There seem to be so many resources and ways to deal with the passing of a loved one that many people think that such an ordeal is fairly routine and they will have no problem coping and making a positive comeback quickly. But things are not always so easy. When the grief of having a loved one taken from you strikes close to home, everything that you may have known about death is suddenly changed into a very real occurrence.
There is nothing that can truly prepare you for the ordeal of losing a loved one, especially when their life was taken so suddenly and tragically as in wrongful death. In such a situation, the experienced skill and perspective of an Albany wrongful death lawyer can make all the difference in helping you seek justice and compensation for such a loss.
At Calvin Smith Law, our personal attorneys in Albany have the skill and experience to ensure you are given the full measure of justice that the law allows. We will work with you to handle the particulars of this truly emotionally devastating ordeal. Call Calvin Smith Law at (404) 383-7552 to schedule a free consultation with our qualified experts.
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What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
As with any other law, the particular definition of a wrongful death case will be very different from state to state. But in Albany, Georgia, wrongful death is any fatality that was caused by the criminal, intentional, negligent or reckless actions of another party or entity. “Entity” could be a hospital, employer or company.
The first thing that will need to be proven is negligence. This means that the defendant had a debt of duty to protect the safety and security of the deceased. If reasonable care was not taken to avoid danger and harm, the result can end in injury and death. If the act of negligence resulted in someone’s death, the case is wrongful death.
In the wake of a tragedy like this, many families are not sure what to do. They are not sure how to go about filing a claim because the value of such a claim would be beyond their capacity to fully understand, especially at this emotional time.
But, the important thing to remember is that wrongful death is a lot like a personal injury claim. If the deceased had survived the ordeal, they would be seeking compensation for their damages. The claim would have ensured that the negligent parties were brought to terms and made restitution for their negligence in the form of compensation that covers their liability. In a wrongful death case, the idea is the same, except that it is the bereaved family that will be collecting on the compensation for their lost loved one.
There are so many accidents that can lead to the loss of life and these are as common in Albany as anywhere else. But, no matter the cause of the wrongful death, if the accident could have been avoided, then you should contact your expert Albany wrongful death attorneys and take legal action immediately.
Unfortunately, car accidents are one of the most common causes of wrongful deaths and the most common culprits include reckless driving, drunk driving, speeding, and distracted driving. Furthermore, like many other defective products, the car’s themselves may have flaws that can lead to an accident and wrongful death.
There are many other accidents that can be caused by the substandard performance of institutions like hospitals and nursing homes. For example, without proper screening and hiring methods, nursing home staff can be abusive and harmful when the elderly actually need even more gentle care to live comfortably. In a hospital, a careless, tired or inexperienced medical practitioner can make any one of numerous errors that can lead to a variety of accidents many of which can be fatal.
In any of these cases, call the offices of Calvin Smith Law and get in touch with a legal expert who can provide insights to your wrongful death case.
Categories Of Wrongful Death Claims
There are two categories of wrongful death claims. These are the survival action and wrongful death actions.
A Survival Action
The survival action seeks to recover compensation for the damages the victim suffered before they died. This can include the suffering, mental anguish, lost wages and the cost of medical expenses incurred before they actually died. To seek this compensation it is imperative to establish that the deceased survived the initial accident for any given amount of time to incur the damages. As you can see, this action will not apply in all wrongful death cases.
Wrongful Death Action
The wrongful death action seeks to claim compensation that the surviving family of the victim incurred because of their death. These can include the funeral expenses, the anguish of losing a loved one, the financial losses the family will see now that this source of income is gone.
The laws of the state of Georgia make it very clear who can qualify for compensation in the case of wrongful death. It is the deceased’s surviving family that is entitled to this compensation for damages, beginning with the spouse and children. If the victim had no spouse or children to file the claims, the next in line for the compensation will be the siblings or parents of the deceased.
