If You Lost a Loved One in a Sudden Accident, Call Our Office for Help
When a spouse, parent, or another close loved one leaves the house, you generally expect to see them again later that day. As too many families in the Atlanta area know, however, unexpected accidents and incidents can happen at any time, and they can result in the sudden and untimely death of a family member.
Knowing what to do after the tragic death of a loved one can be difficult. The emotional weight of the loss is intense, and you may be dealing with extensive financial losses, as well. It is important to know that the office of Brauns Law, PC is here to help. Gwinnett County Wrongful death lawyer, David Brauns represents the rights and interests of families who suffered a sudden loss of a loved one, and we strive to help you find justice and move forward in the best possible position. Discussing a death is never easy, but know we handle every case with compassion and commitment you can trust. Call today at (404) 975-2576 or contact us online to discuss your options for free.
Georgia Wrongful Death Laws
Every state has its own specific laws regarding wrongful death claims, including what constitutes a wrongful death, who can file a claim, and what damages parties may seek in this type of case. It is essential that you seek help from a lawyer who understands Georgia’s complex wrongful death laws and how to apply them to your case.
What is a wrongful death?
A wrongful death stems from a negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal act of another person or party. Many wrongful death cases arising from the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Products liability accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Acts of violence
Who can file a claim?
While a tragic death may affect many people, not just anyone can recover financially from a liable party. The following people can file a claim under Georgia law, in the following order:
- A surviving spouse
- Surviving children (the spouse should care for the interests of minor children)
- Surviving parents if there is no surviving spouse or children
- The personal representative of the deceased’s estate if there is no spouse, children, or parents
A personal representative can also file a survival action to seek different damages than are available in a wrongful death claim.
Damages available for a wrongful death
While a family may feel like their losses are endless after losing a beloved spouse or parent, the law limits the types of damages you can seek in a wrongful death claim. Such damages include:
- Lost income, benefits, and financial support of the deceased
- Loss of household services, such as childcare or cleaning
- Loss of care, companionship, and similar intangible losses
In a survival action, the following damages are available:
- Medical bills for treatment before the victim passed away
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before death
How much time do you have to file?
In most cases, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Georgia is two years from the time of the death. While this deadline may extend in some cases, you should always speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you know the time limits in your situation.
Gwinnett County Wrongful Death FAQ
Losing a loved one in an accident is never an easy thing. However, when that accident happens due to someone else’s negligence and the accident was preventable, it makes dealing with the loved one’s death all the more difficult. If your loved one died because another person or a business acted in a reckless, careless, unsafe, or negligent manner, then you may be in a position to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against the party or parties who were at fault.
If a person you love passed away in an accident that someone else caused, the knowledgeable team of Gwinnett County wrongful death attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help. Our legal team can file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against the responsible party and help you pursue compensation for the full value of your loved one’s life.
What is the “full value of the decedent’s life”?
Although money can never fully compensate for a lost loved one, it is the only means available under the law to try and bring a sense of justice, closure, and peace. Wrongful death claims in Georgia aim to compensate for the “full value of a deceased individual’s life,” under the state’s wrongful death statute. In a nutshell, this means that all wrongful death claims have the decedent’s point of view in mind.
Georgia measures the decedent’s full life value in terms of both tangibles and intangibles. The tangible portion of the deceased individual’s full life value is the economic value of the deceased individual’s life. Tangibles refer to the value of a decedent’s anticipated future earnings. In addition, tangibles encompass the monetary value that is associated with cooking, taking care of chores around the house, and caring for loved ones—all of which the decedent could have done, had he or she not passed away in the accident.
The intangible component of a deceased individual’s full life value encompasses the enjoyable parts of life that cannot be touched, including playing sports, participating in volunteer activities, achieving various life goals, having children, obtaining a degree and graduating from school, and spending time with friends and family members.
If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, the experienced team of Gwinnett County wrongful death attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help you recover monetary compensation for the full value of your loved one’s life, as contemplated by the state’s wrongful death statute. If the at-fault person’s insurance company refuses to offer you fair compensation, we can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the Georgia court system.
What types of accidents can lead to an accident victim’s untimely death?
