Regardless of how losing a loved one happens, the event is an incredibly emotional time. Families are forced to deal with the absence of a relative and the sadness that follows, all while planning a funeral.
When that death is the result of a person or company’s negligence, the experience can be even more devastating. People feel robbed of their time with someone they loved. And in some cases, a household is losing its main source of income. A wrongful death suit can bring not only justice but deserved compensation after a tragedy. But opening a case requires meeting certain standards, so if you’re considering filing a wrongful death suit, here are five things you need to know.
- Who can file a wrongful death claim?
A hierarchy of relatives has been established in Georgia’s law about who has the right to sue for a wrongful death.
- Spouse and Children: The spouse of the deceased has the first right to file suit for wrongful death. If there are also children involved, the surviving husband or wife files on their own and the children’s behalf, and any compensation would be split among them.
- Children: If there is no surviving spouse, the children have the next claim, and any award would be evenly split.
- Parent: With no spouse or children, the parent—or parents—are next in line to file suit.
- Estate: If the deceased has none of the above, the Estate has claim and would be awarded the compensation and hold it for whoever is next of kin.
- What has to be proven?
Certain conditions must be met to potentially win a wrongful death suit. Although meeting them doesn’t guarantee a win, an experienced attorney can put forth the strongest case possible to earn you the benefits you deserve. The criteria are:
- Someone must have passed away
- Evidence must exist that the death was the result of negligence or malicious intent by another person or company
- There must be qualifying family members as beneficiaries
- There must be an appointed representative for the deceased’s estate
- There is a time limit on when you can file
There is a statute of limitations on filing wrongful death suits in Georgia. The majority of cases must be brought within two years of the death. In situations where the accused is a government entity, the statute of limitations can sometimes be as short as six months. Deadlines like these are why it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as you can.
- There are two types of damages you can claim
The benefits that you’re allowed to file for fall into two categories: The full value of the deceased’s life and financial losses. These cover:
- Lost wages that they would have earned and/or employee benefits
- Loss of companionship and other “intangible” benefits the deceased would have enjoyed but for his or her death
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pain and suffering the deceased dealt with before their death
Attorneys at The King Firm can help you prove the full value of life after working with you to establish facts around your loved one’s life.
- Civil and Criminal Charges Can Both Be Filed
Occasionally, a deadly incident calls for both a civil suit and a criminal lawsuit. Just because a criminal case is opened doesn’t mean you should hold off on filing a wrongful death case. Even if the accused is found not guilty in criminal court, the burden of proof is lower in civil suits and you can still get the benefits you deserve.
An Experienced Attorney at The King Firm Can Help You in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or maliciousness, then you need to contact The King Firm today. We have a deep history of building strong cases to ensure maximum restitution for our clients. Contact us today at 229-515-8585 for a free case consultation.