Losing a loved one is among the most traumatic life experiences a person can endure. Justice and compensation may not be your first priorities immediately after a loved one’s passing, but it’s important to know your legal rights. For example, you may be entitled to compensation for the full value of the life of the decedent in your wrongful death lawsuit.
There is no need to suffer the loss of the financial stability while you are also in mourning. If you lost a loved one as a result of the negligent, reckless or criminal actions of someone else in the state of Georgia, contact the expert legal team at Banks, Stubbs and McFarland in order to begin the wrongful death claim process.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
In the State of Georgia, several parties are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. There is a hierarchy, however, and the highest ranking family member must be the party to initiate the case. According to Georgia’s wrongful death act, the order for who may bring a claim is:
- The administrator or executor may also bring a wrongful death action to recover for the benefit of the next of kin.
It is important to note that if there are children involved and the spouse is filing the suit, any amount recovered will be divided equally between them. Georgia law provides that the spouse shall receive no less than 1/3 of the amount awarded in the wrongful death claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations or deadline to file a Wrongful Death case in Georgia is 2 years from the death of a loved one. In more complicated cases, however, the date of the accident or incident that caused harm could start the clock on the 2 year time limit. There are also exceptions when there is a criminal trial involved.
If the government was involved in your loved one’s death, however, the statute of limitations becomes even shorter. If, for example, your loved one was involved in a car accident with a government vehicle, there may only be 6 months to commence your lawsuit.
Don’t risk the statute of limitations running out on your wrongful death claim. Call 770-887-1209 now to schedule your appointment with the expert attorneys of Banks, Stubbs, and McFarland.
Grounds for Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia
Family members and spouses may initiate a wrongful death claim whenever an accident or act of negligence caused the death of the loved one. Common incidents that are involved in wrongful death claims include:
- Auto Accidents (Cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and 4 wheelers, etc.)
- Drunk Driving Accidents
- Boat Accidents
- Commercial truck accidents such as tractor trailers and dump trucks
- Negligent Supervision
- Slip and Falls
- Workplace Accidents
- Premises liability including negligent security
- Medical malpractice including birth injuries
- Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
- Defective Products
- Contaminated foods
- Swimming Pool Accidents
- Intentional Acts of Violence or Criminal Acts
- Other deaths caused by the negligence of others
Your wrongful death claim can only be successful if your attorney can demonstrate to the judge or jury that the actions of another were the direct cause of your loved one’s death. In order to present your best case, you’ll need to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney, such as a member of Banks, Stubbs and McFarland.
Is There More Than One Kind of Wrongful Death Claim?
There are two types of claims that arise when a loved one is killed by the actions of another. The first claim is the standard wrongful death claim. In this action, the measure of the compensation is the full value of the deceased’s life.
Georgia also allows for something called an “estate claim.” An estate claim takes into consideration the expenses spent by the estate of the loved one such as funeral expenses and compensation for pain and suffering immediately prior to death.
How is Compensation Calculated in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
A jury is responsible for determining the amount of compensation that can be recovered from a wrongful death lawsuit. The jury will base their calculation on two factors that only pertain to the deceased.
The first calculation examines the bottom line costs or income based value of the deceased’s life. Compensation may be recovered to replace the expected salary and other income over a lifetime, including benefits, investments, bonuses, etc. that would have been earned but for the untimely death. The second calculation is more subjective and includes pain and suffering prior to death, and the greatest harm of all: the loss of a human life. Here, the life expectancy of the deceased would be considered along with his/her hobbies, family life, etc.
In order to maximize the value of your wrongful death claim, you need aggressive representation from a lawyer who will provide the most complete and detailed evidence to the jury. Our firm has achieved significant recoveries for victims of wrongful death claims, and we’ll work hard to earn you full compensation for the loss of your loved one.
What are the Types of Damages Available for Wrongful Death Plaintiffs?
As explained above, the bottom line costs or income-based damages awarded in a wrongful death claim are easy to calculate. These are called “economic damages” and pertain to the lost salary and wages of the deceased, funeral expenses, and medical bills prior to death. Damages for “non-economic” compensation are more difficult to calculate since they are intangible. Examples would include pre-death pain and suffering and calculating the significant value of a human life.
The jury may also award damages that are unique to each individual claim. Additionally, in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious or reckless, such as driving drunk, reckless driving, or over-serving by a restaurant, an additional measure of compensation called punitive damages are recoverable as a way to punish the offender. Each case is different, and a skilled wrongful death lawyer will help you understand what your possible damages will include.
Call our office now at 770-887-1209 to ensure that your wrongful death claim is in the caring and experienced hands of Banks, Stubbs, and McFarland.
“Parker represented me in a personal injury case (automobile accident). I had grown weary in dealing with insurance company in an effort to retrieve the minimal medical expenses incurred. As it turns out Parker was able to settle for 5 ½ times the amount of the medical bills! The investigation into the at fault driver’s driving history and the briefing on potential punitive damages caused by a pattern of dangerous driving made the difference. I am grateful for Parker’s expertise in as much as I am for his professionalism, genuine care and concern.”
– Kelly T.
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$2,750,000.00 Tractor Trailer Red Light Violation – Wrongful Death
70 year old man who was killed when a tractor trailer ran a red light on U.S. Highway 441. During litigation following a day long mediation, this case was settled for $2,750,000.00. Other details are omitted due to a confidentiality agreement.
Wrongful Death Case: Providing Alcohol to a Minor
McBride v. St. Ives Country Club, Inc. Case No. 05VS081814G, State Court of Fulton County
Client’s 20-year-old daughter died in a car wreck after drinking at a country club. Since the injury was to the consumer, the estate’s action against the country club was not allowed. However, action was taken under an ancient Georgia law, the Dram Shop Statute, that allows compensation to a parent for serving alcohol to his or her underage minor. Attorney Bob McFarland negotiated a $350,000.00 settlement while a motion for summary judgment was pending in the trial court. In a later related case, the Court of Appeals denied the action. Therefore, the first case would have resulted in a defense victory if Attorney Bob McFarland had not been able to obtain this settlement with the insurance company.
$377,250.00 Auto Accident Wrongful Death Suit in Cherokee County, Georgia
Grizzle v. Hickory Flat Grading, Inc., Case No. 04-SC-1806, State Court of Cherokee County
“Lowboy” tractor trailer pulled out in front of the Client’s husband on Georgia 400 in Cumming, Georgia early in the morning which caused the death of the husband. Defense alleged that the client should not collect since he could have seen the truck. On the eve of the jury trial, Parker McFarland’s former firm, McFarland & McFarland, P.C. negotiated this settlement despite the conflicts in evidence and disputed liability.