The only thing more painful than the sudden loss of a loved one is when the loved one dies in an accident due to someone else’s irresponsibility and negligence. Although no amount of money could ever replace the life of a deceased relative, the negligent individual or individuals who caused the accident should be held financially responsible and accountable.
The compassionate and experienced Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm understand the grief, pain, and suffering that comes with the death of a loved one in a severe accident. If you have lost your loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence, our experienced Lawrenceville personal injury lawyers will work hard to pursue justice and monetary compensation on your behalf and hold the at-fault individual accountable.
Our team will use all of our resources to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death; if necessary, we will secure the services of an expert to pursue your claim. If the at-fault party’s insurance company is unwilling to offer you the full and fair compensation you deserve, we will litigate the wrongful death case and take the company to trial. Please give us a call today to learn more about how we can assist you with pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased loved one, assuring you obtain financial compensation for your loss.
Defining Wrongful Death
According to Georgia law, a wrongful death occurs due to someone else’s negligent, reckless, criminal, or intentional act. If a person reasonably believes that an individual’s death occurred under suspicious circumstances, there may also be a basis to file a wrongful death claim.
In essence, the legal elements of proof in a wrongful death claim are the same as those in an ordinary personal injury claim. What separates the two claims is their outcome. An accident victim has survived their injuries in a personal injury case. In a wrongful death claim, the accident victim has perished.
When a surviving loved one files a wrongful death claim against an at-fault individual or entity, a claim’s most common bases for wrongful death in Georgia include:
- Crime – Criminal activity ending in a fatality can lead to not only a criminal case against the accused wrongdoer, but a civil wrongful death claim. For example, in the case of intentional homicide, there may be grounds for filing a civil wrongful death claim against the person who brought about the death.
- Defective product claims – Manufacturers and distributors of products owe a duty to consumers to make sure that the products are in safe, working, and operable condition at the time they are sold. These products include drugs, electronics, vehicles, and medical devices. If an individual dies due to a product malfunction or defect, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim against the product manufacturer, designer, distributor, or someone else who is in the chain of product distribution.
- Medical malpractice – Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers owe a duty to their patients to perform their job reasonably at all times. When a doctor’s negligence leads to a medication or surgical error or surgical error, or when a doctor’s misdiagnosis leads to a complication that causes death, the healthcare provider may be sued civilly in state court. Specifically, the deceased individual’s family members may file a wrongful death claim stemming from medical malpractice against the negligent healthcare provider.
- Nursing home neglect and abuse – Nursing homes and long-term care centers are responsible for providing thorough and attentive treatment to the patients who reside at their facilities. When a facility staff’s unreasonable behavior under given circumstances results in a resident’s untimely death, nursing home abuse or neglect may become the basis for a wrongful death claim. Moreover, if a nursing home staff member’s physical or sexual abuse of a resident results in the resident’s untimely death, the employee, along with the nursing home, may face a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Negligent construction – Construction workers, engineers, project managers, contractors, and other individuals who oversee construction projects are responsible for acting reasonably under their position’s circumstances and making sure that all work is done safely and professionally at all times. If engineering malpractice or faulty construction leads to a worker’s untimely death, then the worker’s surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim against the construction company, contractor, project manager, or another individual in a position of authority.
- Motor vehicle accidents – When a motor vehicle collides with another motor vehicle or a pedestrian, fatalities can occur. If a driver’s negligence caused a motor vehicle accident resulted in the death of another person involved in the accident, the surviving loved ones may sue the at-fault driver as part of a wrongful death claim.
- Dram shop liability – It is a bar’s (or any establishment that serves alcoholic beverages) responsibility to discontinue serving alcohol to an individual that appears visibly intoxicated. If an establishment continues to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, and that person gets behind the wheel of a car and kills another person in a drunk driving accident, the establishment may be sued in a wrongful death action.
The knowledgeable team of Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you throughout every aspect of a wrongful death claim, filing a lawsuit against the individual or entity that caused the untimely death of your loved one, if necessary.
Eligibility to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia
Generally speaking, an individual must be a parent, spouse, adult child, or a designated personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate to file a wrongful death claim. Unfortunately, you are not eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia if the deceased individual was only a friend or non-relative.
