Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

find out how to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia

If a death is the result of the negligence or conduct of another individual or entity, the surviving family members of the deceased will be entitled to claim damages from the responsible party. The claim is known as a wrongful death claim.

Let’s take a look at what filing such a claim in Georgia entails, and why you should make sure you have an experienced Atlanta wrongful death attorney by your side at such a difficult time.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Georgia, a wrongful death claim can be filed when a person’s death is caused by the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal actions of another person or entity. This could include a wide range of scenarios, such as car accidents caused by drunk drivers, medical malpractice leading to patient death, or fatal accidents at the workplace due to inadequate safety measures.

The right to file a wrongful death claim is typically reserved for the immediate family members of the deceased. If the deceased has a surviving spouse, the spouse will be the only person who can institute a wrongful death claim. If there are any surviving children the spouse will act as a representative of the children, ensuring that their rights are protected and that they get the benefits they are entitled to.

In some cases, other relatives such as siblings or grandparents may also be eligible to file a claim. This is true when there are no surviving spouses or children. The person instituting the claim will have to prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

The damages awarded in a wrongful death claim are meant to compensate for the financial and emotional loss suffered by the family members. These can include:

Economic Damages

Damages suffered that have a measurable loss in monetary terms will be labeled as economic damages. These damages are also known as special damages and can include:

  • Medical Expenses: These are the expenses that the deceased incurred to treat their injury. It is important to note that the care received should have been as a direct result of their injury that ultimately led to their death.
  • Funeral and Burial Costs: The costs that the dependents had to incur for a funeral and burial of the deceased.
  • Lost Wages and Benefits: This includes the income as well as any benefits the deceased would have received if they had lived. Benefits will include pension plans or medical coverage.
  • Lost Inheritance: This refers to the value of what the deceased would have left to their heirs had they lived a normal life expectancy.

you have the right to seek compensation after a loved one's death due to negligence

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are meant to compensate for the intangible losses experienced by the family members. Non-economic damages cannot be quantified in monetary value and includes all intangible losses. These can include:

  • Loss of Companionship: This includes loss of love, companionship, comfort, and care that the deceased provided
  • Emotional Distress: This is meant to compensate for the emotional impact, such as anxiety, depression, or grief, experienced by the family members as a result of the death.
  • Pain and Suffering of the Deceased: If the deceased did not die immediately and suffered pain before their death, compensation may be awarded for their pain and suffering.

Punitive Damages

If the person responsible for the deceased’s death acted in a malicious manner, the court may award punitive damages as a way to punish the defendant for their actions.

The Full Value of the Life of the Deceased

O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2 creates a unique aspect of a wrongful death claim namely the concept of “the full value of the life of the deceased.” This includes all damages as previously mentioned.

Legal Process

The process of filing a wrongful death claim in Atlanta, Georgia, involves several steps. First, a complaint is filed in the appropriate court, detailing the circumstances of the death and the damages sought. The defendant is then served with a copy of the complaint and given a chance to respond. If the case is not settled out of court, it proceeds to trial where a judge or jury will determine liability and damages.

In order for surviving defendants to receive benefits, a wrongful death claim will have to be filed in the appropriate court. This claim will set out the circumstances of the death as well as the damages that the claimants wish to receive.

The defendant will be served with a copy of the claim and if no settlement can be reached the case will proceed to trial. It is in the claimants best interest to hire legal representation to represent them during this process to ensure that all requirements are met.

Contact an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney for Guidance

Losing a loved one is a devastating experience, and when that loss is due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct, it can be even more difficult to bear. While no amount of money can truly compensate for such a loss, a wrongful death claim can provide financial stability and a sense of justice for the grieving family.

If you find yourself in such a situation, it is crucial to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, who can guide you through this complex legal process. Contact the Weinstein Law Firm at 770-HELP-NOW.

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