Whatever the reason, we know it is not easy for anyone to deal with the loss of someone loved. We proceed with care and know that the least we can do is get financial compensation for the family’s damages and suffering and take legal action against the person responsible for the death.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a personal injury that unfortunately happens frequently. Reasons for those incidents could be intentional behavior or accidents. When a family member dies as the result of another person or entity’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior, it is called wrongful death. Individuals, groups, companies, or governments may all potentially be held liable if their intentional or negligent acts caused harm to someone.
Here are just a few outstanding cases we have won
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Wrongful Death Occurs When Human Life is Taken
Auto accidents, truck accidents, faulty medical devices, unsafe working conditions, and medical malpractice can all cause wrongful death.
If the deceased was accidentally or intentionally killed, a Georgia wrongful death attorney may file a claim against the at-fault party. Depending on the family unit, a spouse, parent, or child can file a claim.
Sometimes a wrongful death occurs as the result of a crime or a DUI/DWI, and those cases present special circumstances. Call us to discuss how to proceed in those situations.
Wrongful Death Claim
O.C.G.A § 51-4-2 defines the family member who has the right to sue as the surviving spouse of the deceased victim. Like any other laws on personal injury, Georgia wrongful death cases aim to establish the cause of the death, who is at fault, and the extent of the damages. Your Atlanta wrongful death lawyer must prove that the other involved party was negligent, and this will ensure getting the wrongful death compensation that you deserve.
Furthermore, he must prove that the negligence has directly caused your loved one’s death and must determine a financial standing to pay off the pain and suffering that you’ve been through.
Usually, relatives don’t consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit, especially when they are in the process of mourning. However, doing so can actually help prevent the same thing from happening again in the future by addressing the one at fault and making sure they take responsibility.
If you choose us as one of the leading Atlanta law firms for wrongful death, we will seek compensation for you.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit or Claim
Plaintiffs in wrongful death lawsuits are seeking to find someone responsible for a death that was preventable. Under Georgia law, the surviving spouse, child, or parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit depending on the family unit.
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 bills, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, loss of services, support, and loss of inheritance prospect.
Furthermore, a damage award will include interest from the date of the death of the decedent.
Survival Actions for Personal Injury
The decedent’s personal representative can bring such action along with the wrongful death action to benefit 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;
- The apprehension of impending death, along with the duration of such suffering.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Atlanta
When a family member dies, the grief can be overwhelming, and when the death was caused by a person’s negligence or recklessness, it can be even more distressing. If the victim was the primary breadwinner in the family, there are often financial hardships for the surviving spouse.
Surviving family members of accident victims may be entitled to seek damages against those responsible for the accident for the losses their loved one’s death has caused. It is done through the filing of a lawsuit for wrongful death. Speak with an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer at Singleton Law Firm if your loved one was killed by another party’s actions.
A person or entity can be held liable for a victim’s death when they act in a way that contributes to the death, whether the act is intentional or unintentional.
Wrongful death suits (or claims) are intended to benefit a deceased victim’s spouse, children, parents, siblings, or close relatives. A lawsuit may be brought by a member of the victim’s family (state law determines who qualifies), the executor of the victim’s estate, or by a court-appointed representative. A personal injury lawyer in Atlanta can determine legal standing to file a lawsuit.
Surviving family members have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You can find out what the time limit is in your case by contacting an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer. In most cases, there is a two-year deadline from the date of death of the victim, but in some cases, there may be an exception.
Wrongful death claims in Atlanta can be brought for a number of losses, including:
- The family should be compensated for any expenses they have incurred due to the victim’s death. Medical expenses, funeral expenses, and burial expenses pertain to the victim’s life-saving treatment before they died.
- Family members should receive compensation for their grief, emotional anguish, and sorrow caused by the victim’s death.
- Loss of love, support, and companionship suffered by the family as a result of losing the victim.
- An amount equal to what the victim would have provided the family in the future if he or she had not become ill.
The Role of Your Wrongful Death Lawyer
After a wrongful death accident, you may be thinking that it is inappropriate to contact an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer too soon after the death because of what other people might think or say, or of course, you might not be feeling ready for it. But you must know it is your choice to determine when you are ready to contact an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer to back you up in your case.
We will help you determine if your case is viable and make sure we meet all deadlines. We will deal with all legal issues and ensure the wrongful death claim is moving forward while you focus on being with your family and the process of getting through the loss.
The legal process can truly be scary and complicated. We will do anything possible to ease this process for you and make decisions in your interest. We are committed to representing and protecting your rights and those of your loved ones.
