At Reynolds, Horne & Survant, we understand the death of a loved one is a difficult situation. Wrongful death lawsuits may be the last thing you want to consider during this time.
State law defines “wrongful death” as being caused by the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal acts of a person or entity. “Negligence” is usually defined as harm caused by failure to use reasonable care when there was a duty to do so. The negligent act could have been committed by a person or a company.
If you feel this definition may apply in the death of your loved one, our attorneys will help you start the process and guide you along the way.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Who can file wrongful death lawsuits varies by state. In Georgia, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by a surviving spouse. If there are dependant children, the surviving spouse needs to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. If there is not a surviving spouse or children, the parents of the deceased can file the lawsuit.
A personal representative of the deceased can also file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased if there is no surviving spouse or children. In this instance, any settlement would be held by the deceased’s estate on behalf of the next of kin.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits typically need to be filed within two years of the person’s death. However, there are circumstances that will stop the clock on the two-year time limit. One example is if there is a criminal case brought about as a result of the death. The two-year clock stops until the criminal case is completed.
The statute of limitations in Georgia also calls for the two years to be stalled if the deceased estate is not probated for up to five years.
What Might You Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?
When someone passes away unexpectedly, survivors are dealing with grief while they may be worrying about finances. If the deceased’s passing was a result of the negligence of another, a wrongful death lawsuit is a way to remedy the financial burden in the long term.
There are two types of damage claims for wrongful death lawsuits.
The first is to establish the “full value of the life of the deceased.” These damages can be claimed by surviving family members of the deceased. The full value of the life of the deceased is determined by lost wages and benefits. These include what the deceased would have been expected to earn in the course of their lifetime. The intangible benefits of the deceased the loss of care and companionship resulting from the death.
The second form of damages is meant to remedy the costs associated with a person’s death. These damages include all medical bills resulting from the deceased person’s last illness or injury. Funeral and burial costs would also be recovered by these damages. Conscious pain and suffering of the deceased can also be compensated in this claim. This type of claim would be brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
Both of these types of damages are remedied monetarily.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits Can Be Settled Out of Court
You will not necessarily have to go to court to receive a monetary award in a wrongful death suit. Prior to litigation, settlements are often negotiated with the potential defendant(s).
If a settlement is not a possibility, then the case would proceed to the courts. When you are represented by Reynolds, Horne & Survant, you can rest assured that we will be there to help you through every step of the process.
A wrongful death lawsuit is considered a civil case in court. While your case will be presented to a jury, in most states civil cases do not require a unanimous verdict.
Whether your wrongful death lawsuit is settled inside or outside of the courtroom, we will work hard to make sure you are compensated fairly and completely. Please contact us for a free consultation to discuss your options in a wrongful death lawsuit. We are located in Georgia, but can serve clients nationwide.