For example, if the victim had a spouse or children, it will fall to the siblings and parents of the deceased to make the claim. Also, the children of parents who have died in a wrongful death accident are entitled to seek compensation.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Here are some important terms to know when discussing wrongful death cases:
- Decedent: The victim
- Tortfeasor: The defendant(s)
You have the right to seek compensation for the wrongful death of a family member if the circumstances that resulted in the death of your loved fall into one of the following categories:
Negligent accidents are those that could have been avoided if someone had exercised their reasonable duty, responsibility or actions.
This will occur if the actions causing the death were criminal or violent. In such a case, the tortfeasor is aware that their actions are dangerous and yet they carry on. In such a case, the case will be pursued by the state and this is not the same case as the wrongful death in the State of Georgia.
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act
It is interesting to know that the right to seek compensation for a wrongful death was not always possible in the United States. The original law was adopted from England and stated that any claims of damages died with the injured individuals. This means that the only way to collect on damages was if the person survived. There were no legal grounds to seek this compensation until the wrongful death act changed the laws in the state of Georgia and the rest of the country.
Around 100 years ago, Georgia joined the footsteps of other states and changed the old fashioned rules to adopt a more modern system. The Wrongful Death Act as it was established in Georgia back then has seen some major changes, here are the 5 code sections it contains.
- O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1: Covers definitions
- O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2: Homicide of parent(s) or spouse; survival action
- O.C.G.A. § 51-4-4: Death of a child
- O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5: Recovery by executor or administrator of the deceased
- O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1: Recovery for the death of a child; parental power
What are Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is the most severe form of personal injury case and can be caused by several different types of accidents. To properly handle a personal injury case, you will need the skill and expertise of a skilled personal injury lawyer.
Across the United States, traffic accidents are the primary cause of wrongful death accidents and the city of Albany, GA is no exception. Some of the specific traffic accidents that can result in wrongful death include:
Other causes of wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Criminal acts and violent acts
- Tour bus crashes
- Airline crashes
- Medical malpractice
- Products liability
- Prescription use or medical advice
- Shuttle crashes
- Premises liability
- Animal bites
- Public transportation including school buses, trains, and buses
- Nursing home/Assisted living communities negligence
- Drowning and boat accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Fire liability
- Private transportation accidents
What Should One Do After The Wrongful Death Of A Loved One?
The aftermath of a loved one’s death can be a time of emotional upheaval and great confusion. It can be easy to forget the things you must do to ensure your interests are protected. Following is a handy list of things to remember:
Investigate the Area
The police will do their part in the investigation and it is essential to make sure that the entire scene is investigated by the right professionals. Take note of any security cameras in the area. Today they are almost everywhere and can provide important benefits to the case. See if any of the passersby have dash cams.
Speak With Witnesses
Witness statements are vital to building a strong wrongful death case. For this reason, you will want to collect some statements from people as fast as you can. Memories can fade as time goes by so getting some details as fast as you can so you can get the details while they are still fresh.
Make sure you also collect ways of contacting the key witnesses you come across. Cases can take many years to process and the testimonies of these witnesses will not necessarily be needed for years to come. In this time your witnesses may have relocated, be sure to keep your information updated and stay in touch with these important witnesses.
There will be many important pieces of evidence that are too numerous to mention here. This could include the car in which the accident occurred or the clothes the victim was wearing. Small details will be important to building a solid case and these tend to be misplaced and lost over time. Be sure you keep a proper collection of all the details pertaining to the case.
Who is entitled to recover for the Loss of a Loved One?
As specified in the laws of Georgia, it is the spouse of the deceased who is able to make a claim for the wrongful death. If the spouse is not present, then the children of the deceased are the next most entitled to receive compensation for the wrongful death. If there is neither a spouse nor children to make the claim, it falls to the deceased’s estate administrator to seek compensation and make the claim.
Under the laws of Georgia, if the spouse makes a wrongful death claim and there is no will present, they are required to share the proceeds with the children of the decedent. Furthermore, the spouse is entitled to 1/3 of the compensation made from the wrongful death claim. Unless the child of the deceased is a minor, in which case the compensation will be held in trust until the child is of legal age.
