We’ve all heard of the legal concept of wrongful death, but what exactly does it mean, and who can sue under Georgia’s wrongful death law?
It’s an important question to consider in light of a tragedy. After all, if someone has wrongfully caused the loss of life, shouldn’t the person or persons responsible be held accountable for their actions?
The term, “wrongful death,” refers to any type of death that is due to another party’s negligence or intentional act. This means that if someone causes injury or illness resulting in a person’s untimely passing away, they may be liable under Georgia’s wrongful death statute.
But who is able to bring such claims?
Read on to learn more about who can sue under Georgia’s wrongful death law. If you have further questions, contact a personal injury lawyer from Slam Dunk Attorney.
Who Has the Right to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
It can be incredibly difficult to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, particularly if it was because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. This is why Georgia has wrongful death laws in place—so that those who have suffered such an unjust and tragic loss can seek justice through legal means.
So, who exactly has the right to file a claim?
Generally speaking, there are two types of parties who can file suit: direct family members (like spouses or children) and representatives authorized by the deceased individual (or their estate).
In Georgia, this includes parents, spouses, siblings, children, and other blood-related family members. It also may include adopted children and stepchildren, as well as any dependents of the deceased.
In some cases, even distant relatives like grandparents or uncles and aunts can pursue damages for wrongful death.
What Kinds of Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits can bring closure and financial compensation to those facing the tragic loss of a loved one.
There are several types of damages that may be recovered in such cases, including economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses cover expenses related to medical costs associated with the deceased’s injury or illness, funeral and burial costs, lost income, benefits, services, support, and inheritance rights. Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses like pain and suffering for both the decedent as well as surviving family members.
The court will also consider other factors when determining how much money should be awarded in these cases. These include pre-death pain and suffering endured by the deceased individual, any additional costs incurred due to their death (such as childcare or home maintenance), and potentially punitive damages if warranted under Georgia law.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is limited to two years from the date of the deceased’s passing. This means that any legal action must be filed within this time frame, or it will not be eligible for consideration.
It’s important to note that exceptions may apply if a minor child was involved in the case, as well as in cases involving government entities.
Failing to take action within two years can significantly reduce a family’s options, and they may lose out on their right to seek justice through civil court proceedings. As such, it’s crucial to seek legal advice soon after an incident occurs, so you are aware of the filing timeline associated with your particular situation.
How Are Punitive Damages Awarded in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Punitive damages are awarded for wrongful death suits to punish the defendant and discourage them from engaging in similar conduct again. Punitive damage awards can be significant, as they’re intended to make an example of the defendant.
In Georgia, a jury decides whether punitive damages should be awarded, how much should be awarded, and what percentage of that award is paid by each party responsible for the wrongful death.
The amount of punitive damages will depend on various factors, such as outrageousness of the conduct or recklessness of the behavior leading up to the death. The court also considers the evidence presented during the trial and any other relevant facts when deciding if punitive damages are appropriate and how much should be awarded.
Ultimately, it’s up to the jury to decide if punitive damages are warranted in a particular case and what amount would serve justice best.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The burden of proof rests on you to demonstrate that your loved one died because someone else was careless, reckless, or intentionally caused harm. Furthermore, it must be shown that the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the decedent’s death—meaning the victim wouldn’t have died if not for the defendant’s behavior.
To prove negligence, you will need evidence such as witness testimony, medical records, police reports, and other relevant documents. Depending on the facts surrounding the case, an experienced lawyer might also ask experts to testify about specific matters related to fault and causation.
Generally speaking, courts will consider various factors when evaluating a wrongful death claim.
- Whether there was a duty owed by one party to another
- If they breached said duty
- And, if so, whether that breach resulted in damages causing injury or death
The stakes are high in these cases, which can involve substantial compensation for surviving family members due to pain and suffering, along with economic losses associated with medical bills and funeral expenses.
Contact Slam Dunk Attorney Today
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is challenging.
At Slam Dunk Attorney, we understand your pain. We also understand that money can’t replace the person you lost. However, compensation can help hold the liable party accountable and assist you with any costs regarding your loved one’s death or medical bills.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury lawyer from Slam Dunk Attorney to schedule a free case review.