Coping with the unexpected loss of someone close to you is never easy. The grieving process is even more painful if you know the person’s death is someone else’s fault. Georgia allows eligible individuals to file a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one dies due to another party’s negligence or reckless actions.
While no amount of money can replace the loss of a cherished family member, recovering compensation from the at-fault party could help alleviate the financial hardships that accompany a sudden loss. A claim also brings some peace and closure for many people by knowing that a measure of justice has been done.
Not everyone can bring a wrongful death claim in Georgia. If you’re unsure whether compensation is possible for you, a Columbus wrongful death lawyer can determine your legal options in a free case review. At Bence Law Firm, LLC, we have the skills and resources to help your family hold the responsible party accountable for your tragic loss. Call or contact us today for a free consultation with a compassionate personal injury attorney.
What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
In Georgia, a wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the negligent act of a person or other entity. It doesn’t matter if the action was intentional or unintentional. If someone is killed due to negligence, the law allows family members to pursue compensation for the “full value of life of the decedent.”
All individuals have a legal obligation to act responsibly to prevent others from harm. Negligence occurs when a person acts carelessly, disregarding their duty to keep others safe. Examples of careless acts that can lead to wrongful death include:
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving
- Medical malpractice
- Failing to eliminate hazardous conditions on a property
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Designing, manufacturing, and selling defective products or dangerous drugs
Negligence frequently plays a role in wrongful death claims. However, wrongful death claims could also be brought for a death caused by criminal activity, which is typically intentional. Common examples of crimes that can cause the death of another include assault and murder.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Georgia, certain surviving family members of the deceased person can take legal action against the responsible party through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death is not a criminal matter. Wrongful death lawsuits are litigated in civil court. While criminal charges could potentially be brought against the perpetrator if they committed a crime that resulted in your loved one’s death, the state would bring those charges in criminal court, which is separate from a civil court case.
In civil court, the possible penalty for wrongful death is exclusively financial, and the burden of proof is lower. You merely need to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant contributed to the victim’s death.
The Four Key Elements of Wrongful Death Claims
To file a strong Columbus wrongful death claim, you or your attorney will need to prove that the at-fault party was liable for your loved one’s untimely death. There are four primary elements to a wrongful death case:
- Negligence ― First, you need to establish that the defendant acted negligently. For instance, if your loved one was killed in a car accident caused by a texting driver, you could use cell phone records, traffic camera footage, witness statements, and other evidence to show that they were negligent.
- Breach of duty ― You need to be able to prove that the defendant had a duty to protect your loved one from injury or death. For example, all motorists must safely operate their vehicles and obey all traffic laws. Failure to do this could constitute a breach of that duty.
- Causation ― Third, you must show that the defendant’s breach directly caused your loved one’s death. In the above scenario, you could argue that because the at-fault motorist was texting while driving, they caused the crash that ultimately killed your family member.
- Losses ― Finally, you must demonstrate to the court that your family suffered compensable losses due to your loved one’s sudden death. These losses could be financial or non-financial.
Through a wrongful death lawsuit, you could recover compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, loss of income and lost future earnings, loss of domestic services, loss of companionship, loss of love, guidance, and inheritance, and pain and suffering.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Georgia law, only specific people can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. They include:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s children
- Parents of the victim
- The estate representative
Every family situation is unique, so awarding compensation in a wrongful death case can get tricky. For example, the court may need to decide how to divide compensation between the deceased’s parents if they are no longer married. Or, if the deceased was absent from a child’s life, that child may be prohibited from recovering wrongful death compensation in Georgia. With the help of an experienced lawyer, you can learn whether you are entitled to file a claim and get assistance with every step of the process.
Talk to a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Columbus, GA
At Bence Law Firm, LLC, we understand how traumatizing it is to lose a loved one, especially when someone else’s carelessness or intentional actions are to blame. But you could have an opportunity to pursue justice for your family member through a wrongful death claim.
Let a wrongful death lawyer from our law firm help during this impossible time. You should not have to worry about making ends meet while attempting to move forward in life. By seeking compensation through a wrongful death action, you could potentially get the resources you need to continue the healing process without further financial worry.
You only have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.