Losing a family member due to another party’s negligence can be incredibly devastating, especially if the person was supporting your family. While no amount of money can ever compensate you for losing a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide financial stability to the surviving family.
If you have lost a family member due to another party’s negligence in, you need to contact a trusted Fairburn wrongful death lawyer at Humphrey & Ballard Law. We will review your situation and determine whether your family might be entitled to compensation for your loss.
Call us today at 404-341-0499 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced wrongful death attorneys.
How is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of Georgia?
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act has been in existence for over a century, with several addendums over the years. It defines a wrongful death as a death that’s caused by the negligent, criminal, intentional, or reckless act of another entity or person.
The 5 code sections of the Wrongful Death Act outline the different possible legal grounds for a wrongful death claim in the state, which include but are not limited to:
- Medical malpractice such as medical injury, misdiagnosis, medication errors, or surgical errors.
- Dangerous or defective consumer products such as medical devices, drugs, appliances, vehicles, or electronics may lead to product liability claims citing wrongful death.
- Criminal actions, which include intentional homicide.
- Contaminated food or other issues with sanitation in commercial establishments.
- Illegal or improper services of alcohol, such as a bartender continuing to serve alcohol to a person that’s visibly intoxicated.
- Car, truck, motorcycle, and bus accidents.
- Slip and fall accidents.
- Train wrecks.
- Pedestrian accident fatalities.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs.
- Drowning accidents.
- Nursing home abuse or neglect.
- Faulty construction and engineering malpractice.
Contact Humphrey & Ballard to speak to a Fairburn wrongful death lawyer to schedule your free consultation today.
Who is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Under Georgia law, only certain individuals are permitted to file a wrongful death claim. Only the following relatives of the deceased are allowed to recover compensation for a victim’s death according to the wrongful death statutes:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children (if there’s no surviving spouse)
- Parents of the deceased (if there’s no surviving spouse or children)
- Any surviving relative (if there’s no surviving spouse, children, or parent)
- Executor of the decedent’s estate (if there’s no surviving spouse, children, parent, or relative)
Georgia law also states that if there’s no will and a spouse receives compensation, the said spouse is obligated to share the reward with any surviving children. If it happens that the children are minors, the compensation will be put under the name of their parent or legal guardian until they turn 18 years of age. An experienced Fairburn wrongful death lawyer can help you to file a wrongful death claim.
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable?
The damages in Georgia wrongful death claims are calculated as if the victim had survived. Simply put, the court calculates the damages as losses the victim sustained. While surviving family members file the wrongful death claim, the job of the Fairburn wrongful death lawyer is to ensure that the court views the family as the representatives of the victim.
A wrongful death claim differs from a typical personal injury claim with regards to the type of damages that you can receive. In Georgia, there are two primary types of damages that are recoverable:
The first type of damages relates to the expenses arising from the death of your loved one, which may include but are not limited to:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses leading up to death
- Pain and suffering leading up to death
- Any other expenses arising from the fatal accident itself.
The second type of damages come in the form of the full value of your deceased loved one’s life. While it is impossible to place a dollar value on the life of your loved one, a professional Fairburn wrongful death lawyer can still help you to recover both economic and non-economic damages under the law, which include but aren’t limited to:
- Loss of companionship
- Lost future benefits
- Lost future wages the decedent would have contributed to the family
- Loss of care
Speak to a Fairburn wrongful death lawyer at Humphrey & Ballard today to learn more by calling 404-341-0499.
Can Surviving Family File for Punitive Damages?
A jury may decide whether punitive damages are relevant. Punitive damages are the monetary damages paid to the decedent’s family and are solely aimed at punishing the person that caused the death and discourage similar wrongful acts in the future.
Punitive damages may not be awarded to surviving family members in Georgia wrongful death cases. Still, they have been awarded in Georgia wrongful death cases brought by the administrator of the decedent’s estate associated with the victim’s accident-related pain and suffering.
If punitive damages are awarded in Georgia wrongful death cases, it is up to the judge or jury discretion to determine the amount of damages to be awarded. Punitive damages in Georgia are capped at $250,000 unless the person intended to harm the decedent.
