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Do You Have Grounds For a Wrongful Death Case?

by Kirk Farrar on May. 10, 2017

Accident & Injury Wrongful Death 

Summary: Understand how wrongful death works in the state of Georgia.

Losing a loved one to the negligence of another person is one of the most painful experiences imaginable – you are hurt, enraged, confused and wondering how to move forward. You know that the person who caused the death should be held accountable, and should at least have to cover the mounting bills you are facing because of their irresponsibility. Collecting these bills often requires a wrongful death suit.

What constitutes a case for wrongful death in Georgia? Who can file, and what do they need to prove, to get compensated for their loss? Read on to learn what happens when someone close to you dies due to someone else’s negligence, and whether there are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Defining Wrongful Death in Georgia

Georgia laws lay out very specific rules regarding wrongful death and the claims that can be filed. In this state, wrongful death is defined as a situation in which someone dies due to the acts of another which are “negligent, reckless, intentional or criminal.”

Negligence, in turn, is when someone fails to exercise reasonable care in circumstances where they have a duty to act responsibly, and this lack of care causes harm to another person. This is the core of a legal case for injury.

Grounds for Wrongful Death

Proving negligence is the key factor in any wrongful death case. You will need, above all else, to prove that the deceased person died as the direct result of someone else’s deliberate or grossly irresponsible actions. These actions can range from car accidents to deliberate assault to medical malpractice and anything in between.

There are three elements that must be established in any injury case, including those for wrongful death. These elements are:

  1. A duty of care existed to not put others in harm, and to act in a responsible and reasonable manner.
  2. That duty of care was violated by one or more people acting in an irresponsible or deliberate manner.
  3. This irresponsible behavior directly resulted in an accident which resulted in the injury or death of the victim.

Who Can File for Wrongful Death?

In Georgia, wrongful death claims can be brought by the deceased’s spouse or children. They are the only ones who can file a lawsuit. However, if no surviving spouse or descendants exist, any surviving parents of the deceased can file a suit.

If there is no surviving spouse, child or parent who can file, a designated personal representative of the estate may bring the claim. In this last case, if a representative files a suit, any recovered damages are held by the estate and distributed to the next of kin.

What Damages Can Be Collected?

There are two different types of wrongful death suits in Georgia. The first is a claim that establishes the value of the deceased’s life. This type of suit is brought by surviving family and involves monetary damages to cover lost wages, future potential earnings and benefits as well as loss of companionship and care, as well as other emotional damages.

The second claim is known as the estate claim.  It is to collect for financial losses suffered by the family due to the death. These include medical expenses accrued up to the date of death, funeral expenses including burial, and pain and suffering that the deceased suffered immediately before they passed.

All such claims must be brought within two years of the death; However, issues such as criminal claims can stall the statute of limitations.

Seeking Help

If you need to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia, don’t try to go it alone. These cases can get very complex and tricky, and you need qualified legal help to pursue damages. Since 1949, the attorneys at Farrar, Hennesy & Tanner, LLC have helped protect victims in Georgia. Give us a call today for help with your case.

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