If an individual dies due to the accidental or intentional negligence of another person or entity, the family of the victim could file a wrongful death lawsuit. Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act states that the spouse, children, or parents/guardians of the victim can file a claim to recover the value of the life of the deceased.
If your loved one died as a result of an accident, contact our Georgia wrongful death lawyers at Larrison Law Firm Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys for a free case evaluation.
Overview of the Wrongful Death Statutes in Georgia
Typically, the family of the victim has 2 years to file a wrongful death claim. However, this time may be extended or reduced based on the conditions of the accident/death.
There are two parts to determining the value of life: tangible and intangible.
- Tangible damages, also known as economic damages, involves what the victim could have made over their lifetime. An attorney may also include the value of any household tasks that the victim was responsible for.
- Intangible damages, also known as noneconomic damages, involves the pain/suffering the victim and their family experienced between the accident and the death, loss of consortium/relationship, mental anguish suffered by the victim and their family, and more.
In some cases, the family may also bring an estate claim to cover additional expenses related to the pain/suffering of the victim.
What is a Wrongful Death Case?
According to Georgia law, a death is classified as wrongful if it was caused by negligence on the part of another person or business.
For example, a driver that makes a right turn at a red light and kills a pedestrian has caused a wrongful death. If a property owner knowingly allows a violent crime to occur can be held responsible for any deaths that occur due to that crime.
The surviving family members of the victim can seek compensation for the wrongful death through the civil justice system.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Statute of Limitations in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, the family of the victim has 2 years to file a claim. However, this time may be reduced or lengthened depending on the conditions of the accident.
For example, if the government is liable for the death, the deadline can be as short as 6 months to a year. This depends on which level of the government (city, state, county, or federal) is involved, as well as the events of the accident. This is known as an ante litem deadline. An experienced accident attorney can help you determine how long you have to receive compensation in these cases.
If the death is due to a violation of Georgia law, the statute of limitations may be halted briefly, pending the criminal prosecution against the defendant. The crime may not involve criminal intent or negligence to pause the statute.
If death was due to a motor vehicle crash in which the responsible driver could be charged with a crime, the statute of limitations may be stopped for up to 6 years, or until charges are dispensed — whichever is shorter. The 2-year period begins after the dispensation or 6 years.
What Is an Estate Claim?
In some cases, the family may include an estate claim as part of the lawsuit to cover burial expenses, medical bills, and compensation for the pain/suffering experienced by the victim prior to their death. Unfortunately, many attorneys often mistakenly overlook this claim. However, the period of time between the accident and the death of the victim is critical. Be sure that you mention this during your case evaluation.
While these two claims are two completely different, they are often placed under the same lawsuit. However, they are completely separate. In some cases, the two may compete with each other. Therefore, it’s critical to work with an attorney like Brady M. Larrison that understands his duties to both.
How Is Compensation Distributed?
The distribution of compensation from a wrongful death suit depends on the victim’s Will, and, if there is no Will in place, distribution is based on Georgia intestate succession statute:
- If the victim is married with no children, the spouse receives all compensation.
- If the victim is not married but has children, the children receive all of the compensation.
- If the victim is married with children, the compensation is split among the spouse and children, with the spouse receiving at least 1/3 of the settlement.
- If the victim is not married and has no children, their parents will receive compensation if they are still alive.
Contact a Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney
If your loved one died due to the negligence of another person or entity, you may be entitled to compensation. Brady M. Larrison of Larrison Law Firm Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys can help.
For more than a decade, he has served plaintiffs in and around Athens, Loganville, and Monroe. He and his team can help you determine what your case is worth with a free case evaluation. Call the office at 770-626-7895 or use our online form to schedule your evaluation.