Losing a loved one in an accident is never easy to handle. Whether the fatal incident is a car crash, fire, or workplace accident, you’ll find it difficult to cope with the unexpected loss. If your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may be able to get some closure via a wrongful death lawsuit.
Georgia allows two forms of wrongful death claims. The first can be brought by the victim’s survivors. It seeks to establish the full value of the victim’s life. It typically allows survivors to get monetary damages for the financial and intangible value of the deceased person’s life. This includes the amount they were expected to make if they survived as well as the companionship, care and emotional support they would have provided.
Meanwhile, the individual’s estate can also bring a separate claim. This is intended to cover losses the estate suffered as a result of your loved one’s death. These include:
- Medical expenses related to injuries suffered in the accident
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering the victim experienced before their death
Punitive damages are generally not an option in Georgia. The courts take the stance that the wrongful death action is inherently designed to punish the negligent party. Additional damages would, therefore, be redundant. Still, the victim’s estate can include punitive damages in its claim if the defendant acted intentionally or maliciously or showed callous disregard for the victim’s safety.
Recovering these losses can help to relieve your family’s financial burden and help you to find closure. However, it’s important to know exactly which family members are entitled to file a wrongful death claim. Many of the victim’s relatives will be hurt and grieving but not all will have legal standing.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Individuals who have the right to take legal action following a fatal accident are:
- The victim’s spouse. The spouse gets priority under Georgia’s laws when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, any damages that are awarded must be equally split between the spouse and all of the surviving children. That being said, the spouse is legally entitled to at least a third of the amount.
- The victim’s children. If the individual didn’t leave a spouse behind, their offspring can file a wrongful death claim.
- The victim’s parents. If the decedent didn’t have a spouse or children, their parents have the right to file the claim if they’re alive.
- The personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If none of these parties are around to file a lawsuit, the estate representative can do so. However, the damages they secure will be held by the estate and passed on to the next of kin.
If you’re unsure about whether you can file a wrongful death lawsuit, you should contact a Macon wrongful death lawyer for advice. Each family’s situation is different, so you need to get personalized counsel.
Time Limits for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
You’ll need time to grieve and come to grips with your loved one’s passing. However, you should contact a Macon personal injury lawyer at the earliest opportunity. It may seem insensitive to be thinking about compensation at this time, but you shouldn’t have to face financial hardship because of someone else’s actions. When you reach out to an attorney, they will inform you of the time limits that apply to your case so you can make informed decisions.
You’ll need to act relatively quickly if you want to file a lawsuit. In most cases, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years. However, you may have a longer or shorter time depending on the circumstances. If you don’t want to lose the opportunity to recover your losses, you should seek prompt legal advice.
It can take a long time for an attorney to build a strong case so you need to give your lawyer a fair chance. Getting compensation can in no way make up for your loss completely but it can help to ensure that you don’t have to worry about money. Instead, you can focus on grieving and spending time with your family.
Contact Calvin Smith Law Today to Discuss Your Options
Let our Macon wrongful death attorney help you during this difficult period. Simply book a free consultation and get an expert legal opinion on your case. If you hire us, you don’t have to pay any fees until we get compensation for you. You shouldn’t have to spend this time dealing with insurance companies. Let us handle the insurance company and their lawyers while you take care of everyday life. Call us today!