In the case of a personal representative of a deceased individual’s estate, the representative may transfer wrongful death damages obtained via a wrongful death claim to the deceased individual’s next of kin or closest relative. If the decedent had named in a legal document specific people as beneficiaries, then the estate’s representative is required by law to respect those wishes and disperse any wrongful death damages accordingly.
The experienced Lawrenceville wrongful death attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased individual.
Filing a Lawrenceville Wrongful Death Claim in a Timely and Efficient Manner
The State of Georgia has set a hard-and-fast statute of limitations that covers the time limits for filing a wrongful death claim. For wrongful death actions, there is a firm two-year window of time following a loved one’s death, absent some very limited exceptions, to file a lawsuit arising out of the death. If your loved one’s death is also the basis for a criminal case, then the statute of limitations on the civil claim does not begin until the criminal trial ends. This is called “tolling” the statute of limitations.
It is critical to secure an experienced Lawrenceville wrongful death attorney for your case as soon as possible, given the limited filing time that Georgia allows. The knowledgeable and compassionate legal team at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will gather all of the necessary information and file your claim in a timely matter, maximizing your potential damages.
Burden of Proof
In wrongful death claims that go forward in Georgia, the person asserting the claim is responsible for satisfying the burden of proof. Essentially, the elements of proof applicable to a Georgia wrongful death claim are the same as in a standard negligence claim. First, the claimant must demonstrate that the at-fault individual owed the deceased individual a duty of care under the given circumstances. Next, the claimant must show that the at-fault individual violated that standard of care in some way under the circumstances, proximately resulting in the deceased individual’s untimely death.
Proving a wrongful death claim can be extremely difficult. If you are pursuing one of these claims, it is essential to have knowledgeable legal representation on your side. The skilled team of Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with satisfying all of the legal elements of proof in your wrongful death case and with pursuing the damages that you need.
Criminal Cases versus Civil Wrongful Death Claims
Some of the most well-known wrongful death cases stem from homicide. In these situations, if law enforcement officers arrest the responsible person, that person can face charges of murder or manslaughter. Some families might think that a criminal conviction will bring sufficient justice and right the tragic wrong they suffered. However, many families are let down by the criminal process.
First, if someone is convicted of murder, the judge might order restitution as part of a sentence, but it will likely come nowhere near the amount needed to cover your losses from the death. To seek the compensation your family deserves, you need to take action and file a claim in civil court, which will be a separate case from the criminal process.
Second, criminal convictions require the very high burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the strictest in our legal system. If the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence for a conviction, the offender can walk free with no consequences, and justice will not be served. A wrongful death lawsuit only requires you to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the death, which is much easier to achieve in certain situations. You can file a wrongful death claim even if the individual is not convicted of homicide in criminal court.
Lawrenceville Wrongful Death FAQ
Losing a loved one in an avoidable accident, such as a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a drunk driver, makes the grieving process much harder than it ordinarily would be for the decedent’s surviving loved ones. Although no amount of money can ever remedy the premature loss of a loved one in an accident, it can help to bring closure and a sense of justice to surviving family members.
Surviving family members who wish to pursue this type of legal action against the at-fault party must file what is known as a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. In Georgia, the purpose of a wrongful death claim or a lawsuit is to compensate for the full value of the deceased individual’s life.
If your loved one died in an accident that someone else caused, the skilled and compassionate Lawrenceville wrongful death attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with pursuing the monetary compensation that you need to bring closure and a sense of justice.
We can do this by first pursuing a settlement with the at-fault person or entity’s insurance company. If that does not work, we can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state court system on your behalf and pursue monetary compensation and damages through the litigation process.
What fatal accidents can result from another person’s negligence?
Many types of negligence can lead to an accident that results in a person’s untimely death. Motor vehicle accidents, such as bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and car and truck accidents that are caused by negligent, distracted, or intoxicated drivers, can have fatal consequences for the drivers and passengers of numerous vehicles.
Similarly, when premises owners fail to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe manner, a visitor to the property might suffer a fatal accident while on the property. For example, the visitor could suffer a traumatic head or brain injury in a slip and fall accident that occurs on the premises, resulting in their untimely death.
