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.
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