There’s no shortage of advice on coping with the passing of a loved one, so much that many people mistakenly believe that they are equipped to deal with any situation constructively. Unfortunately, when grief hits close to home and you lose a loved one due to wrongful death, everything you previously assumed would help you overcome your pain is proved to be a mistake.
The impact of the loss of life can be devastating, particularly when the life of your loved one was robbed due to wrongful death. An experienced Macon wrongful death lawyer from Calvin Smith Law has the expertise to help you through the trauma of losing a loved one and, more importantly, help you seek justice.
Our Macon expert personal injury lawyers are committed to serving each client and offering nothing short of the best services possible. We work towards making you feel our sincerity and dedication. Call Calvin Smith Law today at (404) 383-7552 and make an appointment for a free consultation.
Table of Contents
What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
As with many other types of cases, each state has its unique definition and regulations as to what qualifies as wrongful death. In the great state of Georgia, wrongful death is the passing of a person that was as a result of criminal, negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another entity or party. An entity here refers to a business, employer, or a hospital.
For the death to qualify as wrongful, negligence must be proven first. Typically, negligence occurs when the duty to provide reasonable care is not taken into consideration, and as a result, an injury is caused to someone.
Many families find themselves overwhelmed with the idea of filing a lawsuit in the wake of the death of a loved one, partly because the value cannot be determined. But a wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a personal injury claim. That is, if the person who suffered the injuries had survived the accident, they would have filed a claim against the negligent party/entity and would have stood a chance of getting compensated for their damages and expenses. A wrongful death claim allows the surviving next of kin/family members to sue on behalf of their passed loved one so that any costs can be cleared and the negligent party help accountable.
Different kinds of accidents can lead to loss of life in Macon. But regardless of the type of accident, if the passing of your loved one could have been avoided, you can choose to take legal action with the assistance of a trustworthy wrongful death lawyer.
Sadly, auto accidents in Macao are pretty prevalent, with a majority of these accidents being caused by reckless drivers who disregard traffic regulations, drive while intoxicated with controlled substances or alcohol, over-speed, or are distracted by mobile devices. Also, cars and other consumer products can lead to fatalities if the manufacturer released defective products.
When institutions such as nursing home facilities and hospitals are negligent, the residents and patients are exposed to different risks. For instance, a retirement home or assisted living facility could have rude and abusive caregivers who may harm residents. Also, a negligent medical practitioner could act or omit care and treatment leading to injury or even death of the patient. In any case, we at Calvin Smith Law have the expertise, experience, and drive needed to move your wrongful death lawsuit forward.
Categories Of Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims fall under two categories: a survival action and wrongful death action.
A Survival Action
A survival action will usually involve seeking compensation for damages that the diseased individual incurred before their passing. These damages may include conscious pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses incurred before the time of death. In order to file a survival claim successfully, it’s imperative that you prove that the person who died survived the accident in question and experienced pain and suffering before their death. Therefore, not all wrongful death cases have grounds for survival action.
Wrongful Death Action
A Wrongful death action involves fighting for compensation for the damages that the loved ones incurred due to the death of the departed. These damages include funeral services, the pain of losing a loved one, financial losses since the departed will no longer be in a position to support their family financially. According to statues of the state of Georgia, the individuals who qualify for compensation in a wrongful death case are defined clearly. Recovery is for the departed individual’s surviving spouse and children. And in case the deceased didn’t have a spouse or any children, then the damages automatically go to the immediate surviving next of kin like parents and siblings. For example, siblings can sue for compensation following the wrongful death of their sibling if they didn’t have any kids and were not married. Also, children are entitled to seek compensation for the wrongful death of their parent(s).
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Terms used in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Decedent: The victim
- Tortfeasor: The wrongdoer(s)
You could get compensated for a wrongful death lawsuit if the circumstances leading to the death of your loved one fall under the following categories:
Negligent actions are those that could have been prevented or avoided. That is, the accident could not have taken place if the tortfeasor had acted reasonably.
