The loss of a loved one can create mental, emotional, and financial strain for surviving family members. In cases where this loss is associated with an accident and the wrongful acts of another individual, a wrongful death claim may be necessary to get the compensation to which the survivors are entitled. For help, contact David Brauns, a wrongful death attorney in Duluth Georgia who can guide you through the wrongful death claims process in Georgia.
What constitutes a wrongful death claim in Georgia?
In the state of Georgia, the law states that wrongful death is the death of one person due to the intentional, reckless, negligent, or criminal actions of another person or entity. If you feel that the fatal accident that took the life of your loved one was a result of negligence, speak to Brauns Law, PC. We can help you prove the following elements.
- Duty of Care: the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim; e.g., must stop at a red light
- Breach of Duty of Care/Negligence: the defendant violated that duty by acting negligently; e.g., ran a red light
- Causation: the defendant’s actions caused the death; e.g., crashed into the deceased
Duluth Wrongful Death FAQ
Losing a loved one in a serious accident is hard enough. However, if someone could have prevented the accident by taking the time to act cautiously and carefully under the circumstances, the loss is even more challenging. If your loved one died because of another individual or company’s wrongful or negligent act, the surviving family members might file a wrongful death claim.
In Georgia, a surviving family member can bring a wrongful death claim that encompasses the “full value of the decedent’s life.” The experienced Duluth wrongful death attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can handle all of the legal aspects of your wrongful death claim, leaving you and other surviving family members the time that you need to be with each other and mourn the loss of your deceased loved one.
What types of accidents are typically fatal?
Many types of accidents may occur in Duluth that could be fatal. Such accidents include car and truck accidents, bicycle and motorcycle accidents, swimming pool accidents, boating accidents, and slip-and-fall accidents. If the accident is serious enough, such as in a head-on motor vehicle collision, the accident victim may pass away immediately. In other accidents, the accident victim may sustain a traumatic head or brain injury, spinal cord injury, internal bleeding, or another severe injury, and later suffer complications that result in the accident victim’s ultimate death.
What is a wrongful death claim in Duluth?
The first type of claim that a surviving family member may file following the death of a loved one in an accident is called a wrongful death claim. Generally speaking, when a surviving family member files a claim for wrongful death, the claim encompasses the decedent’s full life value. In other words, in Georgia wrongful death claims, the ultimate value of the claim is assessed from the point of view of the deceased individual.
When it comes to assessing the full value of a deceased person’s life, there are two essential components:
- Intangible losses – The intangible component of a person’s full life value consists of the important abstract parts of life on which most individuals place a great deal of value and importance. Those parts include enjoying oneself, relaxing with friends and family, volunteering, taking part in sports, raising children, and achieving certain life goals, such as having children, graduating from school, or earning a degree.
- Tangible losses – The tangible component of a person’s full life value is also sometimes called the economic value of a person’s life. This part typically includes potential future earnings and the monetary value of certain activities that the decedent could have performed, such as household chores or taking care of children and other loved ones, had they survived the accident.
The knowledgeable Duluth wrongful death attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with proving both components of a wrongful death claim and will help you pursue wrongful death benefits on behalf of your deceased loved one.
What is an estate claim in Duluth? How does it differ from a wrongful death claim?
In addition to making a wrongful death claim, a decedent’s surviving loved one may file an estate claim. As part of the estate claim, a decedent’s surviving family members may be eligible to recover monetary compensation representing all of the suffering and pain that the accident victim had to endure from the time of the accident until the time of the decedent’s death.
In addition to pursuing monetary compensation for this pain and suffering, the accident victim may pursue compensation for all of the medical bills that the deceased accident victim had to incur before their death, along with the departed loved one’s funeral expenses.
As part of an estate claim, the surviving family members of a deceased loved one may assert a claim for punitive damages. Punitive damages are often available in cases when the at-fault person or entity acted in a particularly egregious or inexcusable manner under the circumstances. The primary purpose of jury-awarded, punitive damages in an estate claim is to punish the wrongdoer and discourage other individuals or entities from acting in the same way.
