For one to understand who has the right to sue in Atlanta wrongful death claims and what conditions there are to do so, one must first comprehend what a Marietta wrongful death claim actually is. A Georgia wrongful death is one caused by the negligent conduct of another person or company, including both reckless and intentional acts. Common incidents leading to wrongful death claims include tractor trailer wrecks, car accidents, accidents caused by drunk or reckless drivers, assaults, shootings, product liability, and more.
In general terms, a “wrongful death” claim usually refers to a cause of action that may be brought by certain family members of a decedent whose death was precipitated by the wrongful conduct of another person. These wrongful death claims can be made against not only individuals, but organizations as well if they are responsible for an unnecessary death due to misconduct or negligence.
Steps in Filing Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
Georgia’s wrongful death statute dates back to before the Civil War and deals with respecting the value of human life. Unfortunately, the statute has several potential loopholes because of different court interpretations. That’s why the first step in pursuing a Georgia wrongful death claim is to consult an experienced Marietta personal injury lawyer who is familiar with those loopholes and understands how to navigate them. These claims generally involve a variety of complex legal issues, so an experienced Marietta lawyer should be contacted as soon as reasonably possible.
The second step in a Marietta wrongful death case is to determine whether the statute of limitations has expired. In Georgia, wrongful death cases are required to be filed within two years from the death of the loved one. After two years has passed, a wrongful death claim will not be possible.
If the statute of limitations hasn’t expired, the next step is to determine who has the “standing” to sue. “Standing” is the idea that not anyone has the right to sue for everything. Because Georgia law is unique, it is not always clear who has the right to sue for a wrongful death caused by the negligent act of a third party. Georgia law dictates that suing parties in wrongful death claims are limited specifically to surviving family members. If a parent died, the claimants are the surviving spouse and children, and any recovery must be shared equally among them. If the decedent had no spouse or surviving children, then the decedent’s parents may sue. Should the parents be divorced or living apart, the court has the authority to divide a recovery between them based on factors such as the degree of contact between the parent and decedent child. Siblings of decedents with no surviving spouse and no surviving children or parents can bring a claim, but it must be brought by the administrator of the decedent’s estate.
Oftentimes the situation arises that surviving family members have mixed feelings about making a monetary claim for the death of a loved one. Certainly no amount of money can bring the departed loved one back. However, a monetary award is the only way civil law can recognize the value of a decedent’s life, compensate for the death, and penalize the party at fault. Expert advocacy at trial may produce an award that honors the life of the deceased family member while providing funds to provide for dependents. This monetary compensation is determined by the full value of the life of the deceased from the perspective of the decedent. This includes economic damages such as their projected lifetime income and intangible factors such as the enjoyment of the experience of living. In addition to the claim for the full value of the life, claims for the decedent’s medical and funeral expenses, and for conscious pain and suffering before death, can be made.
Is It Expensive to Pursue a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim?
If you have ever hired an attorney before, you know that most legal representation is provided at an hourly rate or for a flat fee per project. However, attorneys at Jones & Swanson represent all clients on a contingency fee basis. That means we are able to represent clients in wrongful death claims without any upfront costs as our fee is simply a percentage of the gross recovery. If we do not recover financial compensation for you, you do not owe legal fees or costs. Looking for an attorney for wrongful death in Marietta? Contact the experienced Marietta wrongful death attorneys at Jones & Swanson today for a free consultation and legal expertise. We are dedicated to the needs of our clients, experienced in all personal injury claims, and respected by prior clients, judges, opposing counsel, and community leaders.