These are actions that are criminal and violent. Here, the tortfeasor was aware that their actions could cause an accident, and they still carried on with their actions. In such cases, the criminal and violent acts are persecuted by the state, which is entirely separate from a civil lawsuit of wrongful death in Georgia.
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act
Did you know that seeking compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one wasn’t always a right in the U.S.A.? Before the mid 19th century, the law adopted from England asserted that claims for damages died with the individual inflicted. That means that only living individuals could file civil lawsuits against people who caused the injury. Therefore, there were no legal grounds for filing a wrongful death act since surviving loved ones couldn’t seek compensation in the state of Georgia and the rest of the country.
But following in the footsteps of other states, Georgia later changed the old-fashioned common law rule and added statues that established a clear cause of action. The current Wrongful Death Act in Georgia was passed about 100 years ago and has had some major amendments since then. Today, the most current Wrongful Death Act in Georgia is covered in the 5 code sections mentioned below:
- 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 cases are the most severe forms of personal injury and can be caused by different kinds of accidents. To handle such cases successfully, you will need to seek the help of a highly skilled and experienced personal injury attorney.
In the U.S., including the city of Macon in the great state of Georgia, traffic accidents are the main causes of wrongful death cases and include:
Other causes of wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Products liability
- Medical malpractice
- Tour bus crashes
- Criminal acts as well as murder and violent acts
- Prescription use or medical advice
- Airline crashes
- Shuttle crashes
- Nursing home/Assisted living communities negligence
- Premises liability
- Fire liability
- Drowning and boat accidents
- Private transportation accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Animal bites
- Public transportation including school buses, trains, and buses
What Should One Do After The Wrongful Death Of A Loved One?
It’s easy to feel lost and overwhelmed after your loved one has been taken from you due to wrongful death. Luckily, there are steps to guide you:
Investigate the Area
Even if homicide police are still conducting their investigation, make sure that the scene is also investigated by the right professionals as soon as possible. Today, cameras are pretty much everywhere. In parking lots, nearby buildings, in intersections and most vehicles also have dashboard cameras. These can help with the investigation.
Speak With Witnesses
In personal injury cases, including wrongful death cases, witness statements are vital. That’s why it’s imperative to interview witnesses and go through their statements. Memories often fade fast, so you’ll want to act quickly while the details of the accident are still fresh in their minds.
Also, stay ahead regarding witness information. This way, even if a witness decides to relocate or change their address or other contact information, you’ll have a way to reach them. Some wrongful death lawsuits take years to close, either due to a lengthy trial or settlement. So having updated witness information is a must.
Vital pieces of evidence include the departed individual’s clothing, the vehicle involved in the accident, and so on. While law enforcement often impounds the vehicle and keep the proof for a while, vital pieces of evidence could still be discarded or lost.
Open an Estate Account
You’ll need to appoint a personal representative to handle the decedent’s claims. The individual appointed should be a surviving family member or next of kin of the diseased like a spouse or parent.
Of course, handle wrongful death lawsuit issues first before you get to open an estate. You don’t want to waste the much-needed time with an estate lawyer. While opening an estate is important, it’s not considered a pressing matter.
Who is Entitled To Recover for the Loss of a Loved One?
As outlined by the statutes of the state of Georgia, the spouse of the victim is entitled to go ahead with a wrongful death claim. If there’s no spouse, then the children of the deceased are entitled to the right to seek compensation. And if both the spouse and kids are not in the picture, then the deceased estate’s administrator has legal grounds to proceed to file a wrongful death claim.
As per the law in Macon, Georgia, if a spouse of the decedent files a claim and there’s no Will, they are required to make sure they distribute the compensation received from the wrongful death case with the children of the diseased. Also, per Georgia law, the spouse gets to keep 1/3 of all proceeds of a wrongful death claim. In case the child of the decedent is a minor, then the right to sue for compensation is entrusted to the parents or legal guardian until the child is of age (usually 18 years old).
Why Should I Hire A Macon, GA Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Choosing to file a wrongful death claim in Macon, GA, especially when going against a corporation or municipality, can be quite overwhelming. Not to mention that you will still be struggling to cope with the death of a loved one.
