An unexpected death is always tragic and can be devastating for a family. Besides the emotional pain, the decedent’s surviving family members are often left with medical expenses and other financial burdens. Fortunately, the decedent’s estate may be eligible to recover compensation for damages from the responsible party.
An Alpharetta wrongful death lawyer could help family members to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions. Let a compassionate personal injury attorney help your case and advocate on your behalf.
According to the Official Code of Georgia §51-4-1, a “homicide” as it is termed in the statute, is any death of a human being that results from a crime, a negligent act, or from defective property. In other words, a wrongful death claim is appropriate when another party’s act of violence or negligence resulted in a death.
The law strictly defines is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Only certain people can pursue these claims on behalf of surviving family members. Eligibility to file a claim depends on their relationship to the decedent. If the decedent was a spouse or parent, a surviving spouse or child could pursue a claim. O.C.G.A. §19-7-1 grants standing to either parent when the deceased person is a child. An experienced Alpharetta wrongful death lawyer could determine which of the decedent’s surviving family members may be eligible to file a claim.
In the event that a deceased person is not survived by any immediate family members, it is still possible for a wrongful death claim to be pursued on their behalf. Instead of automatically passing to a family member, the right to file suit would pass to the person named as the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate. This could be a more distant relative or someone without any blood relation, such as a legal representative. Either way, the administrator or executor could pursue compensation on behalf of the estate and hold any amount recovered for the decedent’s next of kin.
Although these similar types of cases are often conflated, there are important distinctions between wrongful death claims and survival actions. In a nutshell, a wrongful death claim is meant to seek compensation on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family, whereas a survival action seeks compensation on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
In practice, each case allows recovery for different types of damages, as noted below. If appropriate, it is possible to pursue both types of claims at the same time with help from a qualified legal representative.
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the Alpharetta wrongful death lawyer must calculate the full value of the life of the decedent. Under O.C.G.A. §51-4-2, the decedent’s surviving estate may be eligible to demand payment for intangible losses, such as lost companionship, an inability for children to have a parent, any future lost wages. It may be necessary to consult with your attorney or other experts to evaluate the value of this portion of the case.
The surviving family may be eligible to recover compensation for the immediate economic losses that a family has been made to endure. These losses are easier to measure as they involve the costs of a funeral, any outstanding medical bills, and any property damage that may have been included in the incident that caused the death. A compassionate Alpharetta wrongful death lawyer could help the decedent’s surviving family determine the type of damages they may be eligible to recover.
Since a wrongful death action is still technically a civil lawsuit, the same two-year statutory filing deadline applies to a decedent’s surviving family members. However, there are a couple situations in which this deadline can be “tolled,” or paused, for a few years.
The statutory filing period can be delayed for up to five years if the decedent’s estate has yet to go through probate. If there is a criminal case directly related to the decedent’s death, the filing period can also be delayed until the case concludes up to a maximum of six years.
A fatal accident that is the result of another party’s criminal act or negligence may serve as the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits can help grieving family members to collect compensation to pay for outstanding medical bills and to provide a stable economic future. The plaintiff’s attorney needs to prove that a defendant would have been liable to the decedent for a personal injury claim had the decedent survived the incident. These can include car accidents, slips, and falls, or medical malpractice.
An Alpharetta wrongful death attorney can help surviving family members pursue claims for compensation. They work by your side to prove how the defendant is to blame. They also help make a claim for compensation that covers both tangible and intangible losses. Whenever you are ready, let a dedicated attorney help. Call today.
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