Wrongful Death Lawyer in Cordele

If someone else’s actions lead to the tragic loss of a loved one, the surviving spouse or family members can file a wrongful death action on behalf of the victim. A successful lawsuit can result in the recovery of the full value of the victim’s life. 

If you are in this situation, it’s crucial to reach out to experienced Cordele wrongful death lawyers at Joe Durham Jr., P.C. Our team can help you hold the at-fault party accountable and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.

Table of Contents

How Is Wrongful Death Defined In Georgia?

Georgia defines wrongful death as an untimely death caused by the reckless, negligent, intentional, or criminal acts of another individual or entity. Negligence refers to the failure to take reasonable care when it is necessary.

For instance, a nursing home could be held liable if one of its residents dies due to neglect. Civil wrongful death claims usually arise when the actions of the individual or entity result in the victim’s unnatural death. Some legal grounds for wrongful death in Georgia include drunk driving, medical malpractice, contaminated food, and intentional homicide.

Additionally, if the deceased purchased unsafe prescription drugs from the defendant and subsequently experienced complications shortly after taking them, the actions of the defendant may be considered illegal. If this occurred with the knowledge of the defendant, it would be concluded that they intended to harm or even kill the decedent.

Who Is Qualified To File A Wrongful Death Claim?

Georgia code 51-4-2 specifies who has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of Georgia. According to the code, the surviving spouse of the deceased has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased and surviving spouse had children together, the lawsuit would represent the interest of the children as well. However, the surviving spouse can only file the lawsuit on behalf of the children if they are under the age of 18.

In cases where the victim of wrongful death does not have any surviving family members, a representative of the deceased’s estate can file the lawsuit against the defendant. If the lawsuit is successful, any compensation received will be held by the estate and distributed to the surviving next of kin.

It is important to note that the surviving spouse should not receive less than one-third of the total recovery and must share the compensation with any children. However, if the victim had written a will specifying that nothing should be awarded to the children, the spouse will be entitled to the full compensation.

What Types Of Damages Are Recoverable?

Georgia law allows for damages that are directly related to the injury that led to the wrongful death. This means that damages for pain and suffering incurred by the surviving family are not considered compensable.

There are typically three categories of damages that can be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. The first category includes funeral expenses and medical costs related to the injury or death of the deceased.

The second category covers any pain and suffering that the deceased may have endured prior to their death. Finally, the surviving family may be compensated for the full value of the decedent’s life.

In Georgia, the full value of life of the deceased can be measured by considering two components: economic and non-economic. The economic component is calculated by determining the present value of the deceased’s future earnings and services they would have provided had they not died. To calculate the economic loss, factors such as the deceased’s age, income at the time of death, and occupation are taken into account.

On the other hand, the non-economic component of the value of life comprises intangible elements that may be challenging to prove but can be determined by a jury. Although the value of these elements may be subjective, it’s the role of a wrongful death lawyer to demonstrate their real value to the court.

Can The Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages can only be awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were willful, wanton, or malicious. Negligence alone is not sufficient to warrant punitive damages. If the defendant’s actions were deemed to be willful, wanton, or malicious, then the surviving family members can seek punitive damages in addition to the compensation for wrongful death.

If the victim survived for some time after the accident before succumbing to their injuries, then a punitive claim may be included if the defendant’s actions met the criteria for punitive damages. However, if the victim died immediately, then a punitive claim would not be applicable.

Wrongful Death Graphic in Cordele, Georgia

How Is Negligence Proved In A Wrongful Death Case?

Duty of Care

The plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit must establish that the defendant had a duty of care towards the deceased at the time of the incident. For instance, a doctor has a responsibility to provide a certain level of care to their patients.

The duty of care is the legal obligation that requires individuals or entities to act in a way that is reasonably prudent to prevent harm to others. Once the plaintiff demonstrates that the defendant had a duty of care, they must then show that the defendant breached that duty through their actions or inactions, which led to the death of the victim.

Breach of Duty of Care

Proving that the defendant was negligent requires demonstrating that they owed a duty of care to the deceased, but failed to uphold it. This entails presenting evidence of how the defendant failed to fulfill their duty of care.

If the plaintiff was present when the incident occurred, they will need to provide testimony to the court regarding what they witnessed and whether the defendant acted in accordance with their obligation.

Causation

Proving causation is an important aspect of a wrongful death case. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions or inaction directly caused or contributed to the victim’s death. This may involve presenting evidence such as medical records, witness testimony, and expert opinions to show how the defendant’s negligence led to the death.

Damages

It is crucial to seek the help of a skilled and experienced wrongful death attorney if you intend to file a lawsuit. A reputable lawyer specializing in wrongful death can gather all the necessary evidence and convince the court that the defendant is liable for the victim’s death. The lawyer will need to demonstrate how the breach of duty caused damages, which in this case, is the death of your loved one.

How Do You Start A Wrongful Death Claim In Georgia?

To increase the chances of a successful outcome, it is crucial to hire a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after the death of a loved one. Time is of the essence as evidence can disappear, and memories can fade.

It is also important to note that the statute of limitations in Georgia limits the time for filing a wrongful death claim to two years. Failing to file the claim within this timeframe could result in the denial of your right to present the claim in court.

Seeking the assistance of a skilled and experienced wrongful death lawyer will ensure that you meet all the necessary deadlines and that your case is presented in the strongest possible way.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Cordele Wrongful Death Lawyers

If a loved one’s death was caused by someone’s negligence, the aftermath can be financially and emotionally devastating, especially for those who were dependent on the deceased. In Georgia, the surviving spouse, children, or parents (if no spouse) can file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party.

At Joe Durham Jr., P.C., we understand the pain and hardship that comes with losing a loved one, and we are here to help. Our experienced team will work tirelessly to represent your interests and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need legal assistance. Call us today at 229-210-6226.

Related Articles