In some cases, accident victims die with a will in place, while in other cases, the decedent passes away intestate. If the decedent passes away with a will already drawn up, then the administrator whom the decedent named in the will (typically a spouse or close relative) is responsible for bringing any estate claim. However, in the event the decedent passes away without having a valid will in place, then the intestacy laws for the state of Georgia will determine which surviving family member is responsible for bringing the estate claim.
Who is responsible for filing a wrongful death claim in Duluth?
The wrongful death statute in the state of Georgia outlines which surviving family members are eligible to bring a claim for wrongful death after a deceased loved one passes away. In cases where the deceased individual is married, then the surviving spouse is the individual who must bring the wrongful death claim.
In some cases, in addition to a surviving spouse, the deceased individual may leave surviving children. If there are surviving children in the picture, then the decedent’s surviving spouse must act as the surviving children’s legal representative. In addition, the spouse must share any damage award from the wrongful death legal action with the surviving children.
No matter how many surviving children the decedent has, however, the surviving spouse must never receive below 1/3 of the total damage recovery in the wrongful death legal action. In some cases, at the time of their passing, the deceased individual may have been divorced. In that instance, the deceased individual’s surviving children would jointly hold the wrongful death claim.
How are the wrongful death and estate laws in Georgia different from the laws of other states?
To be sure, the wrongful death and estate laws that exist in the state of Georgia are different from the laws of other states. In many other jurisdictions in the country, to be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, the person must be the executor, personal representative, or administrator of the loved one’s estate. No such requirement exists in Georgia, primarily because the estate claim and wrongful death claim that a surviving family member may bring after a loved one’s death are totally separate claims.
Also, in many Georgia wrongful death claims, it is the surviving spouse, parents, or children of the decedent who end up filing the claim. On the other hand, the estate administrator (who is usually the surviving spouse or some other close family member) is typically the individual who winds up filing the estate claim.
Also, in the state of Georgia, an estate administrator who is not a relative of the decedent may only file a claim for wrongful death if the decedent did not have a spouse, parents, or children who survived them at the time of death. Under these circumstances, the unrelated estate administrator must file the claim for wrongful death. Furthermore, the decedent’s “next of kin” will receive any damages recovered as part of the wrongful death claim (such as by way of a monetary settlement or jury verdict).
What are some damages that I can recover in Duluth wrongful death cases?
As stated previously, in Georgia wrongful death cases, looking inward from the decedent’s point of view is the best way to determine the value of a claim. Some Duluth wrongful death claims settle before a trial ever takes place, while in other instances, the case must go to trial. When the case goes to trial, the jury will determine what, if any, damages to award.
When determining the amount of damages to award in a Georgia wrongful death case, jury members usually consider various factors and evidence, including:
- The people, places, activities, and events that brought meaning to that particular individual’s life
- Photographs, stories, and videos from surviving loved ones who may be witnesses in court at the time of the jury trial and may testify on the witness stand
After considering the evidence, the jury may come up with an amount of damages to award as part of the wrongful death and estate claims. In terms of the estate claim, the jury can award monetary compensation for all of the pain and suffering that the accident victim endured from the time of the accident up until the time that they passed away.
In addition, the jury may award the deceased individual’s estate compensation for all of the expenses that were associated with the funeral. The estate might also receive compensation for all of the medical treatment and medical procedure bills that the decedent incurred between the time of the accident and the time they died.
Finally, the decedent’s estate may be awarded monetary compensation for shock, terror, and fear experienced between the time of the accident and the time the decedent passed away (such as post-impact fright when the deceased realized that they had suffered a fatal injury and imminent death was unavoidable).
To know what damages are available in your specific case, you should seek an evaluation by a wrongful death attorney in Duluth as soon as possible.
