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What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

wrongful death

Though heart disease, cancer, and other serious medical conditions get their share of media attention, many people are surprised to learn that accidents are one of the top causes of death in the US. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked unintentional injury at Number 3 for 2017, and these incidents fall within the Top 5 causes of death almost every year. Surviving family members suffer tremendously when a loved one passes under such unexpected, tragic circumstances.

Fortunately, Georgia law does provide you with rights when a loved one dies. An Atlanta wrongful death lawyer can provide the details, but you may find it helpful to review some background information about these claims.

Overview of Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia: Though the CDC refers to these incidents as “unintentional injury,” accidental fatalities typically occur because of negligence. In this way, these cases are similar to a personal injury claim. You must prove that your loved one died as a direct result of someone’s failure to exercise reasonable care. Examples of cases based upon negligence include:

  • Car, truck, motorcycle, and other motor vehicle collisions;
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents;
  • Slip and fall incidents on property;
  • Medical malpractice;
  • Defective products; and,
  • Many more.

Under Georgia’s statute on wrongful death claims, the victim’s surviving spouse has standing to bring a suit against the responsible party. A personal representative acting for the decedent’s estate may also file a claim if there aren’t other close relatives.

Monetary Damages for Surviving Family Members: There are two types of compensation you can seek through a wrongful death claim:

  1. One category involves damages related to the value of the deceased person’s life, such as lost wages and financial support. There are also lost the contributions of care, comfort, support, education, guidance, and consortium.
  2. Damages based upon financial losses incurred for medical expenses, burial, funeral, and related costs.

Potential Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims: You should note that there are some restrictions that may affect your rights. First, Georgia’s statute of limitations is two years, you must file a lawsuit in civil court within this time frame. The clock starts to run on the date of the accident or other event that caused the death of the victim. If you don’t initiate litigation before the statute expires, you’re forever barred from recovering compensation.

In addition, Georgia follows the rule of comparative fault that focuses on the victim’s actions. If the decedent was at fault in the fatal accident, the amount of compensation may be reduced by the percentage of blame attributable to the victim.

Talk to an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney About Your Rights

If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the losses you suffer. Wrongful death claims involve complex areas of Georgia law, however, so it’s wise to seek legal help from an experienced attorney. For more information, please contact the Law Offices of Julie A. Rice to set up a no-cost consultation at our Atlanta, GA offices.