In any case, the accident victim’s surviving family members can file a claim or lawsuit directly against the person or entity that was at fault for the fatal accident. If your loved one died in a fatal accident brought about by another person’s negligence, let the experienced Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm assist you with taking prompt legal action and pursuing monetary compensation.
What are wrongful death claims and estates claims? How do they work?
When a loved one passes away in an accident that came about because of someone else’s negligence, surviving family members have several legal options. First, the decedent’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one. Wrongful death claims are statutory claims, and the purpose of the claim is to compensate for the “full life value” of the loved one who passed away. Therefore, the claim’s ultimate value is from the deceased person’s point of view.
There are two parts of a decedent’s “full life value.” The first is the intangible component, which centers on all of the intangible aspects of a person’s life, including spending time with friends and family, playing sports and taking part in other hobbies, volunteering, earning an undergraduate or graduate degree, and graduating from an educational institution of higher learning.
The second is the tangible component, which focuses on the deceased loved one’s potential earnings. It also centers on the monetary value that is associated with caring for children and loved ones and taking care of chores, had the decedent survived their fatal accident.
Surviving loved ones, in addition to bringing a wrongful death claim on their deceased loved one’s behalf, can bring another claim. This additional claim is called an estate claim.
The decedent’s loved ones can recover all of the following as part of their estate claim:
- All of the expenses associated with the deceased loved one’s funeral and burial
- Compensation for pain and suffering the deceased loved one experienced from the accident until their passing
- Monetary compensation for the medical bills that the deceased loved one incurred between the time of the accident up until the time of death
As part of an estate claim, a decedent’s surviving family members can bring a punitive damage claim under certain circumstances. The primary purpose of a judge or jury awarding punitive damages is to punish the individual wrongdoer and to discourage other individuals from committing a similar wrongful act against someone else in the future.
These damages are available when the at-fault person or entity acts in an extremely reckless or egregious manner. For example, they might seek punitive damages after fatal drunk driving accidents.
If the decedent had a will in place, then the surviving spouse, close relative, or other named administrator is responsible for bringing the estate claim. Sometimes, however, individuals pass away unexpectedly without a will. When that happens, the Georgia intestacy laws determine the surviving family members who will file the estate claim.
An experienced Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyer at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help guide you through the legal process of filing a wrongful death or an estate claim on behalf of your deceased loved one.
Who can bring a claim for wrongful death in Lawrenceville?
When a person passes away in an accident that is caused by someone else’s negligence in the state of Georgia, certain family members can file a claim for wrongful death damages. First and foremost, if the decedent was married at the time they passed away, then the surviving spouse must bring the claim.
If there are surviving children, then the spouse must act as their representative under the law. In addition, the surviving spouse cannot receive anything less than one-third of the full monetary compensation recovered as part of the wrongful death claim or lawsuit, regardless of the total number of surviving children.
Finally, if the decedent was no longer married at the time they passed away, any surviving children of the decedent hold the wrongful death claim jointly.
Are Georgia’s wrongful death and estate laws the same as those laws in other states?
The wrongful death and estate laws in the state of Georgia are different from similar laws used by other jurisdictions throughout the United States. In a lot of other jurisdictions, only personal representatives, executors, and administrators of a decedent’s estate have the legal authority necessary to file a wrongful death claim.
However, in the state of Georgia, no such requirement exists. The reason for this is because in Georgia, wrongful death claims and estate claims are entirely different claims, and they are separate and apart from one another.
In the state of Georgia, the deceased loved one’s parents, surviving spouse, or children typically file the claim for wrongful death. In contrast, the administrator of the estate, who is usually a close family member of the decedent, such as a surviving spouse, typically files the estate claim.
When it comes to wrongful death claims in Georgia, the administrator of an estate who is not related to the deceased individual can file the claim only in cases where there is no surviving parent, spouse, or child of the decedent who is left. If the wrongful death claim received monetary compensation, “next of kin” of the decedent will be the recipients of the award.
What is the deadline for filing a timely Lawrenceville wrongful death claim?
If a surviving family member fails to file a wrongful death claim promptly, they waive the right ever to receive compensation. Consequently, when it comes to Georgia estate claims and wrongful death claims, time is usually of the essence.
