What is Considered Wrongful Death in Georgia?

Under Georgia law, a wrongful death occurs when the negligent or intentional actions of another party cause the death of another. Wrongful deaths can be sudden, or they can occur at a later time as a result of injuries sustained in an accident or an attack. While the majority of wrongful deaths occur as a result of accidents, such as a car accident, a slip-and-fall, or medical malpractice, some are caused by intentional actions.

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Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Georgia?

In order to file a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must have standing. Under Georgia law, the following individuals can file a wrongful death claim if no one with a higher standing exists:

  • A spouse
  • If there is no surviving spouse, a minor or adult child can file on behalf of a parent.
  • The parent of the deceased

If none of these relationships exist, a personal representative can file a personal injury claim on behalf of the estate. Family members, such as siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc., do not have standing in wrongful death cases. They must file their wrongful death claims through the estate.

Damages in Wrongful Death Claims

Under Georgia Law, there are three types of damages that survivors can recover in a wrongful death case: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. The first two categories are compensatory damages, while punitive damages are awarded by the court to further punish a person or party for extreme negligence or intentional harm.

Economic Damages

All financial costs that arose from the accident that caused the end of the decedent’s life are eligible for compensation. These can include hospital bills and other medical expenses, lost earnings while the defendant was alive, future lost wages that the deceased person would have been able to earn had they survived, funeral expenses, property damage, etc.

Non-economic Damages

Wrongful death attorneys also refer to this category of damages as pain and suffering. Plaintiffs can receive compensation for the physical pain and emotional anguish that the injured victim experienced leading up to the death and their emotional trauma.

Punitive Damages

While no wrongful death case is ever justified, punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the defendant demonstrated a reckless disregard for the safety of others or they committed an intentional act. While there are no limits for economic and non-economic damages (medical malpractice is an exception), the maximum amount of punitive damages in Georgia personal injury cases is $250,000.

A wrongful death lawyer can help assess the value of your personal injury claim and help you collect maximum compensation under the law.

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What to Do If a Loved One Was Killed in an Accident

Losing a loved one due to negligence is a traumatic experience, and it may be some time before you begin seeking compensation, but it’s important that you act quickly to preserve your claim. Here are a few things you should do if your loved one has died in an accident:

Keep a Diary of Events

This is particularly important if the departed did not die instantly. Document their pain levels, the treatments they received, what they said about the accident, etc.

Preserve All Physical Evidence

Of particular importance are any photographs of the accident scene, the victim’s injuries, etc. If the victim’s health is declining because of the accident, take daily photographs of them.

Keep All Documents in a Safe Place

Make copies of all physical documents and save them to a PDF file. Keep these records in multiple places. For instance, the cloud, a physical hard drive, and in your email. That way, you can send them to your personal injury lawyers when necessary.

Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm

Whether or not you expect the injured party to survive or their life has already ended, it’s important to involve a personal injury firm that handles wrongful death claims as early as possible.

Don’t Wait, Get The help you need Let Us Fight For You

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Wrongful Death FAQ

These are some of the most common questions we hear from surviving family members at our Peachtree Corners wrongful death law firm. For specific answers to your questions, contact us for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer from our team.

How long do you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in GA?

The statute of limitations is two years from the deceased person’s death date. Your lawyers will require this time to build their case and file a claim on your behalf, so don’t delay. Reach out to our Peachtree Corners wrongful death law firm immediately.

Can I seek compensation if my loved one was partially responsible for the incident that ended their life?

Yes. This state operates under the modified comparative negligence principle. In these cases, the court will determine the percentage of liability for the incident. If the deceased person was less than 50% responsible, your attorney can still pursue damages.

Peachtree Corners, GA Wrongful Death Law Firm

The Pendergrass Law Firm represents surviving family members in Peachtree Corners, GA and the surrounding areas. Call today for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Peachtree Corners, GA.

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