The premature loss of a loved one is emotionally painful, especially if it was due to someone else’s actions. Surviving family must not only grieve the person who died, but also wrestle with the anger they feel toward the person who caused the death.
If you are in this difficult situation, a compassionate personal injury lawyer could help hold the wrongdoer accountable and achieve some closure for your family. There are legal options available to families whose loved one was killed by the negligence of another. A Roswell wrongful death lawyer could help you move forward from this tragedy.
When is a Death “Wrongful” Under the Law?
It is important to note that not every incident of accidental death can support wrongful death claim. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated §51-4-2 defines a wrongful death as one that results from another person’s wrongful actions. Negligence, recklessness, and criminal acts can all be the basis of a wrongful death claim.
Negligence in a Fatal Accident
Many wrongful death claims arise out of negligence. Negligence means that someone’s actions were unreasonably careless or reckless. To prove negligence in a wrongful death case, an experienced attorney must show that the person’s carelessness or recklessness led to the accident that caused the death.
Criminal Acts in a Wrongful Death Claim
In some cases, a criminal act is the basis of the wrongful death claim. For instance, a fatal drunk driving accident could lead to a wrongful death claim against the impaired driver. Similarly, if someone is accidentally killed during a criminal act such as robbery, the perpetrator may be liable to the victim’s family for their loved one’s death. Intentional killings also support wrongful death claims.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
Georgia law designates a decedent’s closest surviving family members as the appropriate plaintiffs in a claim for wrongful death. The law also gives certain relationships priority over others.
If a spouse survives, the spouse must bring the claim. If there is no spouse but the decedent left surviving children, the children can serve as the plaintiffs. When the decedent left neither spouse nor children, the decedent’s parent or legal guardian could bring the claim.
When there is no appropriate relative to bring a wrongful death claim, an estate administrator may do so. The administrator would bring the wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s surviving next of kin. A knowledgeable attorney could explain which family members would benefit from a wrongful death action in the absence of a surviving spouse, child, or parent.
What Damages Are Available for Wrongful Death?
Those bringing wrongful death claims are seeking compensation for the loss of the value of their loved one’s life, as well as their value to the family. A hardworking lawyer could help surviving relatives calculate all the decedent’s contributions to pursue in a wrongful death claim.
Compensable items in these cases include both actual expenses and intangible losses. Damage awards could cover payments for:
- Wages and the value of employment benefits the deceased might have earned over their lifetime
- Services the decedent provided to the family, such as accounting, childcare, driving, coaching, cooking, emotional support, yard work, home maintenance, etc.
- Compensation for the loss of the decedent’s companionship, care, and love
Additionally, there is a different type of lawsuit that an estate administrator brings to compensate the decedent’s estate for expenses relating to their death. Damages in these lawsuits could include awards for medical expenses associated with treating the fatal injury, compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering, and funeral expenses.
Call a Compassionate Roswell Wrongful Death Lawyer
It can be hard to focus on legal matters after the death of a loved one. However, the law unfortunately only gives surviving family two years to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. As such, it is wise to try to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after the decedent’s passing. A Roswell wrongful death lawyer could offer empathetic support and sound legal advice, so call today for a consultation.