Anyone that has lost a loved one knows how emotionally devastating it can be. In the case of a wrongful death, not only are you grieving, but you are likely overwhelmed by the thought that your loved one’s death was the result of another’s negligence. Additionally, you may be faced with unexpected costs or loss of income after your loved one has passed. You may be entitled to recover some or all of these damages under Georgia law. The attorneys at the law office of Ghiaasiaan & Briceno have the knowledge and experience to help you through the painful process of trying to recover these damages during this incredibly difficult time.
What is a Wrongful Death?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidents are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Legally, wrongful death is the death of an individual caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another. A wrongful death lawsuit is one filed in the civil courts and many times will follow a criminal trial. The standard of proof is lower in a civil lawsuit and, therefore, it may be easier to find a defendant liable under civil law than to prove guilt under criminal law.
Individuals Entitled to File a Wrongful Death Claim
Laws vary from state to state as to who is entitled to file a claim following a wrongful death. Under Georgia law, the right belongs to the following individuals:
- A surviving spouse
- A child or children – If there is no surviving spouse, the children of the deceased may file the claim.
- Parents of the deceased – If there is no surviving spouse and no children, the parents of the deceased may file the claim.
- The executor of the estate – If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the executor of the estate may file the claim.
Recoverable Damages Following a Wrongful Death
Although no amount of money can compensate you for the loss of a loved one, Georgia has adopted statutes that can financially assist certain individuals following the wrongful, premature death of a family member. “Wrongful death” in Georgia encompasses two distinct claims:
- The first claim is a wrongful death claim brought by the lawful family member or executor of the estate to recover the full value of the life of the deceased. Under this claim, the loved ones of the deceased may recover the economic losses suffered as a result of his or her death. This may include lost future wages and benefits. Evidence can also be provided to prove non-economic damages. For example, loss of enjoyment of life or lost time spent with a spouse or children.
- The second claim is one brought by the estate of the deceased to recover economic damages, or costs paid by the estate, such as medical bills and funeral expenses. Additionally, the estate may be entitled to recover non-economic damages for pain and suffering of the deceased before passing away.
File Your Wrongful Death Claim Within the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a prescribed time period within which you must file a claim. If you do not file a claim within the statutory period, you could be prevented from recovering damages
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death. In some cases the statute may be “tolled”, or paused, for a period of time. In effect, this would provide you with more time to file a claim. However, there are also cases where this time limit is shorter, such as in a case filed against the government. The statute of limitations is a question of law and it is always best to speak with an attorney about the legal timeframe by which a case must be filed.
A Qualified Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Undoubtedly, losing a loved one to the negligence and wrongdoing of another will be of the most difficult and trying times in your life. Financial concerns only add to your struggles, however, you may be entitled to compensation. It is essential to speak with a skilled wrongful death attorney in order to ensure you receive the damages you are legally entitled. The attorneys at Ghiaasiaan & Briceno can provide you with the legal experience and support that you need during this most difficult time.