Losing a loved one can feel even more devastating when their death was the result of someone else's negligence rather than natural causes.
When an individual dies in an accident caused by another person or company, the victim's family may be entitled to compensation for both financial and emotional damages related to the fatality.
A wrongful death settlement or financial award will never truly make up for the loss of someone you care about. However, some people might take comfort in knowing the negligent party was held accountable.
If you lost a loved one in a Georgia car, truck, motorcycle, slip-and-fall, or other personal injury accident, here's what you should know when deciding whether filing a wrongful death claim is the right decision for you and your family.
Wrongful Death Claim Filing Eligibility
Not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Georgia, the list of people who can bring this type of legal action is relatively short. It includes the victim's:
- Personal representative
The surviving spouse has the option to bring a wrongful death claim first and, if the couple had minor children, he or she must also represent their interests. However, regardless of how many children there are, the spouse is entitled to receive at least one-third of the total recovery.
In the absence of a surviving spouse, a wrongful death can be brought by the victim's adult children, parents, or personal representative. When a personal representative files a wrongful death lawsuit, any compensation they recover is administered to the next of kin through the victim's estate.
Types of Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
In Georgia, eligible members of a victim's family or their personal representative can file two separate and distinct types of wrongful death claims.
Claims to Determine Full Value of the Life of the Deceased
This type of claim compensates wrongful death claimants for damages related to the financial and emotional value of their lost loved one's life, including:
- Lost wages and benefits the victim would have earned had they lived
- Loss of intangible benefits the victim provided to loved ones, such as care, companionship, love, support, and guidance
Claims to Compensate for Financial Losses Related to the Death
This second type of claim seeks to recoup financial losses the family or the victim's estate suffered as a result of the wrongful death. Common damages recovered in these types of cases include:
- All medical expenses related to the victim's final injury or illness
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Conscious pain and suffering the victim endured prior to death
Deadline for Filing a GA Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you lost a loved one in a Georgia personal injury accident and are considering taking legal action to pursue compensation, you must act quickly. The state's statute of limitations laws give you just two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit—and the clock starts counting down the day your family member died.
If you wait to file your claim until after the statute of limitations deadline expires, your case will be thrown out without being heard. Additionally, even when you aren't in danger of exceeding the statute of limitations deadline, delaying legal action may compromise the quality of the evidence in your case.
Consult a Knowledgeable Attorney About Your Wrongful Death Case
Did you lose a loved one in a Georgia personal injury accident? Are you wondering whether it's worth it to embroil your grieving family in a legal dispute? Van Sant Law is ready to assist you.
Not only can we evaluate the strength of your case, but if you decide to take legal action, we can help protect your rights through each step of the process. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.