This article will help you discover:
- Who has the right to file a wrongful death claim against a truck driver in Georgia.
- What damages and compensation may be collected from a wrongful death lawsuit.
- What defense tactics a trucking or insurance company might try to use against you, and why you should avoid dealing with the insurance companies yourself.
What Are My Rights If My Family Member Is Killed Because Of A Semi-Truck Driver’s Negligence In Georgia?
When someone is killed in a trucking accident, his or her family may file a wrongful death claim against the driver. Like a personal injury lawsuit, this claim requires showing that the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of the defendant was the direct cause of the victim’s suffering.
Under Georgia law, only certain family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased victim. This includes:
- The victim’s spouse
- The victim’s children
- The victim’s parents
- The victim’s estate administrator
If the victim was married, it is primarily the victim’s spouse who has the right to bring the wrongful death claim. If a spouse is not present, then the victim’s children may commence the action. If the victim had no spouse or children, then it becomes the right of the victim’s parents. And if the victim had no spouse, children, or parents, then the right falls to the administrator or executive of the victim’s estate.
What Are The Main Elements Of A Wrongful Death Case?
There are four elements of a wrongful death claim:
- The deceased must have been owed a duty of care by the defendant who has been negligent for the injury or death.
- Breach of duty
- When a plaintiff shows that an individual had a duty to another, they must then prove that the basic duty was breached.
- This requires that the plaintiff provides evidence that the defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the injury or death.
- The plaintiff can receive damages from the court only after proving that the deceased suffered those damages directly from the accident.
How Are Damages Determined In A Wrongful Death Case?
Under Georgia law, there are several types of damages that can potentially be sought in a lawsuit involving fatal injuries.
The first and most common is the full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence. Georgia law states that “the full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence,” means the entire value of the decedent’s life without deducting any necessary or personal expenses they would have incurred.
According to the state of Georgia, this falls into two distinct categories:
- An economic component, which includes the present value of the decedent’s future earnings and/or services that would have occurred over their normal life expectancy.
- A non-economic component, which includes intangible elements of life which are incapable of exact proof. Therefore, these elements are left to be determined by “the enlightened conscience of an impartial jury.”
Following Georgia statute, reparations may also cover any funeral, medical, or other necessary expenses resulting from the injury or death of the deceased person. Finally, damages can include any pain and suffering experienced by the decedent during the time between the injury and the subsequent death.
How Long Do I Have To File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Georgia?
The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia is usually two years from the date of the decedent’s death. This is stated directly in Georgia Statute OCGA 9-3-33.
Are There Risks In Having Contact With The Trucking Company’s Insurance?
Dealing with insurance companies can become an uphill battle. Insurance companies are not in the business of helping you. They are in the business of protecting the assets of their insured. Insurance companies can use whatever you say against you, and they are trained to encourage you to say the wrong things.
If you are not a trained professional who has experience negotiating with an insurance company, the situation could be difficult. It is best to avoid talking to them yourself, and to obtain assistance from a wrongful death attorney who understands how to handle situations with insurance companies.
What Are The Defense Tactics That A Trucking Company’s Insurance Will Use To Deny Or Limit My Settlement?
The most common defense a trucking company or their insurance company might try to use against you is the argument that they are not liable. Trucking companies and insurance companies often try to avoid paying compensation by disputing that they are at fault.
As the claimant, we have the burden of proving our case. Even with proof, the trucking company is likely to argue that it is inadmissible or irrelevant. If the trucking company and its insurer have no reason to think their position would be weakened at trial, they will not consider any offers to settle your case.
Another tactic that companies often use is arguing that the victim was partially or fully responsible for the accident. Blaming the victim for causing their own injuries, or suggesting that they were negligent, is a common defense in commercial truck accident cases.
In Georgia, claimants can be held partially responsible for their injuries and receive less compensation as a result. If someone caused an accident and they are more than 50% responsible, he or she does not have the right to file a lawsuit and recover money. Insurance companies and trucking companies will always try to argue that the other party was at fault.
Another defense they may use is accusing the victim of faking or exaggerating an injury just to get a settlement. Trucking companies and insurance companies are quick to accuse the victim of seeking financial compensation for pre-existing injuries.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was at fault in causing the accident, and also show how the injuries were sustained as a result of the collision. Without clear medical evidence that the accident caused the personal injuries, the defense attorney will argue that there is no support for a compensation claim, and they will not make a good settlement offer.
If you have lost someone you love in an accident, you likely have many questions. Understanding wrongful death cases can be confusing, especially when you are grieving. Our experienced lawyers are here to support you through this difficult time, and help you through each phase of your case.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Wrongful Death Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Wrongful Death Law in Georgia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (404) 383-8835 today.