Our experienced Macon lawyers can step in and take the reins in your wrongful death lawsuit, which includes:
- Act as liaison with the offending party/entity and their attorneys
- Investigate your case thoroughly to be in a position to deliver irrefutable testimony
- Communicate with insurance companies and their representatives
- Utilize a direct accounting technique to highlight all your loses
- Out outmaneuver the bureaucracy and red tape involved in wrongful death lawsuits and fight on your behalf.
What Are The Benefits Of Pursuing Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Macon?
While our attorneys at Calvin Smith Law know that filling a wrongful death claim won’t bring your loved one back, they believe that you’re entitled to receiving the justice and compensation you deserve. That’s precisely why we won’t pull our punches when representing your interests, and we will make sure that you get the financial recovery you and your family need to help you open a new chapter in your life. Your wrongful death case also plays a significant role in preventing similar dangerous actions of medical malpractice and negligence from ruining other people’s lives.
What Should One Expect In A Macon Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Whenever a potential client walks into our offices after losing a loved one, the first order of business is to determine whether their case is viable. For a lawsuit to qualify as feasible, the other party/entity must have been negligent or intentionally caused the accident causing death.
Our reputable Macon attorneys must prove that the person or entity being sued owed the departed a responsibility to keep any harm from them, and that duty was abandoned. This is the best way to prove negligence.
For instance, medical practitioners such as doctors, nurses, and caregivers are required to provide patients with a certain level of care. So if the level of care offered is below standard, and their patient dies due to their actions or emission of services, the medical practitioner could be liable.
After that, our lawyers from Calving Smith Law to prove that the breach of duty was the cause of death. Often, we’ll consult with medical experts to establish the link between the medical practitioner’s negligence and the patient’s death. We will also have to show that the remaining family member of the deceased suffered pain or other damages due to the passing of their loved ones. Some of the damages we must prove include both financial and non-financial losses, as highlighted below.
Do you suspect that your loved one fell victim to wrongful death? If so, our attorney at Calvin Smith Law can assist you in suing the individual, corporation, or entity responsible for your loss. After establishing liability and gathering the much-needed evidence surrounding the case, we’ll consult with financial experts to help us ascertain the extent of all losses incurred.
If the person or entity responsible for the death of your loved one refuses to agree with a settlement offer, we will seek out witnesses, employ the services of investigators and specialists to stand on trial. At Calving Smith Law, we take pride in our lawyers who won’t hesitate to go to court and get our clients the compensation they deserve.
Wrongful Death Damages
In a wrongful death lawsuit in Macon, GA, the surviving family of the victim can seek recovery for medical bills, funeral services, and other punitive damages. However, punitive damages are available if the defendant broke the law during the said action that led to wrongful death. The punishment could get severe for horrendous behavior.
Some of the common damages in a Macon wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Loss of future wages
- Psychological pain and suffering for the next of kin
- Compensation for the suffering of the departed before their death
- Loss of retirement and work benefits
- Relationship compensation
As per the statutes of the great state of Georgia, only a select few persons qualify to file a wrongful death case and pursue recovery for the death of their loved one. They include:
- The spouse of the diseased
- The children of the victim (in case there’s no spouse )
- The parents of the victim (if there are no children or spouse)
- The decedent estate’s administrator (if there no surviving children, parents or spouse)
Also, Georgia statues outline that if there’s no existing will and the spouse ends up getting compensated, they must share the recovery with the children. And if the children are below 18, then the proceeds of the lawsuit should be put under the parent’s or legal guardian’s name until the kids turn 18.
Want to talk more about wrongful death lawsuits? Please feel free to fill out all relevant information to get a no-obligation case review form.
The Statute Of Limitations For Wrongful Death In Georgia
This refers to the time limit for filing a legal claim. If the given time elapses and your lawsuit is not filed and served to all relevant parties before that date, the case is barred from any compensation. The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Georgia is two years. The clock starts ticking from the date of death.