Losing a loved one is a tragic experience that can be life-changing. If certain factors caused your loved one’s death, then the State of Georgia classifies their death as a wrongful death case. This usually means that they died due to intentional or negligent action. The act could either be caused by a person or a commercial business.
The deceased’s person’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit when this happens. Georgia has a set of laws that applies to wrongful death claims. In this article, the wrongful death attorney in Smyrna will walk you through key aspects of this law. You’ll also gain insight into who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia and the types of damages available. On that note, let’s take a dive in.
What Is Wrongful Death in Georgia?
A wrongful death usually occurs in Georgia when someone dies due to another person’s negligence or criminal act. The difference between wrongful death and homicide is the consequence meted out to the negligent party. Wrongful death is a civil matter and results in damages, while homicide is a criminal act, and the result is usually fines and jail time.
Sometimes, a death caused by a person’s negligent action can result in criminal and civil lawsuits. This means that the defendant faces both cases simultaneously. To determine a wrongful death case in Georgia, there are some elements to consider.
Below are the principal elements of a wrongful death case in Smyrna.
Duty of Care
The first element you will need to prove when filing a wrongful death claim is the duty of care. This is the legal responsibility of the negligent party. There’s a need to act in ways that will keep others safe from harm.
Georgia laws establish a duty of care for people; this duty usually depends on the circumstances. For example, drivers must consider other road users and obey traffic rules and regulations while driving.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty is simply when the negligent party doesn’t implement their duty of care. It could be through carelessness or an intentional act. The law uses a reasonable person’s test to determine if you breached your duty of care.
The question is, ‘what will a reasonable person do in the same situation?’
For instance, a reasonable person pays attention to the road. Neglecting to do this means endangering the lives of other road users. It also shows a breach of duty towards them.
Causation is another term used for fault. While breaching a duty of care can hurt someone, it isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the deceased could have shown extra care to avoid the impending danger of a person’s reckless action.
Therefore, you cannot file a wrongful death claim if the negligent party’s actions aren’t the direct cause of the deceased’s death. So, for someone’s action to constitute wrongful death, it must be the proximate cause of death. Therefore, it is crucial to ask, ‘is the defendant directly at fault for the deceased’s death?’
This is another crucial element when filing a wrongful death claim in Georgia. Damages mean that the defendant’s actions caused you pain.
This is relatively easy to prove in wrongful death cases as you only have to establish how the person’s death affected you. A wrongful death attorney in Smyrna can help you prove that your loved one’s death impacted you mentally, emotionally, and financially.
Wrongful Death Attorney in Smyrna Explain Who Can File a Claim
When a person dies due to someone’s negligent actions, it could cause pain to their family, friends, acquaintances, and loved ones. However, not everyone can make a wrongful death claim. Georgia only allows a specific set of people to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party.
Below are people who can file a wrongful death case.
- The deceased’s spouse
- When there’s no spouse, the deceased’s children
- In situations where there are no surviving children, the deceased’s parents
- The deceased’s estate executor can also file a wrongful death case if the parties above don’t exist
Georgia law doesn’t allow the deceased’s siblings to file a wrongful death claim.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in Georgia
If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia, you must get to it quite early. When you take too long, the Statute of Limitations could bar you from filing a claim and seeking compensation. According to Georgia law, the Statute of Limitations is two years from the date of death.
However, there are situations where the two-year limit might not apply. For example, if the wrongful death involves a criminal case the court is currently dealing with, the time limit is suspended until the criminal case is over. Once the suit is completed in court, the two-year clock begins to run on the case once again.
Additionally, Georgia laws extend the time limit for filing a wrongful death case to five years if the deceased’s estate hasn’t gone through probate. If you’re confused about these limitations, contact a wrongful death attorney in Smyrna to discuss them.
Damages You Can Claim in a Georgia Wrongful Death Case
There are two types of compensation the State of Georgia recognizes for wrongful death claims. They cover your monetary (economic) and non-monetary (non-economic) losses. These damages include the following:
- Lost wages and benefits. This usually covers the amount that the deceased person could have earned if they were alive.
- Loss of care and companionship. This covers benefits that the deceased person would have given their loved ones if they were alive.
- Medical expenses related to the cause of death of the deceased person
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering the deceased person experienced before their death
Your wrongful death attorney in Smyrna will ensure you get the maximum benefit.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Smyrna Today!
If you experienced hurt due to the death of a family member and their death was caused by someone’s negligent action, you deserve compensation for your loss. Although money doesn’t take away the pain, filing a wrongful death claim ensures that the at-fault party pays for their wrongdoing.
A Smyrna injury attorney at Jamie Ballard Law can help you file a wrongful death claim and get the compensation you need. We understand the pain of experiencing a tragic loss and will do all we can to get you justice. Contact our office to speak with a wrongful death attorney today and learn more about how we can help you.