A car accident death is extremely challenging mentally and emotionally. While dealing with the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to focus on what happens in the aftermath of the accident. Our lawyers explain what you can do and how you can recover a settlement for wrongful death.
After a fatal car crash, you should seek legal advice for a potential claim. Don’t find yourself paying for the funeral costs and damages of your loved one due to another driver’s negligence. Instead, learn how the law entitles you to seek financial compensation after your accident.
What if My Loved One Was the One Who Died in the Accident?
Georgia law gives close family members the right to recover money for losing a loved one after a breach of legal duty. A wrongful death claim recovers money for the loss of the deceased person’s life. You can also enter a claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate to recover the costs of medical bills, funeral costs, and pain and suffering.
Money cannot make up for such a loss or ever come close. Its purpose is to help offset the financial and personal impact of losing someone close to you. There is no easy way to calculate an amount for this.
Still, the courts may look at the money the deceased would have earned over a lifetime and additional compensation for the enjoyment your loved one lost by not living out their natural life expectancy.
Who Exactly Can File a Claim for Wrongful Death?
Only certain people can file a wrongful death claim in this order of priority according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 51-4-2:
- The spouse and children
- The children alone, if there is no spouse
- A parent, if there is no spouse or children
- The estate, if there is no spouse, children, or parent
Calculating wrongful death claims is complicated and typically needs expert opinions on life expectancy, projected earnings, and the pain and suffering the deceased experienced. The insurance companies will always try to minimize the amount paid, and they are shrewd negotiators. A lawyer’s help is critical to getting what you deserve in a wrongful death claim.
What Happens If I Was the Person Driving?
If you were a driver or your car was involved in the accident, the standard rules of fault apply. The driver who is at fault for causing the accident is whose insurance covers all costs up to the policy maximum.
If the costs are higher than what the policy will pay, or if there’s no insurance at all, the driver may be held personally liable for paying. You may understandably be worried about criminal charges, lawsuits, and insurance premiums. Remember that:
- Either driver may be at fault, depending on what happened. Just because you survived and someone else died does not mean you are at fault.
- If the driver was someone else covered by your insurance policy, such as your teenager or someone you loaned the car to, your insurance policy would usually cover the claim up to the policy limits.
- Your car insurance rates may or may not go up as a result. If this was your first claim, you might not see any difference in the amount you pay for car insurance.
If someone dies in a car accident you were involved in, resist the urge to apologize or blame yourself. You need legal help immediately. You may have a claim against a third party for your own injuries.
How Long is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death?
The state of Georgia only gives you two years to file your claim. Wrongful death claims require a lot of work to build a strong case for. You shouldn’t underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to get adequately compensated. Even after a wrongful death, insurance companies still won’t play fair.
Insurance companies are only interested in protecting themselves. Despite suffering a tragic loss, they will still try to do anything in their power to avoid paying you a fair settlement. We recommend that you consult with a lawyer to help you get the maximum amount of compensation that allows you to recover and move forward with your life.
Should I Hire a Lawyer To Help Me?
Wrongful death claims can be confusing to understand. Dealing with the loss of a loved one and having to fight a legal battle at the same time can be exhausting and draining. When someone dies in a car accident, allow us to help you get through this difficult time.
Don’t think of a lawyer as an expense, but more so as an investment. It’s well known that the simple act of hiring a car crash lawyer in Atlanta is enough to get the insurance companies to pay out a settlement fairly and promptly. Likewise, you shouldn’t have to pay for the damages of your lost loved one due to negligence.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer As Soon As Possible
The longer you wait to file your claim and build your case, the harder it will be to prove it against the insurance company. Evidence deteriorates over time, and memories can fade. So while you shouldn’t rush into filing a claim after a loved one dies in a car accident, you should still take strides to get all of your affairs in order as quickly as you can.