Losing a loved one unexpectedly is an incredibly difficult experience. Not only are you dealing with the emotional toll, but you may also face financial difficulties. While no amount of money can bring back your loved one, you and your family have the right to seek justice and hold responsible parties accountable for their negligence.
The Joe Durham Law Firm is here to support you during this challenging time by providing all of our legal resources. If you require a wrongful death attorney in Macon, GA, contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation by dialing 229-210-6226 today.
What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought by plaintiffs seeking compensation for a death caused by the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of a liable person, company, or organization. Here are some examples of incidents that often lead to wrongful death claims in Macon:
- Motorcycle accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
- Accidents on construction sites
- Violent crimes, including homicide
- Mistreatment (neglect or abuse) of nursing home residents
- Failure to diagnose serious medical conditions properly
- Road accidents involving tractor-trailers
- Car accidents
- Dangerous drugs
- Accidents caused by product defects
This list is not exhaustive, and there may be other situations that could lead to a wrongful death claim in Georgia. If you have lost a loved one due to the actions of another party, it’s important to seek the guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney to understand your legal options.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim In Georgia?
The right to bring a wrongful death claim under Georgia law is given to the surviving relatives of the deceased. However, there is an order of priority that must be followed. The surviving spouse of the decedent has the first right to bring an action.
If there is no spouse, the decedent’s children can bring a claim. If there are no surviving children, the decedent’s parents may initiate a claim. If the decedent has no surviving relatives as described above, the right to bring a wrongful death claim goes to the administrator of their estate.
How Does A Surviving Family Member File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To begin a wrongful death claim, it is essential to confirm that you are the eligible party to file the claim, according to the aforementioned rules – whether you are the spouse, child, parent, or estate administrator.
Once eligibility is established, your attorney will take care of the remaining steps of the wrongful death lawsuit. Most personal injury lawyers, including the Joe Durham Law Firm, have extensive experience in handling wrongful death cases.
By retaining our services, we will initiate the claim and work to obtain suitable compensation for you.
Is There A Limit On How Much You Can Sue For In A Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a wrongful death suit, under Georgia law, you have the right to seek the full value of the deceased’s life. This includes quantifiable damages like medical and funeral expenses, lost income and benefits to the deceased and his or her family, and less-tangible factors such as pain and suffering of the deceased and the loss of companionship of the surviving family members.
Are There Time Limits For Filing A Wrongful Death Claim?
The time limit for pursuing legal action in a wrongful death case is limited by the statute of limitations (O.C.G.A. §51-4-1). The clock typically starts ticking on the date of the death in question. It is crucial to seek legal advice promptly after the loss of a loved one because once the statute of limitations deadline expires, it becomes much more difficult or impossible to start a lawsuit.
A qualified wrongful death attorney in Macon, GA can provide guidance on the specific amount of time you have to take legal action after reviewing the facts of your case. The statute of limitations can be influenced by several factors, so it is crucial to secure reliable and prompt legal advice.
What Types Of Damages Are Sought In A Georgia Wrongful Death Case?
In Georgia, survivors can seek damages covering the full value of the decedent’s life without deductions for expenses that would have been incurred if he or she lived. The statute covering wrongful death specifies that any of the following items can be included in the damages:
- Loss of future income
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering of the decedent
- Pain and suffering of surviving family members
- Loss of love, protection, and companionship
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of inheritance
In certain cases, punitive damages may also be sought. It is important to note that every wrongful death case is unique, and the specific damages sought will depend on the circumstances of the case. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help determine which damages may apply to your case.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a form of damages that are not meant to compensate the plaintiff in a wrongful death case, but instead, to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing. The court has the discretion to award punitive damages when they deem it appropriate.
These types of damages are often awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions leading to the death were particularly extreme, or when it is determined that the defendant caused the death intentionally.
DUI cases are a common example where punitive damages may be awarded. It’s worth noting that many high-profile wrongful death cases that result in large settlements often include punitive damages.
How Is Negligence Proved In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In broad terms, a wrongful death lawsuit closely resembles a personal injury lawsuit, but it is initiated on behalf of someone who did not survive the injury or illness that prompted the lawsuit. To establish negligence in a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must demonstrate the same four critical elements required in a personal injury case. These include:
The plaintiff is required to establish that the defendant had a legal obligation to exercise a duty of care towards the deceased at the time of the incident, accident, or death.
In the next step, the plaintiff needs to detail how the established duty of care was violated. This could have happened either through an action or failure to act by the defendant. The defendant’s actions or lack of action are typically compared to how a reasonable person would have behaved in the same situation.
In this step, the plaintiff must establish a causal connection between the defendant’s breach of duty and the death of the decedent. It is necessary to demonstrate that the defendant’s action or inaction directly led to the death of the decedent.
Lastly, the plaintiff must prove that there was no other plausible cause for the death apart from the defendant’s actions or inaction. It is essential to establish that the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct cause of the death and that no other factor or cause contributed significantly to it.
Wrongful death lawsuits are some of the most complex in Georgia civil courts. The assistance of a highly-experienced personal injury firm is virtually a necessity, as most laymen lack the expertise to fulfill all the legal obligations of filing this type of claim. Surviving family members will find it far easier to launch and win a wrongful death claim with the help of a good personal injury lawyer.
If you are recovering from the untimely death of a loved one, entrust your legal concerns to the Joe Durham Law Firm. Concentrate on the business of grieving and healing and let us protect your legal rights.
How Long Does It Take For A Wrongful Death Case To Settle?
While many wrongful death cases are resolved through settlement negotiations before they reach trial, this outcome is not universal. The course of a wrongful death case can be influenced by several factors, such as the complexity of the case, the willingness of the parties to negotiate, and the strength of the evidence presented.
Every wrongful death case is unique and follows its own timeline, and there is no universal schedule that applies to all cases. An experienced wrongful death attorney can provide guidance on what to expect in your specific case and help you navigate the legal process with as much efficiency and fairness as possible.
Can You Sue A Medical Provider For Wrongful Death?
Certainly. If you lose a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another party, you are entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim. In cases where medical treatment is a factor, it is not uncommon to bring a lawsuit against healthcare providers such as hospitals, doctors, or nurses.
Medical malpractice can take many forms, including misdiagnosis, medication errors, surgical mistakes, and failure to diagnose, among others. An experienced wrongful death attorney with a background in medical malpractice cases can help you understand your legal rights and options, and work to secure compensation for your loss.
Contact A Wrongful Death Lawyer In Macon, GA Today!
In the event that you have lost a loved one due to what you believe to be preventable circumstances, you may contact the Joe Durham Law Firm by calling 229-210-6226. Our law practice is dedicated to civil litigation, including personal injury, professional negligence, wrongful death, and trial practice.
We offer a free initial consultation to evaluate your case and discuss your legal options. Our experienced attorneys can provide guidance, support, and representation throughout the legal process to help you secure the compensation and justice you deserve.