Someone who was at fault for your loved one’s wrongful death should be held accountable. We will get you the just and rightful compensation.
In Atlanta, GA, we fight aggressively to obtain 100% of the compensation available under the law.
Wrongful Death Damages and Punitive Damages
When Georgia courts are deciding whether to award punitive damages in a wrongful death case, they consider the unique circumstances of that particular incident.
Punitive damages can be awarded if there is evidence that would justify punishment for reckless conduct or criminal behavior such as aggravated assault with intent to kill.
Georgia courts decide on awarding punitive damage cases based upon the specificities of each situation.
These types of damages cannot be awarded just because someone died from an accident.
When a defendant is malicious, deliberate, or disregards the well-being or safety of the deceased, punitive damages may be available in the estate claims.
Award Caps for Punitive Damages in Atlanta
If your loved one has died due to negligence, you may be entitled to punitive damages. The term exemplary damages are also used to refer to punitive damages. Punitive financial rewards are sometimes awarded in civil cases to the plaintiff so that the defendant is punished and discouraged from committing such gross negligence again. By law, there are limits to these types of damages.
Can You Be Compensated For Such Damages in Atlanta?
Compensatory damages are the norm in civil or personal injury cases. It is possible to prove these losses and even take action against them. Jurors understand them easily, and they are reasonable compensation for most accidents, a way to compensate the injured party – usually the surviving family members.
To pursue punitive damages, on the other hand, while still provable, present a bigger challenge because anyone claiming punishment must prove malicious intent. A plaintiff cannot be awarded a punitive reward if he or she has not proven intentional injury of the victim by a willful act or gross negligence.
Judgment Caps: What Are They?
An experienced wrongful death attorney in Atlanta, GA who can file a wrongful death claim, will inform you that punitive damages in many states are capped. Financial awards are limited with a judgment cap, which ensures constitutionality and prevents excessive punishment. The supreme court of the United States has stated that caps on awards that offer plaintiffs a higher ratio than single-digit are unconstitutional and excessive, but states do not agree on what their value should be.
Punitive damages, while not impossible, are more difficult to prove if willful negligence has not occurred. The proof of compensatory damages is often more simple, especially if receipts and documentation are available, but the proof of intent is more difficult, especially if the event is singular and uncharacteristic of a defendant.
Meet the Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers from Singleton Law Firm
As experienced attorneys in wrongful deaths in Atlanta, we can provide legal advice for what proof you will need and what the process is, as well as pursuing wrongful death case. The right Atlanta wrongful death lawyer will help you understand your legal rights and options for the success of your wrongful death lawsuit, as well as he might seek punitive damages for you on your behalf.
Trust the Singleton Law Firm, LLC, and get the Needed Representation.
When you contact us to be your attorney, you will need to provide us with all the necessary information and evidence as soon as possible. This includes photos, documentation, and a list of witnesses significant to the current case.
We can also pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of your wrongful death lawsuit during this time. Keep in mind that the consultation is free of charge – we work on contingency fee arrangement.
Wrongful Death FAQs
Who is at fault for the wrongful death of my loved one?
For wrongful death claims, an at-fault party may be organizations, individuals, and government entities. We are truly sorry for your loss and want you to know that you will get our support to ensure justice.
How long do I have before filing a wrongful death claim?
In the state of Georgia, you have two years to file a claim for a wrongful death. Sometimes, but not often, time frames can be adjusted in different situations. Also, some evidence might disappear after time passes, so we advise you not to wait two years. The earlier the better to contact us.
Who has the right to file for wrongful death?
Depending on the family unit, the right to file a claim may be spouses, children, parents and siblings.
Is there compensation available for wrongful death in Georgia?
Death cases resulting from wrongful conduct are very serious under Georgia law. People and entities that cause the death of a person must compensate his or her family for the “full value of the life” of the deceased person. A person’s perspective on the “full value of a life” is crucial for determining the value of the life. It is simply a question of what “value” the deceased placed on their own lives.
According to Georgia wrongful death law, the “full value of the life” is divided into two parts. A life’s “intangible” value is the first and most important part. Time spent with family, friends, or hobbies that the deceased person (also known as the “decedent”) liked—such as playing sports, hiking, working on cars, sewing, or other hobbies—is included in this calculation. A life’s intangible value includes the experiences that most of us have the opportunity to have, such as creating lifelong friendships, falling in love, graduating from high school, getting a first job, asking for or being asked for marriage, having children, getting promoted, watching them grow up, and having grandchildren. According to Georgia’s wrongful death law, a person’s lost experiences are included in the “full value” of life if they died before experiencing them.