In most wrongful death legal actions, the surviving family members of the decedent have two years from the death date to bring a lawsuit in the courts. The lawsuit will typically name the person or entity that caused the accident that led to the decedent’s untimely death. This person or entity is known as the defendant in any lawsuit filed in the court system.
However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. In cases where a governmental entity, such as a city, county, federal government, or state, is a potential defendant in the case, surviving family members can only pursue a wrongful death legal action within six months to one year from the accident date. Also, in some cases, a person’s wrongful death action results from the defendant’s violation of an existing statute. In these types of cases, the civil two-year wrongful death statute of limitations usually tolls until the criminal prosecution wraps up.
Finally, in cases where the police charged the driver with a traffic crime or some other violation arising out of the accident, the statute of limitations applying to the civil wrongful death action tolls until either the traffic case reaches a resolution or for six years, whichever is the shortest. Following that time, the two-year wrongful death statute of limitations will start running.
Regardless of the statute of limitations, it’s best to start a claim as soon as possible after a fatal accident, as evidence critical to the success of your case can degrade or become lost. In addition, it’s best to give your attorney as much time as you can to build a strong case.
If someone you love sustained an injury or injuries in an accident that led to their untimely death, the experienced Lawrenceville wrongful death attorneys can assist you with promptly filing your claim or lawsuit against the responsible party. We can also help you pursue the greatest amount of monetary compensation that is available under the circumstances.
How much does a Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyer cost?
At Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, our Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers take all of our wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that we only collect legal fees if we win your case, and any fees we collect will be a set percentage of your settlement or award. That way, you do not take on any financial risk by retaining us to represent you, and our fees are dependent on how much we recover on your behalf
What types of monetary compensation and damages are recoverable as part of a Lawrenceville wrongful death claim?
Surviving loved ones can recover many different types of damages as part of a wrongful death legal action that goes forward in Lawrenceville. You might recover these damages by way of a settlement, or absent a favorable settlement, through a jury verdict.
When arriving at a damage award, members of the jury will typically consider the activities, places, events, and people that gave significant meaning to the decedent’s life. They can also consider stories, videos, and photographs, along with the sworn testimony of individuals who testify at the time of trial.
Once the members of the jury consider all of the evidence presented at trial, they decide whether or not to award money as part of the wrongful death claim. For example, the jury could award monetary damages that represent the pain and suffering that the deceased loved one had to suffer up until the time of their death.
Moreover, the jury members could compensate for funeral expenses and all medical procedures and treatment bills following the accident and up to the time of their death.
Lastly, the jury could award monetary compensation for all of the fright, trauma, and shock that the accident victim suffered from the time of the accident up until their passing. The experienced Lawrenceville wrongful death lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will work to maximize the amount of monetary compensation and damages you are eligible to recover as part of a wrongful death claim.
We can help you pursue this monetary recovery through a wrongful death settlement or, if necessary, by taking your case to trial and obtaining a favorable jury verdict.
Available Monetary Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
In the state of Georgia, there are several potential types of damages that you may recover in a wrongful death claim. Specifically, claimants are eligible to recover an amount representing the total value of the deceased individual’s life, without deducting personal or necessary expenses that the decedent would have incurred had the decedent survived the accident that led to their untimely death.
For example, a claimant may recover the deceased individual’s medical expenses up until the time of death, in addition to future wages that the decedent would have earned had they not suddenly passed away.
Moreover, the claimant may pursue monetary compensation for loss of the decedent’s companionship and care, as well as for related funeral and burial costs. Finally, the wrongful death claimant may pursue monetary compensation for suffering and pain the decedent experienced up until the time of death.
The compassionate and experienced team of Lawrenceville wrongful death attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will do everything possible to maximize your monetary compensation in a wrongful death claim.
Call a Knowledgeable Lawrenceville Wrongful Death Lawyer About Your Loved One Today
If another individual’s negligence caused an accident that resulted in your loved one’s death, the compassionate and skilled lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm are ready to assist you with filing your wrongful death claim. Our attorneys will investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s untimely passing to file a strong lawsuit against all responsible individuals or entities. For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with an experienced Lawrenceville wrongful death attorney, please give us a call at (678)-647-1314 or contact us online for more information.
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Brauns Law, P.C.
892 legacy park Dr.
Lawrenceville, GA 30043