When an accident victim suffers severe injuries in an accident, and he or she passes away, the decedent’s surviving family members can assert a wrongful death claim. Lawrenceville motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, slip and falls (along with other accidents that occur on someone else’s premises due to a property defect), and car and truck accidents can lead to numerous serious injuries that may wind up being fatal.
For example, in a motorcycle accident where the accident victim falls off of a motorcycle and lands on the ground, the accident victim may suffer a fatal spinal cord injury, internal bleeding in some area of the body, or a traumatic head or brain injury.
If your loved one suffered injuries in a fatal accident, the Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help you pursue monetary recovery by way of a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Once we determine that you have a valid case, our team will work tirelessly to help you pursue full compensation for all of your family’s losses.
Who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Gwinnett County?
When a loved one passes away in an accident that someone else caused, surviving family members may be in the position to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against the person or entity that was responsible for causing the accident. In many cases, the decedent leaves behind numerous grieving family members, including spouses and children.
If the decedent was married at the time he or she passed away, the surviving spouse must file the claim for wrongful death. In cases where the decedent leaves behind surviving children, then the decedent’s spouse must serve as the designated legal representative for all of the children.
Furthermore, if a settlement is forthcoming in the wrongful death case—or the jury awards money at trial—the spouse must share this monetary compensation with the decedent’s surviving children. Regardless of the number of children who are in the picture, the surviving spouse may not recover anything less than one-third of the total amount of the wrongful death settlement or jury verdict.
In some cases when a decedent passes away, the decedent is an unmarried or divorced parent. When that is the situation, and there are surviving children, these children hold the wrongful death claim together.
The experienced team of Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help you determine if you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, and if so, will work to pursue compensation for the full value of the decedent’s life and losses.
How is a Gwinnett County estate claim different from a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful death claims are not the only types of claims that a surviving spouse or another family member can make following the death of a loved one in an accident. In addition to filing a wrongful death claim, the decedent’s survivor may file an estate claim.
As part of an estate claim filed in Lawrenceville, a claimant can recover:
- Monetary compensation for all of the pain, suffering, and inconvenience that the accident victim endured between the time the accident occurred and the time he or she passed away
- Monetary compensation for all medical treatment bills that the accident victim incurred between the date of the accident and the time that he or she finally passed away
- Compensation for all of the funeral expenses and burial costs that the accident victim had to incur as a result of his or her death
Many wrongful deaths occur totally out of the blue. Consequently, the decedent may not leave behind a will at the time of his or her passing. When a decedent has a valid will in place at the time of death, then the decedent dies testate. In most cases, the decedent’s will identifies a spouse or some other close relative as the estate administrator. The administrator is the person who is responsible for bringing an estate claim following the decedent’s untimely death.
When a decedent does not have a valid will in place at the time of his or her passing, then the decedent dies intestate. If there is no will, the State of Georgia’s intestacy laws will be used to determine which of the decedent’s remaining family members can file a claim. In addition to filing a wrongful death claim in your case, the experienced attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with filing an estate claim under the applicable Georgia laws.
What makes Gwinnett County’s wrongful death and estate laws unique?
When it comes to its wrongful death and estate laws, the State of Georgia is unique from other jurisdictions. Under the laws of many jurisdictions throughout the United States, only personal representatives, administrators, and executors of the decedent’s estate are in a position to file a wrongful death claim. However, in the State of Georgia, this is certainly not the case. The primary reason why this is true is that in Georgia, wrongful death claims and estate claims are two independent legal actions.
Also, unlike other jurisdictions throughout the country, the estate administrator is typically the person who files the estate claim in Georgia. The administrator of the decedent’s estate, in most cases, is a close family member, such as the deceased individual’s surviving spouse. When it comes to wrongful death claims in Georgia, however, it is usually the children, parents, or spouse of the decedent who files the claim.
Finally, in Georgia, a non-relative estate administrator can only file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent if there are no surviving parents, children, or spouse. If damages result from the wrongful death claim by way of a settlement or jury verdict, those damages are held for the benefit of the deceased individual’s next of kin.
What types of recoverable damages can families pursue in a Gwinnett County wrongful death case?
