Need an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney? The surviving family members of the victim may sue for “wrongful death” when a loved one dies due to another person’s misconduct or negligence. You can hire an experienced and reputable Atlanta wrongful death attorney at Singleton Law Firm to help you fight for justice.
A person found liable for wrongful death may or may not be convicted of the crime associated with that death. In Atlanta, wrongful death lawsuits usually follow in the wake of criminal trials, using similar evidence but with a lower standard of proof.
Do you need a wrongful death Lawyer?
For instance, former football star O.J. Simpson was found liable for two victims’ wrongful death in the civil trial in 1994 as the plaintiffs proved he was responsible by a preponderance of the evidence. However, he was not found guilty of murder as the prosecution couldn’t establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Each state has a civil “wrongful death statute,” or set of statutes that establish the procedures for bringing wrongful death actions. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to various parties as directed by the decedent’s will. A personal representative of the decedent’s estate may only bring a suit for wrongful death. Also, the personal representative may get actions for expenses incurred before the decedent’s death, personal injury, or conscious pain and suffering.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
To bring a successful wrongful death action, the following elements must be present:
- The death of a person;
- Caused by the negligence of another, or with intent to cause harm;
- The survival of family members who’re suffering as a result of the death, and;
- The appointment of the personal representative for the estate of the decedent.
Wrongful death claims may arise out of many circumstances, such as in the following situations:
- Airplane or automobile accident;
- Medical malpractice resulting in the death of the decedent;
- Criminal behavior;
- Occupational exposure to dangerous substances or conditions;
- Death during a supervised activity.
Note: Wrongful death claims/lawsuits must be filed within the statute of limitations. However, claims may be filed later (by the ‘discovery rule’) if the cause of action was not established until later. You should consult an experienced Atlanta wrongful death attorney at Singleton Law Firm.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit or Claim
Financial, or pecuniary, injury is the primary measure of damages in a wrongful death action. Many laws provide that the damages awarded for the wrongful death shall be fair compensation for the pecuniary injuries resulting from the decedent’s death. Courts have interpreted “pecuniary injuries” as including the medical and funeral expenses, loss of services, support, and loss of inheritance prospect.
If the distributors are responsible or paid for the decedent’s funeral or medical care, they may recover those expenses as well. Furthermore, a damage award will include interest from the date of the death of the decedent.
Survival Actions for Personal Injury
In addition to damages for the wrongful death, the distributees may recover damages for personal injury to the decedent. These are known as “survival actions” because the actions survive the person who suffered the injury. The decedent’s personal representative can bring such action along with the wrongful death action for the benefit of the estate of the decedent.
The jury may make inquiries
In a survival action for the conscious pain and suffering of a decedent, the jury may make many inquiries to establish the damages, including:
- The severity of the pain;
- The degree of consciousness; and
- The apprehension of impending death, along with the duration of such suffering.