Losing a family member in a wrongful death accident is never easy, especially if the accident was due to another person's voluntary or careless actions.
Our expert Wrongful Death Attorneys in Savannah, Georgia can help your family find closure and gain compensation survivors of the deceased rightfully deserve.
Wrongful Death cases can be very complicated and are considerably different from other personal injury cases.
Typically, in a Georgia personal injury case, the victim files the claim against the guilty party.
In a wrongful death case, the family or estate must file the claim for the recovery of damages.
With over 30 years of dedicated experience, The Brown Firm's Savannah Personal Injury Attorneys represent those who have fallen victim to another person's negligent actions and would like to help you through this tragic period.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT
Georgia State Law defines a "wrongful death" as the death of one person caused by the "careless, heedless, deliberate, or criminal" acts of another individual or entity.
Wrongful Death only occurs when the loss of life is due to the negligent actions of another person, which could have been prevented. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit with your attorney in Savannah, Ga you are trying to obtain compensation from the party at fault.
We hope you never have to endure the death of a loved one due to the carelessness of another. There are complications with filing a wrongful death claim, and the process can be quite confusing for loved ones.
There are even unique challenges and areas for error for seasoned trial lawyers.
That's why it's important to seek professional legal help that has the experience and knowledge of your state's laws and regulations about your wrongful death suit.
If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, one of our expert lawyers can help you navigate the many steps involved in filing a claim and seeking compensation for loss of future income, pain and suffering, and expenses.
Our Savannah lawyers can help if you are seeking compensation for a death caused by:
- Motor Vehicle Negligence or Recklessness (drunk driving car accidents)
- Inadequate Safety by a Business Owner
- A Work Site Accident
- Slip and Fall Accident
- Truck Accidents
- Fires, explosions, and electrical injuries
- Defective Premises
- And other accidental death causes
You need a qualified attorney who will help conserve important evidence, manage your investigation, and collect all evidence and testimony available to gain chances of a positive case outcome.
Learn the differences of a wrongful death suit and criminal actions committed by a homicide.
Filing the Right Claim Under Georgia Law
When you lose a loved one due to the negligence of another, Georgia recognizes two separate and unique types of wrongful death claims:
- The Wrongful Death Claim: In Georgia, this traditional claim is to establish the "full value of the life of the deceased" taken by the negligence of another. This claim is brought on behalf of the surviving family members of the deceased person, it includes monetary damages, such as lost wages and benefits or loss of care, companionship, and other intangible benefits.
- The Estate Claim: This claim can only be brought forth by the estate and it is not for the value of the life of the deceased but instead any expenses the Estate has incurred deriving from the injury and death, as well as pain and suffering. Damages that may be recovered in this claim include medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased before death.
How to Take Legal Action After Losing A Family Member
If you plan to take legal action after losing a family member in an accident, it is crucial that you act fast.
Keep in mind, it isn't until the time of death, not the time of injury when it will be determined who has the claim and the right to file a lawsuit.
The Statute of Limitations limits the time survivors or personal representatives have to bring a wrongful death suit to court.
In almost all cases, the claim must be filed within two years of the date of death.
If the wrongful death claim is not filed within the two-year statute, the right to bring it is almost always lost.
- The first step to filing a suit is to hire an experienced Savannah personal injury attorney who can investigate the facts and details of your wrongful death and determine if you have a valid suit.
- Once the attorney has decided that there is a legitimate case, the claim will be passed on to a personal representative appointed by the probate court to file the lawsuit on the behalf of the estate or survivor of the deceased.
- The lawsuit is a legal document, called the Complaint, that is filed at the courthouse and sets forth the legal basis for the claim. This includes allegations of negligence or intentional acts that caused the death. The lawsuit also implores the various types of compensation allowed under the state's statutes and ordinance.
Some Entities May Be Immune to Wrongful Death Claims
For instance, a company might have its' employees sign a waiver that releases the company from any liability should any of their workers be killed on the job.
Certain government agencies may also be immune to wrongful death claims in certain circumstances.
