In Georgia, wrongful death refers to the premature death of a person due to the intentional, reckless, criminal, or negligent actions of another person or entity. Negligence occurs when an individual fails to exercise reasonable care when they should have done so, such as in the case of a nursing home resident who dies due to neglect.
A civil wrongful death claim can be filed when the actions of the individual or entity result in the unnatural death of the victim. Legal grounds for wrongful death in Bainbridge, Georgia can include drunk driving, medical malpractice, contaminated food, and intentional homicide.
Furthermore, if the deceased purchased unsafe prescription drugs from the defendant and suffered complications shortly after taking them, the defendant’s actions may be deemed unlawful. If the defendant knew about the risks and still proceeded to harm or kill the victim, their actions can be considered intentional.
In the unfortunate event that you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or intentional actions of another, it’s crucial to seek the help of a qualified legal expert. At Joe Durham Jr., P.C., our experienced wrongful death lawyers in Bainbridge are here to assist you.
We will strive to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and help you obtain the compensation that you are entitled to. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 229-351-5320 for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.
Who Is Qualified To File A Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Georgia code 51-4-2, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is given to certain individuals. The surviving spouse of the deceased is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases where the deceased and surviving spouse had children together, the lawsuit will also represent the children’s interests.
It is important to note that if the children are under the age of 18, the surviving spouse can only file the lawsuit on their behalf.
If the victim of a wrongful death did not have a surviving family, then a representative of the deceased’s estate can bring the wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant. If successful, any compensation obtained will be held by the estate and distributed to the surviving next of kin.
It is important to note that the surviving spouse should receive no less than one-third of the total compensation, and the spouse will have to share the compensation with any children.
However, if the victim had a will that specified that nothing should be awarded to the children, the spouse will keep the entire compensation.
What Types Of Damages Are Recoverable?
Georgia law states that any monetary damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit must be directly related to the injury that led to the victim’s death. Damages for any pain and suffering experienced by the surviving family are not compensable.
There are three main categories of damages that can be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia: funeral expenses and medical costs resulting from the injury or death, compensation for any pain and suffering experienced by the victim before their death, and an amount equal to the full value of the decedent’s life for the surviving family.
In Georgia, determining the value of a wrongful death claim has become easier due to the courts’ established components of the full value of life, including economic and non-economic aspects.
The economic component is based on calculating the deceased’s future earnings and services they would have provided if they had lived. This component is determined by considering factors such as the deceased’s age, income, and occupation at the time of their death.
On the other hand, the non-economic component of the full value of life involves intangible elements that are difficult to quantify but can be determined by a jury. While the values of the non-economic component may be subjective, a skilled Bainbridge wrongful death lawyer will aim to demonstrate the actual value of the damages in court.
Can The Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?
In Georgia, the decision to award punitive damages in a wrongful death case is solely at the discretion of the jury. Punitive damages are financial compensation given to punish the defendant for their reckless or negligent behavior. Typically, punitive damages are not awarded in wrongful death cases in Georgia, but there are some exceptions.
For instance, if the wrongful death case is brought by an estate administrator and is directly associated with the deceased’s pain and suffering during the accident, then punitive damages may be considered.
Additionally, if the defendant acted in a malicious manner and showed callous disregard for the safety of the deceased, then punitive damages may be awarded. However, if the deceased died instantly, then there is no basis for a punitive claim, and only a wrongful death claim can be made.
How Is Negligence Proved In A Wrongful Death Case?
To build a successful wrongful death case, it’s essential to prove that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence caused the victim’s death. It’s also important to show that the victim took steps to mitigate the harm caused by the defendant.
Having substantial evidence is crucial, such as accident scene photos, medical records, and any remnants of a defective product that the victim may have used.
There are four key elements to a successful wrongful death case, which include proving the existence of a duty of care owed by the defendant to the deceased, demonstrating a breach of that duty of care, establishing that the breach of duty caused the victim’s death, and finally, showing the extent of the damages incurred by the victim’s family.
A skilled wrongful death attorney can help gather evidence, build a strong case, and maximize the compensation for the family.
How Do You Start A Wrongful Death Claim In Georgia?
When a loved one dies due to the negligence of another party, it is essential to contact a skilled Bainbridge wrongful death attorney promptly. Starting the lawsuit process early ensures that all evidence is still fresh and increases your chances of building a strong case.
Although Georgia’s statute of limitations limits the time for bringing a wrongful death case to court to two years, it is advisable to file the claim as soon as possible. Failure to file the claim within the two-year limit can result in the denial of your right to present the claim.
In Georgia, if the estate of the deceased is not probated, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases can be suspended for up to five years. Therefore, the wrongful death claim can be filed up to seven years after the incident.
What Is The Difference Between Wrongful Death Claims And Estate Claims?
In addition to the wrongful death claim, the estate of the deceased may file a claim to recover expenses such as funeral and burial costs, as well as compensation for pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to their death. Calculating these damages can be challenging, especially for pain and suffering.
In Georgia, the estate may also pursue punitive damages in a wrongful death claim. If the deceased had a will, the person named in the will should file the estate claim. If there is no will, the law will determine who has the right to file the claim.
The surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim to seek recovery for the full value of the deceased’s life. The surviving spouse has the first right to file, followed by the deceased’s parents if there is no spouse or children. In this case, the estate does not file a claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Bainbridge Wrongful Death Lawyers
If a loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another person, it can have significant financial and emotional consequences for those left behind, especially if the deceased had dependents. In Georgia, the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation.
If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to seek the assistance of a skilled legal team like Joe Durham Jr., P.C. We will work diligently to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for all the damages you have suffered. Contact us today at 229-351-5320 to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.