Frequently Asked Questions about Wrongful Death Laws in Georgia
Posted in Wrongful Death on February 1, 2019
If someone you love has been injured or killed due to the negligence of someone else, you may be wondering what options you have under Georgia law to pursue justice. Georgia has specific laws regarding wrongful death claims, which allow surviving family members to pursue compensation. In this article, we address some of the frequently asked questions about wrongful death laws in Georgia, and offer support to families who believe they may qualify to file a claim.
FAQs about Wrongful Death Laws in Georgia
Q: What is a “wrongful death”?
A: Georgia law defines a wrongful death as death caused by the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” acts of someone else. The person alleged to have caused the death may be an individual, business, manufacturer, or other party.
Q: What are some examples of a wrongful death?
A: Some of the best examples of situations that may lead to a wrongful death claim include:
- Auto accidents caused by speeding, alcohol, distracted driving, etc.
- Defective consumer or medical products.
- Medical malpractice, including surgical errors, medication errors, misdiagnosis, or failure to diagnose or treat in a timely manner.
Q: Who can file a wrongful death claim in Georgia
A: Georgia law specifies the parties who are able to file a wrongful death claim include:
- Surviving Parents
- Personal Representative of the Estate
Q: How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim?
A: The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Georgia is two years from the date of death. That means that if you do not file a claim within that time, you may be prohibited from doing so in the future. There are very few exceptions to the statute of limitations, including cases where a criminal case also exists, or cases where the deceased’s estate has not been probated.
Q: What damages can be sought in a wrongful death claim?
A: The damages sought in a wrongful death claim depends of the type of claim filed. For this purpose, Georgia recognizes two distinct wrongful death claim types, which are:
Type 1: “Full value of the life of the deceased” – a claim brought by (or on behalf) of the surviving family. In this type of claim, the damages sought may include tangible and intangible, such as:
- Lost wages, benefits, or earning ability
- Loss of care, companionship, or consortium
Type 2: A claim that remedies financial losses associated with the individual’s death. This claim is filed by the deceased’s estate (or on its behalf), and seeks to recover losses associated with:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Conscious pain and suffering (pain and suffering the deceased endured just before his or her death).
Q: How much compensation will I receive if my case is successful?
A: The amount of compensation that you can expect to recover in a wrongful death claim will depend on a variety of factors. Placing a monetary value on someone’s life and the amount of pain they went through prior to death is extremely difficult. To help determine the amount of compensation that surviving loved ones may be entitled to, the court will consider the following factors:
- Present value of income or expected income of the deceased. This is determined by examining present income, job history, education, and future earning potential.
- Economic factors that cannot be proven by evidence, such as the joys of marriage, children, friendship, etc.
- Facts related to the type of injuries sustained, and the circumstances surrounding the death.
There is no definitive way to estimate how much compensation you will receive, but it will be up to you and your attorney to carefully examine the facts of your case and agree on an amount to pursue in the initial claim.
Q: How long will it take to resolve my case?
A: It is difficult to estimate how long any legal case will take to resolve, but this is even more true in personal injury or wrongful death matters. Many personal injury or wrongful death cases are resolved outside the courtroom. In these cases, resolution may be obtained quicker than cases that go to trial. Of course, there is no way to estimate if a case will be resolved out of court or via trial. Cases that go to trial often take months or even years to fully resolve.
Q: Do I need an attorney to file a wrongful death claim?
A: Yes! It is always a good idea to consult with an attorney prior to taking any sort of legal action. Cases that are complex and emotionally charged should never be attempted without legal guidance. The guidance of an attorney can help you avoid obstacles, ensure that your legal rights are protected, and ensure that you have the best resources available to obtain a favorable outcome.
If you have questions about wrongful death claims in Georgia, or want to find out if you have a case, contact The Dixon Firm to speak with our skilled wrongful death attorneys.