Experienced Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorneys
It is important that you consult an attorney immediately if you suspect that your loved one may have passed due to someone’s negligence. Our attorneys are standing by at (844) HAUG LAW to evaluate your case now.
In wrongful death cases, it’s important to act quickly, as these types of cases have very strict deadlines that can be extremely difficult to extend. Additionally, they require significant time and financial investment to prepare. Big insurance companies know this, so it’s critical that your wrongful death attorney has the ability to go the distance. Haug Law Group has a proven track record and will dedicate himself to getting you fair compensation.
Evidence can be lost. Evidence can be destroyed. The earlier you hire an experienced wrongful death attorney in Atlanta, the better your chances are for success.
Filing a Claim for Your Wrongful Death Case
In Georgia, only certain individuals are entitled to recover for the loss of a loved one. Generally, when the deceased person is an adult and died due to negligence or an intentional act, his or her spouse or children have the right to seek a legal recovery. While a spouse is required to share a portion of the proceeds from a wrongful death legal action their children, they are guaranteed at least one-third of any amount recovered. In the case of a minor’s wrongful death, the right to recover belongs to the child’s parents. In the event a person is not survived by a spouse, child or parent, then the right to pursue a wrongful death action belongs to the deceased person’s estate.
When a victim’s family wishes to make a wrongful death claim, the survivors have two years from the date of death to do so. If the claim is not filed in that two-year timeframe, the survivors are no longer able to seek compensation.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
There are two types of wrongful death claims in the Georgia. One is for the “full value of the life of the deceased.” This type of claim includes compensation related to the financial value of the decedent’s life. Compensation may include lost benefits and wages, loss of care and loss of companionship.
The second type of claim is designed to recover damages associated with the financial losses that occurred due to a person’s death. For example, an estate may choose to seek compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses and burial expenses.
The wishes and needs of the survivors will determine the type of claim that will be filed.
Damages Recovered in a Wrongful Death Case
Under Georgia law, individuals have the right to recover “the full value of the life of the decedent without deducting for any of the necessary or personal expenses of the decedent had he lived.” (O.C.G.A. S 51-4-1). The “full value” is not limited to those items having proven monetary value, such as lost earnings, but include the loss of intangible items whose value cannot be precisely quantified. In the end, the judge will tell the jury that the amount to be awarded should be determined by their “enlightened conscience.”
In addition to a claim for “wrongful death” for the full value of the person’s life, the estate of the person also has a right to seek recovery for pain and suffering, if appropriate, and for economic losses such as medical and funeral expenses. Depending on the circumstances, a claim for punitive damages may also be brought.
Determining the appropriate value of a claim for “wrongful death” and for the estate’s claim is complicated. It involves evaluating the nature and extent of the injury which led to the person’s death, the economic losses that are recoverable, and the liability issues related to the situation. The location where a trial would take place and the person’s health are issues that are also factored into any evaluation of a wrongful death claim. Our office utilizes our experience as well as multiple national databases to properly evaluate each of our cases.
Since insurance companies have vast experience in evaluating personal injury claims and will seek to obtain the lowest settlement possible, it is important to have a person with considerable experience dealing with insurance companies on your behalf. Generally, it is best to retain an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer who regularly handles these claims and will be prepared to institute litigation on your behalf if the insurance company is unwilling to settle your claim for a fair value.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. They will delay and deny your claim. They know these cases are complicated and costly.
Insurance companies will try to make your case so frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive that you want to give up.
Don’t let them.
What Is Wrongful Death?
When a person dies as the result of someone’s negligence, it is legally considered a “wrongful death.” In other words, the loss of life is due to someone’s careless behavior or misconduct. According to Georgia law, when a death occurs, the person who caused that death can be held responsible, whether or not they caused the death in a purposeful manner.
The legal idea of wrongful death was established, in part, to prevent people from behaving in such a way that the people around them are put at risk. People may act in a variety of ways that could cause the death of another. For example, an employer could fail to maintain equipment properly, a driver may choose to consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel, or a property owner could fail to repair a large crack in a walkway. In all of these examples, the people responsible failed to take action that would protect the people around them. These are just examples, there are many other instances in which wrongful death may occur.
Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths
Today, there is a wide range of actions that can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. In many cases, a wrongful death lawsuit may involve more than one defendant, especially if the death was due to the actions of a business or other organization.
Automobile accidents usually involve a negligent driver, who is, in many cases, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, a rising number of accidents are the result of drivers who are texting or speaking on their cell phone while driving. With nearly 40,000 people dying in auto-involved accidents every year, it is the most common of the 5 leading causes of wrongful death.
Medical malpractice lawsuits result when a death is caused due to the negligence of a surgeon, nurse or the supervising staff during the course of the victim’s medical treatment. The elderly are especially likely to become the victims of medical malpractice, especially those who are living in eldercare or assisted living facilities.
Every employer has a legal duty to maintain a safe workplace. However, many wrongful deaths occur due to avoidable accidents brought on by defective equipment, improper safety guidelines or the lack of effective employee training policies.
Defective products, either due to defects in the product’s design or the failure to abide by proper manufacturing procedures, can result in the death of the product’s owner or operator. This is especially true for unsafe toys and childcare equipment, which can cause injury or death to a child.
More Wrongful Death Information
Types of Recovery for Wrongful Death
It is emotional when a loved one passes away. It can be made even more tragic when the person passed away as the result of someone’s negligence or as the result of a crime. When a person suffers a wrongful death, their family may be entitled to recover the value of their life in addition to various forms of compensation.
A family may be awarded economic damages. These are the financial losses the family may have experienced if the accident hadn’t occurred or the crime hadn’t happened. Economic damages can be calculated based on receipts and other documentation. These damages include medical and funeral expenses, loss of earnings, loss of benefits, and more.
Non-economic damages include recovery for mental anguish, pain and suffering and loss of are. These damages may also include loss of society, companionship and love. A spouse may also be entitled to loss of consortium. Punitive damages, or those meant to punish the defendant, may also be ordered in unique cases. In some instances, the family may be entitled to recovery of attorney’s fees spent on a lawsuit.
Any family of a person who has suffered a wrongful death should seek the advice of an experienced attorney. An attorney can review the details of the incident and help a family determine what they are entitled to under law. If you have suffered such a loss in Atlanta, an attorney can assist your family in taking the appropriate next steps.
Who Can Recover for a Wrongful Death?
When someone passes away at the hands of another, due to a criminal act, negligence or error, the survivors may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Atlanta, and throughout the state of Georgia, there is a hierarchy of relatives when it comes to filing this type of suit. The people who may recover, in order, are:
- Spouse and Children
If the person is survived by a spouse, the spouse is the person who has the right to file a lawsuit. If the decedent (that is, the person who died) and spouse have children in common, the spouse will file on behalf of themselves and the children. Typically, 1/3 of the award will go to the spouse and the remainder will be split among the children.
When there is no surviving spouse, the children of the decedent have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The children would divide any compensation awarded evenly.
If the decedent had no spouse or children, the parents of the person may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In cases where none of the above are in existence, the Estate will file suit. The award will be divided among the next of kin as determined under probate law.
The parties who have the right to file a lawsuit is determined not at the time of injury, but at the actual time of death. It is rare for the people to be different at these two times, but it has happened. An experienced wrongful death attorney can be of assistance in these matters.
Call an Experienced Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If your loved one lost their life due to someone else’s actions or negligence, it’s important to take action quickly. Call us today at (844) HAUG LAW or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll review the details of your case and advise a course of action. Time isn’t on your side.