An accident that takes the life of a loved one is a devastating event for any family. While it does not bring that person back, the family of the victim of a wrongful death can bring a lawsuit for damages against those responsible for the loss.
A wrongful death in Georgia is different than criminal charges that may be imposed on the party responsible, but loved ones only have a small window of time to file a wrongful death claim.
At Cohen & Sinowski, we provide compassionate legal representation to families that have lost their loved one in an accident and can help you get the compensation you deserve for your loss.
The Georgia wrongful death statute is defined as the death of a person caused by the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal acts of another person or entity, such as a business. It is similar to a personal injury case, except that the victim is no longer able to bring a lawsuit on their own behalf, and in many ways this type of claim is treated similarly to a personal injury lawsuit under Georgia law.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be separated into two separate claims. The first claim is for damages that equate to the full value of the life of the victim, and the second claim is for the estate.
Because the victim of a wrongful death claim cannot bring the case on their own behalf, someone with strong ties to the deceased must file the claim for damages.
Under Georgia law, the spouse has the first right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and if there are minor children the case includes their interest. If there is no surviving spouse, any adult children may file a claim for wrongful death. If there is no spouse or children, the surviving parents of the victim or the personal representative of the estate may bring the claim for wrongful death to court.
The Georgia wrongful death statute of limitations dictates how long the family of a victim has to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. The wrongful death statute of limitations in Georgia for this type of case is only two years from the date of death. If the claim is not filed within that time period it will be thrown out by the court.
One exception to this rule is if criminal charges are filed against those responsible for the death. The clock stops on the two year limit, known as tolling, until the criminal case is completed. In addition, the statute of limitations tolls on a wrongful death claim for up to five years if the victim’s case is not probated.
An experienced attorney will be able to review your specific case and advise you on how long your family has to file a wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations tolls.
Compensation for a wrongful death claim can be separated into economic and non-economic damages. When considering the full value of the life of the deceased, economic damages include financial and tangible value of their life, including lost wages and benefits. Non-economic damages include payment for the loss of care, companionship, security, love, and consortium.
For the estate aspect of a wrongful death claim, economic damages include all medical bills related to the fatal illness or injury as well as funeral and burial expenses. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
While the effects of a wrongful death of a loved one can be traumatizing, it is important that you do a number of things after the fatal accident to preserve your wrongful death claim.
Although you are grieving, you need to secure the services of an attorney with experience in wrongful death cases. They can handle the case while you process your loss.
In addition, try to gather or preserve as much evidence as possible for your case. The party responsible for the death will be doing the same to try and mitigate their damages. Give everything you have to your lawyer, who can begin to build the best possible case for damages against those responsible for your loss. Do not speak with an insurance adjuster or the opposing side’s counsel without your lawyer present, to make sure that you do not accidentally make a statement against your family’s best interests.
At Cohen & Sinowski, we provide empathetic and skillful representation for the loved ones of those who lost a family member due to wrongful death and are here to provide you with the best possible legal advocacy for your case.
Losing a loved one is never easy, and if they died as a result of the actions of another person you may have a claim for wrongful death against those responsible for your loss. Call the office in Marietta or contact us today at Cohen & Sinowski to schedule a free consultation of your case.