Another aspect of a life’s “full value” is its economics. As well as the economic value of services performed by the deceased, such as mowing the lawn or washing dishes, this figure includes the money that the deceased could have earned, less deductions for taxes and expenses. An expert economist can be hired by the law firm handling a wrongful death case to calculate how much money the deceased would have earned in the remainder of his or her life, and to estimate how much value the deceased would have added to society.
As well as bringing a wrongful death claim, a deceased’s family usually also brings an “estate” claim when the deceased died as a result of another’s fault. Unlike wrongful death claims, estate claims have different compensation available than wrongful death claims. The wrongful death claim seeks “the full value of the deceased’s life,” whereas the estate claim seeks compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other damages suffered by the deceased.
What is the time limit for bringing a wrongful death claim?
In most cases, the answer is two years. This is because wrongful death cases usually fall under the “statute of limitation” for personal injury. See O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.
A shorter or longer deadline may be applicable based on the facts of the case. A special, additional, earlier deadline may apply if the deceased died as a result of something that a government entity did wrong, for instance, a fatal car accident caused by a Georgia state employee. A state, county, or city’s at-fault government entity may have a six-month or one-year deadline, depending on the nature of its fault.
Cases involving wrongful death are sometimes allowed to be brought after more than two years have passed. It is possible to “toll” (i.e., pause) the statute of limitations until an individual at fault for the death is prosecuted, for a maximum period of six years if that individual was charged with a crime. Bringing a wrongful death lawsuit begins two years after the criminal prosecution is completed or six years have passed.
Who can bring a wrongful death case in Georgia?
In Georgia, wrongful death claims can only be filed by specific individuals. It is covered by O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2, § 51-4-4, and § 19-7-1. It is worth noting that Georgia’s rules about who can bring the claim differ slightly from those about who should receive a share of the money recovered from the claim.
An attorney with authorization to file a claim for wrongful death is always available in Georgia. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1(c)(1), (c)(3). A wrongful death claim can be brought by the surviving spouse of the person who died, known as the “decedent”. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(a). Wrongful death cases may be brought by the decedent’s surviving children if the surviving spouse dies while the case is pending. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(b)(1). It is possible for the decedent’s child or children to sue for wrongful death if he or she was not married at the time of the decedent’s death. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(a). It is possible for the deceased’s parents to bring a claim if they had no spouse or children when they passed away. O.C.G.A. §§ 51-4-4; 19-7-1(c)(2). A wrongful death claim may be brought by the administrator of the decedent’s estate if there are no surviving spouse, children, or parents. O.C.G.A. §§ 51-4-5; 19-7-1(c)(3).
These statutory rules have been subject to some limited exceptions by Georgia courts. It has been permissible for the children of the decedent to bring a claim, even when the decedent had a surviving spouse, if the surviving spouse is absent, disabled, has declined to pursue the claim, or has no blood or legal relationship with them. In the event that a surviving spouse abandons his children and cannot be found, he may lose the right to sue for wrongful death. Someone else may bring a wrongful death claim if a decedent died due to the wrongful acts of his or her surviving spouse.
Does the administrator of the estate have to bring a Georgia wrongful death case?
Most of the time, no. The surviving spouse of a deceased person can bring a wrongful death claim, regardless of whether he or she has been appointed as the estate’s administrator. It is possible for the children (through their guardians, if necessary) to bring a wrongful death claim if the decedent did not leave a surviving spouse. Wrongful death cases can be brought by the decedent’s parents if there are no surviving spouses or children.
The administrator of the decedent’s estate can only bring a wrongful death claim if the decedent left no surviving spouse, children, or parents.
Some claims, however, can only be brought by the estate administrator, referred to as “estate claims” instead of “wrongful death claims.” Typically, estate claims are used to recover damages for pain and suffering, pre-death medical expenses, and funeral expenses.
Can I bring a wrongful death case if my relative died without a will?
In fact, yes. Wrongful death cases can be brought even if the decedent did not leave a will (and usually regardless of who can file them). According to Georgia law, estate claims differ from wrongful death claims because a will creates the decedent’s estate.
Wrongful death cases in Georgia can be brought by anyone, regardless of whether they are named in a will. Those rules have almost nothing to do with wills since Georgia law specifies who may bring a wrongful death claim. The following people are generally eligible to bring wrongful death claims:
- The surviving spouse;
- In the absence of a surviving spouse, the decedent’s children;
- In the absence of a surviving spouse or child, the decedent’s parents; and
- In the absence of a surviving spouse, child, or parent, the estate is administered by the administrator.
