What Is a Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a death that is caused by a wrongful action by another, regardless of whether the wrongful act was intentional or accidental. Since the death was the result of this negligence, recklessness, or another type of failure to keep your loved one safe from harm, the responsible party must be held accountable financially (whether or not there have been any criminal laws violated). To establish a wrongful death claim, we will need to prove the following:

  • The defendant had a responsibility or duty to keep your loved one safe
  • The defendant failed in their duty to act in a way that kept your loved one safe
  • This failure caused an accident
  • Your loved one was killed in the accident

Wrongful death claims and lawsuits are civil actions, and may or may not coincide with criminal actions stemming from the same incident. For example, an individual may be found liable for wrongful death after a car accident, but not be accused of any criminal acts; however, a murder may be tried in both a criminal and civil case, with one famous example being OJ Simpson’s civil case after being acquitted of a double murder but found liable in civil court. In other instances, an individual may be found guilty of a criminal act but not be held liable for any civil damages—all depending on the case at hand. Of course, the specifics of your own situation will depend on a range of factors that are unique to your case, which is why it is so essential that we work together starting as soon as possible in order to begin building your case.

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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

It can be somewhat confusing to determine who is legally able to seek compensation in a wrongful death claim, and while the following examples are the most common, you may find yourself in a different situation but still be entitled to seek damages. Whether or not you see your own relationship to the deceased listed below, contact us as soon as possible to begin work on your own case. The most common relations that can seek compensation following wrongful death are:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • Children of the deceased (the spouse must represent any minor children)
  • The parents of the deceased
  • The representative of the deceased’s estate

Seeking Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim or Lawsuit

Once we have established your relation to the deceased and whether or not we believe that the situation warrants a claim, we will then set out determining how much money you deserve for this terrible loss. We will seek both economic and non-economic damages for this situation that will range from any possible medical costs that your loved one incurred from treatments relating to their death, as well as the different ways that their income or services supported your family financially. In addition to these purely economic damages, we will also seek compensation for things such as the loss of companionship and emotional support, your loved one’s pain and suffering, and much more. As each case is unique, we will need to work closely in order to build a comprehensive list of damages.

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Wrongful Death FAQ

As we have pointed out multiple times, we understand that every wrongful death is unique and deserves specific care and attention. That said, there are some common questions that we answer during our free initial consultations that we have listed below. Keep in mind that the answers provided here are intended to give you a general idea, and not meant to be an answer specifically for your case.

How do I know if I have a wrongful death case?

There are a lot of different variables that we will need to consider in order to determine whether or not we believe that your case qualifies for damages in a wrongful death claim, but there are a few common details that will need to be present in your case:

  • The responsible individual or company failed to keep your loved one safe of harm when they were expected or required to do so
  • This failure led to a death
  • You are a surviving family member who is legally allowed to seek damages for this loss
As you can imagine, there are many different circumstances that check these boxes.

How much is my wrongful death claim worth?

In order to determine how much you deserve as a settlement or award for this wrongful death, we will need to go through many specific details about the accident, death, and your financial situation before and after the accident. The loss of a primary earner in a family will have a larger financial impact than a dependant, but this is only one basic factor in determining the damages. In addition to the pure, measurable economic impacts, we will also seek to quantify the emotional and physiological pain that this accident and loss has caused, and fight for damages for these issues as well.

Do I need an attorney for my wrongful death claim?

There is no law in the United States that says you need legal representation for any sort of legal process, but this does not mean that it is advisable. We do not collect a fee unless we win your case, meaning that working with us is risk-free and will not negatively impact your financial situation. When you are being represented by an attorney, you can focus on caring for your family, recovering from the emotional impacts of this horrible experience, and getting your life back on track while we fight for your rights.

What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim?

Statute of limitations relates to the length of time under state law that mandates how long you have to file a legal wrongful death claim in Georgia. The statute of limitations for you to file a wrongful death claim in Gwinnett County is typically two years from the date of the wrongful death.  If the claim is not filed within these two years, you may lose your right to file. You may still be able to file a lawsuit, but it is likely that courts will throw it out. It is important to note that this timeframe can vary depending on various factors and circumstances. Depending on your specific circumstances, your filing deadline can be shorter or longer.  In wrongful death cases resulting from a violation of Georgia law—whether medical malpractice, crime, or a traffic violation—the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or paused to await the outcome of criminal prosecution. Crime, in this case, can involve negligence or unlawful intent. If the city is pursuing a criminal case, civic courts may extend the deadline. Your case may have an additional five years added to it if your loved one’s estate does not go through probate. Another example includes insurance policies and contracts where the statute of limitations is generally six years. Most insurance contracts contain a regulation that may limit the time for filing to just one year. Your wrongful death attorney can carefully review your insurance policy to realize a contractual suit limitation in place. If a Gwinnett County wrongful death is against a government agency, employee, or entity, the deadline could be 12 months. It is crucial that you go over your situation with your county wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to determine how much time you have to file. You never want to risk missing this crucial requirement.

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