Wrongful death occurs when a person is killed due to the carelessness, negligence or wrongdoing of another person, company, or entity. Wrongful death claims are filed by the survivors of the decedent to seek compensation for damages. If your loved one was killed due to wrongful death, it is important you understand your rights.
Ashenden & Hollingsworth, P.C., wants to help. The attorneys at Ashenden & Hollingsworth, P.C., will represent and advocate for you and your family, so you can focus on healing, closure and moving forward.
It’s imperative to file a claim as soon as possible. The statute of limitations defines, state by state, by when a claim must be brought against the at fault party.
It is also imperative to gather any witness accounts with a sense of urgency, before evidence is destroyed and before a witness’s memory fades with the passage of time.
It must also be determined whether or not you are the proper party to bring a wrongful death claim, which depends on your relationship to the victim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia
The laws regarding who may file a wrongful death lawsuit in the name of someone who has passed vary by state. Generally, those permitted to file suit must be directly related to the decedent.
If the victim was married, the spouse has the first right to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia. If the victim had children who were minors, either biologically or by adoption, the victim’s spouse must also represent these minor children. The adult children of the victim may also have the right to file a claim.
If the victim had no spouse or children, the surviving parents may file wrongful death. If there are no parents, an estate representative may file suit to collect benefits for the estate, which will then go to the remaining closest relatives.
Like many other cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff when filing suit against a person or entity. Survivors of the victim must show it’s more likely than not that:
- The individual caused or contributed to the death of the victim
- The individual was negligent or intended to cause the death of the victim
- Those who may file suit are alive
Survivors of the victim in a viable wrongful death case are entitled to full compensation for:
- Medical expenses the victim incurred before the death
- Funeral costs and expenses
- Emotional distress, pain and suffering
- Lost income capacity
- Lost wages
- The full value of the victim’s life to himself or herself – a unique but powerful right for the survivors in a Georgia wrongful death case.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Georgia?
The statute of limitations sets forth the time frame in which a plaintiff must file suit against the defendant. Most states, like Georgia, allow two years for wrongful death lawsuits to be filed.
However, there are some exceptions to this statute; if the victim’s estate has not been probated, the wrongful death statute of limitations may be extended or tolled.
Additionally, if the victim had conscious pain and suffering before death, a survivor statute allows survivors to bring that case in addition to the wrongful death claim. The two claims are separate.
Free Consultation at Ashenden & Hollingsworth, P.C. in Atlanta
The legal process in wrongful death cases can be complicated. Therefore, hiring a trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced lawyer will help your family understand legal proceedings while having peace of mind that your interests are being protected.
Speak with the lawyers at Ashenden & Hollingsworth, P.C., for experienced legal counsel regarding wrongful death lawsuits. The attorneys at our firm will handle the investigative process, record keeping, and counsel you through this most sensitive period, and much more.