How long do surviving family members have to file a wrongful death legal action in Duluth?
In Georgia wrongful death and estate actions, time may be of the essence. In the majority of wrongful death cases that arise in Duluth, the decedent’s surviving family members have a period of two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent against the at-fault person or entity. In some instances, depending upon the circumstances, this statute of limitations time period may be shorter or longer than two years from the date of death.
For example, the county, city, state, or federal government may be fully or partially to blame for the death of a deceased loved one. Under those circumstances, a surviving family member may only have between six months and one year from the date of the accident in which to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one. The actual deadline that applies will depend upon the branch of government that caused or contributed to the person’s death.
In some cases, accidental deaths in Georgia take place because a person or entity violated a Georgia statute. For example, the at-fault person may have broken a Georgia traffic law or rule of the road, or the at-fault person may have committed a violent crime that resulted in the decedent’s death. When that happens, the ordinary Georgia two-year wrongful death statute of limitations may be put on hold until the criminal prosecution against the at-fault person or entity comes to a resolution.
In fatal motor vehicle accident cases where the at-fault driver violated one or more rules of the road and received a traffic violation or criminal charges, the wrongful death statute of limitations may be paused from the traffic violation or accident date until a final disposition is reached in the traffic case, or for a period of six years—whichever period of time is shorter. After that length of time, the two-year statute of limitations period will then begin to run.
If your loved one passed away in an accident that was caused by someone else, it is vital to seek out the services of an experienced Duluth wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. The legal team at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will make sure to promptly file your claim for wrongful death and satisfy the Georgia wrongful death statute of limitations.
Who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim?
Georgia law dictates who is able to file a wrongful death claim. The following list depicts the order of eligibility for wrongful death benefits in this state.
- Surviving spouse and/or children: If there is a surviving spouse, she can file the wrongful death claim. She must represent the interests of any minor children in the case. The surviving spouse will receive a minimum of one-third of the wrongful death settlement, regardless of the number of minor children represented.
- Surviving parent(s): If there is no surviving spouse or children, the parents of the deceased can file a claim.
- Personal representative for the estate: In the event that there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, a personal representative can file the claim.
What types of damages can I recover in a wrongful death claim?
You could have two types of claims after the wrongful death of a loved one.
Claims brought by surviving family (wrongful death actions) of the deceased are intended to compensate for the full value of the lost life and its effects on the beneficiaries. Damages can include:
- Financial losses (for example, wages the deceased would have earned)
- Intangible losses (for example, loss of companionship or loss of parenting care)
Survival actions brought on behalf of the estate seek compensation for financial losses associated with the person’s death and the deceased’s own damages. Damages can include:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased prior to death
How can I recover damages from a wrongful death claim?
That is where we come in. David Brauns and the Brauns Law, PC team is here to help you move forward as you rebuild your personal and financial future following a fatal accident. We will guide you and your family through the filing requirements, any associated hearings, and settlement.
Here are a few reasons why Brauns Law, PC is the right choice for your wrongful death case.
- Brauns Law, PC knows that you are facing an emotional and stressful time. We will listen to your story with compassion and help you fight for justice for your loved one and get compensation you need.
- We will prove the negligence of the at-fault party by collecting and organizing evidence, eyewitness statements, police reports, etc.
- You will receive the highest level of personal attention. You are not just a file to us; you, your family, and your future truly matter.
We understand that hiring a lawyer can be a stressful undertaking. At Brauns Law, PC, our highest priority is serving you and ensuring that you are informed at all times. We have over a decade of experience with cases just like yours.
David Brauns and the Brauns Law, PC, team are here to help you. We are ready to listen to the details of your case and offer our analysis of how to handle your claim for best results. For a no cost, no obligation consultation, contact us at 404-348-0889.
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“David and his staff were thorough, professional and in communication at all times through the entire process….highly recommend.”
Review by: Robert T.