Call a trusted and seasoned Fairburn wrongful death lawyer at Humphrey & Ballard to learn more.
How is Negligence Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death lawsuit is aimed at recovering financial compensation for the survivors of the decedent. Damages typically include the pain and suffering endured by the decedent prior to his/her death, medical expenses incurred by the decedent prior to his/her death, as well as funeral and burial costs. There can also be a request for financial support for the surviving family.
To do so, the wrongful death lawsuit has to prove that the decedent died due to the negligent actions of others. Fairburn wrongful death lawyers handling such a case have to present 4 basic elements to prove that the defendant is responsible for the decedent’s injury and ultimately loss of life, such as:
- Duty of Care: The Plaintiff is required to show the court that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care in the given situation.
- Breach of Duty of Care: The plaintiff and their Fairburn wrongful death lawyer are also required to show how the defendant breached this duty of care through either a specific action or inaction when another reasonable individual facing similar circumstances would have acted appropriately.
- Causation: The plaintiff is also required to prove that the death was the result of the defendant’s breach of duty of care and not any other cause.
- Damages: To receive damages, the plaintiff is required to prove that the decedent suffered damages. Essentially, the Fairburn wrongful death lawyer is required to prove tangible damages after proving duty of care, breach of duty of care, and causation.
A seasoned and trusted Fairburn wrongful death lawyer can assist you in building a strong case proving the negligent party was negligent in their actions.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
While every case is different, depending on the circumstances, the general process of starting a wrongful death claim in Georgia is:
- Working with an experienced Fairburn wrongful death lawyer to gather evidence and build a strong case
- Negotiating a possible settlement with the at-fault party’s legal team
- If settlement negotiations fail, preparing for trial and meeting with the judge
- Arguing the wrongful death case in front of a judge or jury
Working with a Fairburn wrongful death lawyer that’s experienced in wrongful death claims such as those at Humphrey & Ballard Law in Fairburn, GA will ensure that you have the proper evidence and documentation prepared, that someone will advocate on your behalf, and that the responsible party will be held accountable.
What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
Georgia state law allows for two separate legal claims in wrongful death situations:
- Wrongful Death Claim
- Estate Claim
Wrongful Death Claim
Under Georgia’s wrongful death statute, damages for wrongful death are set as the full value of the decedent’s life from their own perspective. The “full value of life” includes both economic and non-economic damages.
The amount awarded is typically determined by an impartial duty. There’s no arbitrary calculation or rigid formula mandated by Georgia law for deciding the amount of compensation. Wrongful death damages can thus vary significantly depending on the case.
Wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia are aimed at providing compensation to the decedent’s surviving relatives. They are not subject to liens on the decedent’s estate since the money is intended for any good future use by the surviving family members. Note that the Georgia statute of limitations says a claim must be filed within 4 years of the wrongful death. Be sure to contact a Fairburn wrongful death lawyer to ensure that you file within the amount of time that is needed.
The estate claim, which is also known as a survival action is the other type of legal claim allowed in Georgia wrongful death situation. It is referred to as an estate claim since it is brought by the executor of the decedent’s estate to recover compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death, any medical expenses incurred prior to death, and funeral expenses.
It is also through an estate claim that punitive damages may be sought. Unlike a wrongful death claim, however, damages are subject to medical liens. Estate claims are often worthwhile if there’s not much debt against the decedent’s estate.
Call a Fairburn wrongful death lawyer Humphrey & Ballard to determine which claim best suits your case.
When Looking to Hire an Experienced Fairburn Wrongful Death Lawyer, Humphrey & Ballard Today
If you want to learn more about wrongful death claims in Georgia or would like to file one, you should get in touch with our experienced Fairburn wrongful death lawyers at Humphrey & Ballard Law today.
We know just how devastated you feel and we would like to help you recover the compensation that you are rightfully entitled to. Call us today at 404-341-0499 for your free, no-obligation consultation and case evaluation with a compassionate legal team.