A wrongful death case in Georgia is a type of civil lawsuit that a deceased party’s family pursues when their loved one passes away under suspicious or wrongful circumstances.
Any time another party is responsible for causing your loved one’s death, they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Although you may have no control over whether criminal charges are filed, you can take steps to pursue your civil claim and recover the damages your family deserves.
What Is a “Wrongful Death”?
The Georgia statute that describes wrongful death can be found under Ga. Code §51-4-1. Here, any time a death occurs due to the intentional, negligent, or otherwise wrongful act of another, a wrongful death lawsuit may be necessary and appropriate.
It does not matter whether the person responsible for causing the death intended to cause your loved one’s death or did so accidentally. If it had not been for the liable party’s actions, your family member may still be alive today.
Wrongful death claims are different from criminal charges brought forward by the state’s prosecuting attorney. Instead of the liable party facing criminal penalties such as incarceration or jail time, they can be held accountable civilly in order to compensate your family for your damages and suffering.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases in Georgia
Wrongful death claims in Georgia can take many forms. Virtually any incident where one party is responsible for the death of another could be grounds for a wrongful death action. Some examples of wrongful death cases we handle in the state of Georgia include the following:
- Assault and battery
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products and medical devices
- Car accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Work injuries
- Construction accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Dog attacks and bites
- Other premises liabilities
If your loved one passed away after being involved in one of the previously mentioned incidents, or another accident or event entirely, a wrongful death attorney in Georgia can analyze the circumstances of your case to determine whether you have grounds for a wrongful death action.
The Statute of Limitations for Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia are quite similar to personal injury civil lawsuits. With that in mind, wrongful death lawsuits can only be filed in a limited amount of time after your family member’s death. According to Ga. Code §9-3-33, commonly known as the statute of limitations, states that all wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia must be filed within two years from the date decedent passed.
However, there are several instances in which the statute of limitations could be tolled. This means the statute of limitations will temporarily be stopped if certain criteria are met, for example, according to Ga. Code §9-3-92, if the decedent’s estate has not been put through probate, the statute of limitations could be tolled for a maximum of five years. Alternatively, under Ga. Code §9-3-99, if the decedent passed away due to a criminal event, the statute of limitations could be tolled for a maximum of six years, at which point the two years statute of limitations will begin to run.
It is easy to be confused as to when the statute of limitations will expire for your wrongful death case. For this reason, you may need to turn to your trusted wrongful death attorney in Georgia to get the answers you are looking for. With our firm by your side, you do not need to worry about the statute of limitations adversely impacting your ability to get the most out of your wrongful death claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
Georgia wrongful death laws only allow specific family members and parties to file wrongful death claims. No matter how close you were to the decedent, according to Ga. Code §19-7-1, only specific parties have the authority to file Georgia wrongful death actions. These parties include:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- If the decedent did not have a surviving spouse, the decedent’s surviving adult children
- If the decedent did not have adult children, the decedent’s parents
- If the decedent did not have a surviving spouse, children, or parents, the decedent’s administrator or executor of the estate
When you are unsure whether you have the authority to file the wrongful death claim, you can reach out to your attorney to determine what legal options may be available to you and your family members.
What Damages Are Recoverable in Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Similar to personal injury claims, in wrongful death lawsuits, there are both economic damages and not economic damages the surviving family members can be compensated for.
Not only will surviving family members be eligible for compensation for their own emotional and financial damages, but that of the decedent as well. According to Ga. Code §51-4-4 and Ga. Code §51-4-5, such damages could include:
- The decedent’s medical expenses and hospital bills
- The decedent’s funeral and burial costs
- Other financial expenses related to the decedent’s injury, illness, or death
- The surviving family member’s loss of wages, services, and benefits
- The surviving family member’s loss of the decedent’s companionship, care, love, advice, counsel, and protection
These are only a few of the types of damages that may be recoverable in a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit. You can find out how much your wrongful death claim could be worth when you discuss the decedent’s damages and the ways your life has been affected by the loss of your treasured loved one.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Georgia for Help Today
If you are interested in learning more about how the wrongful death claims process works in Georgia, or if you are ready to get started on your case, fill out our online contact form or call us to schedule a no-cost, risk-free consultation with an experienced Georgia wrongful death lawyer.
You do not need to go through these difficult times alone. With a dedicated attorney advocating for you, you can focus on breathing and healing while your lawyer works on building a powerful case against the responsible party.