These laws differ from state to state, it's always a good idea to speak with your wrongful death lawyer to see if your claim has a case.
What is the Difference Between Homicide and Wrongful Death?
A murder case is carried out in criminal court after charges have been filed by the state, and if the defendant is found guilty he or she is punished through incarceration and may have to pay additional fines.
A Wrongful Death Suit is filed through civil court against the person or business who is alleged to be legally accountable for causing the deceased person's death. If the defendant is found responsible for the death, that liability is expressed collectively in terms of damages (money), payable by the defendant to the estate and/or surviving family members, enforced via a judgment entered in court.
In a murder case the prosecutor must confirm the defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." There is also a presumption of innocence that stays with the defendant unless the jury returns a guilty verdict.
A Wrongful Death Claim, the standard of proof is "by a preponderance of the evidence," which essentially means it is "more likely than not," that the defendant caused the deceased person's death.
Can Relatives Receive Compensation After a Wrongful Death Accident?
Wrongful death claims involve all types of lethal accidents from simple car accidents to complicated medical malpractice or product liability cases.
Persons, organizations, and governmental agencies can be legally at fault for acting negligently and for acting intentionally. Georgia wrongful death law sets up a hierarchy of relatives who have standing to sue for the death of a loved one.
The hierarchy as follows:
- Spouse of the Deceased, If your loved one is survived by a spouse then the spouse has a right to file a wrongful death suit. However, if your loved one is survived by spouse and children then the spouse must file on behalf of himself or herself and then the children. The spouse and the children then split the compensation and awarded damages, 1/3 to the spouse and the rest is divided amongst the children
- Children of the Deceased, If your loved one was not survived by a spouse, then the children of the deceased have the right to file a wrongful death claim.
- Parents of the Deceased, if your loved one was not survived by a spouse your children, then the surviving parent has the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
- The Executor of the Deceased's Estate, if none of the above has survived, then the estate has the wrongful death claim.
If the executor or personal representative files the claim, any restitution recovered are held by the estate for the benefit of the deceased person's next of relation.
In order to file a lawsuit, a family member or heir must first be appointed the personal representative of the estate or descendant.
This process is done through the probate court in the county where the descendant last resided or had property. Or the estate can be opened in the county the death occurred or the lawsuit will be filed.
We know better than anyone that it can be difficult to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, so do not attempt to file your claim alone.
The Brown Firm handles the probate process from start to finish when you choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Hiring experienced representation is crucial to the outcome of your case because we have successfully handled many similar cases before.
Non-Economic and Economic Losses Collected After a Death
Wrongful Death Settlements include compensation paid for both non-economic and economic losses. Some of those losses are economical while other losses are emotional, such as the loss of the deceased’s love and partnership.
There are no written rules for determining the compensation amount for non-economic wrongful death claims. In the situation that the case would go to trial, a jury would be responsible for deciding the monetary value of the claim.
Non-economic losses include:
- The loss of emotional support
- Moral support
- Pain and Suffering from the time of the injury through the date of death
Compensation is also owed to the family for economic losses caused by the passing of a loved one. This includes:
- Loss of earnings( past, present, and future)
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of work benefits (health insurance, pension)
- Funeral expenses
It's not uncommon for an economist to place a financial value on the loss of household services that the descendant would have provided to the family if not for the death. This type of claim would be added to the settlement amount.
Contact an Attorney
If you have lost someone you love due to the negligence of someone else, you may be entitled to receive compensation for their wrongful death.
Our Savannah personal injury lawyers are committed to helping you with your personal injury case.
We believe that each and every client has specific goals and needs which is why we take a personal approach so you will feel that your case is receiving the right amount of time and attention.
Our supreme customer service is backed by a staff that truly cares about you, and a team of attorneys who have the gratitude, understanding and compassion for your specific circumstances.
At The Brown Firm, we offer a Free Consultation to see how we can best assist with your specific needs.
Click on the link below to speak with one of our experienced Savannah, Georgia Wrongful Death Attorneys!