granted authority to initiate the case. Typically, this type of claim would be brought to court by the administrator of the deceased’s estate.
What is the Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Case After a Car Accident in Georgia?
Typically, you will have two years from the date of the victim’s fatal crash to bring a wrongful death claim to court. If you wait too long to file, then you may be unable to recover monetary damages from another party.
Even though you may have up to two years to file your claim, you should start building your case as quickly as possible. As time goes on, the evidence needed to support your lawsuit can become difficult to preserve and collect. The sooner you begin the process of evidence collection, the more easily you will be able to obtain the information needed to win your case.
What Damages May Be Recovered by Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are multiple damages that may be compensated by filing a wrongful death claim. Specifically, O.C.G.A § 51-4-2(a) authorizes compensation for the “full value” of the victim’s life, viewed from the victim’s perspective. This value accounts for both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages may refer to the victim’s lost income, wages, benefits, and investment income that the they would have earned over an average lifespan. Furthermore, compensation may be sought for the value of household services that the victim would have provided.
On the other hand, non-economic damages account for the victim’s loss of meaningful and enjoyable activities. For example, these activities may include spending time with family, socializing with friends, or pursuing preferred hobbies. Quantifying the value of these non-economic losses can be challenging. Fortunately, the team at our firm is prepared to help determine a value for these damages in your case.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit vs. Filing a Survival Action After a Car Accident in Georgia
In Georgia, a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action, sometimes referred to as an estate claim, are distinct legal actions. Unlike a wrongful death lawsuit, a survival action pursues damages for the injuries or losses the deceased experienced before passing away. Typically, this type of claim must be filed by the administrator of the victim’s estate.
Reach Out to Our Wrongful Death Lawyers for Help with Your Case in Georgia
Get assistance from our experienced Savannah, GA wrongful death lawyers at Howe Law by dialing (844) 876-4357.