The probate court will appoint an administrator for the estate of a deceased person if there are no surviving spouses, children, or parents, and the decedent left no will.
What happens to the money in a Georgia wrongful death case?
In a wrongful death case, Georgia law establishes clear rules regarding the distribution of the funds. Survivors and their children are equally entitled to share any proceeds received from wrongful death cases. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(d)(1). Those who survive the decedent’s spouse and children share equally in the recovery, with each receiving an equal share. In the case of minors, the child’s guardian will be responsible for handling the share of the decedent’s estate. In any case, the surviving spouse must receive at least one-third of the recovery, even if there are four children. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(d).
Here are a few examples:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse who died without children would receive 100% of the money from the wrongful death lawsuit.
- An individual who died without a surviving spouse or partner but with a surviving child would be entitled to 100% of the money from the wrongful death claim.
- If the decedent died without a surviving spouse or partner, but with two surviving children, one of whom was under 18, each child would receive 50% of the settlement. The minor child’s guardian would be responsible for handling his or her 50% of the money.
- Each of the surviving spouses and children of the decedent would be entitled to one-third of the money from the wrongful death lawsuit if the decedent left behind a wife and two children.
- The remaining two-thirds of the wrongful death settlement would go to the surviving spouse (if there is one), and one-fourth to each of the four children (if there is one).
In Georgia, money from wrongful death claims is divided differently than in other states. The parents usually share equally any money recovered from a decedent who died without a surviving spouse, children, or parents. The judge can determine which parent receives what share if the parents are separated, divorced, or living apart. O.C.G.A. § 17-9-1(c)(6). In most cases, it is better to divide the money 50/50 or settle the matter by agreement rather than file such a motion. As a result, the defence may use any accusations made against both parents later in the trial to exploit the differences between the parents. As a result, preventing the fight over who gets what is usually in the best interest of both parents.
If there is money from the estate claim that gets divided differently than if there is money from the wrongful death claim, keep that in mind. If a decedent dies without a will, Georgia’s laws of intestacy (which are applied by probate courts) will determine who receives money from the estate. Choosing how to allocate settlement funds between wrongful death claims and estate claims can be complicated because of the difference in how wrongful death money is distributed.
Can Georgians recover punitive damages for wrongful death?
A wrongful death case cannot seek punitive damages following the death of a victim, but an estate claim can seek punitive damages.
Punitive damages cannot be awarded in Georgia wrongful death lawsuits because wrongful death claims are themselves punitive. Punitive damages may, however, be awarded as part of a lawsuit involving estate claims.
According to O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1(b), punitive damages are available only in cases where there was willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or a complete lack of care. The defendant should be punished if he or she knew about the risk, but didn’t take any precautions to avoid it. Non-product-liability cases, however, may be limited to $250,000. Punitive damages may not exceed this amount unless the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
I would like to remind you that wrongful death claims and estate claims are two different things. An individual who brings a claim for wrongful death seeks compensation for the full value of their life, including intangible and economic factors. Medical bills, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering are all recoverable through estate claims.
What are the chances of a Georgia wrongful death lawyer bringing a case after a shooting or other violent crime?
A negligent security case is often brought following a shooting or violent crime. Due to their responsibility to their residents, guests, and customers, businesses such as apartment complexes, hotels, restaurants, and clubs must keep their premises reasonably safe, including their parking lots. The business and the individual shooter or criminal can be held liable in wrongful death cases if they fail to do that-i.e., fail to keep their paying customers reasonably safe.
When my spouse or relative commits suicide, can a Georgia wrongful death lawyer bring a claim?
Depending on the circumstances. As a matter of fact, if the suicide was not anyone’s fault, then no one should be sued, and no case should be filed. It is possible, however, for a business or person to be responsible for the suicide of another.
Mental health treatment is an example of such a situation. Suicides sometimes occur without anyone’s intervention. The responsibility may, however, fall on a business or individual in other cases. A psychiatrist or psychiatric hospital is responsible for providing good, reasonable treatment to the families and patients who pay for it. Hospitals and psychiatrists might be held accountable for wrongful deaths if they don’t follow these instructions- if they act negligently or recklessly, and this negligence or recklessness causes suicide.
As we have seen at Singleton Law Firm, psychiatric treatment hospitals are often understaffed, resulting in inadequate care and multiple suicides. The cases are tragic. Many such suicides result from the owner of the hospital’s unwillingness to pay the nurses’ salaries in accordance with the number of patients it treats.