Justia Lawyer Rating
Georgia Trial Lawyers Association - Champion 2022
AVVO Rating 10.0 Superb - Top Attorney Personal Injury
Clients' Choice Award - AVVO
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
2024 Client Champion Platinum Distinction

Wrongful Death


“I was involved in a car accident which resulted in serious personal injury for me and the death of my husband. David has been exceptional in his devotion to my case. He has also been very meticulous in getting everything settled in the most beneficial way for me and my children. I would strongly recommend him.” 
(Sandra W. – personal injury client)

Wrongful DeathWe extend our heartfelt condolences for your loss. Dealing with the passing of a loved one is emotionally challenging. Seeking guidance from a seasoned Atlanta lawyer for wrongful death is crucial in navigating this intricate process. At Van Sant Law, serving the area since 2003, we understand the complexity of such cases. Our expertise ensures thorough legal representation for compensation in personal injury wrongful death civil lawsuits, aimed at supporting surviving spouses and children. Trust us to advocate for your rights during this difficult time.

What Is Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim

In Georgia, there are two separate claims that can be asserted. The first is the “estate claim” which permits the recovery of medical expenses, funeral expenses, and any pre-death pain and suffering. The second claim is for the “full value of the life of the decedent” as determined by the enlightened conscious of the jury. This claim usually belongs to the surviving spouse, but a surviving spouse must share any recovery equally with the surviving children. However, the surviving spouse must be awarded no less than 1/3 of the recovery. If the deceased was not married, then the surviving children, if any, must bring the claim. If the deceased was not married and did not have any surviving children, then the surviving parents must assert the claim. Finally, if none of the above applies, the Administrator of the estate must file the claim on behalf of the next of kin. If you would like to know what is recoverable in your specific case, contact us today and speak with one of our skilled Atlanta unlawful death lawyers in your area.

Under Georgia law, the claim for the full value of the life of the deceased is measured by determining the full life as viewed through their eyes. The idea is to quantify the damages by determining the life lost by the decedent, which means the suffering of the family members is not compensable. The full value of the life of the decedent is broken down into two components – first, economic damages (i.e., the quantifiable damages such as the total earnings the person would have earned over their life), and second, noneconomic damages (i.e., the intangible value that cannot be precisely calculated and is up to the jury to decide, based on the circumstances). Our Atlanta wrongful death law firm will assist you through this process and help relieve the financial burden.

When Must You File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The statute of limitations for filing a claim is usually two (2) years from the date of your loved one’s death. There are exceptions. However, it is best to consult with an attorney for legal advice as early in the process as possible, because most attorneys will not accept a case if too much time has passed. There is generally a vast amount of investigation that needs to be done, so it’s not a good idea to get too close to the two-year deadline.

Van Sant Law, LLC, is a highly qualified personal injury law firm in Atlanta that has successfully represented many clients in wrongful death cases. Our wrongful death lawyers understand the emotional trauma that can result from the loss of a loved one and will take appropriate legal measures to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve. David Van Sant is an experienced trial attorney who gained valuable knowledge as an insurance defense lawyer before starting his own firm to represent individuals who have suffered personal injuries. There are many different types of accidents that can result in a wrongful death. Most commonly, we are asked to investigate wrongful death cases arising out of car crashes and medical negligence claims.


Who Has the Legal Right to File Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

To a certain extent, the underlying facts and circumstances determine who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against another person or company. In general, the deceased person’s estate, surviving spouse, surviving children, or parents may have legal standing to file claims for compensation.

What Is Needed to Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case?

In Georgia, claimants in wrongful death cases must be able to prove, through evidence, that the responsible party owed a duty to the deceased person. In addition, the negligent party must have failed to uphold that duty and that breach of duty, whether through action or inaction, resulted in death. Your wrongful death lawyer will work to gather evidence, identify solutions, and to establish and prove the required elements in your case.

Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Considered Personal Injury Matters?

Wrongful death and personal injury cases share many similarities. However, in a wrongful death lawsuit, it is the surviving family members or the deceased person’s estate who are the plaintiffs. This is different from other personal injury matters, which are brought by the injured person (or someone on behalf of the injured person.)

Is It Difficult to Win a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

One challenge in a wrongful death case is that the deceased person is not there to provide details, testimony, or medical evidence. Because of this, wrongful death suits depend largely on eyewitness and expert witness testimony. Your local wrongful death attorney will seek to identify and secure witness testimony and to establish liability.

