Get The Legal Support You Need After The Wrongful Death Of A Loved One
Losing someone you love is always a difficult experience. But, when a preventable, wrongful act takes the life of a family member, the senselessness of the tragedy adds immeasurably to your pain. No amount of money can compensate for your loss, but Georgia’s wrongful death law allows family members to hold wrongdoers accountable. Our skilled and caring attorneys at The McGarity Group can help you get closure and obtain compensation to alleviate financial hardships.
Wrongful Acts According To Georgia Law
Georgia’s wrongful death statute notes two categories of wrongful acts:
- Negligent – Accidents that could have been avoided if someone had taken reasonable care. Failure to act with care includes things like reckless driving, failing to maintain property in a manner that is safe for visitors, failing to provide acceptable medical care, or manufacturing faulty products.
- Intentional – Criminal activities, including violent crimes such as murder. A person suspected of a deliberate act that caused death may face two independent court cases – criminal charges and a civil lawsuit for wrongful death.
The statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. If you do not file a lawsuit by then, you lose your right to sue forever. However, the statutory period does not run during a criminal prosecution for the death. So, if there are criminal charges, the period to file suit is extended, regardless of how the case ends.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim In Georgia?
There is a strict statutory order regarding who can bring a claim of wrongful death, based on their relationship to the decedent (the person who died). Those who have standing to bring a lawsuit include the decedent’s:
- Surviving spouse – A living spouse has the sole right to sue. But if there are children, the spouse must share the award with them, though in no event is the spouse to receive less than one-third.
- Children – If there is no living spouse, the children share equally in the award.
- Parents – If there is no living spouse or children. Married parents hold the award jointly, but if they are divorced, proof that one of the parents was alienated from the deceased could disqualify that parent from sharing in the award.
- Estate – When there is no surviving spouse or surviving children, a representative can bring suit on behalf of the decedent’s estate for the benefit of the next of kin.
Our attorneys represent individual plaintiffs and estate representatives in wrongful death cases in Buford and throughout Gwinnett County.
Two Distinct Damages Claims For Wrongful Death
There are two types of financial damages a Georgia court may award in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- “Full value of the life of the deceased” – Unlike states that compensate family members for their losses, Georgia considers the loss of life from the perspective of the decedent. Plaintiffs may recover sums reflecting the economic value of the decedent’s life, based on estimated earnings over a natural lifespan. In addition, they can receive compensation for the intangible value of the decedent’s life in relationships, activities and impact on others.
- Losses to the estate – These damages include medical expenses due to the injury prior to death, conscious pain and suffering prior to death, and funeral expenses. These damages are paid to the estate and eventually distributed along with other assets to the decedent’s heirs.
The first claim is subject to the two-year statute of limitations, but the estate claim has a five-year tolling provision if the estate is not probated. A representative may be able to bring the estate’s claim up to seven years after death in some cases.
Let Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Help You Fight For Justice
If you’re wondering whether to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, talk to a caring and committed attorney at The McGarity Group. We can evaluate your case and advise you about how to proceed. To schedule a free consultation, call our Buford office today at 770-692-9877 or contact us online. We serve clients in the greater Atlanta area and throughout Georgia.