Recovering From the Wrongful Death of a Loved One in Georgia
April 20, 2023 | J.L. King
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Statutes allow family members to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one. Money does not ease the grief a family experiences when they lose a loved one suddenly. However, wrongful death laws allow the family to recover compensation for their losses and potentially help with a sense of justice.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim in Tifton, GA?
A wrongful death action is a civil claim against the party who caused the untimely death of a person. The death may occur as a result of:
- A crime
- Criminal negligence
- Ordinary negligence
- Property that has been defectively manufactured
Any type of personal injury claim can result in a wrongful death action, including automobile accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, premises liability, workplace accidents, and many other types of personal injury cases.
The deceased person’s beneficiaries can pursue a negligence claim against the at-fault party. However, Georgia law limits who can file a wrongful death action.
Only the victim’s spouse, child, or parent can file a wrongful death action. Parents can only file a claim if the deceased has no children or spouse. The deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim if there are no surviving parents, children, or a spouse.
What Does a Family Need To Prove To Win a Wrongful Death Case in Georgia?
When you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you have the burden of proving the legal elements of a wrongful death. The elements are similar to the legal elements of a negligence claim.
To hold the party responsible for your loved one’s death, you must have sufficient evidence to prove:
The party who caused the wrongful death must have had a duty of care regarding the deceased person. A duty of care requires someone to use reasonable caution to avoid causing harm or injury to another person.
For example, Georgia drivers have a duty of care to follow the state traffic code. They also have a duty to act reasonably while driving to avoid causing a car crash. Likewise, property owners have a duty of care to maintain safe premises for people entering their property, and doctors owe a duty of care to their patients.
Breach of Duty
The at-fault party’s conduct must have breached their duty of care. The evidence must show that the person’s conduct failed to meet the standard of reasonable care. The level of care required for a situation is generally measured by the reasonable person standard.
For example, a person using reasonable care would not run a red light or speed through a school zone. Likewise, a property owner would take reasonable steps to warn people of a hazard or promptly fix or repair conditions that could cause injury.
The evidence must show a direct link between the party’s conduct and the cause of death. For example, the evidence must show that running the red light was the direct and proximate cause of the car accident. The deceased would not have died had it not been for the car crash.
Damages can include financial losses, pain, and suffering. The damages in a wrongful death action are similar to the damages in a negligence action. However, there are limitations to the damages a family can receive for a wrongful death action.
What Damages Can the Family Receive for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
According to Georgia wrongful death laws, family members can receive damages that compensate them for:
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills the person incurred between the date of injury and their death
- Loss of companionship, love, and parental support
- The loss of household services and childcare
- Loss of financial support, including wages, benefits, and income
In addition to these damages, the family might receive punitive damages. However, the evidence must prove that the at-fault party engaged in willful misconduct (intentional torts) or acted with a conscious indifference to the safety and life of others. Fatal DUI accidents are an example of a case that might result in punitive damages.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Tifton Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
It can be difficult to think about taking legal action for wrongful death when you are grieving the loss of your loved one. However, Georgia imposes time limits for filing wrongful death claims.
Typically, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia is two years from the victim’s date of death. Because exceptions to the statute of limitations could change that deadline, it is always best to talk with a Tifton wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Missing the deadline means giving up your right to hold the party responsible for your loved one’s death accountable in court.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Law Firm For Help Today
For more information, please contact The King Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.
Or if you would prefer to reach out to us online, please visit our contact us page.