In a Georgia wrongful death case, monetary compensation can come from a settlement or a verdict at trial. In the case of a jury trial, it is the members of the jury who decide what, if any, damages they will award in the wrongful death claim.
Moreover, when jurors are deliberating on what damages to award in the case, they are supposed to view the case from the point of view of the decedent. Specifically, jury members can consider all of the activities, places, events, and people that gave the deceased individual’s life some meaning. In addition, they may consider the videos, stories, and photographs presented by the decedent’s loved ones who may testify in open court on the witness stand. After listening to all of the evidence presented, the jurors would then decide the damages.
As part of the estate claim portion, a jury can award expenses related to the funeral and burial of the decedent, as well as damages for all of the pain and suffering that the decedent endured until the time of his or her untimely passing.
Finally, a jury may award compensation for medical procedures, treatment, and bills that the decedent incurred from the time of the occurrence until he or she passed away. Lastly, as part of the estate claim, a jury may decide to award monetary compensation for pre-accident fright that the decedent experienced at the time of the occurrence—when he or she may have realized that death was coming due to the fatal injury.
What is the statute of limitations for Gwinnett County wrongful death cases?
In wrongful death and estate actions that take place in the State of Georgia, the surviving family members of the decedent have two years from the decedent’s death date to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death damages against the individual or entity who caused the fatal accident. However, in certain instances, this deadline can change.
In cases where a municipality, such as a city, county, or state, is a potential defendant, the deadline can decrease to six months from the date of the decedent’s death. This is because when it comes to municipalities, there are often notice provisions. You must fulfill these notice provisions before ever filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the case.
Moreover, if the wrongful death occurred because of a statutory traffic violation or crime, the two-year wrongful death statute of limitations may be tolled, or put on hold, until the traffic case reaches a final resolution, or six years expires, whichever is shortest. Once that time period runs, the regular two-year wrongful death statute of limitations will start running.
If a person you love died in a serious accident that was caused by somebody else’s negligence, time is of the essence. The knowledgeable and compassionate Gwinnett County wrongful death attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm are ready to help you pursue much-needed compensation in your wrongful death case.
We help families in their darkest hours seek the financial recoveries they deserve. While this cannot bring your loved one back, it can help your family move forward with financial peace of mind and a sense of justice.
Why Brauns Law?
We know that choosing a law firm to represent the interests of your family is a stressful undertaking. There is so much at stake in every wrongful death claim, so you need to ensure you have a lawyer who not only understands how to successfully handle a wrongful death claim, but one who will give you and your family the attention you deserve in this difficult time. This is where Brauns Law comes in.
Attorney David Brauns and his team know how to guide you through the entire legal process, from gathering evidence to filing a claim to representing you in court and settlement hearings. We will never try to push you into accepting less than you deserve; instead, we will fight to negotiate a settlement that will cover all of your losses.
The firm of Brauns Law, PC always keep in mind that you are going through an emotionally stressful time, so we do everything in our power to relieve you of any additional stress. We represent clients with sensitivity and compassion. We will not treat you like just another case number, and you will receive the individual attention that you need and deserve. Our goal is to obtain the best possible outcome for the future of you and your family.
In addition to our personalized approach to every case, attorney David Brauns has the experience needed to skillfully handle all aspects of your case. The following are only some of the ways we help our clients:
- Investigate the circumstances of the accident to prove the negligence of all liable parties
- Calculate the value of your claim
- Communicate with any insurance companies involved to try to obtain a just settlement
- File a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court if an insurer will not offer the full amount you deserve
- Handle every step of the litigation process, including engaging in settlement negotiations
Discuss Your Situation with Our Gwinnett County Wrongful Death Law Firm
When you do not know where to turn after a tragic death in your family, do not hesitate to call our personal injury lawyers at Brauns Law, PC. We will listen to what happened and help determine whether you have a valid legal claim. We know the last thing you need is the stress of navigating the legal system, so we handle every step for you, always keeping you informed of any new developments or options. We have had many clients dealing with a painful loss, and our priority is to help your family as much as possible.
If you are in or around Gwinnett County and need legal representation and guidance you can trust, consult with wrongful death attorney David Brauns. Call (404) 975-2576 or contact us online to discuss your situation for free today.