What Kind of Settlement Might I Receive in a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Compensation for any wrongful death suit depends on the circumstances. In general, settlements and awards in such cases are often significant amounts intended to compensate the deceased person’s surviving loved ones. Settlements and awards should provide for their future support, compensation for final expenses, loss of future earnings, and more. When you work with one of Van Sant Law’s accidental death attorneys near you, you can be confident that your attorney will fight to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Is Wrongful Death Covered by Insurance?

You may have some personal or business wrongful death insurance coverage. However, the amount provided may be inadequate to compensate you for the financial losses you sustained. Engaging an experienced law firm can help you understand whether you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against another party. If your loved one died because someone else was negligent somehow, you may be able to recover financial damages from the responsible party. 

For example, if you lost a loved one as the result of a car accident, or at the hands of a medical professional who acted negligently in diagnosing or treating your family member, you may have a valid legal claim. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and options for pursuing a formal wrongful death claim through the legal system. 

What Are My Options for Receiving a Wrongful Death Settlement?

When you’ve lost a loved one to wrongful death, you may be approached by the responsible party’s insurance company. The insurer may offer an initial settlement amount to close the matter. You could choose to accept this settlement and receive payment relatively quickly. However, most legal professionals would caution you to talk to an experienced wrongful death attorney first. 

Unfortunately, the insurance company’s initial settlement offer is designed to help it settle the claim quickly and inexpensively. As a result, the amount offered may not adequately cover your financial losses. Talk to a legal professional who can help by valuing your claim, presenting you with your rights and options, and answering your questions. When you have all of the information in front of you, you can make the best decision about how to proceed.

If you choose to file a wrongful death suit with your lawyer’s help, your legal team will advocate on your behalf, and will fight to help you obtain the best possible outcome for your claim. 

Can I Pursue Punitive Damages for My Wrongful Death Claim?

Punitive damages are additional compensation designed to punish the responsible party for his or her actions in civil lawsuits. These damages are typically limited to situations where the defendant acted willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, or with wanton disregard for the consequences of his or her actions. 

In general, Georgia courts have denied punitive damage awards in wrongful death claims, on the basis that the wrongful death claim is, itself, a punishment. Yet, if an estate claim is brought as part of the same lawsuit, that claim may be entitled to punitive damages awards. A wrongful death claim is a claim brought by surviving loved ones that covers the value of the decedent’s life. In contrast, an estate claim is brought on behalf of the decedent’s estate, seeking to recover final expenses, medical expenses, and pain and suffering of the decedent. 

If you believe punitive damages may be appropriate, talk to your lawyer to discuss the circumstances. 

Do I Still Have a Claim if the Decedent Caused His or Her Own Death?

Unfortunately, no. If your loved one was responsible for his or her demise, you cannot file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation in Georgia. Wrongful death actions are generally only available in situations where someone else’s negligence caused the death of another person. If your loved one was partially responsible, but another party was partially responsible, talk to an experienced wrongful death firm to discuss the situation and explore your rights. 

Contact Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Now if Your Loved One Was Killed by the Negligence of Someone Else

If your family has gone through the tragedy of the loss of a loved one, you need to have a strong legal advocate on your side every step of the way. By  contacting our wrongful death lawyers in Atlanta, we could help take care of the legal aspects of your case so that you can focus on yourself and your family. Wrongful death attorney David Van Sant is a Georgia Super Lawyers® Rising Star℠ and is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40. Over the years, we have been able to secure our clients millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, earning us a place in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®. Should you choose to work with our team of wrongful death lawsuit lawyers, we will fight to secure justice for your family and hold the guilty person accountable for what they have done. Please do not hesitate to contact a wrongful death lawyer in GA from one of our Metro Atlanta offices to learn more. We have multiple office locations throughout Georgia,  Atlanta, Alpharetta, Athens, Cumming, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Sandy Springs, and Gainesville.

Client Reviews
From the first time I called them to the current status of my case, has been by my side through it all. I would like to thank everyone in Van Sant Law for answering any questions that I have in a timely manner. I can personally say, Everyone in deserves recognition for being honest, hard working, ethical, logical, dedicated people. The only reason I rated them 5 stars is because it would not let me go higher! Hilary
I was in a car accident with a tractor trailer two years ago and David Van Sant came highly recommended for someone I could talk to about the situation. Best decision I've ever made! He fought for me in ways that was truly amazing. David and his crew worked so hard to come to a great conclusion on my case. Thank you David, Michael and everyone in the office. Mary
Attorney David M. VanSant is one of the best injury trial attorneys here in the Atlanta area. They are precise and unique in their approach. When I had my car accident, my whole world was turned upside down, but with Attorney VanSant and his team of professionals dedication and quality of service, my life is back on track. Let the VanSant team handle your case! You're in good hands. Crystal