Why Should I Hire An Albany, GA, Wrongful Death Lawyer?
There are some important reasons that a qualified legal representation is a smart option when going toe to toe with major corporations and municipalities that may be tortfeasors in the case. Furthermore, it is only natural to be experiencing a time of emotional upheaval and this can make clear and intelligent decisions all the harder.
This is where our experienced wrongful death attorneys can step in and help you with a dispassionate clarity and professional skills. Here are some of the solutions we can provide:
- Represent your interests when communicating with the offending party/entity and their attorneys
- Investigate your case thoroughly
- Communicate with insurance companies
- Use a direct accounting technique to highlight all your losses
- Out outmaneuver the bureaucracy and red tape involved in wrongful death lawsuits
What Are The Benefits Of Pursuing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Albany?
Obviously, no amount of financial compensation can ever diminish the pain and anguish of losing someone close to you. Nevertheless, the qualified wrongful death lawyers at Calvin Smith Law will do all they can to get you the compensation you deserve as you will find it does take one important weight from your shoulders. For this reason, we will fight aggressively and to represent your interests and ensure that you are able to close this chapter of your life as easy as possible. Furthermore, these cases send a strong message to hospitals, businesses and everyone that accidents that cost people’s lives are no small matter. This keeps industries behaving responsibly.
What Should One Expect In An Albany Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Whenever a new client brings us their tale of losing a loved one to an accident we are very sympathetic. Our first course of action is to see if the case actually qualifies for wrongful death. As mentioned, the at-fault party must have demonstrated intention or negligence that results in death for this to qualify as a wrongful death case.
If we believe you have a case, our expert team of lawyers will begin proving the at-fault party did have the responsibility to the deceased to keep them safe from harm and that they were negligent in this important duty.
For example, medical professionals like pharmaceutical companies, doctors and nurses are all required to provide a certain level of professional care to their patients to keep them healthy as opposed to at risk of injury and death. These standards of care are in place to avoid death and so if they are breached, this represents a negligent service and can qualify for a wrongful death case.
The next thing we will need to prove is that this breach of duty dejectedly caused death. This will often involve speaking with medical experts that can help establish a link between the injuries and death to the causes behind them. We will also show how the deceased has also suffered pain and anguish due to the death and other damages including the loss of financial support.
If you believe that your loved one was killed in an accident that could have been avoided, we can help. Our law offices at Calvin Smith Law can help you to sue the company, corporation or entity that caused the death through negligence or intention. After we have established the death was caused by these factors and decided where liability lies, we will then begin consulting with a financial expert who will prepare a suitable figure for the total damages.
We will then submit the claim to the opposition and hopefully, we will be able to reach a settlement through negotiations. If this is not possible, we will have no choice but to take the case to trial and this will ensure we get our clients the compensation they deserve.
Wrongful Death Damages
In a wrongful death case, the deceased’s family are entitled to a wide range of damages. These could include medical expenses, lost wages, the costs of funeral services and punitive damages. Punitive damages are typically awarded when the actions that caused the accident were also criminal or in some other way severe enough to merit further punitive action.
Some of the common damages in an Albany wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Loss of future wages
- Compensation for the suffering
- Loss of retirement and work benefits
- Psychological pain and suffering for the next of kin
- Relationship compensation
Not just anyone can claim compensation for wrongful death. In the state of Georgia, only certain people may be entitled to this compensation. This includes:
- The spouse of the diseased
- The children of the victim
- The parents of the victim
- The decedent estate’s administrator
The Statute Of Limitations for Wrongful Death In Georgia
In the state of Georgia, there is a time limit to filing a legal claim for wrongful death called the statute of limitations. If the claim is not made within this timeframe there is a serious risk that it can become void and there will be no compensation. In the state of Georgia this time limit is two years from the date of death.
Contact an Albany Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you would like more information on wrongful death lawsuits or think you have a case, call the Albany injury firm of Calvin Smith Law at (404) 383-7552. We will schedule a free consultation and assess the viability of your case.